The Reality of Time



I am approaching the 27 year anniversary of Dana’s death. I was 23 then, now I am 50.  Often I wonder how I made it all these years.  Looking forward in that amount of time, I will be 77 in 27 years.  That truly boggles my mind!  But it also gives me comfort in realizing how far I have made it.  I look at it as me having made it approximately halfway through my journey of loss here on earth.

I have a lot of memories of how I was told that time would go.  I remember so well many different older people telling me that I would be fine.  They would speak to me as if they had the answers since they had lived longer than me.  It was a consistent narrative that went something like this; “in time you will look back fondly at your first love, but a new life will begin and take the place of that.”  Several people told me the story of their “first love” and how they still sometimes happily thought about him/her.  It was so frustrating to me at the time.  I knew that the loss of my fiancée, the one that I had such a unique and special connection with, could not compare to a break up.  A break up and a death should never be compared to each other. But people do make that comparison often.  We were going to live until old age together.  In death she did not become my “ex”.  If people could understand the way our heart really reacts, it would ease a lot of pain and misunderstanding.

I married Shelly and am deeply in love with her. I am so thankful for that.  But the two relationships are mutually exclusive of each other.  People struggle to understand that.  Society believes that once you fall in love again you have replaced the one that has died.  This is such a fallacy.  What actually happens is the heart opens up to love two people.  The love for the person lost does not diminish.  But the ability to deeply love and have a great relationship with the new love can flourish in an amazing way.  I consider myself very fortunate that this is what has happened for me.

I moved forward; I did not move on.  There is such a big difference between these two terms.  We have no choice but to move forward.  The challenge is how to do it most productively.  For me, moving logistically was the key to moving forward.  The rest of it started to fall into place once I moved 2000 miles away.  I can’t imagine how time would have played out if I did not fall in love with Shelly.  I certainly don’t think I could have made it to today alone.  It was also important that I was able to find those handful of things that I loved and was passionate about.  I put my head and heart into these things.  This seems to help with the tendencies of both anger and depression.   Both those ugly demons really take work in fighting.  I have gotten good at not worrying about things that aren’t really important.  When you go through the tragedy of loss, perspective certainly is gained on what really matters.  But that takes many years to sort through.

I have also noticed that I love change.  Without change I become stagnant.  That enables the demons of the pain to steadily take a bigger toll on me.  Whereas change occupies and distracts my mind.  The need for change has probably hurt my career and financial situation.  But I am at a point where I am okay with that.  Change has become a friend that has enabled me to better deal with time and pain.

I love music. I am a fanatic for alternative music and punk rock.  My oldest son shares this passion.  I stay up on new bands and new music.  We have gone to the Coachella Music Festival together 9 times.  We had a weekly radio show together for almost 5 years.  There are so many ways where music brings me comfort. I both connect and escape through music.  There is a saying, “music is my therapy”.   This is so true for me.  It enables me to cope like nothing else.  By finding these joys in life (whatever they may be) the days, months and years start to pass in a more manageable way.

The significant dates all remain significant.  Some years they hit me harder than other years.  The memories are still there.  I still think about Dana every single day.  Most days it’s with smiles and happy thoughts.  Some days it’s with tears.  Then there are days where it’s with anger.  Thankfully those days are not as often for me anymore.  The anger can be so destructive, but it also is an agent to help with the passing of time.  As weird as it sounds, in the years that I had such anger it became a distraction that got me through the years.  But thankfully I realize now that time is much better passed with positive distractions rather than the hateful, negative stuff.

I hate the term “time heals all wounds”.  Sure it heals and numbs many of the open, gaping wounds.  But the constant of pain is there no matter how much time has passed. It’s just there, a part of me.  Being almost 27 years into this journey of loss, I guess I can say that I have become okay with not being okay.  The grief of such a loss is a life sentence.  My wish is that society could accept and embrace that with the empathy it deserves.

