I woke up this morning to an awkward question in my messages. Someone finally asked the question of how do I feel since I’m still here and my wife is not. The only thing that surprised me about this question is that someone waited this long to ask it.
I get it. We’ve so romanticized the idea of married couples who die within hours, days, weeks of each other that when it doesn’t happen, part of us starts to think, or wants to believe, that maybe the survivor didn’t love the other enough.
I can assure you, in this case, that’s not true. If the intent of the question is to make me feel survivor’s guilt, you’re 6 months too late. I ask myself that very question every single day.
If the intent was to try and ask if I did enough to save her or prevent her death in December, again, I ask myself that very question multiple times a day. In fact, it’s the very central question of the nightmares that keep me from getting normal sleep every night.
Look, it’s as awkward for me to be around friends and family since her passing as it is for you to be around me. I see the looks, or looks away. I hear the rushed conversation because you don’t want to be there and want to get away quickly. I know that my very presence is a stark reminder of what we’ve all lost.
I don’t know why I’m still here and my wife is not. And, yes, I do feel survivor’s guilt about it every day. And, if you really want to know what it feels like, really understand the descriptions of PTSD. Mine is not from combat, but the trauma of loosing a spouse triggered PTSD for me.