May 22, 2018 by NJPainter


It’s been a month.

It feels fortunate to write but, I’ve never experienced heartbreak quite like this before.
Grief is so big and intense and unfortunately, most of you totally get it.

You learn to go on with your day, life keeps moving, you get back to work, laugh at things that are funny, fill up your summer with plans… But it exists, always, right below the surface of your skin.

It’s messy. It comes unexpectedly and in waves. I say it out loud, maybe too often, but it feels like a part of my story that I must share.

I saw something online about how we used to think that grief got smaller over time, but now the psychology community believes that it stays exactly the same size and that your life just gets bigger around it. Along the lines of ‘It doesn’t get better, it gets different’… sort of.

Some days – like today, as I type – my brain logically reasons with itself; ‘It’s OK! She had a great life! We took her hiking! She got steak bones from fancy restaurants!’

Other days I see a photo and think; ‘She had ten days left, why wasn’t I with her?’ or, ‘she would really love this sunny day,’ or, worst of all,  I’ll allow the scenes from the last hours of her life to play in my head. (I’m told this part dissipates… thank goodness).

It’s a fight to train yourself. A fight to focus on what you’re grateful for. A fight to balance your emotions with this unfair truth.

I was anxious to get her ashes back because I wanted to make sure that we’d have them. That she didn’t somehow get mixed up with the others or something. But getting her ashes back felt a bit like starting over.

Barry keeps reminding me that these ashes are not her… but there is a visceral finality to it that I was perhaps hoping wouldn’t exist.

We have a plan to scatter a little bit at each of her favorite spots; the Great Hill in Central Park, Carroll Gardens, the waterfront in Jersey City and the lake behind Barry’s parents old house. We’re also going to take her to a few places that we know she’d like; a hiking trail upstate (to be determined) and my dad’s cabin in Wisconsin. Lastly, we’ll keep a little of her with us.

Those details are comforting and serve as a good reminder that there is only one way and it’s through.

So, while we work on the harmony of our hearts and our brains, we grasp on tight to all the joy, giggles and comfort she brought (and still brings!) to us.

(Thanks for all the love you sent our way this month).