Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Are You Over It Yet?

Lately, I’ve been testier than usual. Very testy. One of my Widow Camp friends, Cassie, and I have shared many back-and-forth, four-letter-filled texts that have succinctly summarized our not-so-happy assessments of our similar situations. (I’m so thankful to have a widowed friend just a text away who understands what my non-widowed friends will hopefully never. Thank you, Widow Camp!) Maybe it’s the approaching holiday season. Maybe it’s the pushing forward I did with the Business of Change. Maybe it’s because last week was a full moon. Maybe it’s because one of Maggie’s friends is getting married and another is having her first child. Regardless and undeniably, I have been much more touchy than usual.

It’s difficult to explain to those who haven’t lived this nightmare why losing Maggie isn't something I’ll just one day get over. Not that I need to explain it to you, fellow widow/er, but there is no cure for what is ailing me. There is no medicine to vanquish my sorrow. My discomfort is not temporary like that that comes from a miserable cold or the sharp pain of a broken bone. It’s not a healing thing; it’s a coping thing. I really want them to understand but I’m careful with that wish; I’d never want anyone to fully understand the sadness I feel. So, I offer up yet another analogy even though I suspect my friends have long tired of my attempts to explain.

Imagine, I tell them, if one day someone walked up with a machete and, without explanation, chopped off your right arm. Blood would spray and it’d hurt quite a bit. You’d spend time in the hospital with drugs and stitches and visitors. But eventually, you’d go back home. The helpful visitors would disappear. The physicians would stop prescribing drugs. Then it’d just be you, your left arm and your memories of how things used to be. Meanwhile, you’d be learning how to tie your shoe with only one hand. Or shampoo your hair. Or button your shirt. Or put on a necklace. Or floss. Other things that you used to do, things you did daily, took for granted and loved, you just couldn’t do anymore. No more playing guitar. No more texting on your phone. No more driving a stick-shift. No more hunting or playing baseball or lifting weights. Or carrying both dogs. Everything is different now. Life will never be the same.

Imagine someone asking you, who just lost your arm, “Hey, when are you going to get over that whole losing-your-arm thing?”

Then imagine raising your one remaining hand to show that person your one remaining middle finger.

Did I mention I’ve been a little more testy than usual lately?

29 comments:

  1. Love this post. In fact, I may have to borrow your analogy in the near future. Just perfect!

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  2. OH I love this explanation and am going to "steal" it from you....to pass on to those who totally don't get it but wish they did. Thank You

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  3. Chris,
    Fabulous, especially the middle finger part! I wear my husband's and father's wedding bands on my middle finger and when needed, rude and ridiculous people get them in full flower! I get the testiness as well. I am re-living many "anniversaries" this and next month. This Thursday is the anniversary of the day Tim was diagnosed with leukemia...he died 18 days later-11/7/09 due to chemo complications. As I re-live the horror of those days, I will recall everyone I met at Camp and use that collective strength...along with my own...to get me through the days. As always, your writing helps immensely as do four-letter words!

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  4. It’s not a healing thing; it’s a coping thing.

    Nice.

    And - raising your last remaining middle finger. Awesome.

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  5. I laugh too as I love your analogy. Those who have not experienced this loss cannot understand. I think it would be easier to cope with the loss of a limb,rather than mending a broken heart. One arm can compensate for the other over time. There is not a second heart and mind to heal grief.

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  6. I love this Chris. Great analogy, great mindset.

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  7. Can I use this? I'm 13 months out and starting to get this more and more from friends and co workers who really don't get it.

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  8. This is perfect and I love the last part!

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  9. Perfectly said! No one would ever dare ask someone who had lost a limb when they were going to get over it! I'm 19 months out and can't even count the number of times I've been asked.

    "It's a coping thing....." THANK YOU!!!!!!

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  10. That's it, exactly. "It's not a healing thing, it's a coping thing..." I'm so tired of explaining it to my friends, and I guess they're tired of hearing about it - very few call me anymore. One called this past weekend, and I basically got impatience and a scolding from her as I tried to talk about how I'm doing. Another thing - several people only call me from the car on their way home (which I don't agree with)- within ten minutes or so, they arrive home, and it's a nice excuse for the conversation to end. I usually ask how far they have to go before I start a new topic. I spend the whole time listening for their engine to be turned off so I don't ramble on while they're sitting in their garage waiting for me to stop talking.

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  11. I couldn't have said it better. Thanks for writing and posting this.
    I plan to share it.

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  12. Yup. Good stuff. Analogies are such great teaching tools in my classroom and that's because they illuminate ideas that are hard to understand without experience. I love this analogy and I will use it too, with my friends who haven't been widowed. Really great, Chris.

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  13. I love the analogy and I almost peed my pants with the middle finger gesture!Thanks for the laughs!

