The Second Year is not Harder, it is Different

They say the second year is harder than the first. In the first year you have to go through all the firsts. The first Christmas, first anniversary, the first birthdays. For the first time, you have to “celebrate” the first of every occasion that you will live without them. These firsts are a big deal and they weigh very heavily on the ones who are left here to grieve. It is so hard to get through those moments that are supposed to be happy and hopeful. But as hard as those specific days are, what is even harder is watching the “everyday” pile up, one after another after another. The firsts are so hard, because it feels like the rest of the world gets to celebrate the fact that they have what you are supposed to have, while you are left with emptiness.

I am in my second year. In my first year, I heard that the second year was harder. I will be honest, hearing that made me want to die. I couldn’t bear the idea that it only gets worse when what I was already feeling was too much to bear. I was left with the feeling that this was my life now. The unbearable pain, the stones in my chest. I had this dreadful fear that happiness was behind me and all I had left was pain and despair. It was suffocating. There were times when I couldn’t breathe. I was told a hundred different times in a hundred different ways to look forward and leave the past in the past. I’m sure these words were been pretty easy to say but they were irrelevant to my life, because overtime I looked forward, it would suffocate me.

The second year is different. In the first year it is hard to wrap your head around deep loss. The first year is foggy and much of it is spent almost in a daze. But what happens is that eventually the reality sinks in. It takes a lot longer than you would expect it to. For me, it was around 10-11 months after losing my husband. For me it sank in around the holidays. It was this sudden full body “realization” that he was gone forever. That he was never coming back. That the last words I would ever hear from him had already been spoken. That there will never be another memory to make with him. There will never again be another new moment with him. I think I spent a month on my knees, my body felt so heavy it was as if I were filled with stones. For me, it was the moment that it sunk in that was the hardest and most painful.

The second year has been a different type of hard. The first year is when you go through your firsts, but the second year is when you start to learn how to live this new life. For grievers, time becomes quite simple. There is the before and after. The old life and the new life. The second year of the new life is hard, there is no doubt about that. But the pain no longer flows through your body the way it used to. Yes, there is pain. I believe I will always yearn for my husband and it will always hurt to know that he should be here, but he’s not. But the pain used to flow through my veins like blood. Every waking moment hurt, even when I tried to be happy and “normal”. The pain is no longer in my veins. I have replaced the pain with gratitude. I am grateful every second of every day for the time that I had with him, and for his daughter. With every breath I take I am grateful that he is a part of my life. I am better for having known him. The pain in the second year is different. There is no more wishing, no more what if’s, no more hoping that any moment now I will wake up from this terrible dream. It hurts beyond belief when that sinks in. When you realize this is not a dream and you won’t wake up… this is your life now. When that sinks in the pain will bring you to your knees. But then eventually you will stand up and start walking. Walking towards whatever may come in this new life.

Gratitude is what propels me forward. Gratitude is how I keep moving forward. Gratitude is how I look my daughter in the eyes every single day and thank God that she is just like her daddy. Gratitude is really all I have right now, and it keeps me going. What keeps you going?


Published by

Becky Nolan

I a widowed mom to my young daughter. I lost my husband suddenly at the age of 29, leaving me with a one year old child to raise on my own. I live in Connecticut, where I met, married, and lost the man that I am still proud to call my husband. Every day I struggle. Every day I learn. Every day I am grateful for the time I had with him, and for the little girl he gave me before he left. I have found comfort and healing in writing. I have found purpose in sharing my story, knowing that so many others have been through it, too. Knowing that everyone has experienced loss and struggle. Words can be healing when they come from that deeply honest place within the soul. Grief is too lonely a road to walk alone, so I aim to give comfort and company on that lonely road.

6 thoughts on “The Second Year is not Harder, it is Different”

  1. I to am grateful, and humbled. Grateful that I had 8 years with my fiancé, grateful that on the especially hard days I have technology to fall back on and can hear his voice because we both took a ton of pictures and videos. I am humbled because the out pouring of support, even now, 15 months in is still there. I am humbled to hear how highly my love talked to his friends about me. I am humbled.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Knowing that I was blessed to have been loved by my husband. That he loved his two boys with such a passion. That he never gave up on his love and faith for God..though there are days when I completely forget all of this..I know my love is with me, as I pick myself up and remeber this all over again.

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  3. Thank you for writing this. My husband will be gone 7 months on the 17th. 6 months about killed me. For me, 6 months has been the worst. Weeks before the 6 month mark i started falling apart. I don’t feel that pain coming up on the 7 month. Yes, i still have terrible pain everyday, but not like last month. I’m just now starting to come out of that fog.
    Anyhow, I’ve read sooo much about how much worse the second year is that I’ve almost convinced myself that i will NOT do a second year of this nightmare. And for sure not 3 or 4 years. I’ve heard some people talk about 4 years and life still being hell. I don’t want to be that person. I’m very thankful to you right now…for writing this and giving me a little hope for my tomorrows. Thank you!!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I have almost reached the end of the first year. I am so pleased to hear that the second year isn’t necessarily harder than the first. I don’t think I could get through worse than the last 11 months have been.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thank you so much for your posts. My husband died last December 2oth. The pain has been incredible, and now I truly understand what I had only read about before. My birthday was June 6th, and my husband’s gift to me from where ever he is now, was lifting the fog, easing some of the pain. It was truly a date, a marker that I will always remember as a miracle, and the best gift he ever gave me. Maybe it was a coincidental arrival at acceptance, but on my birthday, I can only see it as a gift of the highest order. I continue to walk forward in gratitude also, and have started to dwell more on the wonderful years we had together (46).
    Love and peace to you; all of you.


  6. It has been 13 months since my husband of 36 years died. It finally dawned on me two days ago he is never coming back. I have been with him since I was 19…what now?

    Liked by 1 person

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