There is something surreal about going from one to two years, in terms of grief.
Singular becomes plural so quickly, and you lose the ability to say “Oh, he died a year and a half ago,” or “last year, I lost my husband.” It’s now been two years (plural) that I have held his hand, kissed his lips, felt his hugs, and heard his voice. Two years.
To some, that doesn’t seem like very long. To others, it feels like an eternity. To me, it’s both, and it’s neither. It’s everything in between. Most of all, it sucks.
I’ve learned way too many life lessons by age 27, and yet, I still feel like I know nothing about this crazy life. Here are my Top 10 Lessons I’ve Learned from 2 Years of Widowhood:
- The general public is wildly uncomfortable with grief. Not everyone is well versed in what happens when your entire world is flipped upside down after a devastating loss, so don’t expect the table to laugh when you make a dead person joke. They probably won’t find it funny at all. They may, in fact, be concerned for your well being. It’s okay… make the joke anyway. It’s good for you. And the table.
- It is not your job to make other people comfortable with your grief.You should never…ever….ever…apologize for making someone else uncomfortable because YOU are grieving. If you need to cry, cry. If you need to scream, SCREAM. The people that truly love you will let you feel all the feels, and they will be the ones holding the tissues.
- Not everyone is going to hold your hand. It still surprises me when someone lacks compassion for someone grieving a traumatic loss, but alas, this happens all the time. You can’t ask someone to show more kindness towards you, or offer a helping hand, so you just have to wish them well and keep walking. The end.
- Accept the help.
That being said, when someone does offer to help you with something, and you know they are being sincere… please take my advice, and accept their offer to help you. Grief is hard. Death to-do lists are endless. If someone offers to pick up groceries or grab stamps at the post office or call the utility companies for you, let them help you!!!! Just say thank you.
- It is okay to say “No.”
You are not obligated to attend every event, dinner outing, holiday gathering, or wedding you are invited to. If it feels like too much for you, you are allowed to say “no thank you,” and not feel guilty about it! The end.
- Therapy is a beautiful, important thing. Going to regularly scheduled therapy sessions is not a sign of weakness, and it doesn’t mean you are broken. It means you care enough about your own happiness and well-being that you are willing to talk about hard things in order to feel better. It’s a brave choice, and it is 100% worth every last penny.
- Take the Xanax.
I may be shunned for this one, and that is A-Okay with me. Listen up, grief and panic attacks go hand-in-hand, and sometimes you just cannot stop it no matter what you do. A wise woman once told me to look at it this way: Xanax is the lidocaine of panic attacks. Does it heal anything? Not exactly. But would you ever deny a burn victim the opportunity to feel temporary relief while their body does the hard work? The same is true here. The natural remedies will not work if you aren’t in a place that you can even try them!
- Find friends who understand, and hold onto to them tightly.
A community of people who understand what you are feeling is so incredibly vital to surviving early grief. There will be so many times that you feel unimaginably alone and misunderstood. I promise you, there are people out there who get it. Find them, and make them friends forever.
- You do not owe anyone an explanation for your life. Many days, it will feel like you are living under one giant magnifying glass. People are going to watch your every move, searching for signs that you are either crumbling or doing too well. If you want to take a three month trip to Greece, eat your weight in spanakopita, and drink wine on a balcony… you just go right ahead.
- No matter what you do, someone is judging you for it, but that’s okay.Haters gonna hate! You don’t have to feel shame for doing what you needed to do to just survive. No matter how kind and sweet you are, someone is bound to think you are the worst human out there. It isn’t your job to convince them otherwise. Simply wish them well, and be on your merry way.
Grief isn’t for the weak, and I can assure you, there is no chance that you leave unscathed. I can promise you, however, that the scars you wear now are proof of how utterly incredible you truly are. This road is scary, and that light at the end of the tunnel everyone talks about doesn’t actually just appear. You have to light the match yourself and just keep walking.
Eventually, you learn to see in the dark.
Be well. Be kind.
LESS THAN A WEEK AWAY!!! Have you heard about Hope for Widows Foundation’s annual virtual Widows of Hope 5K on May 15 and 16? Registration is now open! For details, FAQ’s and to register/support go to: https://racewire.com/register.php?id=12122 Anyone can join! Whether you are a widow, widower, or a friend/family member showing support, or walking in the loss of another family member, everyone is welcomed to participate. The deadline to register is May 15, 2021. The proceeds will directly support widows directly through their annual financial Restoring Hope and Peace Grants, Sunshine Boxes program, and our Bring Hope Holiday Assistance Program.