Friday, March 26, 2010

Journaling Exercise

One of the books I'm reading now is Getting to the Other Side of Grief: Overcoming the Loss of a Spouse, by Susan J. Zonnebelt-Smeenge and Robert C. DeVries. It's written from both a clinical and pastoral perspective. I appreciate that balanced approach. As I've come to be a committed Christian, I filter most everything through my spiritual understanding. It's hard to separate it from the rest of my life now.

So, I've come to the fourth chapter where the authors advise me to take charge of my grief with a number of suggestions. One of the first is journaling. I used to journal in a blank book when I was younger. I'm glad that I did that because I was able to find those journals recently and reread a lot of the early history I had with Michael. Once when I was fed up with him (before we were in a committed relationship), I attempted to burn them. For whatever reason they didn't catch fire, and I still have them. I will treasure them from now on.

Anyway, I've been blogging for more than four years, and I consider this to be my journal. So, I'm going to complete this journaling activity here instead of writing it down.

Begin journaling about your deceased spouse by responding to the following questions:

What do I miss most about my spouse?
There is not just one thing! I miss his incredible warmth and openness. He was so easy-going and approachable. He had an incredible smile that just took my breath away. He was the life of the party and I loved to hear him laugh. I could go on and on. He was just such a wonderful man.

What do I wish I had asked or said to my spouse?
I think we were able to express everything that we wanted to and needed to prior to his passing. In the last two or three months leading up to his death, Michael had worked though a lot of issues regarding his past and his spirituality. That led to a lot of good conversations, and I do believe I said everything I needed to then.

What do I wish I had done or not done?
One thing I've considered is how might things have been different when we first met if I'd held on to my convictions instead of throwing caution to the wind and acting on my feelings for him. I do believe we were meant to be together, and so I wonder if I'd been stronger about what I needed from him if he would have figured some things out sooner that took him years and years to instead.

What do I wish my spouse had said or not said?
Michael said everything I needed him to say. Like I said, he processed so many things in the last couple months of his life. He made me and my friends and our family members aware of his regrets and how he would have married me years and years ago if he'd only known then what he knew now. As much as I hated to see him wrestle with regret, I was pleased that he had come to a point in life where he finally knew what was really important to him.

What do I wish my spouse had done or not done?
I just wish he'd gone to the doctor when that cough first starting in October 2008. If he had been diagnosed sooner perhaps he would have responded to treatment better and we would have had more time together. All speculation, of course.

What did I value most about our relationship?
It was so easy to be together. We rarely disagreed or argued about anything. We simply enjoyed being together.

What was hurtful or angering about our relationship?
The guilt he carried for so long about breaking up with his ex-girlfriend. The way he let her have a place in his family above us. The way he let his sister-in-law shun me and say mean-spirited things about me.

What special memories do I have of my spouse and what memories will I keep alive?
That's a tough question for me to answer. Right now I have so many memories and they are all precious to me. I guess I'll know better how to answer that as time goes by.

What will I take with me as part of my spouse and our relationship to cherish?
This is another tough one! I will definitely take with me his joie de vie. Michael loved life. As for our relationship, I think I will always cherish how friendship was the foundation for our great love. He truly was my best friend.

What living situation is difficult to deal with now without my spouse?
Living alone and being single again are both difficult things for me. I really felt like I was freer to be myself in the context of marriage than I'd ever been on my own. That has been taken from me now.

If you've read thus far, thanks for taking the time to do so. I just want to incorporate these grief activities into my blog so I'll have a place to reflect on them later.


  1. What a wonderful exercise and I think it's great that you did it in your blog! Very beautiful, your relationship and time spent with Michael. The memories will last you a lifetime.

  2. You and mIchael knew each other for years and it seems as if you were married for years to. It is so sad that you have been temporarily separated after such a short time as a married couple.
    Your writings always made you sound like soul mates.
    A fabulous exercise that I think I change a little and will do with hubby this evening. Thank you...YET again.

  3. Thank you for sharing such personal and beautiful words...

  4. It is so beautiful how you so eloquently put into words your love and your grief and give others a glimpse into your heart.

  5. What a beautiful tribute to the love you shared together...

  6. So glad you have this avenue to journal your thoughts. I think of you so often.

  7. You guys were meant to be together and the love was shared equally between you both.. you knew what each other needed..
    Love this post..
    Love ya girly..

  8. journalling seems like a great way to work through your feelings. You wrote such beautiful things about your marriage and life together with Michael.

  9. Not only a healthy exercise for you, but a lovely tribute to Michael. When I read your posts I feel I get to know him a little better each time, and can easily see how you guys were together as a couple.


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