Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Misconceptions from the ill-informed

Funny Graduation Ecard: You can't choose the people you are in school with, but you can choose who to put a voodoo curse on. 

I wrote the following on my facebook page after I attended my high school reunion last Saturday night, where it quickly became apparent that the "cool kids" were still trying to tell the rest of us what we "should do".  A few facebook friends asked to share it, so I've reposted it here as I think we all have had days like this, or people who think they know what widowhood is like when they have no way of actually *knowing*.
(I looked awesome and totally HAWT at the reunion BTW, thanks for asking:) Despite the idiots, I did also manage to have a great deal of fun with some truly awesome people (including two other widows) who have always been there for me.


I need to be clear about something before I next feel the urge to scream at someone: grief is not something you can just "get over".

Grief is NOT the same as depression, although the two can often be found seeping through the neural pathways, hand-in-hand.

Telling me that you know how I feel because your dog /  Great Uncle / axolotl (yes, I know!)  died is NOT helpful.
Neither is comparing widowhood with divorce: they are not the same.

It is OK to still be sad 2.5 years after the death of your spouse.  For that matter, it is OK to be sad 50 years later too.  Grief is like a roller-coaster ride where there are dips and turns in the most unexpected places, but the thing is, you either learn to live alongside it, or you don't.
(and the latter option is where the depression kicks in).

Telling me to "get help" because I say that I still grieve the loss of my husband is ludicrous. The Actual Professionals (as opposed to armchair psychiatrists) agree that my mental health is worth bottling because I realise one truth: I will never be truly "done" with grief. 
But I also realise that for every wave that knocks me to the ground, I will get up after it passes because I am made of strong stuff.  And the surf isn't as wild as it used to be so I don't get knocked down as often or for as long.

So - how do widows deal with grief?
We talk.
We cry.
We laugh.
We joke.
We hug.
We compare notes.
We laugh at daaaarrrk humour.
We roll our eyes at each at ill-informed comments.
But above all, we talk.

Because by talking, we realise that we are not alone and we can draw strength from this realisation.


  1. So well put! The waves make sense to me- totally still get knocked down, but I have the perspective to understand I'll get back up. It might be tomorrow, but I'll be standing again soon. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Hear, hear!


    Suzanne (widowed almost 11 years now)

  3. Amen!

    By the way, I had to Google axolotl. It's cute and all but SERIOUSLY?!?!?!

  4. Oh Amanda, I am on my feet applauding loudly!!! THANK YOU now go and tell the world outside of "widowhood". I can't tell you how many people over the course of the last 2.5 years have asked me why "I am not over IT by now". Believe me, I am functioning pretty well as compared to where I was at the beginning. But I still have the need to talk about my husband and if necessary, allow a couple of tears. But like Stacey said, I get back up again and rather quickly. I only wish that these people could chose to recognize my strength and not be critical of my weakness. Oh well....


  5. I lost my (late)husband on - Nov 14th, 2008 and I still feel the loss of him. Its not something you just get over.

  6. You are so right in saying that losing your spouse is different than any other loss. I have lost grandparents, friends,my brother, my mon, all before I lost my husband! It is not the same! I would never tell someone who lost a child that I get it! I have often said it isn't something you gey over, it is something you learn to live with.We have a new normal that is not like anyone elses normal. I wish they would get it!

  7. Amanda, I totally agree! I've met widows who husband's died over five years ago, and they've asked when is it over? I tell them, "It's been 12 years for me. I still miss him everyday. I remarried in 2007. My husband is a widower and feels the same way. The grief and loss soften, but they stay with you--forever. Each loss situation is unique and different, I don't think they can be compared. Keep getting up every time those waves hit! My thoughts are with you.Author of Twenty-Eight Snow Angels: A Widow's Story of Love, Loss and Renewal http://www.outskirtspress.com/snowangels

  8. This is one of my favorite posts yet!