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Danielle, you're my new hero :-).
The article seems pretty much on target with what I've observed in myself and people I know. The first "myth" they look at is: "that the bereaved inevitably experience intense symptoms of distress and depression". I don't think they're suggesting that it doesn't hurt like hell or doesn't turn your world upside down, just that most people don't go into a tail spin, become clinically depressed, contemplate suicide, require medication, and all that. Personally I have some first hand experience with clinical depression, but I'm really quite surprised that my wife's death has not triggered a recurrence (knock wood, right?).
Widow Village is a self selecting support group. Almost by definition it attracts people who have been deeply hurt by their loss. In many cases the grief is compounded by post traumatic stress, crazy in laws, legal proceedings, gut wrenching long term care, and so on. So the fact that many members of Widow's Village disagree with the study does not invalidate the study. We make up the tail of the bell curve.
Support groups are good when the encourage and support their members to move forward, groups are bad when they encourage their members to stay the same, when the validate people's depression. On the whole Widow Village does a good job and it has been very useful to me. But there are times when I read things and I think "Boy, that person is stuck in some complicated grief, and everyone is telling her that it is okay." I'd like to challenge that, if your grief hasn't changed in two or three years then isn't that a red flag? It is not okay to get stuck and be in pain for years. It is not okay. Shouldn't we as a group point this out?
One final thing. I don't think the depth of one's grief is based on the depth of your love for your dead spouse. I understand why this is an attractive idea, but there are enough counter examples that make me doubt that it is true. I think this would be a good area for some research.
One very final thing. I'm not trying to get anyone upset, but I believe life can be sweet, super sweet. I want everyone on Widow Village to be happy again. Everyone who meets their beloved in heaven (or that other place) should be able to tell them with pride what they did in their extra time on earth. Did you sit around counting the days until you die, or did you continue to do the best you could with the life that God gave you? You do have a choice. God, I know how hard it is. Peace.
My mom handled her grief by not talking about it to anyone, ever. My dad died 10 days after we were married...so 32 yrs ago last August. She became a hermit and withdrew from life. She was never angry or depressed, well maybe depressed but you could never tell..she continued to function in her own way, just solitary. She developed Alzheimer's and spent the last 10yrs of her life fighting that..she lived 20 yrs after dad passed. I am determined not to be that person. I insisted my grown children attend some grief counseling for family and we continue to try to keep his memory alive, painful as it is at times. I hope to continue on the path to healing and recovery, some days the emotions are just so close to the surface it does not take much for the tears to come
That is so good to hear Lilterrisue! It will be one year on January 29th. You are in the right place and have a great outlook on your healing journey. I immediately accessed all the resources I possible could for me and my children. Support groups, grief camp, family counselling, individual counselling, grief yoga, meditation and I have literally read every grief/loss book I could get my hands on. You WILL live again to experience the happiness and joy this world has to offer you. I remember thinking to myself on those lonely scary and just plain brutal first months, "ok girl, dig deep....this is the worst of the worst but NO giving up". You have probably hear this before but "this too shall pass" and what you do with the remainder of your life is entirely up to you. I still have bad days but thats ok with me because I know my heart is strong and I am exactly where I am suppose to be. Use your strength and courage to guide you and baby yourself each and every step of the way. I had like 6 baths a day in those first few months so much so that my skin was literally flaking off but those baths helped me de-stress and feel better in that moment. I also run, swim and bike and I recently became fitness certified so I teach group fitness and I just love it. Exercise brings clarity of mind which in turn makes me feel all around healthy and capable of what the day has in store for me. I think allot of people do get "stuck" in grief and my mother was one of them. My father committed suicide when I was 13 and she never really lived again until she died of brain cancer two years before my husband died. I was determined to not live her life which was a life of sadness, depression, regret, anger, and continual mourning. I can safely say I am in the clear and really enjoying life again. My loss is a badge I wear with honour and pride.
