My Love

My Love

If my light starts to flicker, don’t make me stay.

If my heart can’t keep beating, then let it away.

A subtle smell or sound and my sorrow consumes me.

Memories flood of life changed, a soul now set free.

I am tired and lonely and my mind deceives me;

What I want is not, and what is not can’t be.

So I grieve, while I hope, for simple mercy my way;

And I rest, but not sleep, to pass yet one more day.

Kevin used to call me “my love.”  After work he’d say, “Come out on the deck and have a cup of tea with me, my love.”  Precious words made more precious with time.  I wrote the lines above a couple of weeks after he died, at a time when I didn’t care if I ever woke up.  I found them today as I looked through my journal.   Perhaps words can transcend time, they certainly can withstand it.  In a sense they can deliver immortality, a comforting thought for me anyway.

Tomorrow is two months since Kevin died; a measure in time of something that can’t be measured.  Try to put a value on a person’s life, then try to imagine how precious the memories are that you have created with that person.  This is my dilemma, I’ve lost the flesh and blood; all that is left is intangible.  Thoughts and memories are things that are but are not at the same time.

These are the types of things I worry about. What if I start to forget? I don’t ever want to forget.

The Darkness Suits Me

It’s been almost two months since my husband died. Like most traumatic incidents the event itself has the ability to feel close and distant at the same time. Some days it feels like Kevin’s been gone for a long time, other days it feels like it just happened. It can feel so raw that it pains my heart and I find it hard to swallow; even holding my head up is an effort. The pain is very, very real. It settles deep the centre of my chest, behind my ribcage and throbs in time with the beat of my heart – separate but the same. I would likely be diagnosed as suffering from Broken Heart Syndrome. It is real and it exists, and it is a major factor in why I continue to be under a doctor’s care

Not a day goes by that I don’t think about Kevin, wonder what he would think or say. Some days are better than others. On good days I may find humour in something and I can imagine him hiss-laughing, he’d sound like a snake, sharing my laughter. On other days I don’t imagine his response at all – I can’t get past my own sorrow. On these low days I may find myself in his closet touching his sweaters, smelling his clothes, hugging one of his favorite tee-shirts. On these occasions I wonder if he can see me, if he is still here in some shape or form, and so I plead with the universe in general, to send me a sign to let me know he’s here with me.

Tomorrow my daughter and my sister-in-law will go see a psychic, medium, sensitive – I am actually not sure what she is. I hope it proves to be a comforting experience. I was offered the opportunity to go as well, but I am just not ready. I am still dwelling in the darkness and shadows, but unexpectedly there is a degree of comfort in this. I am not moving forward very fast and darkness seems to encourage caution and care; it’s okay to move slowly when you can’t see where you are going. So, for now, I passed on the opportunity.

It’s almost two months and I have been back at work part time for about a month. It has been a push, but my coworkers tell me that I appear to be improving.  Maybe on the outside, however, the reality is that his death is never out of my mind.

This first, no that first …

I haven’t posted lately because I’ve been spinning out of control.  I have reached a point where the things I have to do have simply overwhelmed me.  They have all become important, equally important, in my mind.  Consequently, I haven’t been able to determine what to do first, what should be done first.  This is the reality of functioning on my own.

Throughout the more than 30 years of my marriage I was the primary decision-maker and accountant for the family. I made the decisions and did the follow through.  So why then, do I feel like I am drowning in the sea of responsibility?

I realize now, that although I may have made the decisions, there almost always was some sort of discussion between Kevin and me, at least for big decisions.  Kevin always had an opinion (sometimes completely off the wall) and he was never bashful about expressing it.  As a father and husband, Kevin didn’t fret about the small stuff; as long as we were safe, fed, happy and having fun, that was all that mattered.  His role in our marriage, he would often state, was to socialize and protect and mine was everything else (as long as he didn’t disagree with it).  He had little tolerance for inaction and indecisiveness, any decision was better than no decision.

After years of this type of conditioning I have become quite used to ploughing through the things that have to be done. However, it’s different with this, with settling an estate.  It’s not something that is easy or straightforward, it’s emotional and heartbreaking and relentless – there are so many things that have to be done: burial arrangements; transfers of title; changing my own Will; dealing with the various utility companies, credit card companies; and all sorts of other little one-offs that come up as the days go by.

