Time - My Take

So, you’re going to have to bear with me on this blog, as I know what I’m trying to say, but for some reason I am really struggling to put it eloquently, so sit back, grab a coffee and be prepared for a ramble!

My husband died in Autumn, just a few months before the end of the year.

I had lots of emotional outbursts, I was just a wreck to be honest, and only left the house when I needed to, or wanted to, which wasn’t often, but I found it really hard to integrate and interact with the real world again.

It felt as if I’d been moved to a different planet overnight without my knowledge, and I didn’t know where I was. I felt disorientated, and lost, and everything, and everyone around me felt so alien. Staying in felt safe, and nothing had changed here, apart from my husband not being there. That was a HUGE thing, but it felt like it was something I could deal with behind closed doors.

Having to go out into this strange new world, without him, felt horrible. I felt scared that people might look at me and know that I was now a widow, that they’d take one look at my tear stained face and somehow know. I was scared that I’d meet people I know, and they’d know he’d died, and they’d be full of sympathy that I just wasn’t ready to take right now. Even worse, if they didn’t know, and I’d have to tell them that he’d died.

This was something I dreaded. The one thing that I had on my side, was that it had been recent. It felt that I was allowed to feel this upset and distraught, people would cut me some slack if they saw me walking in town with tears running down my face.

So here’s the thing. People seem to have some twisted ideas around time, and acceptable times frames for when grieving is ok, and when it isn’t.

Imagine this scenario.

I’m walking through Tesco, and hear a song on the radio, it’s “our”song. It reduces me to tears, and I find it hard to hide my emotions, and just start sobbing. I bump into a friend I’ve not seen since school, like twenty years ago. I wipe my eyes, but can’t disguise that I’ve been crying. She asks how I am, sees the tear stains, and asks if I’m ok.

No, I say, my husband has died. Oh my gosh, I am so sorry, she says, as she hugs me. When did this happen, she asks?

Last month I tell her, he got cancer and died.

I am so sorry, she says, and hugs me again.

Now, imagine a similar scenario, different friend, just different answer…..

No, I say, my husband has died. Oh my gosh, I am so sorry, she says, as she hugs me. When did this happen, she asks?

Seven years ago, I tell her, he got cancer and died.

This was something that happened to me. Do you imagine that the answer would be different? You bet your life it was.

When I told my friend it was last month, her face was filled with sadness, and she just hugged me so tight.

When I told my other friend it had been seven years, she just looked at me, a quizzical look on her face, and repeated, seven years? Pause. Clearly, waiting for a different answer.

But why should they respond differently?

Loss is loss, and still hurts, no matter what the time frame is.

This is where grief gets messy, in my eyes. It’s when people start making assumptions, that with time, you stop feeling the grief, that the grief fades away, and it no longer hurts.

NEWSFLASH: It never stops hurting. A month, or seven years, the fact still remains, he is still dead.

I think this is why it was so much easier to tell people in the first months, and in the year after his death, because people seem to respond with more empathy when you say he died earlier this year, or last year. Once you’re past the cut off point for kindness in their mind, you’re done for. Grief just isn’t allowed anymore.

This is just so wrong, and it just makes me so sad. I see it so often from friends who are widowed, and through my Facebook page too.

I told you this was going to be a long post, but I just wanted to share my thoughts and my own experience of this, and my message to you is this.

Never let anyone make you feel bad because you’re “still in pain” or “still grieving’. You are entitled to hurt forever, and no one can EVER, or should EVER try to take that away from you. The person you loved who has died will always be dead, therefore, you’re always allowed to feel this loss in your life.

Helping Others Understand

I really hope that the above post is helpful for you. It can be so hard to understand the world of grief from an outside perspective, and I am trying to give you an honest insight into this world where I can, as I really want to help educate others.

I know first hand that trying to help others understand is exhausting. With some people, they just get it, they have a kind empathetic heart, and they do their best to just be there for the person who is grieving.

It’s those that don’t get it that are a real struggle. There’s a lot of people like that, sadly, and it’s a really tiresome job trying to get others to understand just how much life has now changed for us.

Life now falls into two chapters, With Them, and Without Them. This latter chapter is so hard to adapt to, and we never really stop learning how to live with this heartbreaking change. That’s why it still hurts for a very long time, and that time frame is different for every single person that has ever experienced a bereavement that has really rocked their world, so it is very important to not judge, or be perceived to judge them for how they deal with, and process their grief.

Their loss has hurt them to their very core, and they’re trying their best to live the best life they can, in this new chapter of Without Them that they never expected to be in, so be patient and just be there with them while they navigate what life now holds for them.

As always, just be there, be present, be kind and listen. If you can do that for them, you are offering something very special to them.

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