Grief, shame and guilt. When my husband died at 55, I unwittingly invited all three Cinderella sisters to my pity party. (No one really wants to bring those girls to the ball but they show up anyway, don’t they, wearing some garish get-up, too much mascara and smelling a like gin.)
It’s really helpful when you’re feeling sucked into in the whirlpools of sorrow to understand that you probably have unresolved grief from other losses. These losses are compounding the grief you feel about the loss of your husband and keep you swirling in grief.
Often when you are feeling dark and discouraged, it feels like you’ve lost everything all at once. But really, you’ve been losing things you’re whole life but you’ve probably not fully acknowledged or processed those losses because you could get away with it at the time, or they weren’t large enough to shut your life completely down OR you just didn’t want to take the time to deal with them.
Plus, our society is loss and death phobic. We don’t want to see sickness and death, let alone grief.
So people say stupid things like, “You’re still young, you’ll find somebody else,” or “He’s in a better place,” or “All things happen for a reason.”
And, make no mistake, there’s a lot of societal support for being a victim, too. And I have found, to my horror, that there is still sexism, even in death. Men are encouraged to quickly remarry, to replace the spouse with another spousal unit while women are encouraged to become the perpetual public mourners of their men. It’s as if our grief makes their life matter. But as you already know, their life did matter. It mattered a lot to you. But I’m going to remind you now, that your life matters, too. Your life matters!
So what’s different about this grief? It’s too big to get away from. It’s the biggest loss anyone can ever have according to psychologists. But this big loss has reactivated your grief about all these other losses and when that happens, you get overwhelmed and feel stuck.
So if you’re feeling stuck right now, I want you to ask yourself a question:
What do you think your partner would want you to do? Would they want you to give up your life and become the 2nd victim of their death? OR would they encourage you to do what you need to do to grieve them and then rebuild your life? I bet I know what they would say, but it’s your question to answer. And this is one of the most important questions you will ever answer so think carefully!