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I have noticed that I am far more sensitive than I used to be.  I find that I walk into situations where people don't know about my wife, or who do know about her and mention it when I am not expecting.  The other day someone was asking me if I was traveling with my wife to her family because they over heard me talking about going to her parents' house around Christmas for a visit.  I explained that no, she had passed away, but it was a bit of a hit to the gut to have them ask that question when everyone else I was talking to already knew.  They all backed away when the question came out.  Then while interviewing someone for a position at our office the person being interviewed grabbed me on the way out and said they knew my wife and that he was sorry for my loss.  It isn't what he said so much as where it came from.  Out of the blue, someone not directly associated in the industry.  

These were all pretty low key, but today my mother-in-law without even thinking about what she was saying said something that got me so wound up I almost called my sister-in-law and said, 'Sorry I really can't come out anymore'.  I took a good hour to reset my head and know that isn't what she was saying.  Anyway what she first asked me is if I knew where a special small bible was that my wife had.  She went on to explain it had been given to her from an aunt and that while it wasn't special to my mother-in-law she would like to 'keep it in the family'.  Those words just struck me really badly.  I know what she means now that I have found this bible and read what it said inside it, they would like to keep it in her parents side of the family because it was a first communion bible for my wife's great grandfather.  It had been passed down for years.  But it was the way she said it without thinking of the implication of the words that struck me.  

Now I know, I am being overly sensitive here, I really know she wasn't trying to do that.  She had called all excited about my visit in a couple weeks asking me what foods I would like, if there was anyplace I wanted to see or do.  But this isn't the first time they were insensitive in how they approached a topic.  2 months after my wife passed away, they asked me to bring a death certificate with me when I was going to be on work travel near them so they could grab a copy when I was visiting my brother-in-law over that weekend.  I didn't ask why and I didn't care why, but then they told me they needed to update their will.  Now I wasn't expecting to stay in their will, in all honesty I don't need to be in their will where their children may.  But the method by which they mentioned it was just a bit short on sensitivity.  

Again, it is more about how people say something without really thinking of the impact of the words they are saying.  Places of business asking for my wife a full year after her death including the charitable organization associated with the hospital she was in when she passed away.  People can also be very blunt when they raise my wife in the middle of a conversation.  While talking about a completely unrelated thing with my sisters one of them jumped in and asked me how I was doing with the holidays without my wife.  And it got to the point where I was talking about her and they were tearing up which made me feel odd because I was just saying how lonely it was without her and how she did so much that I just don't know how to deal with alone.  

It is funny how often people ask me about it, but really don't want to hear it.  They feel they are supposed to ask me how I am doing, but really don't want to get the full details on it as it makes them uncomfortable.  So again they don't really mean it when they ask but they feel they must ask.  

How about all of you, do you find that perhaps right around now, or other special times of the year, it isn't always the feeling behind the words you are listening to but just the words themselves and it sets you off? Or perhaps the knowledge that someone is asking a question out of a sense of duty but not really wanting the answer that sets you off?  I have noticed it seems more so in the last few weeks as i had just passed the 1 year mark and hit the holidays that I am super touchy on these things. 

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Comment by Miss Em (Emma) on January 21, 2019 at 12:16am

Hi Tony,

long time no read (I have been off line here for the holidays, travelling etc) :) Thank you again for your Blog. I often get gems out of it. This post, This post is so true! I was out the other night, a friend's farewell. We were out at a bar and i was really having a good time. Like genuinely a good night. It was a Karaoke night and I am NOT a singer, but I had had just enough to drink to actually get up and sing our wedding song. My friend got up with me and we got through. No tears, just heartfelt hugs and love. I was amazed at myself and thrilled that I was out with the girls, having a good time and even able to acknowledge Sean without ending up in a puddle and having to be taken home. Anyway in the midst of all this I spotted a face in the crowd, a lady I hadn't seen in a while so I went over to say hi. Apparently she hasn't seen me since the loss so felt the need to offer condolences. Then to ask how myself and the boys were and how we were coping etc. I think she was genuine, but I was flattened. I didn't want to talk about that. I was so far removed from that. But here I was forced to converse about my loss etc. I worked so hard to not let her kill my mood. I didn't want to let it ruin a great night out. For the most part I succeeded. But just for once, I was me again. Not me "the widow", just me. I don't know, I wouldn't have been offended if she had not mentioned Sean, I probably wouldn't have noticed! But SHE needed to say something and so I was captive to her sympathy. People either say the wrong things, or even the right things but at the wrong times. Or they avoid the topic all together so as not to upset me and then I feel like Sean is being avoided and that is just as bad. It is such a minefield

Comment by Callie2 on December 11, 2018 at 5:25am

Tony, I think we’re all a bit more sensitive amidst the holidays, even when we pass the point of grieving. The first few years or so, the pain can lead us into overthinking peoples comments and lack of tact. What is important is that you already do realize this—no one is really out to make us feel worse. People sometimes do say things that come out wrong or haven’t run them through their brain filter. However, at the same time, it’s OK to have these feelings— I truly believe it comes with the territory.(grief) We need to acknowledge all of our feelings in order to heal, IMO.

Speaking only for myself, I can say after the first few years, the memories become more “bittersweet”. It’s always going to hurt a little-you’re not ever going to forget (or want to) but some of the happier times will surface, making the holidays a little more bearable. My husband passed three days after Christmas  ten years ago. (Suddenly) A week later was our wedding anniversary. Not a good time. It didn’t take long to realize that had it not been for the holidays, he would not have had that final contact with friends and family. In a small way, that gave me a little peace. That year began as a joyful season as it was the first Christmas of our youngest granddaughter. My last picture of him was of him holding her.

There are some people (always will be) those who believe by a certain year or point in time you should be “over it”. That’s not really true. We only get used to the fact they are no longer here. It’s called acceptance. There will always be a corner of our heart and minds where their memory exists. Hopefully, we are able to focus with some positivity— what our loved ones meant to us, what they’ve taught us along the journey, how they would want us to continue to live but hold onto their memory— thoughts like that. 

Hold onto hope Tony. Each day that passes is one towards healing. In the beginning, progress is slow but there will come a day when you’ll be able to inhale and exhale, if that makes any sense to you.  Peace will find you, allow yourself to be open to it. Hugs to you!

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