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  14. "Everything is different now. Life will never be the same." Ain't that the truth. Little did we all know what it would be like, I still cannot believe that this grief has this stronghold over me. Good for you for being testy, Chris, look how many of us you brought a laugh to today. Thanks so much.

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  15. Love it, great post. I just returned from my grief counselor and our discussion tonight was how I'm frustrated, hurt, angry etc over how a close friend of mine grilled me on why I'm still seeing a grief counselor after two years out? And how I'm still defending my feelings to those that don't know or get it. Then I came home to this post - wow what timing! Thank you!!!!!

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  16. Everything is different now. Life will never be the same. I'm 8 1/2 months out and those thoughts just keep running through my head. As a young widow in my 20s that just sucks when all the other young married couples lives aren't different. Marriage, pregnancy, babies. Bleh. Happy for them, but oh so different for me.

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  17. Crazy isn't it? It's ok to be testy, sad, upset, grieving etc... All emotions are called for whether it's now or 20+ years down the road regarding Maggie and your life together. I love the chopped off arm bit. Made me giggle. Thanks for the post. Looking forward to many more.

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  18. I'm not a widow/er but I have however lost many close family/friends through my lifetime. I can not EVER imagine asking someone if they are getting over it! You don't get over it, you're exactly right you find ways to cope. I'm appalled at the very idea that a person could ask such a thoughtless question. So appalled that your analogy of the chopped off arm was perfect - down to flipping the bird w/ the last remaining middle finger.

    My thoughts and prayers for you Chris as your wake each day and find new ways to cope w/ the lost of your beloved Maggie.

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  19. I love your analogy and I intend to remember it and share it with others who are struggling to understand what it means to lose a spouse. Thank you for your colorful explanation.

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  20. I am not a widow/er I have gone through a divorce and have now widows/er in our single's group and my issue is if you won't open up and allow us to help with the healing then my comment is "get over it." While we as divorce`s can't understand what it is like to loose a spouse neither can a widow/er understand what a divorce is like. Yet if as a widow/er you are going to be apart of a group that is based on divorce recovery and you wallow around in your self-pity then you deserve what you get. If divorced people did that we'd get the same response and don't for one second think that divorce is any less painful. In some ways it's more so. We have kids who deal with rejection on a daily basis from a parent. I would've much rather told my kids their other parent died then have to deal with what I did, because then I wouldn't have had to continually deal with the constant look in their eyes from the let downs and broken promises!

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  21. Thumbs up to the middle finger!

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  22. Got the email with your blog today. Could not have come at a better time. I'm 18 months out and all my friends and family expect me to be over my husband's death by now so I have no support. Now I just cry and ask myself what's wrong with me since I can't get over it (I never will)! Thanks for showing me someone else out there understands! Your words will get me through the holidays!

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  23. Perfect!! other people just don't get that it's the little things in life that just will never be the same. Love your post.

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  24. On my goodness, someone has finally vocalize what I feel every day! The support has dwindled, and it's almost like I get on peoples nerves when I cry or get depressed. Some friends have just never spoken to me ever again. It's really weird. Almost 3 years ago I was in a car accident where I got seriously hurt, I have a spinal injury, and was paralyzed from the neck down. I cried all the time, one day my brother told me that I was a victim and I should stop acting the victim. I was almost sick to my stomach to hear my brother say those words. After Richard died, it was the same thing all over again. Tonight he passed away, my brother sent me a text message saying he was sorry for my loss. It broke my heart. However, some relationships have been totally strengthened, and almost like Richard left me with some great people. Things will never be the same though. I lost one of my best friends last December of leukemia. She and Richard planned our engagement last year, she died five weeks later, and I lost my Richard eight months later. Her husband told me that you never "move on", you just learn to go on. He was absolutely right. You go on learning to cope with what has been handed to you. However, most people will never understand. I would never wish this upon anyone. I'm just so grateful for what he was and what he gave me in terms of the human spirit and strength and love. I wish to share the same with all of you and all of those who will also experience what we have... blessings...

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  25. Thank you for your post. I am "thrilled" to hear someone explain in such a manner that I may print out and "give" to people!!
    I too am a "little" testy and that would be putting it mildly!! So, I really appreciate your analogy and it really puts it "simply".
    Thanks, another testy widow!,
    Brenda

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  26. Thanks- Well said! I'm 15 months out,was married 23 years, and I recently described to a friend "how i'm doing", it's like the canvas of my life has been wiped clean...all the plans,ESPECIALLY the one of always being together just wiped away...the canvas will get painted because life goes on but not what I expected or wanted. Hell, I'm still figuring out what I like to eat, because I cooked for US.

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  27. Thank you so much---I am 2 years and 6 months since losing my husband of 37 years--I was feeling really testy today and I don't know why--I just do. I have no friends left and family that wonders how I can be so withdrawn??? I really have nothing to say because they could not get it anyway-why try? So your comments were priceless and a very good laugh from over here.TODAY I really needed to hear this.

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