There are those memoirs or blogs or random stories of people who will tell you that something beautiful came out the death of their loved one. That they found their true calling or that they became more empathetic and kind, or that suddenly the fragility of life made them looked around and they became a better person in their world because of that death. Shut-up already, I haven't heard one actual person I know say that.
I don’t personally know one single person that has happened to in reality. Some perhaps are more aware of what is important and what is not, but from what I have seen there are the two fringes of grievers and then everyone else- the first fringe group who maybe change a little for the better- softer, more attuned to the needs of others and then there is the second fringe group who are angry and bitter. However, I think most grievers live in the middle.
In the middle, where the vast majority of widowed grieving people reside, are the stories I hear about. Those grievers who simply, and often with great reservation, eventually put the yoke back on and began in one way or another to simply trudge their way through the fields of daily life again, one laborious step after another. They are not better people, they are not worse people, they are simply the same person they were before, however now they are tasked with carrying a huge package of sorrow while nursing a soul scaring wound that the world cannot seem to understand with much compassion. And yet they still somehow get up, take in deep shaky breaths to steel their courage and then try to step forward in some direction.
I am in this middle group. There hasn’t been something good that came from John’s death. Honestly it’s been crappy, super painful and in many ways unbearable to put the yoke of daily life back on and trudge forward. I’m not a better person; I am not a worse person. I am in general a more quiet person. I may also be a bit more breakable around my emotions and general heart and I am certainly a more fearful person, so I am some changed and yet I am mostly the same. What I have done is survive, which is the same thing most people do after a terrible trauma happens. They survive somehow among the imploding of their life and the desolation of their safety net and the world as they loved it, somehow among the rubble they survive. Perhaps not in a way that some, specifically grief outsiders, would see as a thriving or acceptable way but they do survive.
Knowing how hard it is to even contemplate the idea of stepping forward after such trauma I feel this vast middle pancake of grievers are no less incredible or courageous then those who say their life was changed for the better after the death of their loved one, no less remarkable than those who loudly proclaim victory over grief and loss. As I look around and read the stories of other widowed people, I see us each as pilgrims stepping into what were once the familiar fields of our daily lives and poking about in it as if it were all new territory, with caution and curiosity. And I see our tribe of widowed people, as brave beyond measure as we trudge this path together and individually, each nodding encouragement and compassion to one another, because each one of us knows deeply in our core just how difficult and courageous it was to stand up and step forward at all.