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I've read and been told by my fiance's family that a person who is grieving shouldn't make any major life decisions for the first year after his or her loss. But how is that possible? Doesn't losing the person you love and have dedicated your life to force you to start making major life decisions immediately? 

Two weeks after I lost Philip I had to go to a job interview in another state. I guess I didn't have to go, but I went because I didn't have a job and we'd moved in with my parents during the last few weeks so they could help us. I felt like I didn't have a choice. I got the job and accepted it because I didn't know what else to do. I don't know if I did or am doing the right thing...I don't know what the experts would say about this decision, but I just did it. 

In the last seven days I had to sign a lease for a new apartment in the new state and then I came back and bought a car. Every person in my life kept asking me if I was excited and/or happy. And I couldn't even fake it. I wasn't excited or happy. Finding and leasing the apartment was a nightmare for many reasons, but all I kept thinking about the whole time was how I wasn't ever supposed to have to do this alone again. Philip and I were planning on buying a house in the next year after we got married in October. I looked at two places and just chose one because it all felt the same to me and I didn't have the energy to look around. All I felt was "I can't believe I'm going to be living somewhere alone again, without him. How am I going to live everyday like a normal person when he isn't here?" And when I bought the car, I thought the same thing. This SUV was supposed to be the thing we did together. It was supposed to be the car we got so we could start our family. All I felt when I made these major life decisions was lonely and sad. And I feel guilty. Guilty that I'm here still doing the things we had planned together, but not really enjoying any of them. 

But how am I supposed to not make these sorts of decisions for an entire year? I feel like I have to do these things to survive. Getting out of bed every day and choosing to participate in the world is a major life decision, at least to me it is. But then there is another part of me that feels like even though I'm doing all of these things and making all of these decisions that it isn't really me at all. It is like I'm watching myself do these things--almost like an outer body experience. And there is still another part of me that believes this isn't really my life and that I'm going to wake up from this nightmare and Philip will be there, healthy, and mad at me for thinking all of this was real. I wonder when that will go away...the feeling like this is all just a really bad dream. I wonder when it will feel more real, or if it ever will. 

I've also read that it will get easier with time...I guess the "it" there is my pain and sadness. All I know is that I feel this loss more intensely as time goes on. I feel more alone each day especially as life moves forward for all of the people in my life. The smallest things make me want to cry or scream. And the more intensely I feel this loss, the more I want to be alone because no one understands...the more I want to talk to Philip because he would be the only one to get how I was feeling. It is weird to think that the more lonely I feel, the more I just want to be alone with my sadness. I miss him more every day and I grieve for him and the life we were planning much more than I did after he first passed.

I keep thinking I'm ready to do milestone type things like taking off my engagement ring. I have it all planned out--I'll go get the ring reset to something I can wear on my right hand. But every time I talk about it or get in the car to go the jeweler, I can't. Or maybe I'll start selling some of the things he wanted me to sell, but that he loved and so I can't. I told myself I'd finish my dissertation by Oct. 17th because that was supposed to be our wedding date and since he wanted me to finish so badly, it could be a different sort of thing I could do for him. But I haven't been able to write in weeks and time just keeps passing by. 

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Comment by CandJ02 on June 25, 2015 at 4:13pm

Thank kziss! :) 

Comment by kziss on June 25, 2015 at 11:55am

I lost my husband 6 months ago to cancer and often during the last 6 months have struggles with the same question of making big decisions. I'm a person who like's to know what I'm up against a planner to the extreme at times. So when I look at my future in my new life as a widow I researched and absorbed as much as I could tolerate. Everyone said and preached the same thing over and over again. Don't make any big choices get threw all of the big first things by yourself blah blah blah. While I understand the concept of this theory I also know that life happens. I never intended to be a widow at 29 but here I was a widow at 29. As you intended to do all of these things with your soon to be husband. I'm so sorry for your lose and can totally relate to the agony you feel about moving on. 6 months out now I have to tell you that you can only do what seems right to you. When your ready to take your ring off then take it off. If you can't sell his things yet then don't. If you have to take one day at a time for a while then do that. I lived by the rule of not making any major decisions and suffered because of it. Life forces you to change and make choices and decisions. So try and give yourself a break and know that your doing what you need to provide for yourself and to start again. Maybe this move, new job and car will be a wonderful adventure for you.  I wish you nothing but happiness. 

