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A letter I wrote to family & friend but haven't had the nerve to share. 

I know people are trying to do well meaning things when they suggest that I should get a dog, or a cat or some other creature to have around me.  I know people are meaning well when they say sharing is helpful or that you will get over this eventually.  I know people merely want to try to fix me.  The problem is, I am not broken, I am sad, lonely, angry and tired.  I am these things but I am still whole.  While 2/3rds of my identity is now gone, I have lost the we and the her from what made me who I am, I am struggling forward.  What I need is people who will listen but not offer ways to correct my pain, you can't.  Even if you understood the exact pain I am going through, and believe me most of you don't, you can't correct my pain.  That is something I have to work through, it is part of what is redefining me even this moment.  When I come out from under it, I will be different in many ways but fundamentally I will still be the person that my wife helped to define.  I am who I am today because of her, and ultimately I will not change from that.  There is no magic pill that makes this disappear, there is no easy path to reunion.  I must muscle through this until the end. 

So many of our plans are now crumpled up on the floor, I had plans of going hiking the rest of the national parks that we had yet to visit.  I had plans to maybe find one we really loved and becoming volunteers.  I even had plans of opening a small bakery, perhaps attached to a B&B or something and enjoying ourselves making breads and pastries.  None of these plans now seem at all enjoyable, they are all things that made sense as a we and little sense as a me.  Again, no amount of duct tape or chewing gum is going to patch this hole in my world.  I must start to consider what is next, and how do I intend to get there. 

Along this new path, I will likely bend far, hopefully not too far.  My intent is to not break, and at the moment I am not.  My quiet depression is merely a sign that the person I had in my life was so important to me that I can not yet see a path out.  I wake to an empty bed, I eat at an empty table, and I watch TV without the color commentary that had so defined my life.  I no longer have someone to banter with, and so I banter with a ghost.  She doesn't answer directly but in so many ways I know what she is saying, her voice is etched in my mind forever.  I can see the look that she gave me when I bought things I was never supposed to buy mere days after her passing.  On one level these were bought so I could hold the inner argument with my wife, and on another, they were bought to try to give me a little solace in an otherwise unrecognizable world.   

And so again, I say I am not broken, you can not fix me.  What is broke, the 'we' I once was a part of, the 'her' that was my wife, can't be repaired.  Some day I may find I need a new companion in life, but that new we will never replace the old we.  I will be eternally in love with my perfect mate, the one I no longer have.  So if you want to help, listen to me, but don't try to repair.  I am not telling you of my sadness with a hope that you can make it go away, I am sharing it to let the pain out a little bit, hoping that eventually it will lessen and I will be mostly whole again.  Everything you see in me is a natural part of dealing with unwanted change, and me slowly picking up the tattered plans of my life from the floor as I start to put the puzzle pieces together again and lay new plans alone.  I will need the help, but can't tolerate people telling me what will make it better, because honestly, I am not ready for it to be better, and I don't believe that you truly know. 

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Comment by Thankfulheart on January 17, 2018 at 6:12pm

     I understand your pain I’ve been there too. It’s like a deep wound that when the scar is the only thing left the memory of how you got it is always a reminder. Your right no one can ever replace the person you dearly loved. But what   I’ve learned as the new person I have come to be is that I  will never get over my husband but I have learned to move forward and now I believe I  can love deeper because of how he taught me to love  unconditional . For that I will forever be grateful. I wish you much peace. I take it one day at a time.  There’s no right or wrong way it’s a journey to be walked and experienced .

Comment by Senecagirl on January 16, 2018 at 3:09am

I am new here and this so happens to be the first post I have read, probably because it is my husbands birthday the date you wrote this. He died dec.5 .we were together 31 years. I understand all that you wrote. I am trying to figure this all out and it sucks. I am very sorry for your loss. This is the strangest learning process ever. How do you learn to be a good widower? Best wishes for healing.

Comment by Callie2 on December 24, 2017 at 6:55am

Advice or opinion, hard to tell sometime. I really didn't get either from anyone because I noticed no one wanted to talk about it. I found that strange, even uncomfortable at times. Like the elephant in the room type of thing!

I do remember a couple comments made to me that did make me stop and think. I was kind of grateful for that, it hit home.  I'm going to refer to it as wisdom because the words may not have made sense to someone else--it was their way of saying I get it in a non-direct sort of way.

Time heals but not entirely. I think we just adapt to life without them. I look at it this way--it's not exactly a bad thing to miss the one I loved. However, I try to go about my way and live the life I have left. I just want to be as happy as I can be and I am grateful that I was able to share as many years as I did with my husband. Be assured that grief will one day leave you!

Comment by laurajay on December 12, 2017 at 5:22am

Your  pain  is  fresh and piercing.  Give  friends  and family  room  to care  about you in whatever way  they find  they are able.  If their words offend  you-forgive  them.  They  don't know  any way to do better.  Thank them  and say..."I'll  take that under consideration"  No more.  All your  well spoken words  won't be understood . Only  other widowed  people "get it"  anyway.  Share  with those  who understand.  Don't  be angry  and waste your energy on those who are clueless.  They are  doing  what they  can do....Unless  you  can tell them  a specific  thing  they CAN  help you with- brush it off  if they  speak nonsense.   Conserve  your  recourses  in your mind and heart  to grieve.  It's  your personal journey  and healing takes time  not measured with clocks or  calendars  or  ill spoken  conversations.             Time  and more  time.. my widowed  friend.                    lj

Comment by Don on December 11, 2017 at 11:25am

Tony, 

I do a lot of the same things, the banter with a ghost especially, and the eating in front of the tv. Sometimes i'll see something and look at where she would have been sitting and make a comment to her (does this mean I've finally gone over the edge?). And the dog thing, I've had several people suggest it or a cat. The thing is, after everything that happened, being Arlene's caretaker and our dog also several years ago, I really don't want to have another life depending on me. I've had enough. 

I agree with Diannne, this was wonderfully written.

Comment by Dianne in Nevada on December 11, 2017 at 11:02am

I hope you'll share this with your friends and family, Tony. It's beautifully written.  Not all will be able to accept it, but those that do will have received a wonderful gift. Those who care about us need us to be the teachers if they haven't *yet* walked in our shoes.

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