Within the first few months after my husband died, I very quickly learned that grief can be a lot of things: anguish, pain, anger, love, numbness. I mean, there are five stages after all. One word I haven’t heard when learning about grief is consideration. Can grief be considerate?
Let me explain a bit how I’ve arrived at this question. With the loss of a person who was so many things, a son, brother, husband, father and friend, you have many people experiencing the loss of the same person but they experience it quite differently. And, of course, that’s normal! We all (or at least we all should) understand the concept that everyone grieves differently. And it’s true. Grief isn’t one size fits all. It’s not linear, organized, or neat. It’s obvious everyone should be allowed to grieve in the way that works for them. Right?
Wrong. If I’m being frank, it doesn’t seem to be so obvious for some. I was surprised to find that this is not always the thought process. Now, let me say, I know profound loss can cloud our thoughts, cause us to lose rational thought and, in someways, can cause us to become lost in ourselves. Essentially, selfish. And, That. Is. OK! We are allowed to and should be selfish on our journey to healing. But, what happens when that self-centered focus causes someone else who is grieving to have to be considerate?
It’s my nature to listen, to reflect, to give the benefit of the doubt and to understand. I’m realizing however, that quality of mine has truly been challenged in this grief experience. Though I know it is not intentional, in some ways, I feel like I am being asked to put my heartache aside because it makes things “easier” for someone else. To disregard my discomfort, my anxiety, my endless feeling of being overwhelmed simply because it’ll help another person “feel better.” Despite my entire world being turned upside down, the ultimate change, I am expected to accommodate.
My grief becomes questioned because I’m not seen crying most moments of the day and I get out of bed, which some days is incredibly hard but my daughter gives me no other choice. I choose to look for the positive when I can and to some, that apparently translates to me not grieving at their level. But they tell me, “don’t worry, you’ll get there” (insert face palm emoji here).
Yet, even writing this, I feel guilty. Guilty being negative towards others when their hearts are broken, too. But sometimes, I can’t take it. Sometimes, I don’t want to tiptoe around others. I don’t want to put aside the way something affects me simply because someone else needs it more. I don’t want to be understanding and quite honestly, I don’t always want to put the feelings of others first. I’m struggling with the thought process of, “you don’t have to consider how your actions may affect me so why then do I have to be understanding of yours?”
This angry, frustrated point of view is a bit different for me, not typically in my character. This life altering, gut wrenching loss, this grief, maybe it’s changing me. I like to think the anger, the bitterness is not permanent but the reality is, those two feelings are certainly in the wheelhouse of grief.
This journey is a forever one and one that twists and turns each day. I’ll learn and grow, discover new feelings and form new conclusions. At this point, I’ve come to the conclusion that grief can be a lot of things but it’s not, and shouldn’t have to be, considerate.
**Mark your calendars! Hope For Widows Foundation’s annual virtual Widows of Hope 5K event has returned on Friday, May 12 through Sunday, May 14, 2023. 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 welcome to participate. The proceeds will directly support widows through the annual financial Restoring Hope and Peace Grants, Sunshine Boxes program, and Bring Hope Holiday Assistance Program. Do you have or know a business that would like to sponsor? That’s an option too! To register and frequently asked questions- please go here: http://getmeregistered.com/WidowsofHope5K
Also, mark your calendars, on National Widows Day, May 3, 2023, the Restoring Hope and Peace Grant application process will open up. Please go here for criteria and details: https://hopeforwidows.org/grant/