Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Masks ....

.... are very heavy to wear for a long period of time and they tend to make my face sweat.

I really thought that I was done wearing them after Jim died.  I couldn't wear them.  I didn't have the energy to snap them into place and keep them from sliding off.
So I didn't.

But now, now that it's a year and a half later, I am finding out that some people prefer the masks.  I don't think they actually realize that they do, but they don't need words to convey this message.

Our society seems to think that there is a time-limit on how long one should grieve.  Of course, no one would dare say that .... at least not to my face, but they think it.  
And they think that I should be moving on ..... every day getting better and better.
Sometimes when I realize they're thinking this, I wonder if there's something wrong with me?
Should I be happier?  Should I not ever be depressed?  Should I be ready to find a new love?

And then I thank God that I am strong enough to know that the answer to those questions is firmly, "No!"
There is no time limit on how long I will grieve the death of the only man I've ever loved.  There is no limit to the pain I feel at not having my best friend here with me.  
There is no limit to the loneliness I feel in mothering my children without their father.

I know that I will feel better.  
I know that I will adjust to this new life.
I know that I will be happy again.

But I also know that I don't have those dates circled on my calendar.
Don't get me wrong .... I would LOVE to know when all of this will occur!  I'd LOVE to wake up tomorrow and feel like a new person with a huge amount of joy and zest for life.
But I'm not stupid.
And so I wait.
And I enjoy the good times.
And I grieve during the sad times.

And, because it's easier to just "get along" ..... I sometimes snap on a mask.
It certainly makes me sad to feel that I have to do that.  No one should have to do it.
But ..... thankfully (for them), not everyone "gets" this life, do they?
And because I do have to sometimes wear a mask ..... I am ever so grateful for the people in my life who do not require me to wear them.  
I'm grateful for the people who love me enough to want to know and see and feel as much of my pain and grief as they can.
I am grateful for the people who are not watching their calendars with a skeptical eye.
I am grateful for love.
Amazingly deep, unconditional, safe love.

And I pray that I can always provide that kind of love for the other women on this path.
Because each one of you is a safe person who requires no mask.
And to you I say, "Thank you."
And "Please lock your mask away whenever we speak.  You are amazingly wonderful in just being you."


  1. So true Janine, and I am so grateful for my friends that love me unconditionally and stand by me no matter how ugly it may be. Looking so forward to not wearing the mask with you in San Diego!!

  2. Janine, thank you for this post. You do, all of you, provide a very special love and support for all of us on this path. This is a subject I have been confronted with (as with many others posted here) and it certainly helps to know that I am not alone in these feelings. Something I really appreciate on our Widow's Voice is that it is truly support and not one person trying to one up the other that their grief is the worse than the rest of us. Thank you, all of you, for your love and support!
    You help keep me sane.
    Eleanor King

  3. Thought about this post today. Three of my closest friends all recently told me that maybe I should consider anti-depressants. It has been almost 6 months since my husband died. I am functioning (working, getting out of the house, etc), but still crying more days than not. Maybe they are right, but I tend to think the overwhelming sadness is just part of the grieving process. I'm not sure if they want me on the anti-depressants to make it easier on me or easier for them to watch me go through it. Thinking it might be time to try and dust off the mask.

    Thanks for being honest and transparent. It makes me think I'm not crazy.

  4. Debbie you are not crazy, just grieving. I'm 2 and half years into the process and still have many bad days. You are functioning and moving forward. That's all you can do. This was a great article and I think all widows know that many people only want to see the mask and don't know what to say when emotions are shown. At first I thought that I would finally wake up and the grieving would end but now I know it will always be a part of me. I have fun, go out, travel but a part of me will always think about how much better it would be with my husband, my love.