One year later, what I have learned…..

goodgrief

It has been almost a year. After she died, I tried to concentrate on raising the girls and dealing with my own grief second. Not the best idea, but necessity is the mother of invention. Molly protected the girls from her disease and impending death to a fault. They were in complete shock and disbelief when she died. “Can’t she just take another medicine?” They needed my full support.  Putting on the air mask on yourself before your children, only works in theory.

Now after a year the girls are doing really well. They are exceeding both socially and academically. I had prepared for being a single parents for months, but nothing has been what I expected. This is why I wanted to share my experiences as I am sure they are not unique to me.

Survivor’s guilt is real and here to stay. I always said, I am not the victim, Molly was. She died at the height of her life. She had an extraordinary career, and two little girls who she didn’t even see graduate from elementary school. I feel selfish that I get to watch them grow and their mother doesn’t. Cancer moved out of our house but sublet its place to guilt. Life’s moments of happiness immediately turn into acute sorrow. She is not here and I am.

Image of a grieving widower. This one suprised me the most. People love the image of a grieving widower. It makes for a great movies but this is my real life. I am working hard to move on and live, it doesn’t mean I have forgotten. A minute doesn’t goes by that I don’t think of her, it keeps me up most nights. I live in a house that constantly reminds me she is gone. So if you see me happy don’t assume I have forgotten.

People want you to be happy…but not too happy.  Ever since Molly passed, everyone says they want me to be happy again. I know everyone means it, but what people picture as happiness may be different than what actually makes me happy. Again, if you see me happy don’t assume I have forgotten.

Friends will not stick around. I was told friends will forget about you few months after death. I have to say this has not been true in my case. Molly’s best friend Lena, promised her she will look out for her children and has kept true to her word. Not only old friends have stuck around, we have made many new ones. Menlo Park Schools and people have been amazing.

What’s best for the children.  Since day one, I have done what is best for the girls. They started therapy few months before molly passed and still go every week. No decision is made without considering what is best for them. Despite having many people who love them, I am the only parent. All parenting decisions fall on me. Thank God, they are good kids.

Dating…..yes, dating. The biggest taboo after you lose your spouse. Widows and widowers are shamed for dating more than any other. I asked 5 friends who started dating within 6 months to 3 years after loosing their spouse, and everyone of them were shamed for dating too soon. I have been dating somebody for few months and have received my fair share of judgmental comments. I was even told to wait until my daughters were in college. Then they would want me to date!!! Ok let’s do the math, I turn 47 this month and my youngest daughter is 8.  I’m sure I will be a catch in my walker with bright yellow tennis balls.

Work will understand you are grieving…..Yeah if your boss is Sheryl Sandberg. I worked the day before and after Molly’s funeral. Not the best idea, but I felt bad since I had taken so much time off and my coworkers had to pick up my slack. After the funeral I took a month off of work, not nearly enough time. The grief affected my personality and the quality of my work. Reality was that I needed at least six months off but for most people this is not a reality.

4 thoughts on “One year later, what I have learned…..

  1. Thank you Arash. My best comment and something I often practice is “Don’t judge people until you walk a mile in their shoes”. There is no playbook for grief. Do it your way. Xoxo

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  2. Hello Arash. I first learned about you and the loss of your wife last August, when Linnea Olsen included your post on her blog, describing the tender way you cared for Molly right up to the last moment. At the time my husband Peter had been living with Stage IV NSCLC for almost 4 years. Like Linnea, Peter had the ALK mutation and was so fortunate to be treated at MGH by Dr. Alice Shaw. When I saw the article, we were on our annual pilgrimage to Provincetown, at the very tip of Cape Cod, like so many gay men and women do. I was devastated by reading the post, for it was my future, and I knew it.
    We managed to have a wonderful vacation, despite Peter’s steady decline and an emergent detour to MGH on our way home to Rochester, NY, extending our vacation by 3 days. (The cause of the severe abdominal pain that Peter developed driving off the Cape was never determined).
    Peter died on March 29th, 4 1/2 months now. I just reread your post from last August, which inspired me look further at your blog. Your article describing your last year, is hauntingly familiar to me. I too, have been blessed with friends and family who have been so supportive, before and after. But, it has been a rough 4 months. Being out here in Ptown for the first time without Peter has been really hard. Reading about your experience has given me some comfort, knowing that there is some light at the end of the tunnel, albeit, a lot less bright without our true loves! Thank you and my best to you and your girls.
    Jon

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  3. Hi Jon,

    I am so sorry to hear about you losing your partner. Losing a loved one is like losing a a limb, you learn to live but never the same. Life does go on, and I have been very lucky to have very special people come in to my life, I have also pushed all negative people out of my life. Be gentle on yourself, only you know what’s best for you. A year later, still is not a moment I don’t think about her, and specifically when she became very ill. Please reach out, would love to chat more.

    Arash

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