"The reality is that you will grieve forever. You will not "get over" the loss of a loved one; you will learn to live with it. You will heal and you will rebuild yourself around the loss you have suffered. You will be whole again but you will never be the same. Nor should you be the same, nor would you want to."
I'm struggling a lot lately with John's death. I think its likely because of his impending birthday this week. The last few days has been very hard, and I had some really hard days last week as well. Also, the Thursday that just passed was 20 weeks gone since John died. Yes, it has been a rough couple of weeks.
Its weird how people start to think you are "better" without you really noticing it obviously at first. I guess they think just because you might go, like, TWO WHOLE DAYS without crying in front of them or it being obvious that you have been crying or because you sometimes smile or make a joke that your life is not in shambles. Well, to those of you who know and support a widow/widower, let me help you out with that- our lives are still in shambles. They're going to be- for a long time. Maybe a really long time.
Don't assume they are OK. Don't assume things are getting better. Don't assume just because maybe things LOOK like they're getting better that they are. If you're close with that person, its OK to ask. But don't just assume and adjust your behavior accordingly thinking they don't need as much support anymore- they may need your support more than ever. It really leaves the people counting on you feeling kind of abandoned and in a lurch when that happens to them. And maybe they will never tell you that or be upset with you over it, because its almost like the second you become a widow you have people who want you to move on and on and on and "heal" and all of this other crap- as if it could really ever be that easy- and they'll feel guilty for speaking up. But just don't assume because they may resumed some of their normal activities that they are OK or almost there. Maybe they're just struggling with some way to put any sort of normalcy back into their lives and sometimes pretending that things don't suck so bad or sometimes just not THINKING of how tough their lives still are is the only way they can make it through some days.
And definitely don't be the kind of people who promise all of this grandiose stuff and then are a total letdown. Those are the worst people. Its easy to forgive or overlook people who have been there for you occasionally slipping up, probably because they never made you all sorts of promises they aren't keeping- they just were there for you, and continue to be there for you....but they aren't perfect. So maybe sometimes they will act in a way that is a little disappointing, or maybe say something that hurts or makes you realize they don't really understand, or...stuff like that. It happens. You overlook it or forget it because overall they have been there for you so much and you're rational enough to know that this is an odd situation and people are bound to mess up- we're all only human right?
But don't make all of these promises to that person and then be a complete letdown. Those are the people who will- at FIRST- hurt you the most. Because they seemed so genuine when they made those promises. You thought you could count on them. But it becomes abundantly clear very quickly that those people are going to leave you high and dry, and it hurts. You didn't hold a gun to their head when they were making those promises so you wont understand why they did that. The important part is realizing the fault does NOT lie with you, but lies within them. The problem, the "something wrong", isn't you- its completely them.
How does that other quote go?
Yes, this. Don't commit to something you are just going to turn around and not do. It reflects on your character and it makes life so much more difficult on those you made a commitment to. (So definitely don't do this and then pretend like the widow/widower is the problem- the problem most definitely lies with the person who broke their promises/went back on their word...own it...) But then that person you made all those promises to realizes what you really are, and they realize they don't even really care if you are in their live, they stop being hurt or upset and just view you with disdain. And you better hope you don't ever need to count on or lean on them, because by the time that happens, they'll probably be done with you or long gone from your life.
Anyway, as you can guess, I've had a few of those people in my life who have been severe letdowns. I even have a few who almost seem to relish their role in harassing you, or are happy to say bad things about you that almost no one listens to because they know its complete BS, or if they do buy into it, its because the people they're badmouthing you to don't even know you, so you don't even care (or ok, maybe care a little because its so ridiculous, but you quickly stop caring because you know in your head its not true and that they don't matter)- the small group of people like that for me are my former inlaws, but I think we covered before they are a sad little group of people who have pretty much moved on from my husband's death, which goes to show you what type of people they were when he was alive. Anyway, I'm at the point of not caring anymore- about them, or the "I made commitments I don't keep" people..
That isn't to say there aren't people who I KNOW care about me don't let me down- they have. (and should you ever end up in this situation, you will have this happen to, in addition to the "commitment people" I spoke of above). The difference is that those people usually either realize what they've done, rectify the problem, care that they hurt you (probably because whatever happened was not overtly meant to hurt you in the first place- a lot of times people just don't know how to act, or like I said....they think you're getting "better") and do something about it, and still are there supporting you and still love you and care about you and want to be there for you. I forgive those people easily and quickly, or sometimes don't even feel like I need to "forgive" them because whatever may have happened or what they said you knew wasn't malicious.
But that other type of people- the ones who break commitments like you mean nothing to them...those are the type you end up writing off. Truth be told, its probably better that their true personality comes out, and probably all the better that it comes out sooner than later. You wouldn't want to find yourself leaning on someone like that only to turn around and find that they've basically abandoned you in your time of need. You want the people who are going to be there for you simply because they love you and that is what friends do. Don't waste your time on those other types once you see what they are really about.
Enough on that topic, even though it is an important one. I just felt I should get it out there that it happens with some people (and hopefully for anyone else going through this it only happens with very, very few people for you- luckily that is my situation and I have to say that over 99.5% of the people I deal with are either very supporting or downright amazing and its only been a few people who have been complete letdowns for me.
I'm hoping to make it through the week without becoming a complete wreck. I took off of work Friday because I knew I could not be here at work and function (this past 2 weeks has been hard enough to find the strength to do that and I don't find it getting easier this week, clearly), and so we could celebrate John's birthday in a style fitting for him- I'd love to write about it more but will wait to do so after his birthday occurs, just in case his parents/family have happened to come across this blog. I still don't believe they have, but they're...unbearable...and it wouldn't surprise me to have them try to crash something we're doing or try to tell me how awful I am for not including them, so that's not going to be written about until after it happens.
Life is hard. It is not fair. I still find myself wishing I could wake up from this stupid nightmare, except I am acutely aware that I cannot. I carry around loads of guilt for my children and I carry around a sadness and emptiness inside me that feels so very, very heavy and exhausting. I have no idea when I will actually live with the loss of John (technically I do "live" with it- in that it happened and I am alive, but I don't feel like I've learned to actually "live with it" like the quote I started off with implies.) I don't feel like I am healed and I certainly have not rebuilt my life in any real sort of way. But again, its been just 20 weeks. I see people who are years into this just starting to feel even sort of "normal" most of the time, and still struggle quite a bit with the circumstances forced onto them by being widowed. Its exhausting to live like this, for the record. But its not as if you can control it, or speed it along, or make myself feel better- you cannot just will these things to happen, at least not in this situation.
Wouldn't everyone in this position do that if they actually could???