Sunday, June 26, 2011

"Our Struggle"

“We’ve all had our struggles…”

And that’s when I stop listening. For her to throw the death of my husband, the life that I lead trying (and failing most of the time) to keep my head above water, for her to lump me in with someone’s divorce, or hospital stay or job loss (well….job loss maybe), for her to insinuate that being a young widow raising kids was “just” another life struggle….

Oooooo……I’m so mad I can’t even type!

And on top of that, she called me a single parent. I am an ONLY PARENT (thank you widow who posted that in comments a few months ago!) There is a big huge difference!

And this comment from a person who says that the loss of my husband still affects her!

Wait….I am so pissed! I want to growl!

“We have all had our struggles…” as if mine is like hers. How dare she trivialize my life, my daily fucking battle to keep a roof over my kid’s heads, to feed them, to care for their mental well-being.

How dare she compare her life with her married husband and say “We’ve all had our struggles…”

Does she mean that she gets up weary every fucking day? Does she mean that before her feet hit the ground she has considered where the holes are in her plan and the 3 people she needs to call, that morning to fill those holes?

Does she mean she dreads weekends because she just didn’t have the energy or time during the week to make plans for the kids so now they will be with her, which is exactly where she doesn’t want them to be, arguing, unless she finds the energy to argue them or de-whine them into a bike ride, a trip to a museum or the park? All the while really only wanting to take a good long nap, long enough to skip a damn day.!

Does she mean that she carefully plans her Sundays to make sure that the house is full of food, breakfast, lunches, snacks and dinner and just in case food items so that she doesn’t have to go to the store in the middle of the week because she knows it may mentally push her off the deep end to make “just” one more stop?

Does she mean she got to tell her kids today “we’re moving” and then find the ability, patience and kindness to comfort each one of them, separately, when all she wanted to do was go into her room and scream into her pillow?

By "our struggles," did she mean that she listened to her oldest say “The last 1/3 of my life has been….” and then watch his shoulder’s shake as he cries dealing with yet another loss. Or to have her youngest say “It seems like most of my life has been not very good.” And to realize, it’s true. His dad was diagnosed with cancer when he was 4. He’s 9 now.

Does she mean that she has days upon days upon days where she falls into bed, after trying to raise threes kids ON HER OWN and think, tonight would be a good night for a fucking earthquake because at least I could “rest?”

Does she mean wrapping her small frame around her much larger older child as he again sobs himself to sleep knowing the only thing she can do is listen to his pain, bless it and hope that it will not swallow him.

Is that what she means by “We all have had our struggles?”

Cause there is NO PAST TENSE in my struggle. No “had!” Not today. In fact, it feels harder today than it did in the beginning..

I could try to interpret what she meant by that comment, but well. I’m just too damn tired!

So I didn’t hang up on her, although I was tempted. There was no point in trying to make her see because she can’t, she won’t. She needs to believe that “We all have had our struggles…” It makes her feel better and who am I to take that away from her.

So I take my rage to the only place I can, a computer and then here, to you knowing that I am not alone. And in that one thought, as I thought it, then wrote it...the rage disappears.

Thank you for being a place where I find the healing too.


  1. Oh I hear you!! I had a very similar conversation with a 26 yo work colleague on Friday...
    So Very Frustrating!

  2. I feel your pain! You are shouting out the rage of many of us. I don't know what your relationship with this person is, but it sounds like one of those situations in which you are going to a dry well for water. Write her off as a helper or a listening ear. I know the anger of having someone trying to compare their situation to mine. Why someone feels the need to compare is beyond me, but then they try to one up me. I won't go into my story for the sake of space, but I can assure you it's hard to one up me on the scale of the hopelessness, terror, panic and emotional trauma my husband and I experienced in the years leading up to his passing, and of course, my struggle since. I have had to do some weeding of the people in my life over the past few years. We all find out who are friends are. I hope you feel better after venting, and you know you have the support of all who visit here.

  3. It is so painful when people can not really see us. When they can't empathize with our daily struggles to make it through. I think when people say things like that it is because they want to. They want to say I have had pain so I understand your "struggle".
    It just shows that listening is more important than saying anything. Acknowledging your pain, commenting on your loss and the loss of your children, to say "he died" and know what it means to live everyday in the guts of that knowledge.

    You are taking care of a family on your own. You are doing it all, the problems, the child raising, the work, the errands that never end, the tears and sadness that need attending to, the school meetings, the yard work, the health care and house care and people care that goes along with being "the one" - the one who survived. The mother to all but missing that essential one for you.

