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How do you process your anger/disappointment at people who didn't "show up" for you and your spouse?

I have no idea if any of this will make sense, but my husband just passed away on August 10th after an 11 month battle with pancreatic cancer, and I guess I just need to "get it out".  We lived a seemingly ideal life, 3 kids (17, 10, 3), two good jobs, the house, the cars, and then WHAM, diagnosis of stage IV cancer, with optimistically only 1 year to live.  My husband was a private person and had moved to the states from UK as a young adult, so our social group was rather small, but all we really seemed to need was each other.  We told close friends and family about the diagnosis, but didn't share it publicly, and tried to live our days as best we could with love and joy.  

The first 5 1/2 months were "ok-ish", chemo was hard on him, but we maintained a new normalcy.  The last 5 1/2 months were horrible, he had wasted away, couldn't eat, was sleeping a lot and had to be hospitalized for 2 weeks in February, but through it all he kept his sense of self.  What astounded me was the number of people who simply seemed to disappear from our lives.  We were never social butterflies, but all these people we thought were friends, and close colleagues were MIA. Even a text asking how he was doing that day, or talking about a shared interest or event, anything, would have been appreciated.  It got me so mad, and then when they told us there was nothing more to do and that he needed to go on hospice, it was a fast descent.  We only told a few close friends and family, and then within 3 weeks he was gone.  Love of my life, father of my children, my better half, just gone.  

He had decided early on that he wanted to be cremated and we had talked about no funeral, which surprised his family (who all live several states away), but we aren't religious, funeral homes and wakes were most definitely not his style, and I couldn't imagine subjecting my children to it.  Not to mention that if I had to see people show up at a wake or funeral who couldn't virtually "Show up" for him this past year, I am afraid I would have gone full blown ballistic on them.  When word got out that he passed everyone seemed to come out of the woodwork about what a great guy he was, an amazing person, yada yada yada....but where were they when he was alive?  Even now people that were supposed to be his closest friends have never sent anything (even a premade Hallmark card is better than nothing), no phone calls, no texts, no private messages.  I just can't reconcile how you can act like that, and I am struggling with my anger at them, which I know is partly anger at the universe that this amazing person died so horribly at only 44, but still, there is repressed rage there.  

So I guess I was wondering, is this something others have gone through?  Both the disappearance of friends and family, and if so, how did you deal with your anger and disappointment?

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Replies to This Discussion

Surreal17:

I've not been on Widowedvillage in years, but your message came through my email just now.  Many here will understand your pain and have experienced similar anger.  It can be a blinding anger, can't it?  My husband died 5 years ago, and he was blessed with an outpouring of love and attention during his brief illness.  What I found difficult was that when he was gone, everyone disappeared.  Since I wasn't sick, I guess that was permission to be "done" visiting? or caring?

It's been difficult.  I gave up my job when my husband went into hospice.  Though it would have been VERY difficult to have returned to my job, sometimes I realize that that energy and forced scheduling (via job requirements) of producing something for a cause would have been good.  It is apparent to me that I need to look outside of myself to keep going.  Too much turning inside (which seems inevitable when alone) becomes unhealthy mentally and then physically.  

I wish I had great words of advice.  I have found much solace in volunteering in a large hospital -- both in retail in their gift shop and in the cancer center where the greatest warriors fight their battles.  I have learned so much.  I live too far away to volunteer as much as I'd like, so maybe a major move is in the future?  I keep wondering.   I also think it is SO HARD to let others know we need help and in which form we could use it.  That is my major stumbling block.  I haven't figured it out yet.

Best wishes to you.  I wish you Peace in whatever means you find it - outdoors, children, music, and more....  Pat

My Dear Surreal17,

I am so very sorry for your loss. What you have shared here makes perfect sense. I also lost my husband to Pancreatic Cancer.  Your story sounds like a mirror image of my experience. It is a vicious, insidious disease, and I hate that anyone should  experience it's horror.

My husband, Ron was diagnosed at stage 4 in 2015 and also survived 11 months. He fought hard and never gave up until his last breathe. He re-joined the universe on September 22, 2016.  I've had almost a year to process my grief and the variety of emotions that go along with it. What I have come to realize after many sleepless nights -  people are afraid of facing their own mortality. They honestly don't know what to do or say when confronted by such devastating realities. They would rather do or say nothing, than to do or say the wrong thing. I even had people tell me they didn't realize he was terminally ill, even though we had told everyone his time was limited. It was just there why of dealing with it.

