Saturday, November 16, 2013

You'd Think I'd Be Better

I am very fortunate that, so far, I have yet to have one person say to me, "Shouldn't you be over this by now?"  They might think it, but so far, no one has had the balls to say it to my face.

But the truth is, that probably no one is more judgmental about their grief than a widow(er).  We don't need someone to make that comment to us because when we wake up every morning with that feeling that something irreplaceable is missing - which does lessen over the years, but is present all the same - a lot of us think, "Ugh.  Shouldn't I be over this by now?"

It's been six years and I know I do.

I always hate writing about this stuff because I know that there is someone out there reading this who is on her second month of widowhood, looking at her computer, mouth open in horror, thinking, "She's been at this for six years?  Is this what I have to look forward to?"  And my answer is...yes and no.  Because what those of us years into widowhood have figured out is that most days we're able to live with our grief.  But it is still there.

Of course, there could be a widow out there reading this who is years away from her loss and thinking, "Thank God it's not just me."

Nope.  It's not just you.

I'm so damn hard on myself and this is why most people have no idea when I'm going through a tough time. And if I actually break down and let someone in on what's going through my head, it is peppered with hundreds of teary"I'm sorrys" throughout the conversation.  Because, even though I keep telling the rest of the widowed world that there is no time limit on grief...sometimes I have a hard time believing it myself.

I'm so impatient.  I want to be better and I want to be better now.  I may have 330 days of living life to the fullest, but it's those pesky bad days that get me so frustrated.  Even this year, as my husband's birthday approaches (which has always been one of my hardest days), I thought I was doing so well and I actually (stupidly) thought I could control my grief.

But, as we all know, that's impossible.  Because as I steered my mind toward getting everything done that I needed to , my body said, "Nope.  Sorry." 

And I started to shake.  And get dizzy.  Although I'm going to bed when my kids do, I'm so tired I can barely put one foot in front of the other.  I stoically held back my tears during my daughter's Honor Roll ceremony last week...and then went to a business meeting where I thought I was going to throw up the entire time.

I told my mother this week at lunch, "You'd think I'd be better by now."

She didn't say anything, her eyes tearing up, feeling my pain as only a mother can.  And then it hit me.  She doesn't think I should be better by now.  I do.  And I don't know why I'm putting that pressure on myself.  Why I can't just let people into my life and my emotions without feeling so apologetic about it?  I mean really...the support system I have created for myself can take it. 

It's hard to just let it all go, isn't it?  To have those conversations with people about how difficult things can be.  Because it makes it so real.  When it's living in my head, it's just mine.  But when I tell others and see the effect it becomes part of them, too.  And that's a piece of this that I can't stand - that a part of my life makes the people I love sad.

Because that's not me.  I'm the fun one (I think).  The funny one (I hope).  I don't want to be the one with the Indian name She Who Makes Man Cry.  But I guess at this point in my life, to know me is to love me - all of me.

The people around me seem to get that.

Why can't I?


I had a dream about my husband last night - no big surprise since he's been on my mind constantly this last week.  It was like I had gone back in time and gotten the phone call for the first time.  So, when I got to the hospital, I knew what was going to happen, but no one else did and, given the fact that my husband seemed injured but fine right after his accident (which is what happened in real life), no one could understand how emotional I was.

I hesitated before I turned the doorknob to enter his room.  I knew that I was about to see him for the first time in over six years and I can't describe the feeling I had - it was like elation and dread all at the same time because I couldn't wait to see him, but I knew this would throw me back to the beginning of widowhood.  And I would have to do it all over again.

I've never seen my husband so vividly in a dream.  Usually he's kind of blurry but in this one I could make out every feature.  I was actually able to lean down and kiss him and I truly felt it.  It was so strange.

The doctors wanted to take him in for knee surgery for his dislocated knee (something that did not happen at the time), and I kept saying to them over and over, "His brain is going to start swelling in about 24 hours.  Can't you do something about that now?"  The doctors looked at me as if I was crazy and wheeled him away into surgery.

I knew he was gone.  I started scrambling around, trying to find my purse so that I could call my present-day widow friends because I needed them.  I knew what I was about to face and I knew I couldn't do it alone.  But I woke up before I could talk to them.

I sent a few of them an email this morning, trying to explain the dream so that I wouldn't forget it and how it was the best and worst I'd ever had.  I woke up feeling like a part of me was back at the beginning, but on the other hand...I got to touch my husband.  Something I have never been able to do in a dream before.

One of my friends replied, "Isn't it odd how our subconscious tries to weave together the timelines of present-day us with the reality of 5 years ago - and plays out all the fears and feelings we have as we try to avoid the same fate.  Almost like a jigsaw puzzle, our brains trying to orchestrate a better outcome."

 But, as we all know, the outcome is not ours to control.  The only thing we can do is move forward the best we can with this life that we've been given.  And I think I'm doing okay with that, even if I do have hard days.  After all, even though in the dream I knew I had been thrust back into the beginning stages of widowhood...

...I also knew I had my widdas to get me through.


