What Lies Beneath……

…… sometimes never surfaces.

This is a post that has been ruminating for a long time.

But I need to preface it with this:

I’m not asking for sympathy or pity.

I’m not complaining.

I’m not asking you to feel sorry for me.

I’m just being open and honest.

I don’t expect you to get it if you haven’t experienced great loss.

I don’t think that makes you “less than”.

I’m just saying I understand.

This post is mostly for those who grieve,

And the people who love them.

Grief never ends.

The degree to which it washes over you varies, but it never ends.

That’s the first thing that everyone needs to know.


Jim has been dead for over 13 1/2 years.

A lot has happened in those years.

Some bad.

More good.

I can’t complain.

But you see …… that’s the thing.

I can’t complain.

I shouldn’t complain.

I don’t want to complain.

I know I am in a wonderful position.

Jim planned for the unimaginable.

And my life is full because of that planning.

Well, almost full.

I travel.

I live in the greatest city in the world.

I have 6 amazing kids; 3 wonderful bonus kids; 4 terrific grands; loving and living parents; great siblings and in-law siblings; the best group of college friends that anyone could ask for; many, many women New Yorkers that I’ve known both known for years and met recently and loved instantly (shout-out to you, NY Woolfers!).

My life is good.

And yet.

This is not the life I wanted.

Not at this age.

Hell, not at any age.

I wanted him.

For longer than I had him.

But life moves on.

Kids grow up.

Grandchildren fill out the family.

People move.

In and out and all around.

Life continues.

My life is full.

I am happy.


And that’s the point.

I am happy.

But it’s a different happy.

It’s not the happy of “before”.

The light happiness that comes with unconditional love, security and a sense of belonging.

The happiness of naively thinking all of that would never end.

At least not for 50 years.

But it did end.

With the death of Jim came the death of unconditional love, security and belonging.

And the end of that light happiness.

Now my happiness is different.

It’s like taking a balloon that was nearly bursting with helium and replacing that gas with air.

It’s still a full balloon.

It’s just a little …… flat.

That’s how grief feels …… for me …… after all this time.

I’m full, but flat.

That has nothing to do with “not moving on”.

It has nothing to do with not accepting what is.

Nor does it have anything to do with “getting over it”.

Because frankly, that’s not possible so please don’t ever be an A-hole and say that to anyone who’s lost someone.

My life is good.

I know how blessed/privileged/lucky I was to have him, and to now have this life.

Believe me …… I know.

It’s just …… not the life I wanted.

8 thoughts on “What Lies Beneath……

  1. Irene

    It is amazing how often your honest and beautiful posts resonate with me. Thanks you! I luck the fortitude to be that open, forget about others, even often with myself and your posts sometimes are that ‘aah.. that must be what I am feeling..” thank you again for giving voice to my feelings. Wishing you and yours all the best.
    PS we met few times, once in NYC when the meet up group was in place and at the East Coast conference. The personality didn’t click.. oh well.. happens, but I am now in Riverdale- area in The Bronx .

  2. Jo Ann Cook

    Thank you, Janine, for putting into words things that have been in my heart and thoughts. No wonder I love you! You “get” me. I have a wonderful life, sons and family and friends who love me; but often I long for the me that I was. You understand that perfectly. Sending love. Jo Ann

  3. Debbie

    Your thoughts and feelings are words I couldn’t find a way to say… only someone who has lost what we have can understand. It’s been 9 years for me… many ups… many downs… lots of happiness… just not THAT kind of happiness. Thank you for this post😳

  4. Nancy

    So now I fully understand your grief because I am going through it. There is so much emptiness that can’t be filled. Even with people around you there is still a great emptiness, loneliness and restlessness. I had hoped this feeling wouldn’t last long but you say you still have it. No one knows what others go through until they go through it themselves.

  5. Linda L Jones

    This post is exactly how I feel. My husband died 13 years ago this past Saturday. No one understands how hard these days are for me… still. I am tired of hearing how I should move on. I feel like I do not fit anywhere, any more. I also have kids and grandkids, but that doesn’t fill this void.
    ” Grief never ends.

    The degree to which it washes over you varies, but it never ends.

    That’s the first thing that everyone needs to know.”

    I need to have that printed on a t-shirt!

    Thanks for sharing your feelings, which are frequently my feelings

  6. Lian van Roosmalen

    Beautifully worded, it is exactly how I feel it eleven years after the death of my husband. With two daughters, three grandchildren and one the way, I feel content and happy, but; “ it’s a different happy. It’s not the happy of before”.
    I’ve been reading you since you wrote for Widow’s Voice and I recognize myself in your stories very often.
    Met hartelijke groetjes van
    Lian (from the Netherlands)


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