We did have a close circle of friends that were their for us, but so many did not want to "intrude" or "bother" us. In the end, Ron did not want people to see him. He was just too exhausted to try to make them feel better, and he did not want to continually be saying his good-byes. I became the gatekeeper as well as his caregiver.

After he passed, everyone told me they were here for me. However, after about a week the phone stopped ringing, the doorbell fell silent and there I was, left alone to deal with my grief.  For friends and family, his passing was a very sad event that ended after his memorial service. They went home to live their life - as they should. However, I went home to a totally different reality. My new normal was just beginning.  I seems as though I've been on a roller coaster of emotions this past year. 

Your loss is still new and painfully raw for you right now, and I imagine you are still in the "fog" of grief. Please be patient with yourself and others. Give yourself permission to feel all the emotions that come to the surface. Let the tears flow, and do something nice for yourself everyday. This is your time to grieve, and it will take as long as it takes. We all have a different timeline for healing. You will find your way to peace again. Today, just breathe and know that you are not alone. Reaching out to other widows has helped me quite a bit. I hope it helps you as well.

-Magee

 

You have started a discussion that has bothered me for 8 years now. My husband passed away in November 2009 after a 5 1/2 year cancer battle. The last couple of years he was home most of the time and the last year pretty much confined to home because it was too difficult for him to drive and I had to keep working. I get so angry when I think about how many hours he spent alone and nobody was visiting him or offering to bring lunch or take him out to lunch or whatever. He had several close friends with flexible schedules and certainly his family could have come by!  He would get the occasional phone call but one sister lived 10 minutes away and worked 5 minutes away and not one time did she come visit. In retrospect I should have contacted them and asked that they come by even for a few minutes now and then but I didnt. It has also forced me to look at myself and what my weaknesses are towards people who are in similar circumstances. Have I changed my ways...not as much as I should but I am a work in progress. I ran into a friend of his a few months after he passed away and he said " I didn't know he was so sick" and it took all of my effort not to tell him if he had bothered to check on him he would have known. When his sister became ill and was dying their sister moved in at the end to take care of her and on one of my visits she told she didn't know how I managed their brother by myself. I looked her square in the eye and told her I had no choice! I was trying to keep my cool and hold my anger to a minimum. I guess if my husband had not helped everyone so much it would be easier to accept but he was always first in line when anyone, and most of all his family, needed anything. I have kept in contact with his family for the most part but I don't put a lot of effort out for them sadly. I get your feelings and I think they are valid. While I may have moved on to a certain extent, I still have the anger and resentment in me and I think it may always be there.

You are not alone. This has happened to me too.  Not exactly the same but very similar. I do not know if your situation created fear in them or if they feel that they may catch what you have or whatever.  Even in everyday life, people ask "how is it going?' very casually but they are not really interested in hearing that you have a problem. Since my husband has become ill and died (Sept 16 will be 6 years) I have really learnt some hard lessons.  However there have been at least one person that really rose to the occasion so I am grateful for her. 

Take one day at a time and do your best for  yourself and your family.  You will eventually learn to navigate this new world. Peace be with you.

Surreal17 -

I know what you are talking about as I'm sure do most of the people here.  I don't know why it is that people do this - maybe it's just too uncomfortable and they don't know what to do or say, never realizing that just being here without doing anything is enough.  It's still very early for you in the process.  I can't say my family disappeared, but our friends sure did.  I think that may have been a "couples" thing; we were a couple and then well, we weren't.  And a lot of people don't like to have to look at that either.  My brother-in-law was and still is there for me - and it's almost 7 years.  He's an amazing man - almost as amazing as my husband was.  A couple of Don's friends came over to see him in last days; but one of the came the night of the day he died and was shocked that he went so fast at the end.  

I send you big hugs and you have the found the right place to "get it all out".

