In the year after my wife died, I did some crazy things. I knew I wasn’t thinking clearly. I remember driving home one day and missing my turn. I remember waking every day overwhelmed with the thought that she was gone. I did the purge, sold my house and tried to live in the wilderness.
That’s what grief did to me. I had never experienced that depth of grief before. I had no idea what to expect. One old colleague who lost his wife to cancer wrote to me and said, “It’s going to be bad for a long time. But then someday it will get better.“
He was right.
Now that I’m coming up on my 3rd Fall in Raleigh, I was thinking about how crazy I was for about 2 years after Ellen died.
My first Fall in Raleigh, I remember thinking I didn’t need to buy a winter coat or even long pants because I could just wear my shorts, a T shirt and a fleece when it was cold.
I was an idiot for thinking this. I had already lived in Raleigh once before for 4 years. In January and February we had snowstorms and ice storms with temps dropping into the teens.
What was I possibly thinking?
Well…I was thinking my wife had died and I was so sad. I was thinking I didn’t care at all whether I was alive or dead. I was thinking, “I could wear shorts in winter” because I was thinking clearly.
I could list hundreds of other examples of unclear thinking I had when I was deep in grief. If anything, I’m fortunate for how many decisions of greater consequence I made during that time which turned out well.
I have no idea how that happened. But I’m pretty grateful that it did.