28 thoughts on “The Reality of Time

  1. It’s so refreshing to see an honest account of loss and not one that is following stereotypes.
    My uncle died when I was very young, unfortunately I don’t even remember him but I see the grief affect my Gran every year. On his birthday and on the anniversary of his death, I understand that it does not ever get easier and the pain doesn’t ever ‘go away’. You just have to find new ways to cope day by day.
    I hope today is a good day for you.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. “I moved forward, I did not move on.”
    I’ve never heard truer words than these regarding loss. I can relate to all of your posts. I’m 51 and lost my true love 15 years ago. And I don’t like to talk about it because no one else is inside of me and can truly understand.
    Thank you for sharing your story. You are speaking for yourself, but touching the lives of those who can’t or won’t speak for themselves. I am grateful.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. You are welcome! I think it’s so easy to internalize loss, which affects us negatively. So it’s inspiring to see someone like yourself getting that pain out in the open. Maybe someday I’ll write my own story. But I loathe bringing up those bad memories. Good memories are fine, but the ones surrounding the death are just terrible. Btw, no need to thank me…it’s YOU who deserve the praise for being so courageous!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. OMG this is so touching. The society always labels things wrongly to fit to certain dogma and delusions.

    No two souls are same. The innate human natures are very different and unique. We are like fingerprints, no single love can replace another.

    However there is that purification that only you can effect on yourself to help you center better and use the love you had for her to strengthen your resolve for enlightenment because thats exactly what you need to experience bliss in the coming future.

    You are already so lucky by the virtue of realizing that the love you had for her was not of this world. Its like two souls that had always known each other for thousands of years until the unexpected separation.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I, too, still love my late husband even though we were divorced before he passed on. The man who has been my husband for almost 27 years understands that special place I keep in my heart for my ex-husband. He believes like I do: there are as many kinds of love as there are people to love.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. It has been almost four years since my husband past away leaving behind a daughter who was 14 and son who was 11. A year later a friend of mine her husband had a massive heart attack leaving her with 2 children as well. -a month after he past another very good friends husband past leaving her with two children. All of us widows in our early 40’s with kids. We have become even closer since and can share so much and help one another. I did date one guy for about a year and always felt that “she moved on so fast” looks from friends and family.
    This has got to be one of the best things I’ve ever read and I may possibly get the 3 of us shirts that say “I did not move on- I moved forward” in small town, it could speak volumes!
    Nobody understands until they have been thru it. Thank you so much for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thank you for sharing such an honest perspective! I’m struggle to track down the quote and source; but, I studied under a professor of psychology and counseling who said, “time doesn’t heal all wounds. It sets up mine fields”. I always found that to be so profound and sadly so true

    Liked by 1 person

  7. This resonates so much with me. Thank you for articulating complex feelings on loss, life and time in a way that is so honest and relatable.

    I experienced a significant loss and tragedy in my life at a young age, one that most people understandably could not relate to. I found it very challenging at the time to have people try and engage by drawing comparisons to events that had transpired in their lives. I did understand that they were trying to empathize and draw parallels in order to connect as best they could, but in many ways, it made the healing process a prolonged and difficult one for me, because I felt that no one ‘really’ understood and worse yet…they were diminishing the significance of what I went through.

    Over time, I came to learn, accept, and appreciate that everyone’s experience with tragedy is truly subjective and perhaps as significant in their own world as it was mine. I began to appreciate people’s effort to extend an olive branch of empathy and support, in whatever capacity they could, which oftentimes was by relating through personal experience. It took quite a bit of time to come to that conclusion though and, admittedly, when people ask about what happened however many years ago, I do find myself bristling, even now, in anticipation of the subsequent conversation.

    I also love change and upon reading that part of your post some things came into focus as to why that may be. The past two years I’ve seen fewer ‘major’ changes, but it definitely was a pattern throughout my twenties, where I would completely change up my relationship status, living arrangements, professional life, etc. That was a very interesting observation on your part, and one that definitely has me reflecting on some past (and present) behaviors.

    Thank you so much for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s all so complex. It’s taken me all this time to really be able to digest and process it all in a way where I can finally articulate it. I am glad that my posts are seeming to help others going through similar types of stuff. What a journey it is! Thank you for such well-thought out comments 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I agree, society actually disregards people who move on after their partner dies. What they fail, to understand is the deep pain felt by the person
    You are really brave to share the story of your life. Stay happy. Stay blessed

    Liked by 1 person

  9. It’s nice to know there’s someone out there who has a better understanding of “moving forward rather than moving on”. You saying “without change I become stagnant” caught my eye and is so true because I believe that change is the only constant in life. The toll of loss and moving forward is much easier on the male than their female counterparts (at least I’m sure of this in my part of the world), but gender notwithstanding one who’s gone through a great loss only knows how great and those who haven’t have a lurking fear of when will it be, what will it be, where will it be, how will it be? No one knows till it happens, and then only can we deal with it. Rightly put, he who wears the shoes knows where it pinches most.
    Remain strong and happy.

    Liked by 1 person

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