Grief

“Grief, I’ve learned, is really just love. It’s all the love you want to give, but cannot. All that unspent love gathers up in the corners of your eyes, the lump in your throat, and in that hollow in your chest.

Grief is just love with no place to go.”

~Jamie Anderson

Word. 💔 🥀

The Unbearable Lightness of Being…Alone

I miss David so much. I miss his voice, his touch, his being…

As I work so hard at wrapping up his practices, day in and day out, every day a new fire breaks out that requires my immediate attention, I just want to ask him to guide me through this:

What am I supposed to be doing?!

Why am I supposed to be doing it?!

How am I supposed to do it?!

Can’t I just say, “screw it” and crawl under the comforter until I can breathe again?! And will I ever be able to breathe again?! He was my oxygen.

I am just so damn tired. I want time to reflect and cry and figure out how to manage in life without him. It’s not that I don’t cry, it hits me at random and usually inappropriate moments. But I need to try to stay on task and get this all sorted out, ethically and thoughtfully tying up the loose ends of his practices and then close them down.

How did he do this? Simultaneously practicing medicine and law, as well as advocating for ADA issues and working towards completion of a Master’s Degree in Bioethics! I am just dealing with the last month of it all and I’m overwhelmed.

He was a remarkable soul, that is certain. Why did he have to depart this realm so soon?! That isn’t how we planned it. He would constantly try to reassure me that he would never leave me alone, that he would not die until I had. Though I thought it was cute and romantic, I tried to let him know that he wasn’t really in charge of such things, but I appreciated the thought.

The thing is, I believed him. He was indomitable. He had survived the impossible, he was truly never going to die…until he did. Leaving me completely unprepared and stunned.

I am grateful for the time we had together and the opportunity that the safety he provided me with gave me a chance to heal my trauma and become a much stronger person.

If I hadn’t gained that strength I would not even be able to try to find my way to going on without him.

There is so much that has to be done that I do not have the luxury of thinking about the future. I just need to put one foot in front of the other, day after day, until finally I will have wrapped up the loose ends he left here. Then I will start the journey of how and why to go on. I have things that I want to accomplish to preserve his legacy and also to carry on his work.

For the first time in a long time I will have the opportunity to forge a path for myself. Will I find the courage? As Nelson Mandela used to talk about, the combination of a fear of failure and a fear of success leaves one paralyzed and stuck.

Those challenges are for another day. For now I am so exhausted that I cannot think. For now I just hope that I can get some sleep.

Being a (Reluctant) Widow is Exhausting

Yesterday’s, or was it the day before’s, (not so) existential dilemma about whether or not to move has been solved. As much as I love the new (potential) apartment, I realize that the timing is just wrong. I am needing to work all day every day, with help, to try to clean up our affairs, start to close down David’s medical and legal practices in a thoughtful and ethical way, and regroup and figure out the way forward. There are so many details to attend to, and fires to put out.

I have not had time to properly grieve. Sure, I break down sobbing when I realize that this nightmare is really true, or at night when I am missing him so much and just long to hold him and hear his voice, and I start to cry, but I have not yet had the luxury of sitting with my feelings, with no pressing issues to worry about, and just let the grief wash over me.

With all of this going on there is no way I can add moving, an extremely stressful experience, on top of it all. I’m worried about having a neurological “breakdown.” So I will stay in our beloved apartment, though I will need financial help from family to be able to stay here. I will celebrate our life together by recreating the space in a way that allows me to move forward. I will never move ON, but need to be able to move FORWARD.

Meeting David created an amazing change in me, from finally finding in him the safety and love I had always sought, which allowed me to finally do the deep trauma work that I needed to do to heal. I became a much stronger person, and always remained loving and loyally committed to this amazing man. I learned the true meaning of gratitude.

Now, I must learn who I am without being at his side, and without him at my side. This will be a year of grieving but hopefully growing as well. As I told David as he died in my arms, “You taught me what love was. You were ‘my person,’ the one I was supposed to spend my life with. No one can ever replace you, and I will stay married to you until my time here is done. Hopefully we will be reunited again. You gave me the strength to survive without you, now it’s up to me to find the will. You are my life. But if I must live without you, I will do so by honoring your memory and keeping your legacy alive. I will love you always.”

My (not so) Existential Dilemma of the Week

I am sitting in a vacant apartment in the same complex that David & I have lived in all of our married life, trying to decide whether or not I should move to this apartment.

The apartment we currently live in is beautiful, and the largest in the complex, a corner unit full of windows for all of my plants. It has a master bedroom with a walk-in closet, a master bathroom, a large living area, a “breakfast bar” where we had all of our meals, a nice kitchen, a guest half bathroom, a beautiful den (my writing room), a large office for David, also with a walk-in closet, and another full bathroom, as well as a washer/dryer, and laundry area.

All of the windows have window boxes outside of them for planting. We loved the apartment. I had it painted the way I wanted it (a bright red kitchen, sage colored walls in my den, accent walls in a rich brown, and a soft taupe in the master bedroom. The previous tenant put beautiful window treatments on all of the windows, and I bought and installed nice light fixtures. David loved the way I designed and set it up. With wood planking and open spaces, it was a better setup for getting around in the wheelchair. We both really loved it.

