Saturday, November 8, 2014

What People Think

A family friend recently asked my sister how I was doing, and then seemed surprised when she replied that I'm still very sad a lot of the time and cry often. It got me thinking, if I don't regularly remind the world that I'm missing Dan and still grieving him, will they assume I've 'finished' or was past that 'phase'?

In the months after his death I spoke about my grief without inhibition and posted about it regularly on social media.  When I was having a particularly bad day, I used Facebook to express myself and purge the painful thoughts from my head.  It was a release and also helped me feel connected to my community and receive support when I couldn't bring myself to actually call someone or go out into the world in person.

If I was having a good day, I would post a happy or positive thought but still connect it to Dan - either because I wished he was there to share it with me; or to acknowledge that even in the good times he was still very much a part of me; or because the particular thing I was grateful for was due to him coming in to my life and giving me blessings that were going to stay with me forever.

I think it gave people insight into how complicated the bereavement process is and some of the particular challenges I was facing, which in turn, helped them to work out how to best support me.

However some time in the past few months the grief posts became less frequent. They haven't stopped altogether, I still share the highs and lows and talk about Dan constantly, but I probably don't broadcast the lows as often.

Maybe this is because I'm getting better at coping with the pain and processing it internally rather than feeling that need to shout it out to the world every time a wave hits?

Maybe I'm becoming more private with my grief, more aware of how people may interpret it, more self-conscious about being so raw and vulnerable.

Maybe there are less lows now?  That one is more difficult to identify.  I honestly find it hard to define when the tough times build and ease because when I'm deep in the loss, I forget there has ever been anything else other than the total mental and physical agony of missing my husband.

Whatever it may be, I don't like the thought that by containing my grief or limiting my public declarations of sadness, I'm giving people the notion that I am 'moving forward' and not grieving as much anymore.

I would love to get to the point where it no longer has a dominating presence but I still don't fully understand what that means or looks like.  I think sometimes I can feel so worried about people's expectations (or my own expectations) that I don't want to raise them to the point where I can fail to meet them.

But at the same time, it doesn't feel right to keep announcing that I'm missing Dan, just to keep other's informed of my state of mind, like some kind of public service announcement.  When people tell me that they have learnt a lot from how much I share and appreciate my openness, that's a nice thought.  It means my experience is helping others and it's good to think there's some kind of positive to this.

However, it's not my job to educate and I have to be careful not to take on that responsibility.  So I chose to let go of that sense of obligation and my fear of being judged and just be.  If I want to talk about how I'm feeling, I will.  If I want to keep that private, I will.

This is a long road as I integrate Dan's death into the new life I'm rebuilding for myself.  I have enough to worry about, so I'm working on not adding 'what other people think of my grieving process' to that list.


  1. Thank you Rebecca for sharing this part of the journey. I am changing too and do not share my grief or sadness with everyone.

    Maria O

  2. After 6 years I know what you mean, no happy medium but my close friends know I have sad and bad days and bear with me! As I now struggle the road of cancer without him, he is always on my mine, an angel watching over me I hope. A couple of "God moments" have happened on this cancer journey and some friends think Dave has had God's ear...I hope so. You do what is best for others and never ever worry about educating...oh if we ALL could educate a bit, what a better world we would have.

    1. I'm sorry to hear you're having to face such a significant challenge without him. I know I always seem to miss Dan the most when I'm not well. How nice to think that he's looking over you and doing what he can from the other side. Thank you for commenting and take care x

  3. Rebecca, the love of my life died just over three years ago and I'm exactly where you are in not caring what others think about where I am on my lonely journey. Life without my husband beside me is difficult enough without being judged by others who are clueless and insensitive.

  4. Rebecca. ...I am pretty close to where you are.....when my John died I had to tell everyone ...and I poured out my grief everywhere. 2.5 years later I often say nothing because I don't want to....and when I do, I do.....
    And to be honest, people are not wanting to hear it all the time either. ...and I don't want to share all the time.
    I think that eventually our grief becomes more personal and intimate. we become more selective in what and how we is in this personal and intimate time that we do our hardest work in our grief work......
    Thanks for sharing. ....keep on with what you are doing. ...

  5. "When I am deep in the loss, I forget that there has ever been anything else other than the total mental and physical agony of missing my husband." Perfectly expressed. So hard, but so true. Thank you.