    It isn't a struggle! Somedays it feels like a physical and emotional tsunami. Somedays it seems there will only be a list of "to do" so long that giving up sleep is the only way to get even ten of those things done.
    Somedays - yes, you think give me one good reason why I have to get out of this bloody bed! And the list doesn't count.

    But - you do. You get up, you do everything on the list, the stand up and show up and speak up because there is no one but you.
    That isn't a struggle - somedays it feels like a war.

    And you can't know what that is like until you find yourself at the front of the battle.

    Life is like that isn't it? We can't know what we don't know AND
    We can't forget it now we know. Our spouses have died, we KNOW what that is really like.

    Kim - you are an inspiration ( I know you probably don't feel that way or think that you are) but sister, you rock!

  4. Amen sister! Amen is all I got to say!!!!

  5. Ditto to EVERY. SINGLE.WORD. I hear you, and I know. And even after 5 years, it carries on, and even after 5 years (in just 10 days time), the inane assumptions continue. "We all have our battles.You are not the only one" was the most recent one. Said by a woman with a husband right there, healthy, financially comfortable, home paid for, and children grown and settled. They don't have a clue, do they. Not a clue.
    All I can say is thank God for the internet. I may have lost my mind without knowing other women out there who actually get it.
    I will be here. And I understand.

  6. Thank you,you put into words what I can not......prayers and love.........lee ann

  7. Kim: a beautiful, honest, gut wrenching and sadly so true post. I am sorry that such thoughtless people exist, for all of us; but feel blessed that we all have this "community" to come to. Your words have helped me countless times. I admire your courage and ability to express them so publicly.

  8. God bless you Kim. I cryed when I read your post, you said it all.

  9. Kim, I teared up when I read your entry today because it is so true. You again, echo the words that many of us feel over and over again. This "soul parenting" gig is for the birds!

    Just last month I talked to a mom from my daughter's school that I had never met. She asked about my husband and I explained about his death (although I don't know why I feel the need to explain that to everyone I meet). She actually had the balls to say "I guess that would be better than an ugly divorce". I was speechless (and that takes a lot to do that). I just politely said it is apples and oranges, both situations suck but in my mind, I couldn't believe that was what she said.

    To hear something as "we all have our struggles" from someone you know well, I can only imagine would be so much hurtful. Many (((hugs))) to you.

  10. See?! This totally proves that we are sometimes stronger than we think. Because you, as well as many of us, had the strength to NOT haul your phone over to her house, still talking ..... and shove it down her throat when she answered the door.
    I am amazed ..... by your/our strength and so many people's stupidity.

  11. I am in the middle of trying to put my house to sleep and because I am so tired and it is all so overwelming, I just sat down and decided to check out the widow's voice blog to see where everyone else was at today. Kim, I get it. I so absolutely and truly get it. Reading your words makes me just want to get on a plane and head your way and help out. I have no idea where you live or any details about your life, but I know that like me you could probably use another adult to just team up with you for a day, a week, a month...My heart breaks for your children as much as it breaks for my own. And because of my own, I can't come help you because I can barely keep all of us going. But, we get each other and we cheer each other on when there is a step forward, and we pray for each other when there is a fall backwards.

    Tomorrow, my oldest son has to be packed and in town at 6:15 a.m. to leave for scout camp. My twin girls have a baseball tournament 45 miles away at 2:00 p.m., and my five-year-old (which I have actually drove off and left - only once but very, very scary) will get dragged around like always. It is almost 10:00 p.m. and the scout uniform is still dirty, the baseball pants need mended, and I'm on the computer instead of doing these things. Sometime tomorrow I will try to fit in work, pay bills, do laundry, and get started planning something for my in-laws' 50th wedding anniversary. That may sound like a busy day but that is every day for me. Every single day there seems to be more than I can possibly do or handle. But amazingly, like you, I get through and find that I did in fact manage.

    I am struggling right now with so many people that don't get what life is like to be widowed. It saddens me to hear their thoughtless comments and angers me when they are said in front of my children. I work so hard to keep my family moving and have little patience for those that are thoughtless enough to try and hinder our progress.

    Please give your oldest an extra hug tonight from a stranger that thinks he is an amazing young man with so much to offer this confusing world. He is an inspiration to my boys that are younger and facing those difficult teenage years ahead without their dad.

    Thank you Kim for your honesty and for helping me realize that I am not alone in a life that is in fact a struggle each and every day.

