[👉 trigger warning – I talk about loss of a partner in this post]
Loss of a spouse is popping up in my life a lot lately – not my own, thankfully, but it’s showing up in a podcast I listen to, a Netflix show I watch, artists I follow on social media, a book I’m reading, and recently, a friend of a friend.
I haven’t had death in my close relationships yet but know it’s inevitable.
Like the writer, Elizabeth Gilbert, joked about in this podcast episode, death rate has kept it up at 100% since, well, always. Yet we’re still flabbergasted and appalled when someone we love dies.
This book had sat on my “for later” shelf in my library account for a few months, and honestly, I forgot what it was about.
I was jolted awake in the opening scene where Sheryl’s husband, Dave, dies suddenly and unexpectedly on their vacation in Mexico.
(Pretty much my worst nightmare.)
I have a tendency to fantasize about terrible situations on a good day, and loss of close loved ones has been on my mind a lot lately.
My Dave makes fun of me that I have such a morbid imagination and I “pre-mourn” stuff.
He’s Mr. Silver Lining – always looking for positives in life and doesn’t spend whole a lot of time and energy thinking about the negatives.
You may agree with Dave and think it’s unhealthy for me to dive deeply into the world of loss and grief when things are fine in my real life.
I can understand the argument. It does seem unproductive and harmful to intentionally picture your spouse dying suddently and experience the loss and grief on purpose.
(Granted, it’s an “imagined” loss, which cannot be compared to the real thing. I acknowldege the real loss would be 1000x more devastating and horrifying and life-changing.)
Yet, I can’t help but wonder, how would I survive such a loss? Would I ever be happy again? Could I feel true joy after you lose someone you love?
From what I’ve been learning (and from my experience working with domestic violence survivors for many years), it seems the answer is yes, even after you experience a tremendous loss and trauma, you can still be happy again.
One thing I want you to understand is when I’m in my dark fantasy world, I’m not feeling depressed.
Rather, I find overwhelming gratitude for what I do have in life.
Clearly, Dave is alive and well today. I don’t want him to go anytime soon but even if he did (sorry Dave!!), I’ve had wonderful 12 and a half years with him. It could’ve been 3 years instead of 12. Heck, maybe we would’ve never met if the stars hadn’t alighned in the first place!
And let me state the obvious that I’m choosing to imagine this situation. If this were real, I’d have no choice but to live it.
I do believe in silver lining. It’s just that I need to fully embrace the bad before I can appreciate the good. It’s not helpful for me to jump right into the positives before giving time and space to honor the negatives.
Only then, I can move on to celebrate the good things that surround me. And my art allows me to express joy in life.
Thank you for letting me share what I’ve been thinking a lot about 😘 I know it’s not very easy to hear or think about loss.
I hesitated to write about this today but did it anway in case you’re struggling with loss and grief, whether it’s from death, divorce, illness, or rejection from your family.
I wanted you to know I’m thinking of you. You’re not alone.
ps. I highly recommend the book and podcast episode I highlighted above ☝️if you or someone you love is experiencing grief. Great resources.
pps. I’ll be back next week to tell you about my new collection! 🥳
I’d worked for another local DV org for 14 and a half years before making a transition to working in Honeyberry Studios full-time and have always been a big fan of the Network.
So I was honored and surprised when I got an email from my friend, Eli, who is the Board President at the organization a few weeks ago.
In his email, he said he thought I’d be a great candidate for the position and asked if I’d be interested in joining the team.
I was very excited for the prospect of joining the Board but hesitated to say yes at first because I didn’t feel qualified.
When I pictured “Board of Directors,” I imagined a group of people who are white, older (than me), upper-middle class, and have a corporate job or a “real” business.
(You know, not a “handmade” kind of business…)
I didn’t fit the profile at all 🤷🏻♀️
Big imposter syndrome kicked in, and I was swallowed in a whirlpool of “what ifs” and worst-case scenarios.
What if I suck at the job? What if I couldn’t deliver what they expected from me? What if I make a bad decision or give terrible advice? What if it’s more time-consuming and stressful than I think?
I was afraid they’d find me out.
They’d be disappointed and it’d be super awkward. And then they’d wish they’d never asked me to join the team, and now they have to have a meeting to make a plan to gently exit me from the Board and never speak about it ever again.
I know, my imagination runs WILDsometimes – it’s good for my creative work, but not so good for other situations 😛😭
Eli and I had a few back-and-forth about the logistics and my concerns – he patiently reassured me that I had a combination of qualities they were looking for.
While I still felt an imposter-syndrome hangover, I wrote this letter of intent.
That’s when I knew I really, really wanted to do this.
So I was very happy when I got a call from Eli several days later telling me that I was officially IN! 🥳
Interesting, though, that my imposter syndrome got even worse when I shared the news on social media.
A lot of people sent me kind, encouraging messages and congratulated me. It was wonderful and overwhelming at the same time.
Overwhelming because a lof of the comments were about me as a person, like “you’re great” or “you’re wonderful” and I didn’t feel I deserved it.
I was telling Dave how these comments were making me uneasy because I hadn’t actually done anything yet.
A little voice inside me was saying, “Yuko, anyone can join the Board. But what are you going to accomplish? You’ve been away from the work for so long. Do you remember half of the things you said on your resume?”
Yeah, right. People should really hold off on congratulating me until I do something awesome.
Maybe I shoud’ve kept it a secret.
And then Dave said, “You know you’re gonna do great work, right?”
Sometimes when my brain tells me I can’t do something, I listen to the people I trust, who say “yes you can.”
If I trust their judgement, and they say they believe in me, then I should believe in myself, too, you know?
It’s so meta, but I think you get it.
And that’s how I’ve gotten over the most recent bout of self-doubt.
Being uncomfortable with something new and unknown is healthy.
I know I’ll continue to have moments of insecurities throughout my life – after all, I’m a human being with lots of feelings (LOTS) – but I’ll also continue to learn and practice skills and tools to manage them more effectively so I can get back to being my whole self more quickly.
Why am I telling you all this?
Well, because I wanted you to know it’s OK if you feel this way too.
You’re not a robot🤖
Sometimes we stumble and get stuck. There is no shame in that, my friend.