But the confusing thing about the article and grief conversations in general, is that the terms sadness and depression are used interchangeably when they are in fact two different things. The way one of the palliative care psychologists summarized it for me is that grief has moments of relief, that there are small bits of light that break through every now and then, and with depression, the sadness is unremitting. That's an oversimplification of course, but I think it's good to keep in mind. I can definitely say that with my last loss (I had a partner who died of cancer in 2007 as well) I was depressed. This time I am not. But six months out, I am functioning really well, as far as getting work done and taking care of myself. But I definitely have moments and even days of intense sadness. I don't know if anyone has collected 9/11 widow data, but there definitely is a difference in how different people reacted (of course) even though the situations of the actual death were mostly very similar. One 9/11 widow remarried seven months later, others still have not remarried. Although I don't really believe that being ready to be in a relationship and being through the intense sadness period are actually always the same. And I wouldn't say that feeling "ready to move on" is actually a good indicator that one is ready to move on, at least for me. I got involved with someone nine months after Heather (first partner) died and it was really a mistake. It kept me much rawer than I had to be, I think, for longer. I'm determined not to make that same "mistake" again, although I don't have much desire for that kind of intense connection right now. I am very fulfilled with my friends and my work. I miss Cheryl but don't want to be in another relationship, although I also think about timing sometimes. If another eligible person came along and we were clearly compatible, would I ask them to stay single for another six months while I healed? Would that even be fair? Lot to think about. I think the central take away is always "grief is different for everyone, always, every situation" but I'm always interested in what builds resilience and such.
You are amazing Danielle...how long ago was your loss? I am still very new on this path..being just short of my 4th month, but your attitude is very inspiring. I am on some internet mailing lists that are widow/er only and some of those people seem like they are not healing and in the same place as I am but they are 5 or more years out...I just do not want that. By no means am in a good place at this point, but I do want to live again...
I too got into a brutal legal fight with my in-laws because my father-in-law tried very very hard to take over all mine and my husbands finances and because he was somewhat of a local celebrity, he started trying to convince people to not allow me to sell my home and my husbands truck...it was awful! His wife would get drunk and phone me at all hours telling me how much more she loved my husband and knew him better than I and my husbands sister started a rumour that I was neglecting my children. After a couple months of agonizing legal proceedings and a overwhelming sense of anxiety that began to pervade all aspects of my life, I decided to let him have everything he wanted. I phoned him and said, "if you really want this stuff, then have it....all of it but I will not longer hold me and my sons emotionally hostage to this drama". Surprise, surprise...a week later he dropped everything and discontinued his crazy ploy against me and my decisions. I took the boys there for x-mas and he even hugged me and told me he was sorry for all that had happened. Don't get me wrong, I will never be able to have a genuine relationship with them but I do not hate them or feel any anger towards them. I am indifferent and it feels amazing!
Thank you for sharing this article. I think the underline thesis of the study is that we all do not follow the same grief path and nor will everyone who has experienced loss, also experience the same symptoms of sadness and depression. We all have our own degree of resilience which is dependent on many factors from our overall personality traits to past experiences with loss and tragedy. I was very very happy with my husband and loved him dearly but I did have not experienced deep depression and really only experienced intense sadness for a few months. What I did feel was a very intense motivation to find happiness again and not allow our tragedy to overcome me or my children. I always told the boys, "your daddy is gone but you are still here and this is your opportunity to overcome the most tragic of circumstances and prove to yourself that you are going to do amazing things with your life".
Danielle, what wise words...I can see both sides and yes anger is a normal response but I do agree to reach a point of healing and moving on we must let got of all the anger and regrets that all of us hang on to for one reason or the other. It will change nothing.
Letha, I do feel bad for you that it will take longer because of the legal entanglements which will mostly serve to re-open the wounds over and over again. It is going to take you being a very strong person to get through it.
I didn't read much of this. The first couple of sentences were enough....it could be true for some people who were miserable in their marriage...yet I doubt the whole truth of this for any one that is human...even dogs grieve. I do believe that it is natural to grow through the grief process and move on in your life.
Has anyone else seen this article? It doesn't actually reference the actual name of the study or where it was originally published, and it doesn't differentiate between depression and grief. I mean, basically what the article claims the most recent research is that "most people aren't bothered when their partner dies" I don't see how that can be true. It does seem to me that grief is a normal part of life and a natural process, much like childbirth is a natural process. That doesn't make it less painful. Anyway, I'm just wondering how this possibly could be true!
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