After my husband passed away I took a little time off from work, about a month and a half. When it was time to go back I worried about a lot of things. You just can’t imagine all the feelings that going back to work (and “normal” everyday life) brings up in a situation like this.
With my job, I talk to people all day everyday. I am a hairstylist. I have regular clients and new clients each day. I knew the topic would come up. My regular clients knew I was newly married, that I have two stepchildren…I knew I couldn’t avoid it. It has gotten better with time but it can still be very difficult.
When I went back some of my regular clients had been told by my co-workers what happened and why I took a leave from work. It still made it difficult when I went back but at least they already knew. For my regular clients that didn’t know, I would be talking with one of them and then there it came…a question about Erik, or about the kids…Just some simple question about my life. Then I would know I needed to tell them what happened, that Erik passed away.
I could usually tell when the conversation started going that way. I knew they were about to ask one of the dreaded questions. I would start to feel anxious, my heart would be pounding and I would think “well, here it goes. I’m going to have to say I’m a widow now. That Erik is gone.” and my hands would begin to shake…those damn hands. That drove me crazy. They would always start to shake when I had to tell someone what happened. I could only hope they didn’t notice.
With new clients it happened as well, and still does. Pretty much daily. Questions like “Do you have any kids?”, “where does your husband work?”…just regular day to day conversation but for me it’s different now. Answering that I’m a widow is difficult. You know they are about to be shocked, most will say they are sorry, some ask questions…it’s all just so hard. I know they are not expecting to hear that, mostly because of my age.
When I think back now about when I returned to work I just remember the constant anxiety, the fear of having to say what happened and never knowing when the topic would come up. And I remember those shaking hands…