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Grief & Widowhood

Marie posted this to the Circle List on 1/13/03. It is reproduced here with her kind permission.

woman in grief I do not believe there is anything anyone can do to adequately prepare for the emotional impact of the death of a spouse. You can (and SHOULD) take care of all the practical issues - so the death is not complicated with dealing with insurance companies, unpaid bills, incomplete wills, quandaries about the funeral, or worse - unresolved issues and regrets.

But overall, each person must find their own way. No one can (or should) do it for them. Born out of pain, their new lives slowly and begrudgingly emerge.

In the five months that have elapsed since Steve died, I have discovered many things about grief and widowhood (and ME):

1. That strength often comes from places previously undiscovered.

2. That friends who provided support for Steve & I together are not necessarily the ones best equipped to provide support for me alone.

3. That women friends are most willing and able to give me the space, support, and safe-place that I need most often.

4. That crying happens. Always bring a hankie.

5. That counselors and grief support groups are not "one-size-fits-all."

6. That I could not die for Steve, and he could not become a widow for me. These, we each had to do on our own.

7. That I am often unable to reach out when I need help - but am able to accept it when it is offered.

8. That when I am driving alone in the car - my mind often wanders - and I almost always end up overwhelmed with sadness and tears.

9. That the things that used to be my refuge and solace (eating, eating, eating) no longer provide any pleasure for me.

10. That I do not always need people to cry with - I need safe places to cry - and escape plans for when it is not safe.

11. That some people cannot give what I need.

12. That other people can give what I need - but I try not to smother them with my needs - I try to make sure the relationship is healthy.

13. That walking is good and walking with a friend is better.

14. That the rest of the world is trying to move on - and I am trying to cling desperately to what I have left of Steve. That's OK. I don't let anyone tell me how I *should* be.

15. That reading grief books is helpful...especially if I am soaking in the hot tub.

16. That sometimes it is OK to watch terribly sad or terribly romantic movies that make me sob.

17. That I was lucky to love (and be loved by) someone so much.

18. That I cannot unload (the depth of) my grief on my children - they are young and do not need to fall into my emotional abyss.

19. That I can survive family weddings, holidays, and birthdays. However, I'll let you know about Valentines day ....and our upcoming anniversary...

20. That I have to come up with a stock answer to the question "What do you look forward to?" Because the answer in my heart would cause most people to worry.

21. That the death of a friend (no matter how close) cannot compare to the relentless ache of losing my husband - my soulmate - my lover - the other half of me. I will not let anyone tell me that I need to "get over it".

22. That Steve will always be with me. In my heart. In my soul. In my thoughts. Always.

Robert, there is only one way to spare your Caren the pain of grief......don't die (first).



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