Here is a great article someone asked to be repeated:

 

WHEN OUR SPOUSES DIE

When our spouses die, the surrounding public seems to think it’s their right.…no.…their duty to tell us how things should be done.  They watch as we bumble our way into a somewhat normal existence after our lives have been completely turned upside down.  The people we know patiently wait until we “get our acts together” and get back to business as usual.

We get a lot of advice from the people we know about what we should do, how we should live, and the decisions we should be making. Now, realistically speaking…these people usually don’t have a leg to stand on.  Most have never faced the hole that we now find in our lives.

In the face of all of these helpful tips, I’m reminded of some of the best advice I’ve ever gotten from my therapist:  Eliminate the word “should” from your vocabulary. There is no reason why you “should” stop grieving at a certain point, even though some people expect you to.  And there’s no reason why you “should” expect your life to go back to normal when deep down you know it won’t.

Our sense of normal has completely changed.  The way we make decisions has completely changed.  Most of us now make choices with the little voice of our spouse ringing in our ears.  And it’s hard enough to think, “Well, what would he (or she) have wanted me to do if he was here?”  We certainly don’t need the added complication of wondering what everyone else thinks.

I think most of the people we know expect that there will be a time of transition from being married to being widowed.  What most people don’t understand is the change that occurs within us. It would be impossible to go through this kind of loss and come out as the same person.  I personally think that the changes are good.  We become more sympathetic to others and have a better understanding of what they might be going through.  We are (hopefully) less likely to say stupid and thoughtless things just to fill dead air.  And, thanks to the way we have been scrutinized, we are less likely to truly pass judgment on others.

I know that I’m a completely different person than I used to be.  I may walk and talk the same, but my thought processes are completely different.  That girl who would have been completely happy being a homemaker while she watched her husband’s career take off has left the building.  The girl who so deeply cared about what everyone else thinks has taken a permanent vacation.  The girl who couldn’t make a decision before she asked 10 other people their opinions is on a freighter to China, and we’re not really sure when she’ll be back.

That’s right everybody.  That girl that you went to high school with, and college with, or have spent every holiday with since she was born, has changed.  It’s not a bad thing.  I think it’s pretty natural.  Very few people have the opportunity, early in life, to really look at things…where we’re going, what we’re doing, and what the hell the point all of this is anyway…and decide what’s truly important.  Death cracks open a door and gives us a glimpse of what is important in life.  Some people choose to kick the door open and see what’s really possible, and some people just quietly close it so as not to disturb anybody.

Most of the people we know won’t benefit from this kind of self discovery until they’re much older.  Think of it this way…what we have been through, everyone will go through at some point in their lives.  It is impossible to get through life without a taste of tragedy.  We just happen to be overachievers, and have gone through it first.

The good news for all of the people we know is that they’ll have a friend who will not say a word about what they’re doing, when tragedy does happen.

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Replies to This Discussion

I loved this.  I am home today - cannot stop crying enough to keep my composure to go to work.  Yes the person who once was pretty strong and steady has indeed left the building.
This is wonderful;  and so true.  I'm sending it to a friend of mine whose husband died before mine, and has been the understanding presence with me throughout the last four months.

Thank you.  My husband died in January of this year.  I needed to read this.  I am glad for your help and hope my warmth back helps you and others.

What a great article. All I have had built up inside me since my husband passed away. Part of me inside died with him. I know I will never be the same woman I once was. Part of my soul died with him. And I will be that friend that does not say a word when tragedy does happen. I will be with my friends or sisters just to listen and sit quietly by their side. I was left completely alone the night after I burried my beloved husband  who died suddenly of a heart attack in my arms. I am 49 with 5 kids. I was in shock and could not drink or eat. I ended up in the hospital very sick. I wanted to die with him. I think people just do not know what to say when this happens, I know People did not want to see the sadness and loss on my face. They avoid you. Even your family, sisters, brothers..I never would have beleived I would go thru this all alone. I know loseing a child would be the worst possible thing. I am so greatful for my children....
What a great article. All I have had built up inside me since my husband passed away. Part of me inside died with him. I know I will never be the same woman I once was. Part of my soul died with him. And I will be that friend that does not say a word when tragedy does happen. I will be with my friends or sisters just to listen and sit quietly by their side. I was left completely alone the night after I burried my beloved husband  who died suddenly of a heart attack in my arms. I am 49 with 5 kids. I was in shock and could not drink or eat. I ended up in the hospital very sick. I wanted to die with him. I think people just do not know what to say when this happens, I know People did not want to see the sadness and loss on my face. They avoid you. Even your family, sisters, brothers..I never would have beleived I would go thru this all alone. I know loseing a child would be the worst possible thing. I am so greatful for my children....

This article contains wise words to the grieving and those that wish to 'help' us.

One of my experiences was the following:

I met a woman in the dentist office. Older than me, dressed quite well, and as I was in the stage of announcing my widowhood (shortly after begining a conversation mostly because I felt I wasn't myself and looked so depressed) she told me she had been widowed too.Then straight up she gave me this advice:

1-"Get new friends- most of the friends you had together are no longer 'your' friends."

2-"Push yourself to get out and go. I go to St. Augustine, Tarpon Springs- anyplace that catches my interest at the drop of a hat".

Well I was stunned -especially at the mention of loss of friendships. Was this true? In away yes. But only with couples we'd known. Do I 'go at the drop of a hat'? Not really, but I'm getting to that place.

I can't say that this advice was easy to take- I didn't want to go anywhere, but places I absolutley HAD to, like food shopping, or for the pets. Even this was torture...looking at the favorite foods and snacks my husband loved and I'd get for him. Passing a rack of shirts I would have concidered buying for him. Even the lost look in my dogs eyes not understanding John's absence pained me.

All I have to add is that now almost 3 yrs later the cloud of grief has lifted. Surely I may have holidays or anniversaries to come that are sad, but the worst is over. As an elderly Aunt told me "Time would change things". It seemed too simple to be true, but it did. The grief and mourning I'd felt and expressed  has been transmuted into beautiful gratitued for the time we were allowed on this earth together.

I pray someone will read these words and it will prove true for them also...... in Time.

God Bless those who mourn as they will be comforted.

Alanna  

 

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