But now it is too expensive for me to manage, and I don’t need all of the space. Also, at first I was reluctant to think about moving because all of my fondest memories with David are in that apartment. But as the days go on everything reminds me of moments we shared and I feel sad that he is no longer there.

So I am trying to decide if I should move up to the Penthouse floor (a fancy name for the top, or 4th, floor).

This apartment is a one bedroom with a walk-in closet, it has a large bathroom, a large living area and kitchen, and a large loft space. It has very high ceilings, a gas fireplace, a balcony accessible from both the living room and the bedroom, and a gorgeous view of the city. The upstairs loft would become the office and my writing space. There is wood planking throughout, with marble countertops and a beautiful backsplash behind the cupboards and stove. There is space above the cupboards to put vases, colored glass bottles, and baskets, something the other apartment lacks. There are far fewer windows, Though they are very tall, so I would have to get creative with my plants. The view is truly stunning, especially at night. It feels safe and has a good, creative vibe to it.

The thought of moving, even just up three stories, is still daunting. I seriously need to “Marie Kondo” my life! It would save money, though we got our current apartment at a great rate. So while I would be saving some money, I would be losing far more space for the price. However, I do not need all of that space, as much as I love it.

I am thinking that the change of apartments might be good for me, to help me pare down my things but also to regroup and recreate my life and professional self from a different perspective. I gave up the focus on my career to enable David to flourish in his remarkable career. I have no regrets, but now I can carry on his work and put some focus into my professional goals.

So here I sit, hoping for David to give me a sign (or get some divine inspiration) on what I should do.

I need to decide in the next day or two, before someone else takes it. And before the price goes up (apartment pricing can change daily, based on the market). Right now the ideal day to sign on it would be December 6th. But that would mean paying rent on two apartments for December.

These are difficult decisions for me to make. On the one hand, just staying where David last was is tempting, but will I be able to move forward? I will never “move on,” but I do need to move forward, to start to forge a life alone (though always with his spirit) dedicated in great part to his legacy.

In addition to trying to deal with the Social Security Administration, the IRS, our personal affairs and going through all of his files to finalize and bring closure to his medical and legal practices, I need to contemplate moving. I think it could be good for me, on the other hand I want to hang on to the place he last was.

So this is my (not so) existential dilemma of the week…🥀

The Flame of the Shiva Candle Has Burned Out…Now What?!

Nine days and 12 hours after it was lit, the flame from the Shiva candle for my late husband, the indomitable David Ketroser, M.D., J.D., M.A. in Bioethics, has gone dark. That flame gave me a sense of peace, the feeling that his spirit was there represented by the flame. Now what?!

I will carry his beautiful light in my heart, and over the coming days talk about the amazing person that he was, our incredible love story, and how I am trying to manage the journey ahead without his physical presence. There is so much to know and get done in the days following a loss. It is daunting, especially when one is in their darkest hour and the desire to retreat from the world is great.

We used to love the quote, “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, but rather to learn to dance in the rain.” Now I must learn to dance in the rain without my beloved.
🥀

About The Philosophical Widow

I decided to start this blog as an extension of my posts on my husband’s Caring Bridge site, with the encouragement of friends and visitors to his Caring Bridge site. After he died, leaving me in stunned disbelief, I kept writing on the site, having decided to close that site and continue my writing in a blog once the Shiva candle burned out.
I was a ballet professional, working as a dancer, teacher and choreographer. I had my first attack of Multiple Sclerosis at the age of 20, but was not diagnosed until the age of 45, when it turned into the Secondary Progressive form.
My husband at the time was more victimized by my disease than I was and left me. I changed careers to one in human rights and justice advocacy and consulting.
At age 52, struggling with SPMS, I was introduced to the love of my life. The introduction was innocent, a dear friend was concerned about the disease-modifying drug I was on, and introduced me to a neurologist (and attorney) who also had SPMS for an informal consult. We went from hello to forever…
My forever was shattered when he recently died from complications due to his MS, though I will love him forever and will always consider myself married to him.
My blog will talk of our incredible love story, and of my learning how to navigate life without him. He had beat the odds so many times that it didn’t occur to me that he would ever die. I was totally unprepared, and since he also never believed he would die, he left his affairs in disarray.
This blog will give (unsolicited) advice based on my experience of trying to get our affairs in order. I will write about this incredible love story and my attempts to move forward on my own, yet never without his spirit. I will dedicate my life to keeping his amazing legacy alive, and to carry on his work.
I love to write and use my writing as a therapeutic tool for me, and to inform anyone who might be interested.
If this sounds boring, I infuse my writing with humor. Humor is the key to survival.

Through this blog you will come to know all about my beloved late husband, David Ketroser, M.D., J.D., M.A in Bioethics (#Overachiever). You will also learn about me, our love story, and how this incredible love changed me.
#love #death #humor #writing #philosophy #trauma #survival