Wednesday, March 21, 2012

To Keep Writing is .....

                                                  photo from here

.... to show that you are not making progress on this path?
That means that every one of the writers for Widow's Voice is still struggling to grow, to find "healing", to move forward in life?

Every time one of our writers decides that it's time for them to step down, to stop writing, many comments are made congratulating them on being able to move on with their life.  They are told that they are growing because they see that it's time to leave and move on.

These comments have made me ponder.  Quite a bit.
My husband died over 4 years ago.
I am in such a better place than I was 2 years ago ..... I love my life and I love the love in my life.  Of course there will always be the pain of losing Jim .... of him not being here, but there are no longer the black days of grief.  And I thank God for that.  I lived through more black days than I thought were possible to survive.

But now I'm in a good place.  A great place really.
I have grieved hard and I have moved forward.  I feel like I found my "before me", at least, most of her .... and have been able to blend her in with the "after me".
I am happy.
I am content.

And yet I still write on this blog.
Why continue to post here, especially if some people see that as being unable to move forward?

Well, that's easy.
I write because I care.
I write because the passion in my life at this point is to support other widowed people, to share experiences with them and to encourage them.

My passion is to let each widow/widower know that she/he is NOT alone on this path.  To let them know that they are not crazy, nor are they grieving the "wrong way" just because their timing is different than someone else's.  Or their timing is different from what their friends think it should be.  You know .... non-widowed friends.  It's always very interesting how many varied opinions and advice you get from non-widowed friends.

My passion is to let you know that the fact that you can't remember a conversation that took place less than 24 hours ago, does not mean you are going crazy, or insane, or losing touch with reality.  My passion is to tell you that losing your memory is very, very normal.  Most people don't know that.  I didn't.  And I didn't have anyone tell me otherwise.  So of course I thought I was a victim not only of widowhood, but of Alzheimer's, too.  That's enough to make someone go insane!  :)

My passion is to tell you that there are NOT 5 neat stages of grief.  That book wasn't even written about widowed people.  Grief is not neat and orderly.  It's messy .... and there's no order to it.
And you are very normal when you are angry one week .... and then angry again a month later.

My passion is to tell you that grief does not have a time line.  You may decide to take your rings off within a week of the funeral.  Or you may be 8 years out and still wear them.  That is normal.
You may have cleaned out your spouse's closet within the first month.  Or you may never clean it out.
You are normal.

That, and only that, is why I still write.
To let you know that you're not alone, you're not crazy, you're not grieving "wrongly", and that you need to do things/make decisions when it feels right to do/make them.  And only when it feels right .... to you.

I am not stuck in my grief.
I am not "not ready" for this new point in my life.
I am not "not moving forward".

I am fulfilling my passion.
And when I feel it's time for me to stop sharing that with you ..... I will stop.
When it feels right to me.
My writing is not an indicator of where I am in my grief.
It just shows that I want to support you in the only way I can.  By sharing my experiences with you, sharing the sometimes ugly truth, to let you know that life does get better.  That your grief will be easier to carry in the future because you will grow stronger.

So I hope you don't think we're all stuck here .... on this site and in our grief.
Because that is so very far from the truth.
We love connecting with you and encouraging you.
And we will all stop when our time is right to stop.  For whatever reason.
But hopefully, not for a while.


  1. Thank you.

    I often wonderd if by my coming and reading about grief it would somehow hold me longer in grief. Even though at times my reading makes me sad and cry, I always leave a little more enlighened by my reading about others grief. I come back over and over again, reading others thoughts on this grief path. I continue to be thankful in the knowledge that I am not alone in my thoughts and feelings about my grief.

    I think we are all thankful not only for the writers but also for the comments from the readers.

  2. Thanks Janine!

    I'm very thankful for all the writers that contribute to this blog, as well as all the people who post - anonymously or otherwise. We all help each other by simply knowing we're 'normal' and all aspects of grief are common. I personally think I got as much out of this blog as I did out of 6 months of individual grief therapy. (And this is a lot cheaper! Lol!)

    I'm at 21 months and I feel that I'm in a much better place than I was a year ago. I still have A LOT of work to do to, including purging my home of a life that I can no longer hang onto. I'm finding that it no longer feels like I own the house and it's belongings - but more like they own me. It is weighing me down on so many levels. And you're right. Everyone is so different and we can't and shouldn't compare ourselves to others. We can only know when things are right for us.

    Thank you for continuing to do what's right for you right now.

  3. Janine,

    Thanks for your thoughts on this topic. I have thought about all of this myself. Why do I continue to write about grief and read the words of others who write about grief? First, the writing part: I have always used writing to process emotions and to gain self-awareness. Grief happens to be a topic I am still drawn to explore it. Matters of life, death, love and loss are topics that writers have always found fascinating, whether in fiction, screen-writing, theater, essays, journaling or self-help. Grief is human and universal, and so we are drawn to it (and simultaneously sometimes repelled by it.) Sometimes I think I should stop writing and reading about loss, but then I keep having something else to say or continued interest, so I do it again.

