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I (have to) live without you widow Repair

Dear Jason,

I can’t live without you. I (have to) live without you.

 

I hate when couples say that old cliche, “I can’t live without you.” It’s such a sentimental lie. I can live without Jason even though I don’t want to. Time just picks me up and carries me deeper into life, even without him. I learned to embrace the inertia.

No More Teachers, No More Books (Sob!)

December 18, 2007 My last English paper was a success. Dr. Tombe spoke to me with a group of other soon-to-be-graduates. My choice of career was below my potential, she said. That is a compliment, but I don’t know if I should spend more money for graduate school.

Why reach for a career with more prestige than I am motivated to achieve? Is it worth taking more time from motherhood?

December 31, 2007 My college graduation party was wonderful! Walter brought his grill and cooked hamburgers and hot dogs. The house was filled with people talking, laughing, eating and playing pool. Everyone seemed to have a good time. I played some very bad pool, but I was a good sport about it, haha.

We left for Ohio by ten on Sunday to see my family. Caleb did okay with the little TV I borrowed from Gale. He said with gusto, “Ohio!” That’s a brand new word and pretty impressive!

Bucket List Planning: Yes, I’m Really Gonna Do That.


January 6, 2008
I talked to Alli about our trip to Israel. I’ll be staying two weeks. We buy the tickets after March, after Passover when they will be cheaper.

The outlets over there won’t support any of my electronics, so no phone, no laptop, no hair dryer, etc. With limited room in my suitcase, I’ll have to live with the bare essentials- no bulky bottles of Bath & Body Works.

I’m preparing to be low maintenance! Alli will laugh at me for having withdrawals from my favorite American toiletries. My new best friends will be my ponytail, chapstick and sunscreen.

As for clothes, nothing fancy: Alli said long skirts, jeans, tennis shoes and a jacket. She said they don’t dress fancy, so I’ll bring drab stuff.

There’s no one to impress except myself. It will actually be a blessing and a relief to be in that kind of environment for a while. I’m getting really excited about our plans!

Oh, and I’ll bring a bathing suit so I can swim (or float?) in the Dead Sea. I’ve wanted to swim in the Dead Sea since I learned about it in fifth grade.

“I love ooo mommy.” Nothing Heals a Widow’s Heart Like Toddler Talk

Nothings Heals a Widow’s Heart Like Toddler Talk Widow Repair

January 30, 2008 Caleb is growing so fast. He waits for us to take his hand to pray before dinner and whispers “Amen” at the conclusion.

Tonight he wanted to sit at the table and have a hot dog. He asked me for a fork. “This one?” he grinned, pointing his fork at a wedge of hot dog. He nudged at another piece and repeated, “This one?” with a big smile on his face.

The other night, he left me a message from my parents’ house saying, “Night, night,” and “I love ooo mommy!”

At night he asks for his favorite stories by saying “Fluffy” which is about a porcupine with image issues, or he asks for “the train book” which is about Thomas the Train. He giggles while I voice the characters, especially the owl’s “No-hooo.”

Caleb got a night light turtle for his birthday. The hard plastic shell is pierced with shapes that cast green stars all over the bedroom ceiling. “Stars,” Caleb says softly, prompting me to switch it on.

We count them when the lights are off. Caleb points at the night-sky ceiling and says, “two-three-four,” and he joins me in saying “six-seven-eight.”

The other day I showed him how to blow on a dandelion. He pursed his lips and puffed at the weed. Delicate, feathery seeds took flight- it was like magic. Imagine being 2 years old and seeing this for the first time- he said, “I blew it,” and he called it a “lion.” So cute.

February 23, 2008 This morning I fixed eggs and cereal for Caleb and myself, and we ate at the kitchen table with Dad, or “Eh-eh” as Caleb calls his grandpa.

Caleb wanted to go outside, so I told him we could after we got dressed. His blue eyes lit up with excitement, and he bounded into my arms so I could carry him down the hall to get dressed.

“You need a warm shirt, and some pants, and some shoes and some socks,” I narrated. Caleb smiled and exclaimed my statement back to me.

I got his clothes on and handed him a USC sweater. “Go give this to Eh-eh, and tell him you want to go outside.”

Caleb took the sweater and walked a few steps down the hall. He was singing a soft little tune. It was so childlike, sung with notes of contentment.

He stopped and asked for “momma,” but then continued down the hall singing. He walked into the kitchen and then into the dining room. My dad put on his sweater while Caleb chimed, “I wanna go ou-side.”

My cup runneth over.

 

Facing the Stigma of Suicide as a Widow Widow Repair

My husband died on March 20, 2006, and I became a survivor of suicide loss. I was naive and unprepared to defend Jason against society’s taboo of self-inflicted death. I did not understand illness or depression.

How do you cope- alone, with no explanation? Nine years later, my goal is to help other people in the same situation.

Nobody Knows What to Say: The Elusive Formula for Sympathy

This is what I heard from strangers:

“You’re a widow? But you’re so young! He was military, wasn’t he? How did your husband die?”

I was still in shock like a deer in the headlights, and I would state the cold fact: “He shot himself.” Then I would launch into an explanation of how it must have been a serious physical problem. He did not want to leave us…

The average person cannot relate to the complexity of Jason’s story based on one halting, emotional conversation. The stranger would look at me with concern and veiled embarrassment. Their eyes told me: “I should not have asked.”

You are judging him. You are judging me. I was exhausted trying to make them understand.

After a few months of this, I lied to spare them from awkwardness. “He died in a car accident,” I would say. People could accept that answer.

A counselor at church helped me to let go of conflicting religious doctrine about “unforgivable” sins. It was a relief to know that Jason is okay, but I never sought help for the psychological anxiety I was facing as the person left behind.

My advice is to find the right person to talk to. A licensed therapist will be prepared for the negative stereotypes associated with this type of loss.

Scapegoat Syndrome: Stigma from Within

As the widow of a suicide victim, I also suffered from the effects of undeserved blame. This form of stigma is the most personal and the most hurtful.

Emotions are running wild, people are feeling abandoned, and it’s easier for some to process unexpected loss by creating a scapegoat.

The problems that led my husband to take his life were in play well before I came into the picture, but circumstance made me a target for one angry individual.

The person questioned me with accusation, then aggressively shoved a box of tissues at my chest. Things got much worse as time went on. I thought he/she would mourn with me, not hurt me.

Some people are consumed with the stigma of suicide, and will invent stories and scenarios to release their loved one from what they see as an embarrassing label. The accuser cannot find peace because of denial and blame. As a result, memory of the deceased is never given rest.

Be very careful when dealing with this type of person. Misplaced bitterness may cause the accuser to act out against you.

Fighting the Stigma of Suicide

I was criticized for publicly writing about my husband’s suicide. Although the cause of his death is public knowledge, the person feels that I am bringing shame on Jason, that “he should be left to rest.”

However, I feel that stifling the truth would further inflame misunderstanding. If a community is left in the dark, human nature dictates that we will assume the worst. Furthermore, my son and I would suffer from bits of defamatory, twisted gossip.

Someone out there might identify with Jason’s story. Banning the facts and inventing controversial theories about Jason’s death will imply that we are ashamed of him. Shame will discourage others from seeking help.

Stigma stands in the way of prevention.

Openness and honesty will counteract judgement and confusion. When I became comfortable in sharing Jason’s story, I learned that other people are accepting and supportive. By breaking my silence, I hope to dispel the antiquated myth of “disgrace” that follows suicide.