Six months into widowhood, I wrote a blog post about what to expect in widowhood.
I decided to do a blog post summing up my thoughts.
Kind of a sampler of random thoughts.
Before I delve into my experiences, I want to mention that everyone’s experience with grief is different. This post is based on my experience. Your mileage may vary.
Secondly, I use the term widow and “she” because I am writing from my perspective. But this also applies to widowers as well. I just thought my writing flowed better saying “widow” instead of “widow or widower”.
And third, this is no way a complete list of things I could say about widowhood. But this is a blog and it will be ready for those words when I write them.
Widowhood is hard to reconcile. And accept.
I thought I was going to grow old with Bryon.
Then he died and I had no say in the matter.
Survivors guilt is a real thing. I tormented myself for months, wondering what I could have done for a different outcome. It took me many months to come to the realization that there was nothing I couldn’t have done.
I don’t know why this had to happen. I probably never will.
But it did happen. Whether it is for a specific reason or as the result of the butterfly effect or a combination of the two, I don’t know.
Sometimes shitty things happen to good people.
Our society doesn’t know how to handle grief.
After Bryon died, I was barraged with cliches.
Everything happens for a reason…
You just need to find your new normal…
It was all part of God’s plan…
He will always be with you in spirit…
God doesn’t give you more than you can handle…
He will be watching over you and your daughter…
He’s not hurting anymore…
People mean well. They feel like they need to say something to make you feel better but they don’t know what to say. So they revert back to these cliches.
The problem is that these cliches rarely make people feel better. They usually make people feel worse. The best case scenario is that the grieving person just ignores it or rolls their eyes.
This is usually the opposite effect than was intended.
If you know someone grieving, ask how the grieving person is doing. Take them to lunch. Share a story about the deceased. But please, please, please, try not to use a cliche.
People will disappear
It doesn’t matter how popular your deceased spouse was. People disappear.
It starts with the funeral. You won’t hear from 70% of those people again.
And as time goes by, the amount of people who check up on you continues to goes down.
People move on and forget about your deceased .
If you make it to two years out, the people that are still here are your nearest and dearest. Hold on to them.
People will kick you when you are down.
My late husband was a popular person. In fact, he is way more popular posthumously than I am alive.
I have had people use me and my situation to latch onto my husband’s popularity. You know, offer to help on social media where everyone can see but they never call after a snow storm. Or people who try to take pictures with my daughter treating her like a photo op instead of a real person.
A couple of times it has surprised me because this behavior came from people who I thought were my true friends.
I am going to clear something up.
Widowhood is lonely, even with amazing friends and family.
But just because a widow is lonely does not mean that she must accept all friendship, even if she is being used and treated poorly.
It is insulting.
For me, the opposite is true. Life is short and I need to spend my time with those who care about my daughter and me.
I’ve also learned there are a lot of narcissists and toxic people around and it is important to set boundaries.
If I cut someone out of my life, there is a very good reason for it.
At first these realizations upset me but now I am appreciative of them because they taught me important lessons. And I can make room for true friends.
Your tolerance for bullsh*t goes way down.
When Bryon and I got married, I thought my tolerance for bullshit went down.
And it did.
When Bryon and I became parents, I thought my tolerance for bullshit went down.
And it did.
But it was when Bryon died that my tolerance for bullshit plummeted. When you watch one of the two people you love most slowly die, you quickly learn what is important and you lose any tolerance for people who try to make your life miserable.
It does get better.
It take time but eventually the pain lessens.
Though I haven’t figured out if it is actually getting easier or if you just get used to their absence.
But the pain never goes away entirely. You will still have bad days. There will still be things that trigger you.
But there is hope.
Where does this leave me now?
As I said in my blog post on Tuesday, I feel like am stuck between two worlds. I am looking forward to the next chapter but I am struggling to let go of the past.
The first year of widowhood was about survival for me. Getting out of bed was enough of a challenge.
The second year was about getting used to Bryon being gone and getting used to envisioning a future without him.
The second year was also the year I learned to love myself.
And now I am about to embark on the third year.
What does that even mean? What does that mean for this blog?
While I miss Bryon every single day and I will still have sad days and moments where I cry. But I can’t stay in deep sadness forever. Grief is exhausting and I have been grieving for two years.
Do you know how exhausting it is to work full time, write a blog, raise a daughter by yourself and experience and process deep and profound grief at the same time?
I know Bryon doesn’t want me to be this sad forever.
Bryon gave me so much in our years together and the best way to honor him is to start living again. He made the most of his 30 years. He accomplished more in those years than most people do in 80.
But it is hard for me to listen to people complain about becoming older. Bryon didn’t even make it to middle age. I need to make the most of the years I have left.
So the third year is going to be the year I start to live again.