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People are always telling me how strong I am.  I don't feel strong.  It's rare that a day goes by when I don't cry.  You could probably count on one hand how many days I haven't cried since July 29, 2018.  And the anxiety-ridden sleepless nights?  Too many to count.  Leaving work because I am having a grief burst?  Lots of times.  Calling out because I didn't sleep the night before, or had a dream about Don and woke up crying?  Also too many to count (Thank God for FMLA.)  How many prescriptions I've tried before one actually got me a few hours sleep a night?  Too many. 

But I guess from the outside looking in, they think I'm doing great and holding up so well and oh, I am sooo brave.  I am not brave.  What they don't see is when I wake up alone in the middle of the night from a nightmare, all alone and terrified, Don not there to put his arm around me and make it go away.  What they don't see is me talking to his ashes, crying, wondering what the hell happened.  What they don't hear is me telling him I miss him 100 times a day, telling him I love him, 100 times a day, asking him, "Where are you?" 200 times a day.  They don't see me crying in my car as I drive home from work to my empty house.They don't see me sleeping with the shirt that he wore on the day he died, that I refuse to wash because it still smells like him. 

What they see is that after he died, I called the mortgage company and got on a modified loan program.  They see that I cancelled my cell phone plan with AT&T and went on my son's plan to save money.  They see that I sold his truck and used to money to pay off credit cards and get a little bit ahead on the mortgage.  They see that I dropped out of school to get my degree because I am in survival mode. I knew I would be selling our home, so I have steamed and stripped wallpaper from four rooms, and spackled, sanded, and painted the rooms myself.  I found my dying father in-patient hospice.  I dealt with insurance companies and buried my father. I had to have our injured dog put down. I put my car in the shop, I hired a lawn service because my lawn tractor is possessed by the devil, had my taxes done by a professional,

I don't know that doing all of that makes me strong.  I think not being able to look into my husband's bright, beautiful, blue eyes is the hardest thing I have to live through, and I am not doing well with that.   I know that if he is looking down on me, he's saying "That's my girl", but really, I am doing what I have to do to survive, so that one day I can learn to be strong.

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Replies to This Discussion

Hi Crabby. I hate that crap too. I know they mean well, but others don't live in our skin day to day.

I am so sorry for the things you had to negotiate since your husband's death. It would be enough to lose a spouse, but the logistics that follow are often a nightmare. People just don't realize the things that are part and parcel to the loss.

I won't tell you that you're strong, but I will tell you that you should be proud of yourself. That is something I long to hear, and ironically, it would have been my husband most likely to tell me so.

Virtual hugs to you.

Thank you Tess.  Yes, it is ironic - Don would have done the same. I wish I could be proud of myself, but I think that the reason I have to do all of this overshadows my ability to recognize the strides I have made.

Hello Crabby,

People thinking I was doing great and holding up so well didn't bother me so much at first, it will be 7 months for me this Saturday, and so many days the only way I could push through the logistics of legal, financial and other things we have to take care of was to just make an effort to do one thing. Get up and decide, what one thing am I going to try to get through today, today call the water company, tomorrow call the electric company. The last couple of months when some close friends, that I trust have expressed how well I'm doing, I've been more honest with them, instead of saying, I'm getting by or doing the best I can or some nonsense, I've simply told them, I don't feel that way, I am really struggling, this is really hard and what they see, as you wrote, "from the outside looking in", is not real.

For the most part they have been very understanding and I feel it has helped me a little as well. Of course, I still put on the false front for most of the rest of the world.

And I ask MaryAnn "Where are you?" many, many times every day.

I agree with Tess, you should be proud, we all should.

Sorry you are on this journey none of us wanted.

I'm so sorry for your loss. There's just no other way to say it - it's hard, and sometimes - it's even harder. I'm six years out now from my husband's death - and I promise you, it will get better. I don't remember how I got through the first year after he died. Just shear grit, I guess. You just keep moving forward every day, and one day you'll discover you again. You may not feel strong, but your last sentence says it all - and you ARE learning, right now, how to be strong. 

Crabby, I know exactly how you feel. Your post felt like I was reading my own words. I am constantly told I am so strong and I’m doing so well. But they don’t see all the tears and emotional struggles.  I am just not the type of person to say “I cry every night, I am struggling”. I think it is because no one can fix our problem. No one can bring our husbands back so why make someone else feel sorry for me, feel bad that I’m struggling so much when there’s absolutely nothing they can do to help.  But the curse of being like that means everyone thinks you’re fine. I try to send hints here and there that I’m lonely and constantly depressed but I know it’s not enough because people just think I’m better, I’m fine. But it is true people think the things that were doing to just survive is because were so strong. If we didn’t do these things we wouldn’t be surviving.  I guess to some people they would say that does make us strong-that we are surviving, we haven’t thrown in the towel.   I was told over and over again that it does get better. But they didn’t tell me that I will constantly be back at step one over and over again. Just when you feel “ok, I can do this” you’ll be hit all over again with the horrible grief. 

I lost my husband on June 2, 2018 and I too, keep hearing how strong I am. And, like you, I don’t feel strong either. I feel like I am on auto-pilot. I sometimes want to tell them how I cry almost daily. I want to tell them I scream silently in my head at the God they say took him for a reason. There is no strength in me. I often feel exhausted thinking about getting out of bed. I, too, keep not one but two shirts of his that I have on his pillows. Thank you for sharing that you keep one as well. I feel a little less crazy for doing that too. I hold them close and breath in. And cry.  I wish you peace, on this awful road we are on. Thanks for sharing your story. 

Ciao today a friend of my loved one says to me "sei tosta"... In italian slang means " you're are very strong"...they're misunderstanding your calm and no talking about him as a solved problem...they don't see when the despair attack you, when the desire to see him again breaks your heart...they don't see when you cry without hope in your dark and lonely room...they don't understand your lost war with the reality...they see you in your everyday hard struggle trying to mantain something that seems life with a pale smile....

I, too, had a hard time with people telling me how"strong" I was, and how I would "get through it". Sometimes it would anger me, but then I remembered the words of an old song, "You don't know about lonely or how long nights can be, til you've lived through the story that's still living in me. You don't know about sadness til you've faced life alone. You don't know about lonely til it's chiseled in stone." That's when I realized that unless you have the experience that I don't wish on anyone, people are just saying what they think is expected to be said, and I don't get upset with them any longer. God Bless All

My husband just passed away Feb. 21, 2019.  I resonate with everything you just mentioned. I hate that we are where we are at. 

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