Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Mind Over Matter?

I used to believe in that phrase. After all, if you just tried hard enough, if you just had the right attitude, if you just pulled yourself up by your bootstraps .... your life would be better. Right?
Well, this phrase worked for me until mid December of 2007. Then my life was shattered, along with my heart, and my life became "matter over mind".
I was no longer capapble of changing the way I felt by just thinking positively. I barely had the strength to breathe, let alone pull myself up by any bootstraps.
I found that I could not rise above my grief just because I wanted to. The waves did not cease slamming into me just because I willed them to stop.
The tears did not stop flowing simply because I was tired of crying and wanted to be dry-eyed for at least an hour.
The day that grief came in my door, and in my heart, I met something bigger than myself .... something that I could not will out of my life no matter how hard I tried.
I learned that in many situations life is a case of "matter over mind". There are many people who don't get that, just as I didn't get it before I was thrust onto this path. They think that we should be rising above the situation and enjoying this time of year now. They don't understand that it's impossible to force yourself to enjoy "the most wonderful time of the year" when your heart is half gone. They don't "get" why this "season of family, joy & happiness" is not that kind of season for us.

But the day grief walked into my heart, something else came in, too. It, too, has changed the way I look at things and at people. It's called "Compassion" and it's a gift from being on this path. There are so many painful and negative things on the path that it's nice to sometimes stop and note the gifts I've received. I had compassion "before" but nothing at all compared to my "after" compassion. It's changed my eye sight. And it's changed my heart.
So .... even on the days when I cannot accomplish "mind over matter" during this holiday season, I can know that I'm not alone and it's OK to feel the way I feel. The season will be over soon enough and maybe next year's will be just a bit easier.
One season at a time, right?


  1. what a wonderful post ... I found myself nodding along in agreement whilst reading it.

    I think it's important to remember that we were once the "untouched" and didn't "get it" before we lost our spouses. Sometimes I feel so scathing about it, and really I shouldn't be ... after all how can I expect them to "get it"? They just don't know and I hope they don't find out for a long time :-)

    You are so right about compassion too. Before Cliff died, I had sympathy. These days I find I have been graced with empathy.

    Thanks for writing this x

  2. I just past the 4 year mark and am finally seeing that there may be some kind of future for me. However, I still don't enjoy the Holidays. Actually, the whole Fall suxs since my wife died in September and our Wedding Anniversary is in October.

  3. November 29th is the one and a half year mark since my husband's death. I feel like the holidays will never end. I just want to fall asleep and wake up on January 2, 2010. Then I can get back to the regular grief and the continual relearning how to live again without all this additional holiday grief. I'm so tired, so very tired.

    Thank you for putting into words what I feel inside exactly. Please know that I am thinking of our family of widows/widowers through this tough time. HUGS and LOVE to you all.

  4. I agree with all that has been said. Without our losses, we cannot really understand what compassion and empathy are. They are truly gifts.

    IronBear138, I am right there with you. 6 years for me November. There will always be a shadow that hangs over this time of year.

  5. So, so accurate. Thank you for articulating that we can't just "rise above" the overwhelming grief we have, especially this time of year. I can completely identify with what you discuss with this post!

  6. I so identified with this post. I have some people in my life that think I should be "better" by now. BTW, it has only been 5 months! I do have days that aren't as bad as most, but they all suck right now. Just today in the Kroger store, the song "What I like about you" came on, and I got very teary-eyed. That was one of Ron's favorite songs (he used to dance like a mad-man to it!). I was impressed with myself that I didn't actually burst into tears, but just got teary. The rest of this year is going to be horrible. There's just no getting around it, so I have to go through it.

  7. Not truly "getting it" because I have not lost my spouse, I am yet moved by your words and the comments of those who do get it. Thank you for opening my eyes and my heart.

  8. It's only been 18 days for me and the pain is excruciating. Several friends and family have invited me for Tgiving but I just cannot do it...if I do, it is just for them anyway...and what a mess I will be. I just do not think I can add that to myself.

  9. I had to put up with that crap too, RonsWife. My wife's sister told me it was time to move on at 6 months out. I was still a F'ing zombie at 5 mo.

  10. A few days short of 18 months and this post very much says how I feel about the next few months of holidays. I am doing better these days but I will never be the same, I do experience better empathy and try to be more patient and understanding....thank you for putting into words so often what I feel.

  11. I became a widow at the age of 53. After my husband's death I found out many awful things about him. He stole my identity and opened up credit cards in my name without my knowledge. He also did this to his own kids (ages 20 and 25). I am disabled due to a car accident and not able to work. My friends all think that I should have moved on by now since he died in April of 2008. My life has been beyond difficult. I had to move 10 days after his death because I could not afford to live in the house since he had not paid the mortgage for quite a while. I am beyond lonely, all my friends truly do not get it, as you said. Just getting out of bed everyday and functioning is an accomplishment for me due to my leg injury. All of my friends seem to avoid me, I think because they have no idea how to help me. I keep trying but instead of it getting better it only gets worse. I would not wish widowhood on anyone but it is sooo very true that those who have not gone through it do not get it. Just to know that someone else feels this way helps me.