Webster defines grief as a noun ~ a deep and poignant distress caused by bereavement.  I define it as a hole in the heart, accompanied by random bouts of sobbing and nausea, and an overall feeling of being run over by a Mack truck.

It's been a month today since My Mike passed away.  I call him that because when we met I had other Mikes in my phone so I put him in as My Mike, before he actually was My Mike, and it stuck.  It still seems so unbelievable that he is gone.  

The things I've learned about grief so far are that, well for one, not enough attention is paid to it in this country.  People wait for you to "get over it", which, by the way, never happens.  You don't get over it, you go around it, you learn to live with it, you experience it in random places like on line at the market, or while driving in the car.  There's no rhyme or reason to the things that set me off so far.  It could be a song, his shoes in the closet, the golf clubs in the corner, an expression, nothing, everything.  You see where I'm going with this?  Grief makes no sense and is profoundly different and personal for everyone.  The only common denominator I can see so far is that we all can agree it sucks.

I've lost both my parents, I was very close to them.  It was extremely painful and sad, but this is different. Loosing a partner, (at a young age), is just different.  It is two griefs.  It's grief for yourself over them no longer being with you and it is grief for them over all the future things they will miss.

Our family has had the most wonderful outpouring of support.  Every gift that showed up at our door, every card that came in the mail, every text, every email, every voice mail, every social media post, our amazing families, the way people showed up has taught me so much about how I want to show up for others.

Sometimes people think they don't know the right things to say to someone that's grieving.  I now know how simple it is.  Any form of "I'm thinking of you", "I'm here for you", "I'm sending you love and hugs". "I'm just checking in on you" etc.  Keeping it simple and from the heart is best.  And here's a few things I've experienced that I suggest you avoid saying to someone that's grieving..."You can move on now" (WTF?), "He's in a better place" (no, that would be next to me on the couch).  "It must be a relief not to have to take care of him anymore", (hell no and again, WTF!) 

Self preservation ~ when in doubt, lie.  I just came up with this one after a trip to the mechanic last week. Yes, my car acted up, great timing.  Naturally, our mechanic asked "How's your husband"?  When I said he passed away, the guys mouth hung open for a solid, very awkward 10 seconds, at least, which of course made me cry, you know, cause that's what you want to do at the mechanics!  

This past weekend I decided to go to the nail salon.  I had not been there in months, for obvious reasons, so naturally everyone made it a big deal that I was back.  Questions like "How are you"?, "Where have you been"? etc.  I knew it was coming, that question, the one I was dreading..."How's your husband"?  I thought for a minute about what happened at the mechanics and I knew that if I said he died, they'd be all over me and instead of enjoying my mani pedi in the spa chair, I'd been crying the whole time.  So I said he was fine.  I lied.  Self preservation.  I was there to enjoy a little self care and I didn't want to cry.  

I love this line from one of the great quotes below.  "I live even as I grieve".  Sometimes it feels OK to dip back into my life, sometimes it doesn't.  I'm going on instinct, doing things that feel good.  And also things that Mike would tell me to do, like "go get your nails done" :)

Here's what April looked like around here, and some favorite quotes about grief that really ring true for me...

"It's hard to turn the page when you know someone won't be in the next chapter, but the story must go on." ~ Thomas Wilder