    I read all of kinds of writing, including the writings of those who have lost. Why? For me it's because it makes me feel less alone. It helps me. It makes me feel a part of a human community.

    I write my blog,, for anyone who would like to use writing as a tool for recovering from loss.

    I know that there are many people for whom reading and writing about loss would not be helpful at all. But for those of us whom it helps, it is a valid process. Simple, easy, and cheap. I've often compared it to running. With running you need no special equipment or a gym membership, you just need shoes and a place to run. Writing requires only paper and a pen and a little bit of time. If it helps, I recommend it!

  4. I am 5 years out, and remarried, and still come here to read. Thank you for continuing to write. I know you've helped many, including me.

  5. What a paradox this grieving journey is that one must go through it alone but to know that one is not alone is comforting. After losing my husband of 34 years, I read about grieving every day. I hope one day I can say, "I'm happy."

  6. Again thanks for all of your writing. I come everyday to see what is written. This is my second journey into widowhood. I can tell you that this is different than the first time. This marriage was so different than the other, different circumstances. Empty nest marriages are great! Anyways what Im trying to get at is- grief is different for each of us. My children don't understand of course. Im the one being patient with them, they are adult children. I recently had a blow up with my youngest daughter, she said some hateful things to me. Im at 17 mths, and she tells me I'm angry..well yes I have been angry at times, crazy too, walk in my shoes. Her life is ok, she has her husband and a future. I have no husband, and who knows what is my future. You damm right Im angry. I was fine, things were good, then WHAM!! Its over he's gone and Im left to make all of these damm decisions. I didn't ask for this and surely don't want it. Maybe she is comparing this journey with the journey after her father died. I had met Danny 7mths after her father died, what she doesn't understand is that he helped pull me though that journey. He understood when I couldn't get off the couch, he was a widower too. So maybe she is comparing her father 7 months, Mom has found someone else and here she is at 17 mths and she is a mess...shouldn't she be over this now!!! Again thanks to all for making this a safe place to vent and not feel like I'm losing what mind I have left.

  7. Thank you for a perfect post...thank you for you passion in helping us at whatever stage we are at....I'm 2 1/2 yrs out and found so much of your post helpful...once again your post not only hits home but the timing is right on.... As I stayed home from work today, something I haven't done in a long time...the grief hit hard last night and I needed today to just deal with it and to know it's OK that tough days still happen is helpful that is its normal. Please don't stop writing - you are helping us. Thank you.

  8. Janine, as usual you hit a chord perfectly. I was one of those "responders" that always extended congratulations to the retiring blog writer for moving on. But honestly, I always felt that "moving on" takes on many different definitions and in no way would ever felt that the former writer was done grieving. After 2 years, I have accepted my new life not that I don't yearn for the old one. Hopefully, I can find love again but I will most definitely always and forever have a wound in my heart that will never heal but become more tolerable as life goes on.

    I respect the other retired bloggers for diving into other activies but am so glad that you are still here with us through your weekly inspirational sharings. I don't feel quite so pathetic for still having angry, emotional, and sad days!

    Thank you for sharing you with us!!!

    1. Anon, thank you for sharing your kind words with me. And for explaining the thought behind your words.
      Yes, you will most likely find love again .... especially if you've grown enough to realize that you won't find the old one .... and you've stopped yearning for it. Yes, it will always be a wound, but time makes it less of the lethal wound you felt in the beginning and more of a memorable wound that touches your heart, but no longer breaks it.
      We all have our new activities and friends and experiences. They, as much as our grief, mix with everything else within us to make us who were are. Hopefully someone who has grieved well and grieved hard ..... and is ready to be happy again. To learn how to be happy again.
      Thank you for always having supportive and kind words. They are needed.

  9. Janine,
    When I first started reading today's post I said "Oh no is she leaving too!".
    I read very quickly to see and I sighed a sigh of relief.
    Thank God this is your passion. You are so very, very good at it. You write for all of the right reasons...and it shows every time you share your thoughts.
    You have brought me so much comfort and understanding from 2 yrs ago when I first joined this club to now.
    What I love about your writing is the fact that it is not based on your personal time guide line.
    Your posts are present day real life pure thoughts that are here to help regardless of where we are individually and I always feel that.
    Thank you for your writing.

    1. Anon ... sorry that I gave you a start! Nope, not leaving .... yet. Thank you so much for your very kind and supportive words. Sometimes we writers wonder if anyone is reading .... and if what we write makes a difference. When readers like you comment and tell us how much our words have helped ..... we know that what we are doing does make a difference. And that's exactly what we want.....
      to know that we've made a difference by connecting with you. Your words let us know that our spouse's death wasn't wasted .... that we have, and can continue, used it to help connect with others in this club. And we've been able to help them realize that they are normal .... and that there is hope that we, and our life, will get better.
      And you,, and your life, truly will. I promise. Thank you again for touching me with your words.

