I’ve gotten a lot of feedback, (both good and bad), in regards to the conversation I had with a woman regarding her widowed friend.

A lot of fellow widows and widowers have been grateful that I’ve posted it, and a few haven’t. Most of my negative feedback comes from people who aren’t widowed, and feel frustrated that they are looked at as people who “don’t get it” or DGI’s.

Here’s the deal, so that we can all go back to healing and learning: I posted the best parts of the conversation, because most of it was rather confrontational and pretty harsh. I was told that someone wanted to meet me, after reading my blog, and talk about my widowhood. I was led to believe it was someone who needed information regarding grieving. When I met this person, they were ready to argue about what I write, and how I am promoting, (for lack of a better term), “a self-pitying mentality instead of a healing one.”

This was said to me after we had much of the dialogue I wrote about. I did ask permission to share the conversation, on the condition that I would not reveal her identity, and that I would not make her look bad. I tried not to do that. I don’t know if I succeeded, but to date, she has no regrets and does not feel offended by my post. I did let her read it before posting it.

It’s hard to hear words like that, and not react to them. My biggest issue has been frustration at the people who think I should have been over this already. I can’t imagine why they would think so, but I have heard a PLETHORA of reasons why my grieving should be at an end, and really, it’s about how sick and tired people are of hearing about it.

Duly noted. I get that people are done hearing about how much it hurts that my husband died and I miss him. I get that they know that I love him still, and that I am not interested in dating, or that it still depresses me in ways I can’t explain. There have been many people who have politely excused themselves from my company, and at this point in my life, I am ok with that. And I’m ok with the people who simply say: I have no idea what to say, but I’m sorry.

But the people who have chastised me for having a pity party, or ridiculed me for using it as a means for gaining attention needed a serious wake up call. I used parts of that conversation to do it in a way that maybe they can understand. I was hoping the outcome would show them that this isn’t an easy road to walk, and even though they aren’t walking it, it’s not something I can turn off to make other people feel better. I thought that by sharing it, I’d be able to direct those who argue such points, to it, and not have to engage into another explanation about why I’m still not ready to go back to their idea of “normal.”

And after plenty of thought, and plenty of false-start responses in the past week, I’ve learned a few things.

For instance, when people get frustrated with the grief over another, it’s usually due to their lack of understanding. This does NOT mean these people are jerks, or should be treated with hostility, no matter how frustrating they can be for the widowed or grieving. But accepting that they’re not going to understand how a widow/er feels ahead of time is essential. They’re just not going to get it. Do you really want them to? I know that I don’t, if it means that they only way they WILL understand is by losing a spouse or a child themselves. I wouldn’t wish that on anyone, least of all, my friends and family. As long as we agree to not be able to connect on that level, everything else is ok. (And for the record, I DO NOT believe a non-grieving person can identify on any level. I simply don’t. And I’m not going to change that perspective.)

Which brings me to another point: When a friend or family member is frustrated, it’s usually motivated from two different places of self-involvement. The first one is more acceptable than the second. Empathy is common and comes from love. If someone loves someone enough to start to worry and fret about their well-being, we’re going to be more understanding of that person. With my own family, I’ve had to realize that they simply love me and seeing me hurt this way is very hard for them. They can’t reach me, nor can they fix me. It’s awful to feel such helplessness, and sometimes, it brings out the awful in people. Subconsciously, they’re reacting to the feeling that they cannot help in a way that they think would make a difference. A bad reaction would be to blame the hurting. A good reaction would be to accept it, and help in ways that DO make a difference.

The other motivation for this type of thing would be control issues. Most people have them, even if they aren’t willing to admit it. I know that I have them, and when I’m faced with a situation that I cannot control, and I feel powerless, I get angry. I get frustrated and I sometimes have to whine and vent in order to release that frustration.

However, from an outsider’s perspective, this can cause a person with major control issues to blame the victim, so to speak. In other words: “Your grief is bothering me. It makes me feel bad for you, but I cannot do anything about it. I do not like feeling this way. Stop making me feel this way. This is your fault, since it happened to you, and I don’t want it in my life. Change it. I want things to go back to normal.

People who have mourned someone who wasn’t their spouse or child, (and I’ll add parent here, because that can be incredibly devastating. Ok, anyone whom they felt VERY bonded to), tend to accept the death a lot quicker, and go back to their lives. It’s easier for them to do so, because the only thing that changed for them is that the deceased is no longer around. But their lives can go on without much interruption, or constant reminder. They don’t live with it everyday, regardless of how they think they do. Widows, grieving parents, children etc. live with the loss every single day, if not every single moment. It’s profound effect changes nearly everything in their lives. In my opinion, a widowed person is never the same. I think the same goes for a grieving parent and child. It’s absolutely life-changing.

No wonder those on the outside get frustrated. They did not change. They grieved, but it was a detached grieving. It was a loss they could accept more readily, in varying levels. It was not something that halted the future they expected to have, and changed it forever. Seeing us change makes things seem insecure. Will we still be friends? Can we still joke about things? Can I still include this grieving person in my life? Should I exclude them from things that I might feel would hurt them?

It’s become very clear to me how hard it is to maintain a relationship with a grieving person. Often, I only look at how hard it is to live day-to-day, but for the people living with me and around me, I can see how much it hurts them.

I’ve concluded that it all comes down to what you want to accept, and what you want to handle. As a widow, I have to learn to accept and live with the fact that my husband, whom I still love as much as I ever have, will never be with me again. And for the people who are around me, and choose to keep me around, they have to accept that I’ll always miss him, and it’s going to take a while for me to get used to it. A while can mean years, and none of us can change that to make life easier for anyone. That’s just the way it is.

Life is harsh. That is the truth. It is not easy, and I do not lie to my children, telling them that it will be. I don’t believe that I am entitled to the good things in life, simply because I was born. But I am grateful for them, however long they last. No matter how much it hurts, I choose to be grateful. That is something I can control. I just have to handle everything else the best way I can. That’s all anyone can do.

I hope that this clears up some things. I do not regret my perspective, and I am grateful that it has expanded. Maybe things will be smoother and easier to handle from now on, because I’m learning to change my thought-process. I certainly hope so.

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