I feel a bit strange, like I am doing something wrong.
My wife passed on July 24. 2019 after a 7 year long bout with a kidney disease and a transplant that ultimately rejected. She was 48 and we were married 16 years. My son doesn't remember when she was well.
I know, it's barely a month, but Most stories I have read here, people are having a lot harder time than I am. Yes, I have had a few days in the past month that I felt the world was crushing me, but I don't feel the day-to-day sorrow that everyone else seems to feel. I miss my wife immensely, but it doesn't cripple me. I guess a big part of it is that she was so sick for a while, that she really wasn't part of the family with me and my 8 yo son anymore. I miss her presence and conversations and gentle intimate moments now, but all of that was missing for some time.
I went through the actions of the funeral and only felt humbled by the amount of support. I have already spoken with SS, Pension, Life Ins, etc and that did not bother me. Her mother wanted to clean out her clothes, so we did that and it did not bother me. I have cleaned out pantry and fridge and closets and it did not bother me. Planned a weekend getaway with my son and it did not bother me.
What bothers me is that none of that bothers me and I feel like I should be more upset about losing her. I feel like my son should be as well, but he doesn't say anything. I do feel lonely and have reached out to some old friends to talk to.
I also feel a bit of annoyance to all the people that said "we'll check on you", "we'll bring you dinner", "we'll make sure you are not alone" or "we'll take your son for some fun time" and I haven't heard from then again. Not that I am begging for a free meal or someone to dump my kid on, but if you going to say stuff like that, then please follow through. Don't expect me to call all the time, because there are 200 people that have all said "call me". Aside from my parents and ILs, NO ONE has invited my son and I over a home cooked meal. One of his friend's family has been somewhat helpful, in that she has taken him a few times and she brought me dinner once, and also bought his school supplies, but she is the exception. The day of the funeral, I went to lunch with some of the parents of my son's classmates; all people I have known for years. One girl said they were planning on a FB/Twitter thing with #KimsWings to honor her; she said they were going to get magnets or stickers that my son and I can keep with us, and 'mark' where we have been so we know Kim is with us. I haven't heard anything since. I understand people have their own lives, and that also this is vacation time of year, some people might now be around, but a lot of it just feel like empty platitudes.
I am grateful for the initial support but I feel like that since I haven't really expressed any pain, people just think I don't need their help and have already forgotten about me, which I thinks makes me lonelier than losing Kim.
I know everyone grieves and mourns in their own way; but I don't think I am doing it right.
There is NOTHING whatsoever wrong with you - at all. My wife passed after about 9 months of illness (cancer - at 43....) I had read and read and read during that time, and I found out that there is such a thing as "pre-grieving" - maybe not consciously, but you were already grieving your wife. That is why it's different. Because it's not sudden. Nevertheless...IT will hit you at some point in time, and you should let it. Also too - you're an only parent now (as I was) and we have that immense responsibility that also must keep us going. So that's my two-cents worth.
And I know you will do this - but always talk to your little boy about his mom...she will be real for him :-)
Also regarding people - don't be surprised if most will simply wanish. They will not call you or contact you or check in on you. People say things because they feel like they ought to, but most just want to run far far away. Hopefully, you'll have some exceptions, but again, and unfortunately, that's the rule it would seem.
What is wonderful is that your parents and your IL's are there for you AND your son. Treasure that :-)
And if I can be there for you here...let me know...my heart goes out to you both!
Nothing wrong with you, Jeff. I agree with Timelord that you probably have spent time pre-grieving. You also talk about the annoyance and loneliness you're feeling about everyone who said, "Call me." and hasn't done anything further. Those feelings are "normal" and part of being a widower--especially the loneliness, so you're getting that part "right". :-) You don't need to call all 200 people, but if there are times when you need any kind of break, give a call or two to some of those folks with whom you have closer relationships.
Some people report going through grieving a second time, when the initial shock wears off. I don't wish this to happen to you, but you've been dealing with the aftermath of your wife's death, and keeping yourself busy with that, so...should you have a sudden bout of mourning down the road, it would be normal too. As you said in closing: "...everyone grieves and mourns in their own way.", so don't worry about things.
Believe me, NOTHING is wrong with you. People say all those things "I'm here for you is you want to talk", "if you need something I'm just a phone call away" "You're not alone". Blah blah blah. It's all bull!. They go back to their lives and we're left holding the remnants of our lives in a broken bag. If I didn't post on Facebook everyday, they wouldn't know I was alive. Last year, I had surgery, I got a ride to the hospital, a ride home, nobody stayed while the surgery was being done, and not one visitor while I was recovering at home...alone I've been promised that we'd go to ballgames, hasn't happened. They just don't get it. And they snicker when I try to talk about what this life is like, as long as their's doesn't have to be disrupted. I'm likely to go through a more invasive and life threatening surgery in the fall, and I guarantee that nobody will stay for that one either or come see me during the recovery period.
Welcome to Widowed Island, our version of the Island of misfit toys.
God help us all
Don, first best wishes for your surgery!
And sadly - you are 100% correct. About all of it.
More good wishes/positive thoughts for your upcoming surgery, Don.
Your comparison to the Island of Misfit Toys made me giggle, so thanks for that. It's so true.
Thank you all for responding. While everything you guys said rings true and I know the reality of it, it's good to know that others feel the same way.
