About a month after you passed, my therapist asked me to note what I like and dislike when I interacted with others--so I would know what my triggers were. When she asked me this question, I could barely breathe or leave the house so it was the least of my worry when I could barely remember if I brushed my teeth or took a shower that day. But now that my mind is clearer and I’ve had time to process, I’ve started to note what I liked and disliked when I interact with others (these are of course unique to me and not everybody who is grieving since everybody is different and need different things)
I liked it when people are just there and treat me like normal. They don’t care if I start crying when I talk about my dead husband or the pain and grief I feel that cuts so deep, I don’t even know what to do with it. I like it when people don’t try to make me feel better or pretend they know what to say or how to act. I like it when we can just sit, talk, and laugh about normal stuff and also about my dead husband--yes, my husband died but that doesn’t mean I can’t laugh or joke about him or other stuff. It’s okay to cry and laugh all in the same breath.
What I don’t like is when people feel like they have to walk on eggshells around me. I’m already broken and flat to the ground, it’s not like it can get any worse so let’s just be real and call it how it is, “This S*** hella sucks!! Your husband died. F*** the world. Cry! Scream! Be sad!” Actually, it can get worse when people try to be encouraging or when they say clique things like “you’re strong, you will get through this” or “time will heal” or “I wish I can take the pain away” or “I don’t know what to say” or “distraction is good.” If I hear another person say any of these things to me, I will probably punch them in the face.
I know I’m strong and I will get through this, but what if I don’t want to get through this right now. What if I just want to be sad, cry, grieve, feel the pain, and mourn the death of my husband who was abruptly taken from me. There’s nothing wrong with that, so no, I don’t need to be strong or get through this right now.
Time doesn’t heal anything; it just moves forward. You can’t just sit around and wait for time to pass and expect to be better in 3 or 6 months. You have to do a lot of work if you want to heal. So time doesn’t heal anything if you don’t work at it. In all honestly, I don’t think I will ever heal. How do you heal from the love of your life dying and leaving you at the ripe age of 49? We had an entire future ahead of us that will never ever be again. You don’t heal or ever get over that, you just figure out how to live in your new normal. You process, you reflect, you grieve, you wake up each morning, and you put one foot in front of the other. It’s like learning how to walk again--baby steps before you can run. Even breathing is hard; like walking, you just take one breath at time until it becomes automatic.
First and foremost, you can’t take the pain away unless you can bring my husband back to life, so unless you can do that; you can’t take the pain away so don’t waste your breath or my time with that stupid line.
Nobody knows what to say--so don’t say anything if you don’t know what to say and especially don’t say anything clique. Instead, just give me a hug, tell me you love me, curse the universe, cry with me, be sad with me, sit with me, hold my hand. Why do you need to say anything?? What can you possibly say that will make me feel better or this experience less SHITTY?
How is going to work and seeing family and friends a distraction? Isn’t that just what people normally do? It’s not unique to being a widow. I mean, I go to work because I need to pay the bills like everybody else. I see family and friends cause isn’t that what people do on the weekend? How are any of these things a ‘good distraction’? I’m not going to work and seeing family and friends to distract myself from the reality that my husband died. I don’t think there’s anything that can distract me from that reality unless Taye Diggs or Morris Chestnut is standing in front of me and asking me to marry them. Other than that, there’s nothing that can distract me or make me forget that my husband died and isn’t here with me anymore. This reality is something I carry with me everyday and every minute. I feel it with every breath I take. There isn’t a day or an hour or a minute that goes by where I don’t remember my husband isn’t here with me anymore. How can you forget the pain and emptiness that has taken permanent residence in your heart? So when I say, “Yes, I’m back at work and I have plans with family and friends,” the correct response is, “Great, you’re getting back on the saddle,” and not “distraction is good.” Am I supposed to just lay in bed, be sad, and cry my eyes out for the rest of my life?
Why do these clique comments bother me so much? Cause it’s patronizing and I’m not a clique. First, unless your husband / wife died and you know what I’m going through, you have nothing enlightening to say that can make me feel better or take away the pain. Even I wouldn’t have anything enlightening to say to anybody who has lost a spouse. I wouldn’t even be able to find the words to express the pain and grief that I know they are going through. Secondly, I’m not a clique--what I feel is real and unique to me; they can’t be summed up or generalized into some clique comment. I refuse to be a clique and don’t need anybody’s pitty. Nobody needs to look at me with those sad puppy dog eyes. I don’t need to be talked to in a voice that you use with a 5 years old and when I say, “I’m okay,” you don’t need to say “are you sure?” Would you rather hear, “No, I’ll never be fine again because my husband died, didn’t you get the memo?” And if you know my husband died, then say something instead of looking at me like I’m an elephant in the room. And, yes, I’m still wearing my wedding ring--there’s no need to stare or fixate on the wedding ring on my finger that my dead husband gave me as a symbol of his endless love for me.
A grieving widow who is trying to find meaning and purpose from her tragic event.