Widow Lessons Learned

Widow Lessons Learned:

  1.  Nothing prepares a person for the loss of a spouse and time times not heal all wounds.  Granted, a person learns to live again, but like a scar, sometimes the wound aches. The heart has holes in it and sometimes those cracks splinter.
  2. People often stop talking to a griever because they do not know what to say.
  3. Some people walk on egg shells, but others ask insensitive questions about finances, death details, and some question decisions and behaviors.
  4. Other people don’t want a griever around because it is just too sad.
  5. Some people will think that a griever has become a loose woman with no morals because she is suddenly single.
  6. Others will think that because she is a widow surely she will take anyone offering sex.
  7. Some married men will see a widow as a safe bet.
  8. People will walk around on egg shells if the  griever is having a hard day.
  9. The  widow will be afraid of feeling again.
  10. The widow will be afraid of everything.
  11. Families implode because they do not know how to fix the hurts in one another let alone themselves.
  12. It takes intentionality and real work to develop new ties especially when adult children are involved.
  13. It took 2-2 ½ years for us to want to fix what was lost.
  14. Sometimes there aren’t any answers to why or to evil.
  15. Sometimes prayers aren’t answered.
  16. That even the strongest person can break even four years later.
  17. Holidays can stop being fun.
  18. Weekends are sometimes harder than any work week.
  19. Sometimes it feels as if people will always see a griever as broken.
  20. That the day will come when a widow realizes that they are stronger than they ever considered themselves.
  21. That life does go on and that happiness is a choice.
  22. A house is not a home when the people are gone.
  23. Meaningful work helps.
  24. Friendships change and the friendships that develop or remain are stronger.
  25. I will never be one deep again.
  26. Always maintain one’s own password and login for banking.
  27. Powers of Attorney are null and void upon death.
  28. Ensure dual signatures are on everything from rentals to storage units.
  29. That a person’s grief can make the body physically hurt for a really long time.
  30. That being outside is one way to walk away from the all-consuming grief.
  31. That some things can be too horrible to be understood or to be spoken about.
  32. That writing really does help.
  33. Written memories are a special gift because it gives the griever back a part of their loved one.
  34. Redecorating the house, the bedroom, the walls is part of the process.
  35. That genuine humor is like balm to a hurting heart.
  36. That happy family times hurt more than the predicted hard days because they are a visible reminder and marker as to who is missing.
  37. Time is before and after.
  38. Vacations are no fun alone.
  39. It is nice to be able to keep one’s own schedule and to eat whatever one wants.
  40. How lonely it is.
  41. Grief clouds the mind and memory is deeply impacted.  Reading is difficult because it is hard to process anything and retain it.
  42. Grief hurts the body physically.
  43. There is either the propensity to jump into a new relationship too soon or to put too much validity into a relationship too soon.  The mind and heart go to assuming and desiring a connection and a commitment that one once had.
  44. New relationships are different.  It isn’t a comparison game and it doesn’t negate what was and what is.  Consider having children.  Nobody thinks they are capable of loving another child as much as the first child, but then another child comes and with it the recognition of equal yet separate love is possible.
  45. Relationships become more important after loss at a certain point.  Not everyone else is able to understand this.
  46. Sleep becomes disrupted and often is a problem even years later.
  47. After years, there is still the longing to know that a loved one is not forgotten and that the death mattered.  There is still a sense of a person missing at the key happy events and a wondering of what that person would think of the way life has been handled since death.
  48. That some people will clutch every belonging, letter, and memory, just as others will push them all away.
  49. Music can be a powerful reminder as to events or memories and a song can be barely caught and yet it can tear off a lot of bandaids.
  50. That it feels like there is always going to be that feeling of not fitting in all the way and that in the case of young widows/widowers, having too much knowledge and a vocabulary of things that sets a person apart.  For instance, words like assassination, burial plots, funeral homes, knowledge of the various costs and practices, survivor benefits, social security, and I could go on, are words that are far beyond my time in life….except that it is my reality.
  51. There will come a day when a person can see beyond the loss that defines them and that happiness really is possible.
  52. That while people are never replaceable, it is possible for another to have equal real estate in one’s heart and that no two relationships are the same.
  53. That a person can be incredibly happy and yet still have hard days or weeks.  April literally takes me to my knees.  I have to fight through the birthday, the angel anniversary, Gold Star Day, and memories of the terror from the Boston Marathon.  I am touchy and I want to sabotage relationships and myself during this time.  I retreat and I have problems sleeping, yet I know that if I stay the course, once I shuffle past the 27th, there is a shift and I realize that it was just a period of time.  Even when I do not think about the days or the windows, they creep into my being.
  54. Grief makes a person vulnerable even if they never were before.  My emotions are no longer able to be hidden and that is a scary thought.
  55. Grief does not define me.  While my journey is public, I had a life before Phil, with Phil, and since Phil.  Yes, he is always going to be a part of my life, but he would certainly never want my life to be over with his.  It comes down to the question he asked me in our last face to face conversation, “Linda, if you died first, would you want me to be happy again?”  Well, yes, yes, I would.
  56. The final lesson is knowing that no two people grieve the same or bear the burden of grief the same.  No judgments.  It is all hard.  There is no prize for grieving just as there is no timeline for grieving.  Those people who have found a life again, love again, still bear the scars.  New memories and time do help assuage the intensity of the pain, but like a broken bone that knits back together stronger, the break still shows on an x-ray.

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