July 4th, 2014
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Happy Fourth of July!

Today I will be spending the day with friends I have known for decades; really great, tried and true friends.  There will be a cookout along with patriotic music, a reading of the Declaration of Independence, fireworks and best of all, relaxation.

flag sparkler

This 4th of July party is an annual event and one that I and the rest of my friends look forward to attending every year, rain or shine. ( http://crylaughheal.com/independence-day )

There are only a few times I purposely missed attending this party.  For two summers in a row, after my husband’s death, I didn’t go because I knew I wasn’t ready to socialize.  Graciously, the invitation to come and participate in the festivities continued to be extended to me, but I didn’t go until I felt strong enough to be able to carry on a conversation and not start crying; not stare into space, not numbly walk through the day.

I wasn’t worried about what other people would think if I did cry or seemed out of it or act depressed.  I did it for myself.

Sometimes you have to exercise your independence and behave in a way that works for you and this party is just one example of doing that.  You know yourself better than anyone else.  When you are grieving, you are allowed to bow out of events that you don’t think you are ready to handle.  Not in a hurtful way, but in a way that lets others know you need a break.  At that point, I needed the space to acknowledge the huge change in my life and I just needed time to understand what was happening even though none of it made any sense.

Part of grieving is to realize that dates, or times of the day, are difficult.  They are difficult because they carry painful memories, of a time when those dates or special routines of the day, were spent with the loved one you lost.

My husband loved this party because my lucky friends have a pool in their backyard.  He loved taking our son into the pool and the two of them would play with the water noodles and then we all would play Marco Polo. This would go on for hours.  We would grill and talk and laugh as friends do.  He also loved laying on the couch in our friend’s living room because could look out their screened front door to the front yard where all the kids would be running around with sparklers.

pool noodles

So you can see why going to this party by myself was not something I wanted to do.

I knew that being there and looking around and watching people in the pool would bring all of that back to me.  I know it’s not a good idea to run away from pain but there is also a time when you need to take care of yourself and protect your inner self.  I was too raw at that point and couldn’t handle the feelings that I knew would come rushing back and perhaps overwhelm me with their intensity.

Over the years, there have been adjustments and acceptances that life will never be the same as it was when my husband was alive.  Rebuilding my life has taken longer than I thought it would and I would suggest to others that you need to give yourself whatever amounts of time you need to regain a sense of well being about yourself and your new life.

Today, while at the party, I will think of my funny and sometimes frustrating, husband and what it was like when we came together to this July 4th party with our son.  And it will hurt.  But not as much as it used too.

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2 Responses to “Independent Behavior”

  1. Barbara Anderson

    Almost 9 months ago I lost my husband and reading your blog made me realize that I have been too hard on myself. I have been trying to go on as usual, keeping my feelings inside and not turning down invitations, pushing my way through and putting on a fake smile. It is very difficult to move forward to wake up each day and realizing that my whole life has changed. I am fortunate to have a loving family 2 daughters especially that have been supportive but also going through their own grief. I have friends that are supportive but I know that grief is something that each person has to go through on their own. Just wanted you to know that reading your blog has helped, thank you.

    • Mary Kate Cranston

      Barbara I am so sorry about your husband’s death. I don’t know the circumstances but you have lost someone who you loved and cared about very much. I bet that he got you and you got him. I found out the hard way that if you keep pushing it down it only comes back to you and it is more painful later. Grief is confusing and exhausting so please make sure you are taking care of yourself. I know it’s probably hard to sleep but try to rest and eat well. We are all in this together and through our pain we can help each other. Give yourself time. Hugs!!


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