I have known this even before Kim got sick; many people we only heard from if we called them first. Well it's a catch-22, I make some effort, but I am not going to chase people down just so I can have someone to talk to (I am too proud and don't want to bother anyone), and since they don't reach out, neither do i. And then if I do initiate things, they ask why I didn't ask earlier. It doesn't hep that a lot of "our" friends were originally "her" friends, because it feels like some of those people feel no obligation to me. I am going to "suck it up" and start contacting people on my side that if not for FB, I would have lost complete touch with. I spoke to a lifelong friend last week, and it felt good.
Also for me, I don't have an outlet "to lose myself"... I don't drink, smoke, gamble, take pills, etc... I don't even know how or where to go to "hook up" with a woman. So I tend to keep stuff bottled in. I work and then pick up my son at my ILs and then go home and have dinner. Watch a little TV with him and then help him to bed and after that I sit on the couch and maybe watch some TV (thank the heavens for ABC and their mindless game shows) or just fall asleep on the couch. Then I go to bed and start over... not at all different from when she was sick except that i don't have to run up and down the stairs with food or drink.
Hi - for whatever may be worth - that's pretty much my life before kid #2 got older...but - you know - as your son gets older there will likely be activities to take him to...but yes - life is what it is.
You two will - and it takes time - build a (forgive me - I just don't think if there is a better word other than "new" - maybe "another") life and it will be perhaps just the two of you. At least for a long while.
First let me say I am sincerely sorry for your loss. Second, there is nothing wrong with you or your son. It's only been several weeks. My husband suffered with kidney disease too. He was on dialysis for over three years and was waiting to get on the transplant list. When he passed away I was like a robot. I did everything I was supposed to do as far as the funeral arrangements, insurance, etc. One relative commented on how strong I was because I didn't shed a tear at the funeral. Believe me I have shed many tears since then. Again there is no right or wrong way to grieve. When my dad passed away my mother packed up all his clothes and personal items and either gave them away or threw them away. Its been over a year and I still have his suits hanging in the closet. My mom even started dating after several months. I know she loved my dad (they were married 43 years) but she said she enjoyed male company. Im the complete opposite. I have absolutely no interest in dating . (I'm 71) As far as people offering promises to be there and then not following through on their promises I just chalk that up to human nature. People want to console and make you feel better at the time. But they do have their lives to live. I did join a griefshare group which was very helpful and I found this site. At the very least I know I'm not alone on this journey. Regarding your son, he's very young but he too may need help in sorting his feelings out. I didn't recognize this until my adult children and their children went with me to the cemetery on the anniversary of my husband's death. We were getting ready to leave when the 10 year old broke down sobbing. It was then that I realized he was hurting too. I let him know it was ok to feel sad and I hugged him and reminded him how much his grandfather loved him. In the months to come you may pick up on similar signs from your son. To get to the point....you do what you need to do and don't worry about whether you are doing it right or wrong. There is no script. Be kind to yourself and reach out to others if you need to. If one persons responds that one person may be all you need at the time. Take care.
I rather suspect perhaps that the original shock of losing your spouse has not yet worn off. You are numb. And in a way that is a protecting thing. But the day may come when that changes for you. You have your son to think about so you're not alone but yet you could still be lonely. it is all so new; there's a new state in life of being widowed. I am sorry for your loss and I understand what you mean because many people say or just call me. But you don't really feel right about calling. Asking for help. It is really nice when someone does invite you. It is a whole new world and you were a caregiver for a long time and now you are "just" dad. There is some navigating in this new place. I know it takes time, have not figured it all out myself or come to peace with it after 10 months.
You're not doing it wrong. Like others have said, it's possible to grieve a loss before someone passes, and it sounds like that may be part of what is going on. I too went through some parts of what needed to be taken care of mechanically, without much emotion. Also, "grief" isn't just 1 emotion, it's a bunch of them- sadness and tears, yes, but also fear, hope, nostalgia, loneliness, frustration and anger, hollowness and numbness, happiness, and more.
Also, expressing pain to others should not be a prerequisite of them helping. I'm sorry you're going through the bumps of increased isolation and lack of follow through that happens for many of us after we are widowed. If you feel able, it might help to reach back out to just a few people and ask for something specific. Many times, people don't know what you need or when you need it, so they think a vague offer is better.
there is no "right" way to grieve and this is a place where people understand that. What I've never seen here is, "It's been X months/years so move on, get over it", nor have I seen, "How can you be dating/traveling/laughing/functioning and it's only been X months/years?"
I'm in your category. My husband was 78, 15 years older than I, and 10 years earlier had been diagnosed with polycythemia, which we knew could morph into acute myelid leukemia, and it did. We had a wonderful marriage but I think I kept one eye on the horizon knowing I'd likely have to make a life without him. After the mortuary took his body away I went to the gym. Three days after he died I was out at a "God and Guinness" gathering at a local pub with my fellow church members. I was actually relieved. He was down to 117 lbs. (and over 6 feet tall), too weak to stand up by himself and barely eating. We had some wonderful discussions at the end but his quality of life was near zero.
I figured I'd keep up my normal routines until my body or my brain made me stop. It will be 3 years on November 15 and I still haven't experienced the crushing, paralyzing grief that most people go through. It's probably safe to say I won't encounter it.
I wish you and your son well.