  12. Thank you. So true.
    Virtual hugs to you!

  13. OMG - this is so true. My own mother-in-law has said things like this to me before. While I don't understand her loss in losing her son, I would think that she would have enough heart and sense not to say some of the things she has said to me since my husband, her son, passed. Losing a spouse is gut wrenching, and to then be thrown into parenting 2 teenagers alone is just plain terrifying. My sister-in-law actually made a comment that she made a huge sacrifice by using her "cruise" money to put in an inground pool this week. I couldn't help but to respond to her and tell her I would love to have her sacrifices - how about let's trade for the fun of it. Thanks for letting me vent about this.

  14. OMG-I was just writing almost the same words in a letter to my mother-in-law that I will never send. Almost word for word. I listened to her for an hour rant and rave at me because she wanted me to "put myself in her shoes because she lost her son". What is this a grief competition? I know she lost her son and I am really sorry for that but I lost my husband, lover, best friend, partner of over 30 years. After listening to her she told me she felt at peace now. Well, I am sooooo glad that she feels at peace. Meanwhile, I feel lost, abandoned, angry, and alone. She doesn't even feel the need to reach out to her grandchildren who lost their Father. No one has ever called or written or even asked if we need anything or if I am able to make the bills without his income or if we are going to be able to keep our house. Yet they feel free enough to tell me that they know how I feel because of their divorce or boyfriend break up or even that they lost their dog. Ditto to everything that you said. I get it, too. I wish I could reach out and give you a hug because selfishly it might help me too.

  15. nllauer - I am hugging you now (squeeze). I feel your pain. My mother-in-law does not even mention my husband EVER. EVER! My kids have even noticed that she never even says his name. Just the other day, I called to let her know that I received information on three of the recipients of his organs, and it brought me such peace to know that they are doing well, and she just doesn't even acknowledge it. I guess that's her way of dealing with it - but come on. AND - to make matters worse, I feel as though I am being judged for the way I am raising my two awesome kids ALONE. They aren't perfect - but who is? My daughter dropped out of college (she was going to be a teacher - just like her grandma - but was only doing it to please her dad and his mom). She has always wanted to be a hair dresser - so that's what she is doing. AND - I transferred my son to a private - all boy - school. Now we may not be catholic, but we are christian, so what's the big deal. I transferred him because I think the christian values, male bonding and guidance and leadership is what my son needs now that his dad is gone. I got flack for that too. Like you said - I have bigger fish to fry - like wondering if I can make the tuition payment, and more importantly - the mortgage payment this month. Let some people try that on for size and walk in our shoes - tho I wouldn't wish this on anyone EVER. Hugs to you.

  16. I come here and read your posts and hear your pain but I do not claim to know it as I have not walked an inch in your shoes. I do not know exactly how you feel because I have not experienced it. I can only imagine and I know that my imagination is not what you are experiencing. As I read your post today I also heard the other side...the side of those who have not walked in your shoes but have experienced pain. For some, that pain has to them equaled your pain in some way...for instance, say you had a wonderful marriage ( or so you thought, after all, you were incredibly in love with your spouse) and then you find out that your spouse is not in love with you. Your spouse has found someone else. Your spouse has left you. In this way, you are alone. This was not something you counted on happening, it was not something you chose, it just happened to you. All of us, regardless of what happens to us that is out of our control, have a choice as to how we are going to choose to respond to that action. Our reaction is in our control. As unfair as the action committed against us is, we are still responsible to our reaction to the the action. Let us have more compassion and love towards everyone, not knowing what situation they have come from or speak of, but knowing that for them, their pain is real, and although it might not be your exact pain, it is theirs. I love this blog because continues to teach me to love one another and shows me how to be a better friend, spouse, and parent. To appreciate each and every day as a gift from God. To cherish each memory as if it is the last. I have been humbled time and again by the brutal honesty and sharing of feelings here. By the love and support shown to all who come needing it so desperately, the lending ear of understanding and compassion from someone who has walked a path of pain and is still living to tell the story. I pray for you all, knowing that if I walk your path, I will know where to go to get some support. And I also thank you for all that you have taught me and continue to teach me through your grief. You are touching lives and making an impact even if you feel like you are barely treading water. Love, peace, compassion, and hugs,
    A grateful lurker

  17. Dear Lurker,

    Thank you. I am glad you are hear. I am glad our words are helping you, because your words helped me!


  18. I hate when people make comments like that! I get it all the time. Recently I got "So, you're okay now right?" As if missing my love just suddenly stops and suddenly my life goes back to the way it was. It's frustrating that people who haven't lost someone have no idea what it's like.

