Friday, October 16, 1992
Friday, February 5, 2016
23 years, 3 months, 21 days
1,216 weeks and 1 day
Picture your life, living with the one person who gets you for all those days, years, hours, minutes and seconds. They are a constant in your life. Just the two of you in your home…(and the dog). Then, the inconceivable happens…one minute they are there and the next minute they are gone…no warning, no preparation, no time to ask for prayers, good thoughts from Facebook…just gone.
You come home to an empty house (it doesn’t feel like your “home” anymore). The dog greets you with love, but that is it. Nothing. Noone else to hold you up. No one to talk to about your day, your doctor’s appointment, and more. How do you find out who you are in the universe and what “home” means now.
I finally understand my mother’s behavior a few years after my dad died. She would go through her little phone book in the evenings and call people just to have someone to talk to. She rotated who she would call so people were not called too often…I get it now. She needed to feel connected to friends and family.
A very dear friend of mine once said to me that when you lose your spouse, many people treat you differently. I almost believed it, but what I’ve really noticed a year after his death, is that people actually treat me the same way they did before my spouse died. While you, hopefully, expect them treat you better than they did before he died, they actually treat you exactly the same: if they did not treat you well in the first place, they are not going to do it now. If they were an important part of your life before your spouse’s death, they are an important part of your life now. Admittedly, there is a grace period where everyone (almost) is more caring than usual. But at some predetermined expiration date, most of that disappeared. Very little has changed from the way the relationships “used to be”. And although there are exceptions to the rule, my hope was that people would reach out to me more now that I am a widow. That is not reality. Their daily life and responsibilities naturally come first to them.
What I’ve learned from other widows and from personal experience is that things do change, not just because your loved one is gone but in how other people perceive you now that the loved one is gone. With most people, it has nothing to do with caring, but rather they are not sure how to handle any personal discussion of death when they speak with you. Maybe it’s because by connecting with your pain, they see a reflection of what could happen to them and their loved ones, and that reality is more than they can handle. Whether it is realistic or accurate or even fair, somewhere in the subconscious of the people who can’t handle what happened to you is the fact that they feel it is contagious.
Everyone’s grief is as unique as their fingerprints…(another wise person shared with me)…these are just some of my observations and feelings as the first year ends with hope for new beginnings.