Am I Okay?

Jennifer Estes
3 min readJan 31, 2023
Photo by the author

It’s been just over 16 months since Tom passed away, shattering my heart and soul. I spent a full year crying every single day. I wrote this just over a year ago, shortly after losing him:

I often wonder, am I okay? I have days where the hole in my chest feels as painful and empty as it did when he first left. The common thing in my widow support groups is that year 2 is more difficult than year 1. So far I feel like year 2 is easier but the reality that he is really gone has sunk in. I think year 1 was mostly shock, disbelief, and denial. So far year 2 is realization, more shock, and agony.

I ask him nearly every single day, “how am I supposed to go on without you?” and I wish I would have asked him when I had the chance. But I realize he wouldn’t have had the answer; there really is no answer.

Being back to work I am distracted. I am helping others which makes me feel better about myself. I have a very soft spot in my heart when I get a death call from a widow. Bringing a new widow in to see her husband before he is cremated, and hearing her sobs when she lays eyes on him causes such a deep and painful reaction in my soul. For a moment I wonder if I can or even should be working for the funeral home. Yet, I compose myself. She reaches out for me and sobs into my shoulder, and I cry with her. As she leaves she thanks me for the comfort. I know in my heart that we made a real connection, I was meant to be the one to help her.

I still struggle to sleep, bedtime was always my favorite time with Tom. We could snuggle, it was warm, and we had the whole night. The bed is just so empty now. His spot staring at me like an open wound.

Coming home to an empty and cold house after work hurts deeply. For the last few years, Tom would have dinner ready for me when I came home. He always had a smile and a kiss for me. Now I can’t force myself to cook. I eat junk in front of the TV most days. Eating alone at the table is too much, seeing an empty chair beside me.

I think about him all day, every day. I talk to him. I get signs from him, I dream about him, and I still cry a lot.

Maybe I will never be okay.

For right now, I know I have moved past the deep and focused mourning. I have moved on to the next phase. For me, that means focusing on my career and focusing on myself, learning to enjoy my own company; Learning to embrace being alone and single. Am I okay, will I be okay? I really do look forward to the day when it’s my time to go. I know the first soul I will see is Tom. Oh, how I long for that day to come quickly.

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Jennifer Estes

I am a widow, a mortician, a mom, and grandma. I write about grief, caregiving, substance use disorder, and the death care industry.