I've been thinking a lot lately. A lot. This has been a rotten few last weeks for me and I found myself whirling around in a downward spiral of self-pity and realization. Between a headstrong sister with advanced dementia, expensive dental work, plumbing issues, and an obscene bill for bloodwork despite having insurance, I am spent. I'm looking for my savior...and he is gone. Despite what you might think, and perhaps you have had different experiences, there are a good amount of people out there that are not interested in helping a widow. Don't get me wrong, I'm not talking about charity work, but I need to say there is a rampant indifference toward the plight of someone that desperately needs help. It cracks the middle of my heart and soul in two. A significant part of that disappointment also comes from those that really should care about my well-being, but I am not seeing it. It's easy to be put on the back burner, on autopilot.
I've not been solely responsible for my own existence...perhaps in my entire life. It is daunting. It is responsibility for your body, your mind, your surroundings, your finances, and your future. This is the elephant in the room. No one talks about beyond two years when the most acute grief, the flurry of things to be put in order, the responsiveness of friends have faded and you have to sort out who you are and take care of yourself without an instruction manual. Now it's me, all me, 24/7.
I don't want to melt into a bluthering idiot. It's not attractive and meltdown face is really unattractive. But I feel like unless I'm reduced to that, no one listens and all think everything is honky-dory. I am caught between frustration at this situation and an anger that comes out in sobbing tears, mostly to myself and my therapist.
Thank you for listening. I hope this resonates with others, though I am truly sorry for you if it does.
The bottom line is that you have somewhere between three months and a year before people decide that you should be "over it."
The logistics of life alone can be overwhelming at times. In a way I'm fortunate in that because I grew up with my mother threatening to throw me out over every infraction of her rules, no matter how minor, I've always known that ultimately the only person I could rely on not to abandon me is me. My husband was unable to handle anything about the logistics of life so I always did it anyway.
I guess I've always assumed that ultimately I was alone. It's awful, but when I read your heartbreaking post I guess I should see it as a blessing. I wish I had some wise words for you, but anything I say is going to sound like platitudes. I hope someone else chimes in with some wisdom. I just wanted to you know that someone was reading what you posted.
Yes NoLongerInBergen, you are right. The societal timeline dictates that I should be "over it" by now. How sad. And yes, the logistics of life can be impossible in the best of situations. That's why we choose a partner, to help navigate the waters of living. I lost my oars and I'm just floating about.
My MIL used to say, "It's a great life if you don't weaken." My husband and I used to relish at the wisdom of her phrase and then realized it was a lyric from a song. She was right though. If you're already awarded the temperament of a highly sensitive person, which I absolutely am, it makes life that much more of a challenge.
Thanks for your thoughtful response.
I don’t post much anymore, but still read and your post caught me. So heartfelt and true.
The hardest lesson to learn in all this is that we are alone and on our own. Yes we may have friends and family that are good and do care, but life goes on for them and we face the ultimate truth. The most solid feeling of connection you will ever have is to your spouse or partner, even if there have been problems or issues. If the love is there even in hard times, it’s the best thing we get. When that is gone, no matter what adjustments we have made in our new life and even with some degree of contentment, we are alone and on our own. It is an awesome frightening feeling I often feel, especially as I age. It’s a hard. It’s a hard cold fact of life. People at heart mostly care about themselves and friendships can be of different levels and connection, but it will never have that feel of "someone has your back". I get it and know it’s very hard. The only real consolation is you are not alone in how you feel.
Oh Tess, I am so sorry you are going through this additional turmoil. I've been there. All the events that came up were handled by my husband and me. Then all of a sudden, the entire burden is on me. I remember the year my husband passed, I had a guy down the street (neighbor) come and offer to help me clear my yard out that had fallen on hard times due to caring for my husband. He did a great job and then he presented me with a bill. He made it sound as if he was doing this out of the goodness of his heart knowing I had lost my husband. That was the 1st time I almost had a meltdown. Soon after that I hired someone to do handyman work and ended up having someone else fix his mess. He also knew that I was a new widow. I was so shocked and disappointed in people taking advantage of my fragile state. Then, having to make financial decisions alone was another painful hurdle.
Looking back on the early days of loss, I can't believe I survived it. Family and friends seemed to distance themselves and only surfaced on holidays. Not only my sweet husband left me, but it seemed the whole world had done the same. It was as if I was adrift on a raft not seeing any land on the horizon. I wasn't good at journaling but did write long letters to my husband telling him what I was going through and how painful it was. I tucked all the letters in a folder in my file cabinet with his name on the tab.
Tess, no one outside of fellow widows/widowers know our pain. They will all experience the loss and we'll be the ones there for them. We get tougher each year and learn more about ourselves as we go along this path. Ultimately, it is up to us to lift ourselves out of our sadness and grief and make a life for ourselves. I don't know if this helps you at all but maybe you can relate to my story. I send you a virtual hug.
Thank you Maggie and Barzan. It is indeed a hard lesson. At a point in our lives when maybe we would like to put our feet up, we are faced with swimming against the current. It can be very distressing.
On the topic of people taking advantage of us, I have to relate two instances where that did not happen and it restored for me, if only temporarily, a glimmer of hope in mankind. A few weeks ago, when my garden hose would not detach from the outside faucet regardless of what I tried, a complete stranger from my community website came to my rescue and refused to take any money from me. Such compassion is rare, but always seems to bring me to tears when it does occur.
