Someone asked me for this so will post!

 

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

Dear Lorri,

I am sorry for your loss and yet, happy that you have found comfort in this article.  Douglas and I were together 32 years -- and I can say with conviction that he and I had the love that everyone hopes to find in their lifetime.  I was truly blessed to have had this man come into my life and I cherish the 32 years of memories we made together.  I would rather have had him for 32 years than not have had him at all.  Douglas was a gentle spirit and this planet is a much better place because he was a part of it.  My life is better for the same reason.  I miss him and will always love him and carry his memory in my heart.  No one can take that away from me!!  May you continue to find comfort as you travel the path of grief.  This site has saved me many times over and everyone of us is supportive.  We "get it" -- and we care.  Have a truly blessed Christmas and may the New Year bring you and all of us peace and harmony as we continue to learn how to build our "new" normal and survive without the physical presence of our best friend -- our spouse!

 

Peace and love,

 

Brigitte

Lorri Guy said:

Thank you Bridgette for allowing me to feel "normal" in our situation. I too am a survivor as I survived Cancer last year, but I, like you, have the same attitude. I mourn not only my husband who died suddenly at 52 years old, but my old life. My normal routines are gone, my thought processes are different and I no longer care who thinks what with what I choose to do with my life or anything else. After being a true survivor in many of lifes major challenges,what matters is that I enjoy my life, be happy with myself and to cherish my blessings. I miss my husband horrendously as we were together since H.S., if I chose not to carry on or become weak, I would be letting not only myself down, but he and my children. After all, they were/are my Cheerleading Team!!!!

So true,  I feel so very empty it is not the same and people do not know until they have been there.  I miss my husband so much. He passed in April and it seems like yesterday.  All I do is think about him and miss him so much.  I see him sitting in his chair I hear his voice calling me.  I just wish he was hear with me. People have said to me that I have changed that I am not the same person.  No I am not I don't feel the same about alot of things.  I just don't seem to care about alot of things I used to care about.  All I do is go to work and on days I don't work I should be doing things around the house but I start and then I think about things and just want to go to sleep and I sleep and just want to keep sleeping.   Is this normal?  I had my Mom pass in Feb my husband in April and now my nephew in Dec last week.  I just feel empty.

Brigette, I feel like I wrote your post!  It is exactly what I feel and what I have been living through.  Everyone feels the need to tell me what I should do, how I should act and how I should feel.  The person I thought was my best friend doesnt speak to me anymore because I havent gotten "over it" in the time frame she thought it should be.  My Frank is gone 6 months and I am under a microscope.  My mother thinks I am 10 again and have to report my whereabouts to her or she hunts me down.  My mother in law thinks I am ready to go over the edge because I go to the cemetery everyday.  I like you have come to the realization that I am on my own now and my only priority is to take care of my kids.  I dont have to answer to anyone and if anyone doesnt like what I do or how I act they can kiss my a##! (Sorry to be blunt). I do think to myself what Frank would want me to do and I know I am doing what he would want.  I know he doesnt want me to hurt like I am but I know somehow he is giving me strength to go on for our kids.  I have learned not to expect anything from anyone as no one steps up like you think they would.  Thank you for your words....they give me strength and encouragement!  God Bless! Renee

Wow! You hit the nail right on the head. I have felt alot of the same emotions you have, only never put it in words. You are so right about everything you said. Thank you for saying it so eloquently.  I lost my husband 8 months ago, even though parts of me "have gone on", it will never be the same.

Kathleen, I am overwhelmed over the death of my husband 4 months ago and I cannot imagine what you must be feeling losing your mother and nephew as well! My sincere prayers for you to have peace have been said. I go to work and not much else either. I would LOVE to go to sleep & not wake up, but I can never sleep more than a couple of hours at a time- even when I'm sooo tired at the end of a long day! Still, I lay around kind of in a coma alot- not really thinking or feeling anything! It's "muffed up!" I think we are depressed, but why wouldn't we be? I think this is normal to some extent. I make myself get up & move which is alot harder than most people would imagine. I have good moments as well as unbearable ones. I wish I could hurry & get through this period of "shock sh-t"  - if not, I don't know how much longer I can handle life. I'm ready to think & feel postive about something again real soon. You must be a very faithful person to handle all that you are! God Bless- Christy

Kathleen J Kabel said:

So true,  I feel so very empty it is not the same and people do not know until they have been there.  I miss my husband so much. He passed in April and it seems like yesterday.  All I do is think about him and miss him so much.  I see him sitting in his chair I hear his voice calling me.  I just wish he was hear with me. People have said to me that I have changed that I am not the same person.  No I am not I don't feel the same about alot of things.  I just don't seem to care about alot of things I used to care about.  All I do is go to work and on days I don't work I should be doing things around the house but I start and then I think about things and just want to go to sleep and I sleep and just want to keep sleeping.   Is this normal?  I had my Mom pass in Feb my husband in April and now my nephew in Dec last week.  I just feel empty.

I was just able to read this now!  WOW Its perfect.  No Matter how much someone says that they understand or can relate until you have lost your spouse the fact is that no one really understands. You are absoulty correct we are not and never will be the same people again but our lives have to go on. Taking the time to grieve and truly understand who we are and what we want now will take time.  Thanks for sharing!

janice i feel the exact same way you do.

Janice Jones said:

Such great words to try and remember.  We will never be that person again.  You lose so much of yourself when your soul mate dies.  I haven't decided "what" person I am now. Sometimes I just feel like I go through the motions and am empty inside.  Thanks for sharing.   Jan 

Dear Brigitte and Lorri, truer words were never said.  I am very sorry for your losses.  The hole in our hearts from the loss of our loved ones is ours to bear and no one can fill it or quite understand it until they go thru their own loss of a spouse.  Lorri I lost my beloved Jack at 58 and we had been together for 39 years.  I met him when he was 14!  I feel like I have lost "half of my essence" losing him.  But as I read your words I see that we must be strong because our loved ones were so brave and strong and I want my Jack to be proud of me while he watches over me from heaven.  I believe that we are never alone and our loved ones are always with us, just from another "room".  For me, it makes the loss a little more bearable. 

 

I wish you both Peace and Love this Season.

Carol

Cindy and Janice I feel the same way. Going through the lower level motions of something similar to my old routine before my wife's passing is how my days have been these past 4 weeks.

Brigitte,

I told my wife while we were still able to have long talks that I would do everything in life with her exactly the same a thousand times over and then some if the outcome had to be the same. I have no regrets or sorrow for the time her and I spent together. My pain comes from my own selfishness, my desire to have more time with seemingly the only person truly intended for me to be with, the torment of knowing that I must live out my years left on this earth without her. The energy I expend in a day trying to survive without her seems greater each day. Yet I know I must carry on if I am ever to be with her in spirit no matter how difficult or even impossible it may appear. However knowing all this does not make it any less painful or easier to accept.
Hi bridgette,
Am wondering what these last 2 lines mean, How should I interpret it

(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.)

Thank you so much for your input, I so enjoy reading on this site

"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."

 

Floss, I think this line in Bridgette's message was what she meant. We understand the thoughtless statements and will try harder not to say them to people when their time comes. A friend here in my church lost her son this week and I found myself being very careful to just give her a hug and a smile and didn't say anything because I knew the hug would convey it all and the "right" words wouldn't form. (I know a child is different but you know what I mean)..

Floss said:

Hi bridgette,
Am wondering what these last 2 lines mean, How should I interpret it

(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.)

Thank you so much for your input, I so enjoy reading on this site

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