Comment by Lisa ( Marielee) on June 19, 2015 at 6:13am
There is no denying that we have to make major life decisions when our lives are turned upside down. For me 4 moves, 3 job transfers, new car , dating and remarriage in 5 years. It is so hard and at times I felt no joy in making some of these choices , did what I had to do but meeting my new husband and remarriage I found joy and love again. Be patient and take one step at a time . Follow what feels right, there are no rules. I promise someday soon the sun will feel a little bit warmer and brighter then yesterday. Hugs my friend
Comment by barbee on June 14, 2015 at 7:48am

Although it might not seem like it to you, your grief is fresh. I had to made a quick move after my husband died. To a different city where I bought a home to live in alone. The next two years I nearly rebuilt the place from one end to the other. Into this house I put color and texture and shelving and furniture -- all things that pleased me and helped nurture me. It was against the advice of everyone I know, but it turned out to be one of the very best things I've ever done for myself. Sometimes in that early stage of grief with the fog and numbness, our basic instincts still help us hold onto a true course. I'm not saying it has been easy. Oh, no! I still feel that aching hurt of losing someone I held dear and the smashing impact it has had on my life. My husband and I had been friends for ten years before our first date and then we were married for over 48 years. The are few memories without him in my life. So being alone, with responsibilities only for myself, has been a life-changing experience. I have discovered a new me, a stronger and kinder and better me. Hang in there--the day will come for you, too.  ((HUGS))

Comment by CandJ02 on June 13, 2015 at 4:22pm

Thank you RainSong and LauraJay for your comments--I really appreciate them. This website has been helpful in ways I never thought possible and it is such a comfort to know that I can come here and there will always be someone who "gets it" (even though I hate that we all have to be here in the first place.) Some days the comments and advice I get here are the only things that keep me sane. 

Comment by RainSong on June 13, 2015 at 4:01am

Candj02.  I agree, with laurajay.  You made decisions that had to be made for your life to move forward.  For me, having a job was an important part of getting me through grief.  I can't say I was a great employee every day, but it gave me something to focus on other than my grief. Not to mention it is important to be able to pay bills....not being able to do that would add a whole other level of stress!  I hope that the state that you moved to is still close enough to family and friends that you and they can still visit fairly frequently.   My husband and I were married for just short of ten years, but together for 17 when he died in 2013.  I just took my rings off in February, at the 2 year mark.  I had my engagement ring made into a different ring (the diamond is in the center, his birthstones on either side of that, and black diamonds channel set on band).   I only mention this because I thought about it for at least a year before I felt it was the right time, and only you will know when that is.  I can see advantages to working on dissertation and reasons not to.  Advantage - distraction.  Disadvantage - not always our clearest thinking during grief.  I thought I was doing fine, bought a condo that I am glad I did four months after he died, but there are things that I wish I had thought through (disadvantages of ground level condo for someone not used to being alone). But again, only you will know if you can do it justice.  It is also a booster of confidence and connection to those we have lost when we do something that we know would have made them proud.  I have caught myself wondering after an accomplishment if Gregg saw that.  We are all so different, though.

Comment by laurajay on June 12, 2015 at 10:54pm

Candj02.   What they say about major  decisions that first year  are mostly changes  such as selling a home, or changing your will,  but you were not yet married  so of course you needed to seek employment and find a place to live.  You needed transportation as well so you bought a car.  Nothing wrong with those choices!    As to your ring or your schooling  that you will have to decide what suits you best.  Will finishing the Phd by Oct.  put a burden on you to do your research and writing while you are still grieving and in pain?  Maybe you will need more time to do it right. Pressure of expectations put on a widow can be very stressful.  4 mo is no time at all for grieving and additional stresses now might not be wise.  You do not owe your loved one any promises now that you must go on without him.   Time brings new understanding and eventually more acceptance.  Grief cannot be rushed-it demands time and creates craziness in the mind so that out of this world feeling sets in and makes us think the strangeness is bad or wrong or mad---when if fact most of us have that exact feeling in the beginning and it is normal--- Your ring can be dealt with down the road , not now---Take the time to be your own best friend.  Watch your nutrition, your sleep , your think or remembering time.   Work to keep busy and to stop yourself from constant sadness.  Spend time with family and friends when you want to---ignore most of their advice until you believe you are ready to do something.  People love to give widows advice when they are frankly ignorant on the subject of widowhood.  Forgive them their  mistakes .  They just do not understand and probably never will.  You are OK.  You have the strength of youth and I believe you will move forward in time and find peace and a new way to continue living  and even being happy again. You don't see this because the pain of loss is blinding to the future.  Time is the one great factor in grief healing and we cannot change it.  Accept that others care,  certainly people here understand exactly---they have been there---come to share whenever you are moved to---I wish you progress in your pursuits and peace in your heart.   laurajay

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