The other was yesterday. A plumber that my husband and I used many years ago came and fixed my toilet at a very reasonable fee. I had been struggling so badly with advice of who to use, one that even failed to show up when scheduled. Through my sobbing tears, I finally asked my husband to help me. I then realized that I had the paperwork of when that plumber came and called him. I'm pretty sure that was my husband interceding on my behalf. I have to believe that is true as it gives me hope that he did not truly leave me alone.
On the subject of toilet repairs and other things: Especially for women, it's a good idea to learn what things you can do yourself. You may not want to, but some home repairs do NOT require someone to come in and do it. When my husband was alive, I saw everything around the house as a challenge to be conquered. Of course I was watching a lot of HGTV at the time -- you know, those shows where they renovate a house in an hour. :-)
For me, the big issue was changing light bulbs. I am under five feet tall and have lost an inch and a half that I could ill afford to lose, so now even the second step of the ladder (the highest I would go) isn't enough. So I bought a pole that has a suction cup with a string -- and changed ALL my can lights to LEDs so hopefully I never have to worry about that again.
Another thing I figured out how to do is change the toilet fill valve. This one is easy. It can take a few tweaks to get the height right, but I changed three of them in my house, and by the time I got to the third one, it took me 15 minutes -- including mopping the remaining water out of the tank after it emptied. I found videos on YouTube and studied them thoroughly before starting.
The first time my garbage disposal got clogged, I called the plumber. I watched what he did, and I've cleared it twice since. Now the most time-consuming part is getting all the cleaning products out of the cabinet.
Last night the bottom gasket fell out of the dishwasher door. I was certain I'd have to call someone in, but I Googled the model number, found the manual, found the part on Amazon.com, ordered it, and then found a video on how to replace it. So this repair will cost me just the eleven bucks for the part.
There are many very simple home repairs that we can do!! We may not want to, but it can save a bundle, especially if money is tight. The things I've outlined are all things that it is hard to mess up.
When you find a service guy you like, go online and give him a good review on sites like Angie's List, Home Advisor, Yelp, etc. They really appreciate this and are much more likely to want to come out the next time you need help.
I am also short (5') and I've bought some grabbers and they really help eliminate the step ladder. And I have fixed quite a few things with the help of YouTube videos. Saves so much money.
NoLongerBergen, you are so right about stretching our perceived abilities. We have to do that for survival. I too have done that with grouting tile and caulking. It wasn't perfect, but it got done!
My friend almost came over with her late husband's toilet snake and we were going to conquer the toilet. Glad we didn't because the plumber gave me information I did not know and I watched him snake the toilet. It takes a good bit of muscle depending how far down they are going.
I will say be careful of sites like Angie's List and even the Better Business Bureau. They sell memberships and therefore their subscribers get preferential treatment. The reviews are skewed to their favor.
PS - I'm short too. Step stools all over the house ; ) Good luck with the dishwasher repair!
I usually consult multiple sites, including NextDoor. I found my roofer through Angie's List, looked him up on Home Advisor and Yelp, found a reference for him on my local NextDoor site, and hired him. He was awesome. And the price was reasonable. AND he has his own guys rather than day labor or subs.
The dishwasher gasket is trivial. I actually got the old one pushed back in, but it looks kinda beat so for 11 bucks I'm just going to replace it.
Barzan, where those handymen are concerned, I have to believe in Karma. They may someday be in a similar fragile state and have a need that is not fulfilled.
Tess, my husband left me a list of services to use such as plumbers, electricians, carpenters as he was a contractor for many years. Those on the list gave me such discounts that I was embarrassed to accept their low fees. The handyman that I used was someone that trimmed trees as regular job but said he was also a handyman. That's where I went wrong. And like you, I do believe in Karma.
My husband did "hang around" to be of help for a long time. I gave him very little rest. I still feel his presence in a comforting sense when I'm at my very low.
Tess, I'm going through the same thing. My family is very small and my daughter lives out of town. My mom is 80 years old and lives in a one bedroom apartment. I have nobody to help me do anything whatsoever and even more sad, is I do not have money to pay anyone to do anything at all. I pray day and night that my 25 year old furnace will not break down because I won't be able to get it fixed. I seriously have no idea what I would even do as I don't have anywhere to go either. I can't even get approved for an emergency credit card, sadly. Everyone I know has their own families and their own lives to live. People basically do not even ask how I'm doing because they know I am not doing good and they "don't want to know" They don't want to "feel like they have to help me" or "feel obligated" I've been so hurt and so very sad that I can barely even have a partial good day anymore. My husband spoiled me and loved me, took care of everything. We were married 30 years and it's more than heartbreaking that I have to go on with all these problems on top of my missing him with all my heart and soul. I really don't even come in here too much because I noticed that most people are staying busy, taking vacations, going to therapy, all of which cost money and all of which I am not able to even imagine doing. I've just been more depressed than ever, especially with the holiday around the corner. My husband went to heaven 2 weeks before Christmas, which is also 2 weeks after Thanksgiving. I do not like either holiday, I used to LOVE them both. We had fabulous holidays, hosted mostly at our house, everyone happy, everyone warm and cozy. Now....I have nothing. I thought this past year would be a little better, but it's been worse. I can't work anymore hours than I already am. Oh and then, everywhere I go, it seems like every single woman I see is with their husband. Grocery store, gas station, in their cars at the stop light. They have no idea how lucky they are. (well, maybe some do, but you know what I mean) I always knew how lucky I was. I never took my hubby for granted. I just don't know what to do these days.....just didn't want you to feel alone Tess...Hugs.