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 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.