Hi Surreal, I mirror everyone else here in my thoughts, so sorry this has happened in your life, it's just a very painful, shocking, traumatic, devestating thing to go through. My heart goes out to you.
Sadly from my experience of approx 7 years on WV and 8.5 yrs into my journey since my long time life partner Mike passed in 09. I have heard, and read many, many similar stories. I also experienced a huge loss in friends when Mike was diagnosed. It was just as much as a huge shock and loss as Mike's passing.
Similarly, mike and I shared some very long, deep, wonderful friendships, more like family to me, us. 10-15-20-25-30 year friendships. Some of which were in our daily, weekly lives. We shared everything together, and I never even considered that, things would turn out how they did.
We took our closest inner circle of friends to dinner to let them know about his diagnosis, prognosis, (at the time, was only stage one and doctors expected full recovery), and everyone expressed their deep concerns, offered whatever we needed to get through the 45 days of radiation that was prescribed, and following surgery.
That was the last time we spoke to any of them, until the last weeks in hospice, before he passed, 15 months later. Now these were people I spoke with 3-5 times per week, and saw at least 2-3 times per week, prior. We took care of their kids, we were uncle steve and mike, involved in great parts of each other's lives, shared keys to all our homes, took care of each other, shared all holidays, important events. Just gone. I didn't even realize it until, over 6 months into treatment, as things turned really ugly, really fast, and we had a huge battle on our hands to keep him alive. I remember one night, fixing dinner, asking mike, when was the last time you spoke with cliff? Mary? And I went through the list. It just shocked me, we hadn't heard from anyone. I picked up the phone and called everyone, saying, "hey guys, just checking in, hope you are alright, haven't heard from you, give us a call. Nothing. It was really hurtful, and bizarre, but we had a huge horrible thing of our own going on, figured I would address it later. About 6-8 weeks prior to Mike's passing, the doctors had told us no hope, stopped treatments, and sent us home to love each other and prepare, brought hospice in, and wonderfully, Mike's Mother and sister moved in with us, to help, and to spend as much time with mike as possible, before he passed. As the weeks ticked by, mike grew more frail, we still had not heard from anyone, I didn't expect to at this point, didn't even figure I would let them know mike had passed. They didn't care. After so many years, nothing, I just couldn't believe it.
About 7-10 days before mike passed, him now completely bed bound, in and out of consciousness, the door bell rings, and its one of our long time friend couples dropping by with a casserole. I couldn't believe my eyes. I walked up to them as they entered our home, a family member had let them in, I felt so awkward, thinking how did they know to show up now?? Why now?? About 30 min later, another long time friend showed up, then another, then another, it was so bizarre! They all wanted to say their goodbyes to mike. I asked him if he wanted to see them, he said yes, I didn't feel I had the right to deny them access to mike if he wanted to see them. If he would have said no, I would have said "get the "f" out of my house and slammed the door behind them!
As it turned out, Mike's mother had taken it upon herself, to call our long time friends, without asking me, to tell them all, mike was near death. That's why they all showed up. They all had the nerve to say to me, things like, " oh my god Steve". " we had no idea"... "why didn't you call us, to let us know he had turned for the worse"! The last we heard was he was going to be fine after 45 days of radiation and surgery! Well, that's because they never bothered to call us once in 15 months! Never stopped by in 15 months, after stopping by multiple times per week prior to mike getting sick. They all remained in our life through the funeral, and of course after the funeral, at our home, they all offered their love and support, "whatever I needed", but of course I heard from no one. April 20th, 2016, the day before my birthday, Mary called me out of the blue, I hadn't talked to her since the funeral, in March of 09, she was calling to tell me, her husband, cliff, one of Mike's dearest long time friends, had passed from lung cancer, had only been diagnosed the prior January and it was too late, and she said she would like it if I went to his funeral. I had every intention of going, but, I just didn't feel like it on the morning of. Around April of this year, Mary called me again, approaching the 1year anniversary of her husband cliffs passing, and we chatted a bit, and she said to me, that she wanted to appologize to me for how cliff and she treated us, after Mike's diagnosis dinner, they had no idea what I was going through, what we were going through, and how horrible it was for me after Mike passed. I told her I appreciated her apology, and I was sorry she was going through it now. That was the last time we talked. The way I look at it now, almost 9 years later, is that it was a blessing in disguise. Although so painful years ago, It showed me who, all the people where in my life, that I thought were truly family. I was so wrong. When Mike got sick, it showed us who the people in our lives truly were. Its so amazing the things we overlook, ignor, just to keep people in our lives that we love, enjoy. I have had to start from scratch, from zero, since mike passed. Im no expert, still have tough moments, had to rebuild my entire life, from finances, job, friends, family, home, cars, everything. Still rebuilding, but I haven't given up. 90 % of the people who were in my life prior, are now gone, a distant memory. I now have a few new friends, of 3-4-5 yrs, non of whom knew mike or anything about my prior life, other than what I have told them. "Our 31 yrs as Steve and Mike" and our entire life, died with him. But it has given me a fresh start, and I try to look at it that way. So sorry, but you now have 100,000 friends who truly understand here.
Hello Surreal17, I am sorry for your loss, like you, I lost my husband November 19, 2016. My husband died in my arms, while waiting on the liver transplant list. The doctors all told me that he was the next on the list and led me to believe that he would survive a transplant even as sick as he was. I didn't know until 12 hours before he died in the ICU, that he was going to die. I was in pure shock! I had been up for 4 days straight by this point. I called in everyone, whether I got along with them or not, so that they could say there peace and be with my husband in his final moments on Earth. Everyone all agreed that I couldn't drive the 2 hours home by myself, and had several people say that they would drive me home from the hospital, but within 5 minutes of my husband's passing, they scurried out, leaving me to drive the 2 hours home alone. After an hour of driving, I had to pull over on a rest stop because I could no longer see out of my left eye, and my eyes were crossing from exhaustion. I was afraid that I would kill someone. Well my husband's step-daughter who happened to be driving behind me with her daughter, saw me pull off the road. She pulled in next to me to see if I was ok and after explaining that I could no longer drive, she offered to finish driving me home. I was so exhausted that I slept the hour home in a forward slump, hitting my head on the dashboard everytime she hit the brakes. I asked a couple of people if they could drive me to and from the funeral and they said yes, but when the moment came, I had to drive to my husband's funeral alone and back home alone. I would never wish that on my worst enemy, but I found the strength some how to do it.