  10. Glad you are still writing too! I'm a best friend of a widow and read to help me be a better friend.


    1. You are a great friend to "your" widow friend. I hope she knows how lucky she is to have you in her corner. I wish I had a friend like you.....

    2. Toni .... May I say that you are a very wonderful friend. Thank you for wanting to learn more about us and about grief so that you can help her. I've never met you but I can tell you with certainty that you are, indeed, a better friend.
      Thank you for being there for her.

  11. I know that place your in. It's been over 10 years since my husband died. In the first couple of years I remember my Mom saying, "we just want Suzanne back". And I told her that that version of me was dead too. What has come for me is a much stronger version of who I thought I used to be. I keep hanging around these kinds of places on the internet because if anyone is really, really, really bats**t crazy in grief, I can tell them with authority that they can get through it. The roads I took after DH died were dark and dangerous. But I'm back too, and it feels good to be back.

    Hang in there people! It gets better!

    1. Thank you, Suzanne. There are so many widowed people out there who have no idea that they are grieving "normally". I think widowed people hear more from non-widowed people who freely give their advice and thoughts.
      We definitely need more people who are willing to write and who are willing to "hang around these kind of places on the internet", so they can let grieving people know that they are not alone .... or crazy. Thank you for doing that. And for sharing that you're back and that it feels good to be back.
      It does indeed. :)

  12. Oh Janine, you gave me such a scare! Like Anon above, I thought you were leaving too. I have to say that your words have so often given me just enough strength to hang on for one more day. Thank you so much for all the time and effort you so freely give to us all.

  13. I,too, am so glad that you are not "retiring", Janine!
    I have been reading this blog for about a year and a half, and you are the one I most identify with. Perhaps because I am "older"(58) and had a wonderful 32 year marriage, I feel like I have the most in common with you. I do enjoy all the writers, but there has been so much change this past year, it is the consistency that I long for. I am just past two years and finally feeling much better about life. I find that being my age is a challenge, because most younger widows do find love again and remarry. Those older than me tend to accept their being alone for the rest of their lives. I am torn between knowing that I don't want to be alone for the next 20-30 years and not knowing where to even begin at my age. Being an empty nester and having been with the same man since I was 19, is such a scary situation. Thank you,Janine, for your continued insights and for sharing your journey with us!

  14. Janine,
    I am so grateful you have found your passion, and can share your words of wisdom. For that is truly what they are. I come here often to read and see what the "new normal" might be like, I can't wait until I am there, too. I have shared this site with many, both widowed and not, to help them understand what we widowed are going through.

    I can't wait until my grief is easier to carry, right now the load seems like it gets heavier every day instead of lighter. All the paperwork to deal with, the details of business, the taxes, the parenting on my own, the friends who are no longer (I thought they were our friends, but I guess they were just his), the car issues, the house issues, on and on. It is good to get a little encouragement here, it keeps me wanting to go forward, even though I feel I'm sliding deeper into that grief pit. Thank you.

    1. Janine, I've read many of your posts and they are excellent. I am curious, what triggered you to write this one? Did someone offend you? It doesn't matter how long ago something happened in your life. What matters is that you went through it and lived through it and have something to offer from the experience of it. Sometimes you can hit home, sometimes you will be planting a seed, but it is all good. Don't ever think your work doesn't matter, it will always help someone. You are serving humanity. I read a post recently where somewhere wrote that you saved her life one night when she was in a dark place. That's huge. HUGE. I'll let you in on this, I've been back and forth on this site for awhile, and I've written the occasional "good for you, you've moved on" to bloggers who announce their exit, but in a few cases, I was being polite and expressing gratitude for the fact that they shared, while knowing, by reading their last six posts or so, that they were on their way out, for whatever reason. One can see their interest waning, and although the time they put in was appreciated, it was kind of a relief to see them go. Some people in our lives become anchors, a security blanket, someone we know will always be there, a familiar person and a soft place to fall (to quote Dr. Phil). You are that person, as are the two Michelles'. Nobody wants to come back here and find total strangers, that's not what it is about. Keep on keeping on. Don't get discouraged.

    2. Anon .... Honestly? It was the words I was reading in response to the retirement of our last 2 or 3 writers. Most of the comments (which I knew were written in love) mentioned how strong and smart each writer was to realize that it was "time" to "move on", time to leave the blog so that they could do something better with their lives.. It seemed to indicate , to me, that those writers who leave have reached much better place/much more mature place.
      These comments always stop me cold and cause me to wonder if it's past the time for me to move on. I know that I am not "actively grieving" now and am happy, so maybe I should be moving on because it seems to be what the readers want. Maybe they'd like to have only "new grievers" so the they can read words they still relate to. My thought was to not only show that most of us had been in the same play and and so this was all normal. Or was I no longer needed because II m so much "further out) on this path.
      And then I realized it was't that. Those are us who have grieved, and yet have become stinger. We are the ones who can offer support and hope that your life will one way return to "normal". So there is room for all of us as writers on Widow's Voice. And that's important.

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