― Rudyard Kipling
I think too much.
Maybe it’s because it’s so quiet around the house now. Since I work from home, I’m here almost 24/7 and I can go days without saying more than three words. But my brain is in overdrive.
I’ve been thinking about the difference between acknowledgement and acceptance.
You see, I acknowledge my husband’s death. Hard not to with a big empty hole in my life.
I acknowledge that I will never see him again, hold his hand, snuggle next to him all curled up with his arm around me. I acknowledge that I will never again feel that feeling of completeness when he is near. I acknowledge that I will never feel safe and secure, knowing that together we could handle anything. I acknowledge that I no longer have a partner, someone to talk things over, commiserate over a bad day or event with, share a happy thought with. I acknowledge that I will never again have someone understand me absolutely as he did.
But I can’t accept it.
Because I don’t want to.
I know that psychiatrists, counsellors, psychics, mediums and social workers throughout the world would tsk, tsk me and tell me that it is not healthy to continue to deny the facts. But in the words of Adam Savage from Mythbusters:
“I reject your reality and substitute my own.”
What is it about accepting his death that scares the hell out of me? I’m sure Freud and Company have a plethora of theories and hypotheses that would explain it. But since I barely passed Psych 101, my reasoning is probably a lot simpler.
If I accept it, then he is gone.
As long as I don’t accept, I have some tangent hold of him. An imaginary tether still keeping him bound to me. As long as I don’t accept it, death can’t claim him. As long as I don’t accept it, he is still mine.
Now most people would look at those two words and see that they are very similar. And maybe I am splitting hairs, but recognition of a fact is not the same as believing that the fact exists.
In my warped view of this whole widowhood, I believe that by accepting my husband’s death, I am diminishing him. I am categorizing him into the same pidgeon hole as my mother, my grandparents, my brother. All departed and missed, but still pushed to the back of my mind as I deal with everyday life.
I don’t want my husband to be an afterthought. I want him fresh, right in front of me, daily. I want him to be the first thought in the morning and the last thought at night. I want to hold on to him with both hands and never let him go.
Because as long as I don’t accept it, then somewhere in my little reality, he is still alive in a nebulous form.
As Elisabeth Kubler-Ross said, “Denial helps us to pace our feelings of grief. There is a grace in denial. It is nature's way of letting in only as much as we can handle.”
I remember reading a book called “The Hiding Place”. It is about a family who sheltered Jews during WWII in Holland and were sent to a Nazi death camp because of it. In the book, the author, Corrie Ten Boom, remembers talking about life and death with her father as a young girl.
She told her father that she couldn’t understand why bad things happen. At the time, they were travelling home from a shopping spree for her father who was a watch maker. He had a heavy suitcase and he put it down and told his daughter to pick it up and carry it. She tried and after a few minutes of struggling she told him that it was too heavy.
He then told her that is an example of why she didn’t understand. That God gives understanding only to those that can lift and carry the burden.
That analogy has always stuck in my mind. And that’s why I can’t accept his death. Why I can’t understand it.
I’m not strong enough yet to lift and carry that burden.