Moving Forward – With All My Strength
As I write this I am home in Point au Roche and getting ready for a move west to Colorado. The stay in this house has broken the record for the longest time living in any one home… almost fifteen years. The longest I lived in one place before this was as a child in the Bay Area – for eight years. This is the first house I and Shaun ever owned, and also the longest he lived in one place. When we moved in here it was the end of about six solid years of house sitting and moving – sometimes three times a year. Naturally, we embraced coming home… and we dubbed this house The Nest. And we nested furiously!
Normally this blog is about art and travels – but through conversations with a dear friend who also lost her husband last year, I have been inspired to write about my current journey. I hope you will glean something positive from what I have to say about grief, loss and moving into new chapters.
In July my partner of 28 years died suddenly. I already was scheduled to do an artist residency in Trinidad, Colorado and at first thought I would be canceling and staying home. Within a week of True’s passing I knew that I would fulfill my commitment and go to Trinidad on my own. It was the best thing I could have done for myself at that difficult time and somewhere in my heart I knew it.
Though I cried daily, and many times a day for the first few weeks out of loneliness, it was very good to escape to new environs and few reminders of my former life. I walked for hours to calm my mind and explore my new surroundings, especially before I made a few friends. When I got home here in December it was very hard at first, the reminders were quite difficult. I realized that I did much better when I was not constantly reminded of my loss, and that it makes sense to put as many mementos away as you can for a while until your heart is more healed. I felt bad about that realization at first, but I know True wouldn’t want me to suffer as a remembrance of him – he would want me to move forward with all my strength and embrace the positive.
Unlike my friend who lost her husband last year I have always moved to new places – eight homes and five states before I was eight years old… so welcoming transition is in my nature. I thrive on change. From my perspective embracing change is the best method for me to heal and live more fully. Were I to stay in New York I would be doing so only because of the support system offered by friends. After working here at The Nest for a month, I am doing pretty well even with reminders of him all around me… But I will embrace this new chapter more fully once I am away from the reminders, and the place we shared for so long. It’s just a matter of making new and dear friends – which I have already done in Trinidad.
Even when I was a kid, and we’d move to somewhere new, I made friends quickly. But during this residency in Trinidad I really had to push myself – and also be honest with the folks I met if I felt a connection. I told a lot of my new friends pretty early into our conversations that I was suffering a great loss, I reached out and they all – to a person – took my hand freely and lovingly… Especially the friends I made through Artocade. I am deeply thankful to those who took me in, but I know that I created that situation for myself. Allowing myself to be open and vulnerable to strangers was the very strongest thing I could have done. I have been amazed by how much people step up and help when given the opportunity.
In conversations with my friend I realized that my road through grief and healing naturally is not best for all. To use her as an example: for those who are not accustomed to change, packing up and moving to a new state is not an easier way forward to healing! It’s simply too much of the unfamiliar, they are a fish out of water. Though it’s a foreign concept to me to some degree – I know many people need to feel more tethered and supported. But I think that we need to know that it is okay to not want reminders, at every turn, of our loss… it’s okay to distance yourself from some of that pain for a while. And it’s fine if you need to tell your friends to stop facilitating reminders of the loss of your loved one as their means of showing you they care. There will be time enough later to share sweet memories and laugh and cry, and there are times when one needs to keep smiling and focusing on the moment at hand.
Posted in: Family, Friendship, Healing, Ideas, Migration, Personal History, Soul Food, Wanderings
Amanda. Thank you for sharing. Your strength and sense of beauty even in difficult times is inspiring, as is your art.
I look forward to following your journey.
Welcome to Colorado! I moved from California to Pueblo, Colorado (I’m just 80 miles to your north) 3 years ago. I also moved on from a rather painful past, by myself and did not know a soul when I moved here. I am an introvert and it took me a year before I was ready to get to know anyone here. The friends that I made here have made me feel welcome, I bought a house and decided to stay! Life is good. Change can be difficult but it can also be very rewarding!
Thanks Bonnie! Look me up when you come to Trinidad!
Thank you for your honest Sharing friend. I forwarded it to my friend, Mimi-she lost her husband Ed, in a similar, sudden way in September & I believe she will benefit greatly from reading your words.
I remember Mimi, please give her a hug and my condolences.
Thank you for sharing your thoughts and feelings. My husband is ill right now and may not recover. I have been thinking about how I can go on without him. I am a seasonal park ranger and I, too, like to move around to experience all of the beauty in this world. I know it will not be easy, but I need to do the next best thing, whatever that may be.
You give me hope that it will happen if I follow through.
I’m sorry your hubby isn’t doing well. Sending love and hugs and hoping our paths meet again. Let me know if there’s anything I can do to help from afar!
I wish I had done like you are doing.
Dear Amanda, yours is some of the most powerful writing I’ve read in quite awhile. Amazing insights and encouragement to yourself and others. I appreciated the context on how your embrace of change is lifelong, and also what the nest has meant to you. I agree that as individuals we need to push ourselves to be more vulnerable and daring. Embrace Trinidad, Volume Two.
WOW Cass! What a compliment! Thank you! xo Can’t wait for your visit to Trinidad!
Thanks so much for your candid post. My father died last month and the week after, my mother had a stroke. As she spent the last few weeks in the hospital and rehab, I thought it best that she return home to mourn, to see familiar things, his clothes, chair, his presence. She is going home today, and my siblings have painted the kitchen and updated the house, moving his clothes out of the closet. I was worried about those changes, thinking reminders of my father being necessary. Your post helped me tremendously, as there are many ways to recover from loss. Thanks for that.
Thanks for this note… Yes, we all find our own way – there are as many different ways to heal as there are people in the world. From my own experience I think it’s wonderful that there have been a few changes to her usual space because everything will remind her of him and seeing some brighter rooms and little personal touches may be just enough change to feel positive. Big hugs to you!
Go West, young woman! And know that there are many of us in the North Country wishing you the best as you journey forward in your life. There is no one way to mourn, just as there is no one way to live. I look forward to seeing what you’ll create in the future.