I was given some advice by a fellow blogger and young widow to just write down what I have to say and push publish. Don’t allow yourself to go over and over it and edit it. So that’s what I’m going to try and do.
People have a lot of comments on what I “should” do, how I “should” feel and how I “should” act. First let me start off by saying, there is never a “should” in grief. Every person deals with it differently. Every situation and person is unique. In six days, it will have been six months since I lost my husband, Erik. I’ve heard many ridiculous comments and suggestions during this time. I realize that most people are trying to be helpful but out of these people, not one person discussing what they feel is best for me has actually experienced it.
I have been told “it could be worse”. Well I guess they’re right, I guess it could be worse. It can always be worse, right? But does that lessen my pain? Does it lessen anyone’s pain? I’ve never been a fan of that phrase, even before losing my husband. I think it’s unkind and you aren’t being empathetic. I am someone who feels things very deeply. I can hurt and cry for other people easily. Maybe that’s why that phrase has never sat well with me. Next time you go to say that, stop and think if that’s really what they need to hear.
I have also been told that I am strong and an inspiration. I appreciate those comments, I truly do, I’ve just never been one to know how to accept compliments. But sometimes I wonder about those comments. It seems I receive them when I have a positive attitude, when I’m having a “good” day. Shouldn’t that be the case regardless? Am I not strong when grief takes me over and I am lying on the kitchen floor crying? I personally believe that’s when I’m my strongest. When grief punches me in the face and I hit the floor (and maybe even stay there a while) but then I do something amazing…I get back up. I peel myself off the floor and rise up to fight another day, another hour, another minute, another second. That is strength. The strength was there even while I was uncontrollably sobbing on the floor. It lives in me all day, every day.
People want you to be the person you were before. It makes them uncomfortable or sad to think you are different somehow, changed. There will always be a void that no amount of time and no one else can fill. I wouldn’t want anyone to fill it. It’s there forever, and that’s OK. If I can endure it, others can surely figure out how to come to terms with the new me as well.
What people need to understand is, people dealing with a tragic situation and/or grief/loss, do not need your opinions, your suggestions or your criticism. What they need is an understanding heart, an ear that will listen without judgment and to be shown empathy. If you haven’t gone through this type of journey, you cannot understand it. No one expects you to. But do not force what you think the person “should” be doing on them. It’s not your journey, it’s theirs. There is no timeframe, no right or wrong, there is only a person living with emotions you can not begin to fathom and trying to move forward (not on) with life. We are warriors. Grief warriors. All day every day we fight just to make it. Some days are easier than others, but every day is a battle. If you haven’t been through that particular war, please don’t pretend to know the wounds and scars it leaves behind.