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Boxes of Grief


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Boxes of Grief ~ An article from Widowers Grief

Posted: 23 Nov 2016 04:56 AM PST

My friends didn’t know what to say. They’d never lost anyone close. My wife died young, and no one taught my generation about grief’s landscape. No one knew to tell me that life was over as I had known it, or that I would be thrown into a land cratered by death for more than a year.
Yet everyone had a Box of Imagined Grief, with odds and ends tossed in for what they thought sorrow was like. Whenever I came over, they dug around in their box, took something pithy out, and handed it to me to comfort my grief. Then they expected the dinner party to go on as planned. As you might guess, this wasn’t what I needed.
When grief punches us in the gut, it hands us two boxes – Before and After. We stuff everything into theBefore Death Box because we can’t comprehend a future that doesn’t have our loved one in it. The After Death Box remains empty for a long time.
When I was finally able to face the emotional tsunami of sorting Evelyn’s possessions, and remembering the talented, compassionate person she was, I created a Box of Memories and filled it with the photographs, letters, and trinkets that marked the important days of our life together. These things I shared with others.
I collected a Box of the Lasts — where we ate our last meal, the last movie we saw, Ev’s last birthday, and that moment when I last saw her smile at me — without us knowing that any of these would be her lasts. I hold on to this box with both hands, and these things I share.
I drove around town and assembled a Box of Death — the place where she collapsed, the route the ambulance sped to the hospital, the ICU room where Ev lay connected to wires and tubes until the doctors said it was over. The bag of clothes the paramedics had to cut off. Our cold, silent house where I stared out the window the first week. The memorial service. The scattering of ashes. The months of anger and despair. Time does not exist here, and I go to these places alone. These I keep to myself.
I do not want to forget the blunt force trauma of death because, as wrenching as it was, it happened, and I cannot undo it. I also do not want to forget the goodness of life with Evelyn, because that was also true. I do not want every memory to become warm and fuzzy or covered in black shrouds because our relationship deserves honesty. My memories are what they were.
Our last moments were like a thousand other ordinary moments that come and go every day without us noticing, moments that have the power to bring joy to someone’s eyes or to take it away. I want to live this moment as fully as I can, and then I want to live the next because some of these moments could be transforming and some of them will be the last.
Those who reach into their Box of Imagined Grief because they don’t know what to say, need only reach into their Box of Hearts and share the compassion they find. This is the only thing that those who grieve need.
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I have never read something that described how I feel so perfectly. 
Thank you for sharing!

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