I recently read a blog from another widow about people acting scared of her. That also rings very true for me. People “being scared” can mean a few different things. When I think about my own experience, “widowing” can feel very isolating at times. In the midst of processing my husband’s death and my life taking a shift, I found those around me were treating me the same. I was still my son’s mother. I was still a sister, a daughter, a daughter-in-law, an auntie, a co-worker, and the list continues. Each role was waiting for me to “bounce back” into the same old groove. When I reflect on that now, 3 years later, I think it was a shock for some. Here they are, “giving me time” waiting for the “bounce back”, only to find that on the other side of this is not the same person; Not the wife, not the co-parent, not two income household, not the same happy go luck spirit. Instead stood a companionless, confused woman, trying to piece something new together. There are too many missing parts for a “bounce back”. For me there was a moment of “wake up” and that lead to new growth and self-discovery.
Something I have learned through work projects and in life experiences is that change can scare people. The thought of change, the perception of change, the onset of change, the process of change and the fear of the unknown can all be scary. This fear masks itself and comes across as uncomfortable. My internal responses had me questioning myself; should I change my behavior or feelings to make you comfortable? Do I curb my response to make you at ease? Can I call you when I’m at a loss or about to melt down? I found myself avoiding talking about my husband and not saying his name in social settings because it seemed to be making other people uncomfortable. I mention his name when contributing to a fun story and then no one speaks afterward. Eyes suddenly look down and the mood is low. I learned very quickly that I had to make it ok for my late husband’s name to be brought up and make it ok to have good memories.
As I have learned with all of my projects, having a structured or planned approach to a process of change makes it less scary. My only advice: surround yourself with Team (FILL IN YOUR NAME). Wrap yourself, your ideas, your wins, your losses, or even mistakes, in those that support YOU the most. Disclaimer: this does not mean they agree with everything you do and say, however, they may understand. At the end of the day, these people have your best interest in mind. Unfortunately, or fortunately, this may include new surroundings. Other peoples’ fears do not need to be your fears. Other people being scared does not have to transfer to you!