There are so many things to say about what it feels like 14 years after his loss.
When it comes to loss of this kind, time is confusing.
It’s almost as if his passing shoved me out of my body too.
It just took me out of the direct experience of living.
It placed me at a vantage point I never expected.
And because we have only been given very inadequate descriptions of grief, I had to find new words to describe my own aftermath.
Calling it grief was always inadequate.
It is an out of body experience.
It is like I live in two places.
This is what happens when we lose someone we love.
We get pumped out of time, out of place, out of body.
But the only person who sees it, is us.
We are also told that if we talk about them years down the road we must be stuck.
I can laugh like a mad woman about this last part.
Sure it’s complicated, but not the way they think it is.
You don’t just remember the person you lost, you are with them in an unspoken way.
You hold their beingness with you.
It’s an inner experience that can only be described as a miracle.
It’s as if they are forever yours.
As some of you know, I remarried.
My husband Eric and I have made an amazing life together.
But this is what I want the world to understand and not forget.
My way of ‘grieving’, remembering and speaking about my first husband doesn’t take away from my life here with Eric.
Far from it.
Human beings have complex and vast inner worlds.
The basic premise of this physical reality can’t match the invisible world we belong to within ourselves.
It’s not grief, it’s human nature to continue to love someone beyond time and space.
It’s the way we are made. It’s natural.
Love is an infinite feeling.
It’s the love we have inside for them that keeps trying to reach them.
If I were to rename grief I would call it honor.
What an honor it is to love so deeply that decades can go by and that love remains.
I am going to share with you an email I sent out to my family and friends a few days after he passed.
This was my beginning.
Sent: Monday, 14 August 2006, 03:12:30
By now I have not seen Bjarne for over 3 weeks, which is by far the longest time. Needless to say sometimes I pretend he is abroad somewhere and I will be visiting soon. Denial, denial, denial.
When I studied the stages of bereavement in college I used to think that the stage of denial would not really materialize in most people. How could they be in denial, the person is gone, what makes them doubt that? The following is the answer I gave to this question today. The human body cannot cope with the reality of such loss, it is so painful that it truly does not allow the knowledge to penetrate the brain. When it finally sets in, time has passed and the person has had some experience being without the loved one.
A few nights ago I cried for the first time. I know it might sound strange but I was relieved in some respects. Numbness is not very comfortable to somebody who is used to feeling all the emotions possible. It really felt like a big part of me had been under anesthesia. The next day the numbness was back in full force but I think feeling the sad emotion even for a few moments was a step towards the right direction.
Since Bjarne died I have managed to run as fast as I can without stopping for too long. When I have to brake for a few moments it feels quite sickening and impossible to bear. Whenever I have to make a decision my first thought still is what would he say about this. And to my surprise I am mostly certain about the answer. I still make conversation with him, in the car, cemetery, and before I go to bed.
When I am alone, I feel closer to him somehow and it feels like he is with me driving even when I am just going to the store. One can never know for sure but I choose to lean towards the idea that he is around somewhere watching over the girls and me. If he could see me right now, I know that he would be proud of me. I am still standing, I can still take care of the girls, I eat, have gone out with friends, made pleasant conversation with a lot of people, been to the hairdresser, paid bills, went to the beach, slept on our bed without him, smiled and laughed, and missed him more than I could ever tell you but I am still alive. Some of the above are just simple routines for most people, but before he died I was not sure whether I would be able to accomplish any of them, but I did and I am grateful.
I know it seems like I am not around much, I have tried to run away from the house often but in the last couple of days I have stayed home more and have been able to endure the pain of the familiar spaces. I hope to continue my progress with more steps forward than back and to be able to chat with you all one day soon.
Thank you for reading.”
And that was the beginning of a very long journey.
If you are going to take one thing away from this special anniversary letter it should be this.
Wherever you are on this journey don’t forget, love is infinite.
And a big honor.
Don’t let anyone convince you otherwise.
They don’t know what it’s like to live in two places at the same time.
This is an honor you receive when someone you love dies.
No other way around it.
Christina Rasmussen is the creator and founder of The Life Reentry Institute, Second Firsts, and Star Letters, and the host of the Dear Life Podcast. Christina is on a crusade to help millions of people rebuild, reclaim, and relaunch their lives using the power of their own minds. Christina’s work has been featured on ABC News, NPR, The White House Blog, and MariaShriver.com. She is the bestselling author of Second Firsts: Live, Laugh, and Love Again, which has also been translated in Chinese and German and just released her second book Where Did You Go on expanding the mind in ways that allows co-creation with the forces of the universe. She is also writing her first work of fiction: a science fiction story about a woman on a quest to start over and begin a new life. You can find more information on her website and follow her on FB or Twitter.
Image courtesy of Jude Beck.