    I too am an only parent and it's the hardest things in the world. Life is a struggle EVERY DAY. I hate that there are so many people out there that don't get that. I also hate that often times married moms tell me - I feel like a single mom too, my husband works all the time. Again - they have NO idea.

  19. Mary Ann July 7, 2011July 7, 2011 at 11:26 AM

    Ditto to everything that was said. It is all so true! My husband passed away 5 years ago and sometimes it is like it just happened. When I look at his picture he still takes my breath away. We were married for almost 40 years and it so very hard to deal with all of it. People do NOT understand at all. One time a person said to me - well it's not like you got along all the time you know - you did have disagreements and argue some. So what is that suppose to mean? That because you have an argument it's make it easier when they pass away ??? People never cease to amaze me at all. I still wear my weddings rings - one day someone said well as long as you are wearing those don't ever expect anyone to be interested or ask you to go anywhere. Once my boss said you make people feel uncomfortable when you mention losing your husband that they don't want to approach you anymore because they are afraid what you will say. Oh well excuse me. I am sorry that my husband died and it makes YOU feel uncomfortable. People - UGH !

  20. I agree with all of you. It has been 2.5 years since my husband passed away and I still try to understand why. It would be nice to be able to sit with someone and talk and not hear you need to get over it and get on with your life. What life, the life I had is over. The only fortunate aspect of all of this is that I did not have any small children. Those of you that do, I don't know how you do it or deal with it. I have grandchildren who loved and miss their pappa and that is hard enough to deal with. Please just know that I know what you are going through and hopefully eventually it will get easier for us.

  21. I lost a friend of over 34 years due to her personalizing my Husbands death and making it all about her. She actually said that my husbands death affected more people than just me. Yes, like our 3 sons who adored their Father! I've learned that people sometimes want to say they are your friend rather than actually be a friend.
    I wrote her off but it's such a shame and disappointment. I could really use all the friends I can get right now. The hardest 16 months of my life!

  22. I appreciate what you wrote and the honesty of emotion that you expressed - thank you! Hearing others comparing losses is very difficult to deal with...especially when you are right in the "thick" of it. I think that many people have good intentions when they bring this phrase out - potentially as a way to connect and find commonality to an experience that many cannot truly imagine.

    Playing "devils' advocate" though - our experience of loss doesn't make us experts on all types of loss either. The farther I go on this journey and the more people I talk to, the more I find that we just cannot possibly know the issues and hurts that others have experienced (even if from the outside they look like they're living a charmed life). Not so great to compare loss, but that's what we humans do in so many arena's of our life - I know I do!

    Thanks again for sharing so honestly and for all the supportive comments.

  23. When friends share their supposedly "struggles" with me, and after listening to them for awhile, I simply smile at them without a sound. At that point, they realize how pathetic they sound so they stop complaining. Yes, I will trade my life with yours. I am not always this calm only when I've had enough!

  24. I lost my husband of 32 years 2 1/2 years ago. I have not been on this website in months. I am so thankful that I did tonight. I have been struggling with friends saying things to me for some time now. The death of my husband seems like yesterday. I am fortunate that my 2 sons are adults. I can not even imagine how I would get through this if I was raising young children or teenagers. My heart goes out to all of you. I feel overwhelmed with working and trying to keep up with everything. I realize that I am stronger than I ever thought I would be. I was convinced when my husband was given 3 months to live that I could not live without him. That I could not do this! But what choice do we have? I too wish I could help all of you that are raising children. I also have friends that have made my husbands death about them. Friends that tell me that they know how I feel because their husbands travel. Friends that tell me they know how I feel because they went through a divorce. The list goes on and on. I believe that I have finally realized that I have to keep my safe friends and weed out those that don't make me feel safe. Those that make me sad and angry! Tonite I don't feel so alone after reading all your posts tonight. I will be checking in more often with my new safe friends. Thank you and may we all find a little bit of peace each new day.

  25. Thank you everyone for these so honest remarks. This is sooo very true, so very true.

  26. I hear you!! It's been many years for me but the pain is still there. I remember a "friend" who was going through a divorce saying that my 10 year old son was lucky that my husband was dead because he wouldn't have to go through his parents fighting in an ugly divorce.

  27. The pain of abandonment divorce after 30 years of marriage can absolutely feel like a death
    When you lose the life you lived, many of the friends and family, your very identity, it can absolutely feel like a death. Even grief counselors say so. I'm still struggling to endure my life 8 years later. Don't dare to belittle another person's pain. My rage is equalling yours right now.