My name is Kaitlin and I am originally from the mangrove forests of venice, florida. Thanks to my dad’s unique terms of endearment, I have been called “coo” my entire life. In fact, I don’t even associate my formal name with my identity.
This is my story, NOT “my journey” as those on the outside like to describe it. Journey is a shitty band from the 80’s – not my lifelong coexistence with grief. To paraphrase Charles Bukowski , my highs are high but my lows are more frequent… and by “highs” I obviously mean deeper lows. I mean – some highs get in – but they are usually in the form of self destruction – from one night stands to weeks stranded in foreign countries, I have ticked all the boxes for “unstable”, but if you are a widow (especially a young widow) you know there is no rule book or guide on how to navigate this shit. We are firmly planted in mid air and waist deep in shit. I tell all the ugly sides of my widowhood so you feel like someone else knows how you do. I DO! So – please read my “about me” for more information and check out my “blog posts” that travel in and out of time like our widow brains like to do – oh yeah, did I mention? … it is okay to not be okay (also the title of one of the only good (applicable) books on grief for our age group). I am glad you are here. Like the jews say – an abnormal response to an abnormal situation is normal. I got you, kid. Someone out there cares, let it be me.
So… where do I begin? My spouse and childhood sweetheart, Jacob, died September 4 2017. I found him dead in our shared home. He was only 27. I became a 25 year old widow to the man I was with since middle school.
Life has dealt me quite the hand. I lost my will to live so many times I stopped keeping count. In anguish I found moments so dark I needed magnets in order to shock my brain out of suicidality. I live with non combat PTSD and as you might imagine, I went through a couple years of real self destruction. However, it is important to note I never judge the way I handled (and handle) my grief. Nor should you.
My friends and family distanced themselves, as it is so common for people like me. Despite what you think, some friends and family will leave you when you need them most. So, what did I do? With therapy, medication, and a lot of help from a widow organization soaring spirits, I was able to find new family. Two widows my age with a similar story to mine. Montréal and Nepal became my two homes where I could be with my new post-Jacob support system. My entire identity changed. I had to somehow face the world as a completely different human. I became more sensitive, more empathetic – but grief gave me the ability to live without fear – often leading to chaos- which leads to pretty damn good stories. Often at my own expense (but what is better than that- right?) I was no longer the most important person to anyone in the world.” That truth is not an easy one to digest. So, after two years in bed and isolation, I had to face the world.
You will see this blog has almost a two year gap, this was a period I returned to Harvard to finish my graduate degree that I started when Jacob died… I wanted to give dignity to our life – we had moved across the country and he was so proud of me, I knew I had to finish this for him. This was also my first year back in the real world, as a supposed “functioning human being”. And it led to entertaining as hell stories – shit-show circumstances – and an authentic account of grief. The good and the bad.