Thursday, July 7, 2011

You Can't Fix Me

Today's post comes to us from guest blogger Amanda, a lovely Aussie...who gets this widowed thing too! Thanks Amanda!

Sometimes I want to scream at people: “You Can’t Fix Me”.
...because sometimes, I get so sick of hearing that I need to “look after myself” or “do something for myself” or “make it happen” or “chin up” or “forge ahead”.

Sometimes it’s just too much when friends and colleagues minimise my grief in their misguided belief that they would know how to grieve properly if our positions were reversed.  (The same people that go to pieces if they have a sniffle and won’t make it to the gym that day.)

No, they’d grieve properly, have it together within a year and make rational decisions to take their lives onwards and upwards.

They’d “go to counselling” and “get the help they need” to get on with their lives.
Maybe a tasteful shrine with a few candles on the mantle to remember their love.
A weekly visit to the cemetery: fresh flowers on the grave.
They’d get themselves that new job that fits in with their altered lifestyle.
They wouldn’t suffer the grief fog, the loss of short-term memory, the sudden tears, and the incapacitating sadness that saps all energy yet prevents you from sleep.
They quote some random bereaved person that their aunt’s girlfriend’s hairdresser’s mother knows who has “coped admirably” with grief…. and cite it as “if they can do it, you can too”.  Never realising that the person they speak of most likely is showing them the brave face and not the face screwed up in the agony which is widowhood.

No, not for them this incorrect grief.

I am tired of explaining that life doesn’t work that way.

That I have to live this life every minute of every day and even sleep is no respite because half of my bed is empty when it shouldn’t be.
That even if I filled that side of the bed with someone new, it wouldn’t take away the grief for my lost love (and my lost life that I was supposed to have).
That my “happy place” isn’t happy anymore because the person who used to live there is gone.
That “The Secret” isn’t based on scientific fact: you can’t just wish you woes away anymore than you can make your beloved rise from the dead.
That the exhaustion of trying to function on broken sleep and a foggy brain is sometimes overwhelming.
That much of my adult identity was founded on being one half of a couple even though I am a strong, intelligent and independent woman.
That my best friend, lover, confidant, and comforter is gone and nobody else “gets me” like he did.

I wish they could know how hard this is without me having to spell it out.
I wish they didn’t overlook the incredible feat of strength and endurance I go through on a daily basis Just To Get Through The Day.
I wish they could see the progress I’ve made.
I wish they could see that I am helping myself ... that I am doing everything in my power to move forward.
…and that I am doing a bloody good job of it.

But mostly I wish they’d stop thinking that they know how to fix me.


  1. Michele, you have just put into words exactly what I have been feeling today after a "Just do this, this and this..." speech from a well-meaning friend. Thank-you. It helps so much to know I am not alone. Your description of grief is so true to my experience. Bless you.

  2. Well - there are people who do know.
    We, this community, see you!

    You are doing all you can and that is enough.

  3. I understand your writing. So many try to help, coax you to a better place, urge you to move onward with their advice. I do not think those who love us do so to amke it seem as if they could do it better, more right or timely. I think those who love us ache at the knowing how we hurt and just want us to feel better, make our hearts happy again. It is difficult for our loved ones to watch someone they care for suffer. Maybe reach to those who you know are truly vested in your life(not all the weirdos who seem to want attention) but to those who are really a part of your life, and let them know you know they want to make it all better but they cannot help this with advice. They can help with a visit , a dinner out, or simply a hug and smile of warmth. I have had many cruel, hurtful things said to me as far as to say I did not mourn my husband in a more Christ-like manner- and that was from a a "friend". What i realize is that her world is still full of joy, with husband, healthy kids, new home, great job. Those who push hard are those who have not had their joy infringed upon (yet)and they cannot bear for those in their life to be "down". I have learned to only keep those who are truly interested in loving me as I am in my inner circle. I need only their support. We can only do what we can handle and hope and pray that life becomes a little easier to get to you.

    widow of two years on July 9 and still incredibly broken and sad.

