Or… how to seriously hurt a widow…
I was having a conversation with someone last night about where I live. I’ve lived in the house where I am for the past 8 years… my husband’s presence is embedded in every nook and cranny, every fibre of the house. No matter what I paint or what furiture I bring in, or how I move things around… I still expect to see him in the kitchen, in our bedroom or in the living room.
I still expect to see him there.
I try to keep busy – I blog, I facebook, I visit other websites, I talk to people, I invite friends over, I furiously clean, I play video games.
I do whatever it takes to keep my mind so busy that by the time I go to bed… I’m so exhuasted I pass out.
Sometimes I drink to forget.
Sometimes, though, I can’t. My mind won’t stay occupied and I become *aware* of the lack. Aware of what’s missing. Aware of who’s missing.
And it hurts. It’s like a knife, sliding into my heart, hot, sharp and painful… it takes my breath away, it leaves me doubled over in pain. If I’m lucky, I’m able to cry and release some of the pain.
I can’t shunt those moments of awareness away. They hurt too much.
They are always lurking.
So this person says to me something like: well, it will get better… it won’t hurt so much eventually.
I’m like: it’s not the same. Your husband was not living with you when he died. You didn’t expect him to come home. He was never getting well enough to come home. He had lived his life.
And her response? “Well neither was yours, either.”
Even now, thinking about that, the pain hits, sharp, hot, and unreasonably painful.
No, my husband wasn’t living with me when he died. But 2 days before he died – I was still being told that he would get better and come home. The day he died, the surgeon tried to convince us that there was still something that could be done. Until he actually took his last breath – I still held hope that he *would* get better and come home to me.
I sat there, kissing his forehead, hoping beyond hope that his breathing would get stronger, his heart beat would get stronger, that his blood pressure would go up and he’d get better and COME HOME to us.
Her husband, on the other hand… was 95 and not expected to come out of the nursing home he was in. There wasn’t hope. There wasn’t a possibility that a miracle would happen and he would come home and resume his life and his role in her life.
Don’t get me wrong. I am not, in any way minimizing her loss. Her husband died. For that, I have compassion. For that, I have empathy. I understand how much it hurts that her husband died.
But she expected him to. When she moved him into the home, she knew he’d never be coming out.
I expected my husband to celebrate 50 years of marriage with me. Wandering around my house late at night, I see everything that was lost. I am mired in the sadness of what isn’t here anymore.
Trying to compare grief, expecting someone to be over it, or at a certain level of “over it” is hurtful and unreasonable.
Everyone’s grief journey is different. Everyone grieves differently, everyone heals differently, everyone comes to a place of acceptance differently.
We all need to realize that… and be kind and compassionate to one another… after all – you never know what journey another person is on.