The year before my husband's passing, everyone knew of his condition and what a struggle it was, but no one helped or came to visit. Five weeks before he died, we were in the hospital for 3 weeks. I would not leave his side, so for 3 weeks I slept in a chair next to his bed, showered and ate in the hospital. His daughter and one of his step-daughters were kind enough to bring me clean clothes and whatever I needed during this time. On the weekends some of his family came to see how he was doing, so they all knew what condition he was in and how bad he was. Well he was, Thank God, released from the hospital 2 weeks before he died. I thought that all these people, now knowing exactly what was going on and only a mile or so from them, would stop by and help, or at least come by to visit him. But no they didn't. I was and am still grateful that he was able to be home for those 2 weeks before he died, despite the tole it took on me, it was comforting to him and his soul to be home.

So to answer your question, I was angry that these people couldn't support him or me during the worst times of our lives, especially because I made sure that everyone was aware of everything going on! It angered me to watch them at his funeral, crying and mourning him like they were the closest as close could be. Even so much as to make a show of it, to "look" good, to get attention, when I knew they hadn't seen him or called him in years before going into the hospital for those 3 weeks. Mine wasn't disappointment, mine was anger!

During the first 2 months after the funeral, I realized that the only person suffering was me! Everyone sunk back into there lives the moment we left the cemetery and everything was forgotten by them. But it was not forgotten by me. I had been through too much, I had seen too much and I was going through too much for one person. I came to realize that I was the only person suffering with the loss of my husband and the anger of how the whole thing went down. I can't change people, nor can I force them to do the right thing! I didn't force them to say the things that they said, I didn't force them to do the things that they did. So why am I the one suffering? For my benefit only, I had to accept and come to terms with the fact that they are the ones that have to live the rest of there lives with what they did or didn't do, NOT ME! Once I realized that and accepted that, I was able to come to terms with the anger and release it. They have to live with it, not me! I was there for my husband and did everything in my power to help him, and that is all that matters to me now! I have no regrets. I have to tell you, in the 9 months since my husband's passing, with this acceptance, I have managed to find some peace for myself.

I do hope that, for yourself and your own well being, you can find your own acceptance and find some peace in your journey of grief. Just remember that they have to live with it, NOT YOU! You have enough to worry about right now, release that anger back onto there shoulders to bear!