Things have to be done, yes, but not right away.  I was reminded of this again today by my lawyer and by my sister-in-law.  I’m spinning but it’s because I’ve wound myself too tight.  I am my own worst enemy, trying to do everything and get everything settled in record time.  There’s no rush and this is something that I need to recognize for my own peace of mind, since the only one pressuring me is me. Old habits die hard.

The Order of Grief

I never considered that there was a hierarchy in the grieving process until just recently.  A good friend’s brother died and I called to offer my condolences.  This is a friend who, along with her husband, has supported me unreservedly since Kevin’s death.  This couple has been part of my life for 35 years; her husband was my husband’s best friend for far longer – since the age of two. I called to check in and see how things were.  It is inconceivable how she must be feeling and I said so.  She stated simply, “I’m sad, but don’t worry about me, I’ll be fine.  You’ve lost Kevin.  You lost your husband.  You loved him so much.”  I hadn’t called to talk to her about Kevin. I called to talk to her about how she was feeling.

We ended up talking about sorrow and loss and how consuming it could be.  She explained to me that her role was to support me regardless of how much pain or sadness she felt resulting from Kevin’s death, and now from her brother’s death  That her grief would never ever be as much as my grief; she had relegated her grief to mine.  It was astounding to me, that with the death of her brother, she still felt my loss was greater than hers.  I wondered if she felt this way due to her perception of my grief, or had I developed a sense of entitlement to grief that everyone accepted and which influenced her thinking.

The initial shock of Kevin’s death leveled me, no doubt.  Then the grief settled over me and decisions and rational thought became too difficult. I learned to lean on my friends and family. Leaning on others did not come easily to me, but I don’t think it comes easily to most people.  I had hoped to guide and support my children through this loss but I wasn’t able to and I fell hard and flat. Consequently, I let myself and my family down. This disappointment and self-doubt further complicated the grieving process by adding additional stress; more strands to add to my braid of grief, sorrow, confusion and fear.  Where was my strength when I needed it most?  My husband’s death was a humbling experience and I am thankful for all those friends who have helped me throughout.

I suspect that my friend is using avoidance tactics to suppress her own sense of loss. Grief is an unordered chaotic emotion. It is pervasive; deny it at your peril.  I worry that this good friend is not on a healthy path and emotionally she is stretched too thin. Her brother has now died and she’s still grieving a good friend.  There is no classification system that can be applied to grief. Relationships on paper or blood lines don’t determine the amount or degree of grief to which you are entitled. ‘Be brave, soldier on’ doesn’t work here.

OHRC, CHRC, BMO, OMG I’m Acronym Drunk

Not one to let grass grow under my feet, I contacted the Ontario Human Rights Commission today.  As suspected this is a federal issue, since the banks are federally regulated.  I was referred to the Canadian Human Rights Commission (CHRC) where I initiated an inquiry to determine if I have a complaint that can move forward.  The CHRC intake clerk asked me for grounds of the potential complaint – in this case  – marital status.  In Canada the individual cannot be discriminated against due to marital status.  After supplying the base information needed to open a file, I was advised by the CHRC that I would receive a call within the next two weeks to obtain the details of my discrimination.  Based on that discussion the CHRC will advise me whether they are prepared to move forward or continue my complaint.

The challenge here is that banks as well as insurance companies have carved an impasse between themselves and the common law that applies broadly to society.  Reinforcing this notion that banks are treated separate and apart from most of industry is the fact that, here in Canada, they have their own Ombudsman – The Ombudsman for Banking Services and Investments (OBSI).  On the OBSI  website it states:

“OBSI resolves disputes between participating banking services and investment firms and their customers if they can’t solve them on their own. We are independent and impartial, and our services are free to consumers. You must first complain to the firm involved, but if you remain unsatisfied you have a right to bring your case to us. As an alternative to the legal system, we work informally and confidentially to find a fair outcome.” (

It may simply turn out that the CHRC doesn’t have the teeth to tackle an industry as powerful as BMO.  There are enough issues where the outcome might show more promise than taking on the banks, banks may be too well insulated for the CHRC to affect change.  Speculation on my part because now I have to play a waiting game.  No problem – just gives me more time to build my case.