  4. AMEN.

    And, you are kicking serious widowhood butt.

  5. Amanda,
    Great post that we ALL can relate to. But here's the thing: "They" will never get it and no matter how hard we try to spell it out, our grief does not cross the barrier that is now between us and our loved ones. Well, I say they will never get it, but you know what? One day most of them will, unfortunately.
    I have told many friends, "You can't get it. It's impossible. No matter how hard I try to explain it .... no matter how hard you try to understand. You just can't. And I am so very thankful that you can't. Because that would mean you were here, on this road, with me. And I wouldn't wish that on anyone."
    So for those who are new on this road, in this horrible club, first I want to say that I'm so very sorry that you're here. Truly.
    But since you are, I'm glad that you've found us.
    And .... please don't try to make "them" get it. You'll only get frustrated, angry, sad, lonely and hopeless .... and very, very exhausted (as if you aren't already). Be patient with yourself. If you can, be patient with them. They think they want to understand. But you don't want them to EVER be able to understand this .... because the only way that will happen is for them to become widowed.

  6. I'd like to share what has worked for me. I agree with one of the comments...these remarks come from a place of ignorance. After being blindsided a few times, I would simply put a stop to the "advice" being given to me midstream. No long explanations. I would ask the person to please stop and tell them they are not helping me, thank them for their concern and end of story. It is a time of great exhaustion, but it is also a time of feeling great vulnerability, and the last thing we need is unsolicited advice, especially from those who have no clue. Rather than feeling like a powerless victim, which is where we will be if we let it pass, I found it better to speak up. Start with...."I want to clear the air..." and then clear it. I found that people really don't understand they are causing more harm than good (thus the ignorance) and they apologize. Good luck.

  7. You just put words to my thoughts and feelings that I didn't know how to express. Thank you.

    I keep finding myself wondering if I'm doing this "right" - and it's only been two weeks since my husband died, but it feels like a lifetime. This gives me strength to know that I'm as "okay" as I'm going to get for now, that others have experienced this and I'm not alone. Thank you...I can't say much more than that. Thank you.

  8. I have been on this path since April 26, 2009. I have found that I'm the strength and console everyone else who feels his loss; but who takes care of me?

    The imagination is one of the greatest gifts we have and yet no one can imagine what it is to lose the love of their life.

    He called me his girl for 23+ years and now... he's gone.

    Everyday that I move forward is a great accomplishment and the day is a gift...

    Be aware of the preditors... I found out first hand what it is to be someones prey. Be careful...

    There is NO cure fore a broken heart...

    V. Spring

  9. Oh, you have put into words what I haven't been able to. I am so tired of people trying to fix me. In my work life, the people either are trying to fix me or they just ignore me. In my home life, my 3 kids and I not only lost our Husband and Father but also his whole side of the family. I have not heard from one person from his side of the family since the funeral-NOT ONE. My one daughter has heard from her grandparents but my other two have not. Keith was my partner, my lover, my confident, my world. I have been in love with him since I was 14 and somehow I am supposed to "suck it up and deal with it" in a 1-1/2 years. We were together for 31 years. I not only lost my present but also my future. All of our dreams of the future when we had the money and the time and it was just going to be the two of us....Now not only am I alone but completely broke. My youngest daughter and I live month to month not knowing if we are going to pay the bills and have a place to live.
    They don't understand that just making myself get out of bed in the morning is an accomplishment. I fake my way through the days because I don't want to hear everyone's comments. In fact, I feel like I have been faking so much that I don't even really know who I am anymore. All I know is that 1/2 of me has been ripped away. I am exhausted from not sleeping or just plain exhausted and I feel so alone. I feel broken. Tomorrow is his birthday and I want to stay home and curl up in bed with the covers over my head.
    They don't understand that the pain I feel from losing him is so overwhelming and a physical pain to the point of sometimes I feel like I can't breathe. Yet, I am supposed to be "over it" by now.