Oh where oh where do I begin? Lets just say that Arlene was REALLY good so these people and REALLY extended herself for them. Not one person that was currently working at the job that she was working at showed up at her funeral and she always went above and beyond for them. I have had friends and relatives tell me that they were going to have barbecues and then never got an invite. I have had dumb things said to me and this passed June, I made multiple posts about the 2nd anniversary of her stroke and then 8 days later on the day she passed. Apparently Facebook Likes count as support in their eyes. Not of them one could say anything, they were great at posting selfies of themselves with groups of friends and drinks and food in front of them. I never get phone calls and I only get texts when people need something from me or when one sibling seems to think that I'm going to stick my head in the oven. Passed that, I never get asked for a cup of coffee or a burger or anything and I would really kill for that every once in a while. On the major holidays that I DO get invites to, not one of my relatives has ever came over and asked how I am holding up...EVERRRRR! They make me feel like I am a 2nd class relative and I sometimes I feel like they wouldn't notice if I just went away. 

I have not been on here in ages, but I saw this come through my email and feel that I have to respond.  Reading your entry was as if I was writing it.  My husband passed 4 1/2 years ago.  He was pretty much homebound the last ten years of his life, he lost both of his legs, and his kidneys failed (Type 1 Diabetes). The last few years he never felt well or had a good day. All of our "friends" disappeared shortly after he lost his first leg, because he could no longer do the things we all had in common - he had previously been an avid bowler and motorcyclist, etc.  I know we are partially at fault because we were always satisfied with just being together and didn't cultivate close friendships with many people, but the few I thought would visit or keep in contact didn't either.  He was in the hospital the last 2 months of his life and even commented on how no one came to see him.  We too had discussed Cremation and no services, and that is exactly what I did.  We both believed Services, etc. did not bring "closure" and that they were a horrible experience for the family to get through. I don't think I could have handled it.  I was his caregiver for that last 10 years, while working full time (50 hours a week) and had absolutely no outside help. His Sister, who lives on the next street over, never came to see him or check on him.  As to getting over the anger, I still really haven't gotten over it.  It still breaks my heart, and I am no longer in contact with any of those supposed friends.  He too was the type that was always there for others, would give them the shirt off his back and his last dime, and not one of them were there for him.  The only difference now is that I don't think about these things all of the time, only occasionally, and they still make me break down and cry.  HIs life was so hard for those years, and passing at only 55 was just so unfair. He was the sweetest and most giving and supportive person, he did not deserve everything he had to go through at such a young age.  The only thing that helped me get through everything is the support group of other young and middle aged Widows that I joined. Even today, through Facebook, we all continue to support each other and each achievement.  I just wanted you to know that you are not alone. I'm sure many of us had a similar experience.  I am so sorry for your loss.   Surprisingly, it does seem to get better with time, but I think we will always miss them. 

Absolutely went through similar feelings, experienced a similar level of disappointment during my husband's illness (13 months with stage 4 colon cancer) and after his passing.  Death is scary and most will choose not to face it.  Luckily there will be a few special people who step up and overwhelm you with kindness, but unfortunately for most I think it's the exception.  I think you just have to not focus on the disappointment as much as possible.  I think most people don't know when/how/where to help and the contact you do have with people will remind them of loss and their own mortality, especially young people with children.  My advice is to cherish those who stepped up and forgive those who didn't.  You will forever have empathy for those who have had to walk a similar path.  There is nothing that makes me more emotional than talking with someone who has lost their spouse to a long-term illness or left widowed with children.  This experience will make you a kinder person.  Not everyone has had that perspective and personally I chose to give people grace whether or not they deserved it.  After the loss of my husband, there were a lot of relationships that changed in good and bad ways.  I personally just tried to adapt, forgive and more forward as much as possible.

Spot on ! I actually posted about this a couple of weeks ago.
The exact thing happened in my case and most shocking, our 4 daughters !
Forgiveness? To my daughters, of course.
To extended family and friends ? Not so much.
But it doesn't bother me. Why ? Because they all proved that they aren't worth the thought.
Move on !
Let that anger go !
You have better things to think about !!!

I lost my husband seven months ago, and I can say that this is when you truly learn who your friends (and family) are, and who aren't. He and I were together for 28 years, married just shy of 26, and I have never once received so much as a card, text, phone call or email from his family. It's as if I never existed. I know in my case this is more about after, but even nobody in my family has been here since he died, and only one family member came when he was ill after we moved. So it has been very hard on me, being here alone afterward. Thankfully we had many wonderful friends in the place we came from that have kept in touch and try to keep me lifted up, even if most of it has to be from afar. I deal with the anger and disappointment at times, but then realize that I'm the only one thinking about it and I'm the only one that it's hurting, so I have to try to move past it. During those times, I try to focus on the wonderful marriage I had, and how my husband would be upset on my behalf and in my corner if he were here. 

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