  1. I'm one of the ones who's early in her grief, reading this and thinking, "ugh...I'm so f'd." my husband died only 6 weeks ago today (but who's counting, right?!?) and already, I'm sick of being sad. And I'm not trying to "hurry" or "neglect" that sadness, but I, too, am usually "the funny one," the one who has her shit together. Only now, I'm not and I don't. Not even close.

    I also am envious that you dreamt of your husband. I have not been so blessed just yet. And I want to dream about him, so very badly. And I'm guessing that my already tired brain is not allowing for it because perhaps my subconscious knows of the hurt that such a desired dream might cause.

    1. Hello...My husband passed 10 days ago of pancreatic cancer. I buried him on the 27th. I have not been home since Nov. 9....He held it together for his daughter's wedding and then passed. I too have been wishing for a visit. Last night I finallyhad a dream where I was scared of being alone. He was not in it. That will happen in time. I decided to think of this as a divorce...I know he is out there somewhere but I can't see him or talk to him. I would not look in the casket because that would freeze in my head and I guess I want to keep his death more =flexible= if that is a and not here. I have great moments of peace that are a complete surprise to me. Started day before he died. I am so grateful. Well take good care of your heart. Warmly Dori Rhodes

  2. Grief is not something that you "get over". It is more like a state of life that half of all couples with good marriages will experience. I became part of the "grief society" this past June when my wife, Dianne, died from an aneurysm. She was a cancer survivor. You might like to take a look at the web site I built about her.
    The grief over her death will stay with me my whole life. However, it will become more subdued (for lack of a better word) as time passes. I now cry less often and usually just suffer tear-filled eyes when I am able to sit and think about her.
    I think of her death as creating a large hole in my heart that will scar over with time. The scar will always be there and the hole in my heart will never be filled.
    I work hard to supress any feelings of guilt when I am able to do something I enjoy because Dianne would not want me to feel guilty. She would want me to enjoy the years I have remaining. I will and I know I even have some space in the uninjured part of my heart to develop other loving relationships. But that is in the future.

    1. Hello...I just found this site after losing my husband 10 dAys ago. I also him to rest 2 days ago. There will be a large memorial Dec 7 and then I will stArt my life again that I thought was all set. He was to retire in June. We have an Rv...a little ski boat...a jeep and an F150 ready to go. I spent 7 torturous months praying he would survive and caring for him to his last breath. My pain was more for him and his dream of retirement that he never realized. I could enjoy life anywhere but he could not so he was just waiting for life to come after work. Because his death was slow I had time to grieve alone and with him. I sobbed my guts out...the last time after he walked his daughter in marriage 11,9,2013. He never got up again. I must have known. And then a foreign peace came over me and it is still with me. I am able to cry fully and return to the peace. It feels odd but I will embrace it. You had a sudden traumatic event and that is much harder. Maybe think of your wife as being the other heart inside of you all for her...that leaves you with the heart you have still full of capability. Hoping you find your way with the grief and the life you have in front of you.

    2. Hello- I am sorry for your loss. I do know what such a loss can do to you. I will think of you on the 7th.
      If you would like a copy of the book I wrote about my wife during the weeks after her death, send me your address and I'll mail one to you. My email is We are both members of the same special group that costs one h___ of an initiation fee.
      Thanks for your good wishes. I know I will resume a fullfilling life. I am already part way there with some distance still to go.

  3. I'm 347 days in to this. I have so much to say, but what is ringing in my ears is that you are 6 years in and nobody has told you that you should be over it. I was told, by my brother, that I should be over this and was just looking for attention at 3 months. I will never get over what he said - am moving on, but will never forget that.

    1. My husband.s daughter died at 18 of cancer...and she left behind an 8 month old baby. My husband just died 10 days ago of cancer. After 15 years he still grieved. Of course the grief changes but why would anyone expect a person to get over it? You move on. Grief needs to be thought of differently. It I is honoring the person who has passed in your heart with sadness, fondness, and memories. Grief is like a parfume. Sometimes it is very strong and can make you sick...other times it is a whiff that stays with you in the background coming in and out of your awareness. Your grief is your businesses...period. Not his. If your brother is so Godly that he has the official timetable for grief then he should start a business and become a millionaire and leave you heart alone.

  4. Grief is a bit like a roller coaster. Sometimes you don't feel it at all and then something triggers anniversary, the smell of his favorite pie, her handkerchief that you happen to find in an old purse. There's no running away from grief. In fact, the more you run the more intense it seems to get.
    After my sister died I wrote Mourning has Broken. It was a challenge I gave myself in my grieving process. A way to mourn her. It helped but I still weep at times at her absence.

  5. four years the only place I feel normal and accepted is when I read your words!

  6. This entry completely brought me to tears. It is so true that we are hardest on ourselves. It's so hard to share the enormous amount of pain you feel inside with others, WHY would you want to when you know how bad it makes you feel. But that doesn't always bode well for friendships or relationships when they don't understand why you are acting the way you are. I'm so glad I found your blog, you are really helping me see the "light" in this journey!