by Elizabeth Ann Rogers
I was in so much pain after losing my husband, Bill. We had sat on our deck one evening talking about our future. We kissed goodnight without knowing that it would be for the last time. He passed away in his sleep. He was only 46, and I was 40.
For a long time, I was angry and found it almost unbearable to watch older couples together. It seemed so unfair. My husband was not here with me when our only child married. He did not walk her down the aisle on one of the most important days of her life. He was not here when our grandchildren came along. It hurt so much, knowing they would never meet him.
I never formally decided to keep a journal. In this time of sorrow, I could not communicate my emotions even to myself. It seemed as though my writing was my mediator. No matter how hard I struggled, I could not keep the walls I built around me to keep out the pain came down. I tried so hard to keep the truth from myself. He was gone! I tried writing about unimportant events at the time, but this gradually began to change.
As I was going through the trivial motions of life, another part of me was bursting out on paper. My journal was full of emotions, although I felt numb. I did not realize that these words, which were coming from my heart and not my hands, helped me heal. You do not get over a loss; you must go through it. I allowed my pen to scream onto paper the anger, unfairness, and injustice I felt. I did not want to let go of the pain, for I thought letting go of the problem meant letting go of my husband. Nothing was further from the truth. At the time, Bill felt so far away, and yet today, when I write, he is here beside me. Love doesn’t leave; it is forever!
If you cannot express yourself out loud or even if you can, I urge you to write. I can’t describe the feeling I had, but I found a space between paper and pen, which holds a healing quality. I urge you to write from your heart and do this for yourself. No one need ever read it. It is for your eyes and your heart alone. This is your voice, which comes from a very private and personal place, as I know. Please don’t underestimate the power of words or the power of prayer. I could not have made it without either of these strengths.
Today, I write with joy and not sorrow. That’s right, I have kept writing but how different this is now! I wrote a story for my nephew about a young boy and a young dragon learning to deal with the prejudices of their elders. I can write storybooks for my grandchildren happily for my husband is sitting right here beside me. Through my daughter and me, they know him very well. They laugh at the stories we tell about him (he was always laughing), and this keeps him alive. They understand how full of life he was, and to them and through all of us he truly lives on.
Now that I have come full-circle, I can see clearly how invaluable my journal was to get me through the most painful period in my life, even though I was not writing about what had actually happened, it was my outlet. I wasn’t dealing with the pain in my life. I was dealing with it on paper. This is what made my journal such a powerful tool.
If this helps someone cope with their pain it will give purpose to my life and loss and to that of my dear husband’s life. This is another way he will live on.
About the Author: Elizabeth Ann Rogers began keeping a journal in 1995. Over the years, her writings eventually led her to in-depth writing about loss and grief. Ms. Rogers was a retired postal employee.