Saturday, March 14, 2015

Doing it for Myself

Marking my husband's birthday with a cupcake and sunflowers
As far as the 'ups and downs' of grief go, it's been a pretty tough week.  It started with what would have been Dan's 36th birthday on Monday (the second since he's been gone).  Despite coming up with a plan for the day and preparing as much as I could for the inevitable roller-coaster, the rug was well and truly pulled from underneath me.

I was ready for the pain, but not so ready for the loneliness, the sense of isolation and the anger.  I was so damn angry at him.  I haven't really felt much anger towards him throughout my grief, and it's a terrible feeling. One that, to be honest, I'm still not really ready to explore.  This might be something to go more in depth on another day.  But I was also really angry that the people still here in my life hadn't been more present for me this week, and that didn't feel very nice either.

I unpacked it with my grief counsellor yesterday. Where did this fury come from?  Why was I so mad at my friends?  Was I angry that they seemed to have forgotten me - what I was going through?  Was I angry that their partners were still here and mine wasn't? Was I just angry full stop, and they were an easy target?

I had talked about Dan's pending birthday a fair bit, so assumed that those close to me would know it would be a difficult day.  But I was surprised that only three friends sent 'thinking of you' text messages and none called, offered to visit or followed up that evening to make sure I was ok.

Quite a few of my husband's friends (who have become my friends) called or sent messages to share the day with me, some sent photos of the activities they were doing to remember him, like making a cake and talking about happier birthday from the past.  That was really nice, to know he wasn't forgotten and I wasn't the only one missing him.

My feelings were really hurt that my own friends hadn't been more involved.  It was a stark contrast to the year before - the first 'after' birthday - when everything was very raw.  I honestly felt like those around me had started to think 'well, it's been over a year and a half, she must be doing ok by now' or were, quite frankly, just bored of the same conversations about how I miss him and what we'd be doing if we were here.

I mean, hell, I'M bored of it!  Of course I'm tired of my grief, it's tedious and exhausting and not fun in any way.  So I get that my friends might be feeling a bit over it.  But there's nothing I can do about that.  This is my life now, his loss is part of me.  I'm not some miserable thing who NEVER enjoys life or looks forward to anything or who can't have a laugh, but I also can't pretend that it never happened and it doesn't still affect me.

With some hindsight, I don't necessarily think that my friends were a bit less involved on Monday because they're bored with me.  They most likely just didn't know what support I needed, didn't know how to help or what to say.  They also don't miss Das as much as I do, because they weren't his wife.  They don't feel my pain and there's no way they can know what to do with it.

But this all got me thinking about how, when I'm struggling with the grief, I have a tendency to look to the people around me to pick me up and carry me through.  What a lot to ask of them.  Not necessarily the support bit, but the fact that I seem to expect them to be able to mind-read and figure out what I need without me having to say so.  To call at the right time, or to give me space when I don't want to talk.  To talk about him - or to distract me when I just can't face it anymore.

This need to be saved almost always leaves me feeling let down, abandoned or misunderstood and that's really unfair to the people who love me and are trying to be there as much as they can.  So I need to get better at looking after myself.  At self-soothing.  Instead of looking to others for comfort or validation that my grief is 'ok' and I'm doing the right thing, I need to trust myself more, love myself more and back myself more.

I wish I could click my fingers and become this zen, chilled out, self-loving guru who sees the peace and light in everything and never doubts herself or her place in the world.  But I doesn't work like that.  The therapy sessions are helping, as is meditation, yoga and working with essential oils.

If Dan were still here I probably wouldn't have had to look this closely at myself and think so much about my lack of self-belief and insecurity.  Because his love gave me validation, his words gave me the reassurance that I now need to find within.  I know his love is still with me, but I need to look inside to find it.  I'm searching for this place of peace.  It may take me the rest of my life to reach it but, hey, I've got time.  It's not like I've got much else going on right now anyway.


  1. The feeling of being so alone, of everyone else "moving on" and not knowing quite what to do with myself on these landmark days. I try to find the warmth in my memories of past celebrations, try to smile knowing he and I shared them. It's so terribly hard. I'm not even certain the support of others is what I'm searching for. So we all just keep trudging forward don't we? I'm so sorry for your loss, for the emptiness you feel, but at the same time please know I smiled thinking of your Dan as I read this......and wished him happy birthday, love, and peace to you both.

    1. Thank you Lisa, I appreciate you taking the time to comment

  2. dear Rebecca,

    I know those feelings and how much they hurt, especially on milestone days when we really wish so much that others will remember and offer some comfort. please don't feel bad about yourself for feeling them. it's good that you can look inside yourself, that you can be understanding about possible reasons people didn't respond, and try to find ways within to trust, love, and back yourself. you are doing the best you are able and have come along way - never doubt that, no matter how many times grief grabs you by the nape of your neck and pushes you into an enormous wave.

    I, too, am trying so hard to find comfort from within myself. but I get so paralyzed with the unrelenting loneliness, the sorrow of knowing how many friends and family have fallen away, the isolation and the despair on top of missing and longing and aching for my Dearest Love, Hugh - it's sometimes so overwhelming I just want to crawl into my bed and cry and cry. so thank you for your beautifully written and insightful post - I am going to find something to do RIGHT NOW that will put a dent into what seems like a waste of a day. and I send your Dan a belated Happy Birthday wish...

    with much love to both of you,

    Karen xoxo

    1. Thank you karen, I hope you managed to find something positive to do. It really helps knowing we aren't alone x

  3. I can very much relate to this. I feel like I tried to rely a bit heavily on others in the beginning especially, without realizing it. I am always trying to remind myself that this whole thing is also hard for the people in my life, not just ME. It can be tough to realize that. I often wonder if the process of people beginning to be less present for us over time is in some way a natural part of the process of teaching us how to stand up on our own again. Painful for certain, but maybe needed to a degree? Thank you for this one, it really got me thinking. Sending some belated birthday wishes to your man!!

  4. Thank you for writing this. I too feel bad about the anger that comes about coupled with a sense of abandonment and bitterness on occasion. I don't want to begrudge others their partners, but I surely miss mine. I ask to move through these unpleasant feelings and thoughts so I can come out on the other side.