Finishing my widow’s tasks

Scattered all over the Internet there are so many sites about bereavement, about dealing with death in all its many different forms, recommendations for helpful things to say to someone recently bereaved and even lists of things not to say. From my experience in the course of this year, I would suggest that the latter list should include unhelpful encouragement to appreciate bureaucracy as a way to “take your mind off it”. Yes, my “widow’s tasks” have kept me busy, required tremendous energy, attention and determination. No, being kept involuntarily busy has not been helpful.

Having to repress thinking about the reality of Peter’s death in order to deal with phone calls and emails, having to repeat to complete strangers over and over again that my husband is dead, has made it that much harder to rid myself of the irrational hope that once I have finally finished all my tasks, he will come home again. Then each step along the way only confirms the finality of his death, and I have to stop and take a deep breath, find my balance again.

With tremendous support and encouragement, I have made great progress in finishing my widow’s tasks and closing Peter’s life. All the deposits have been returned, all his bank accounts closed and customer cards canceled, outstanding bills paid. Even our old car now has Viennese number plates. The only major task I haven’t been able to finish yet is shutting down our server, but even that is very close to completion now. I haven’t been updating this blog, because I am working on a new website for myself to move my domains to a different server, and trying to migrate this WordPress blog to Drupal didn’t work as smoothly as I expected it to, so I’ll have to start again (and maybe this time RTFM). A few days ago, however, I was assured that I don’t have to be finished with the new site before I can move my domains, so I have a bit more breathing space and can post blog entries again, rather than just writing them in my head.

After struggling with “multitasking” for months, however, trying to keep up with my work, move forward with new plans for the workshop, and close Peter’s affairs all at the same time, now I have the feeling I really need a break – but now it’s too late to take one. After ten months of living alone with two cats, it seems I ought to have become accustomed to it by now, and I have, in fact, developed new routines and daily rituals of my own in the meantime. But getting by from one day to the next is still different from gradually realizing that I am likely to go on living alone for at least as many years as Peter and I lived together. That is a long time, a long space of emptiness that I see stretching out before me. Of course, my life is filled with wonderful people of all ages, and I don’t feel essentially lonely. That’s different, though, from being able to share mundane experiences and trivial thoughts at the end of the day, different from feeling understood without having to explain.

Now I’m annoyed with myself for starting to write blog posts again by beginning with a long moan, but maybe this way I can stop moaning internally, so that I can concentrate on finishing my work in time to be able to cope with November. And then there will be space for something else again.

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