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We're friends, not doctors, financial or legal professionals, and we're not "grief experts." But we are here, and we've been "there."

It brings me to tears sometimes that friends just don't understand.

I was talking to a friend tonight and just about burst into tears, something I have not done for a while. She said she was pleased things were working out so well for me! I had to excuse myself because her cheerfulness and my loneliness just didn't mesh. I know it is silly to terminate a call when I want so much to talk to someone but it does have to be someone who will understand.

I know I do sound cheerful on the phone and even on Facebook I only post the highlights of the week so nobody sees the sad and lonely hours or sees that I fill my life up as much as I can and do things just to keep busy. Keeping busy seems to be the name of the game. I have plenty to do, a volunteer can always find more voluntary work. We all know that everyone seems to have a cause these days and all organisations, particularly charities always need extra hands.

My family seems to think that I am okay and an occasional phone call is all I need. If they each rang me once a week and talked for an hour that is three hours occupied...hmm, what do I do with the other 165? Fill them in with some kind of busyness I guess. I have been asked if I have thought of getting a part-time job but with so many young people out of work it seems selfish to want to take on one of the few jobs available locally even if I did manage to get one. So many thousands of people have to commute from my lovely coastal area to Sydney or the greater metropolitan area so they add another four hours of travelling to a day and hardly see their families.

There will be plenty to fill in the days from the beginning of December as I will give extra time to my Lions Club and to church. Giving up time at home to do things in the community is always a good thing as far as I am concerned. I get a lot out of working so the church has the money to help those in need or so the Lions Club can boost the coffers of local charities or supply a local family with a piece of equipment for a disabled child, or help fund the education of a university student.

I am still looking for someone to teach me to waltz. I am going down to the Seniors Centre to see what dances they do on Dance night once a month. They hold all sorts of events and there are programs including computer classes and hobby classes as well so maybe I will see if I want to join any of those next year, this year's programs are all running down now towards the end of the year. Most will not resume to February, common here with the long school break and minding grandchildren is what many seniors are called on to do.

From time to time loneliness bites. I know some of the present angst is due to the fact that Christmas ( that special family time according to the ads) is looming over us now. I will have the family from down the South Coast here, hopefully overnight, from late Christmas afternoon but will have the time from when church is finished until I see them on my own. I know I am whining now, so please forgive me. But did I mention I was lonely?

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Comment by Phyllis on November 15, 2014 at 6:17am

only1sue, I read all your posts and I can really relate to this one.  I am lucky that most of my women friends are widows and they don't have to ask how I'm doing.  They have been there, done that and know instinctively how I feel.  And if I want to bring up a grief subject out of the blue, they are there to listen and understand.  But I have another married friend who is always telling me how well I'm doing; how proud she is of me; how she doesn't think she would be as brave, etc etc.  It's nice to be admired, but only if I felt that same way about myself.  I want to tell her to please not say those things because she doesn't know that I am only brave in front of others, that at night I'm not.  I'm lonely and even if I don't sit in my chair and cry at night, the grief and loneliness are still there and I'm not getting any better.  The thing that hits me at night is that no matter what I have done during the day - gone out with friends and had a great time - at night by myself, it's like it didn't happen.  The knowledge that no one is waiting for me when I get home, no one to tell about the day, no one to "gossip" with takes away all pleasure of those previous hours.

I go to a support group twice a month, a group that has really helped me realize that I'm not alone and my feelings are shared by everyone.  But knowing that I'm not the only one does not make that feeling any better.  Doesn't lessen the loneliness, doesn't make me miss Don any less.  It's been 26 months and I am realizing that being in this third year is harder than I thought it would be.  I keep busy - friends and volunteer work.  There's nothing anybody can do for me; I have to get through this alone.  Maybe I should be less busy and give myself time to just think.  But my mind doesn't really want to go there.  So am I impeding my own progress?

Comment by Blue Snow on November 14, 2014 at 9:54am

I guess it's hard for others to see or understand widows when we only show the highlights to our friends and families and keep the low points for our widow blogs. We have to do that out of self-preservation, though, because we know they'd start avoiding us if every time we talk to them we make them feel guilty for not spending more time with us or they get harsh about telling us to "get over it" and other insensitive things widow's reportedly hear.

I think we widows who where long-time caregivers get a double dose of misunderstanding from those who have not been in our shoes. They view our last years with our spouses as a big burden and think we should be glad to shed those years. You and I know full well that isn't true. The last years were just part of long standing relationship of give and take and we have a right to miss/grieve the entire package. It's not just about the caregiver years which seems to be all that many people see.

Hang in there, Sue. Keeping busy does seem to help.

Comment by Pandarina on November 13, 2014 at 11:46am
Hi Only1Sue. I'm fairly new here and live south of Sydney. It's 8 months for me with my husband dying suddenly from an aneurysm. I've found your posts really helpful. And I so relate to this one with friends telling me how I am seeming really better now when inside I am really not! Why do we have to put on the brave face I ask myself. I think it is because I have always done that and always been busy and always looked on the bright side of things. It is such a shock and so hard not be able to be that way any longer.
All of What laurajay says is what my bereavement councillor has been telling me. It is ok to be quiet and do nothing. This actually relieves some anxiety for me when I remind myself of that, because I think that if I am not doing anything I am being a pretty useless person when I could be doing so much more to help others or grow myself. The truth is I just don't have that in me right now. I do just sit with myself but it is still hard to try to be alone and easy with yourself and not lonely. It worries me a lot reading how many of us are suffering so much still after years. But I have hope in here somewhere. I must do to get up every day and face Christmas coming.
I hope that you feel better and good luck with all the things you are hoping to do in the new year. I think you are pretty terrific with all that you are doing right now. Panderina
Comment by laurajay on November 13, 2014 at 9:03am

Holiday Blues, aging and loneliness   wicked trio.    People do not and will not understand -ever.  Remind yourself this is a solo journey.  It's not just about things we "do"  but who we "are".  Try being grateful for your inner qualities you've been blessed with and set fewer expectations on others and   forget that your value as a person rests on keeping busy.  Use your thoughts and beliefs to foster a new mindset that allows you to embrace the changes.   Of course, loneliness is very painful  but it is a part of this long term grieving process -  If I remember you did have a role of care-giver for quite a while and that has ended, correct?  Well, maybe it's time to let that go and do nothing- believing that it's ok to be still and quiet and reflective and kind to just you?  No matter how "busy" you try to keep yourself-  when the busyness ends you will be alone  so why not  scurry around less and give yourself time to be with just you?  Nature, reading, music  and occasional social interaction?   just reflective thoughts on  my part, I have no magic answers for any of this just what I/ve  been discovering.   hugs  lj

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