Fighting Bitterness after the Loss of a Spouse

After the loss of a spouse, you face so many emotional challenges. For me, one of the most difficult was fighting the bitterness I felt after my husband suddenly died.

After the shock wore off, and I plummeted into a deep depression, I found myself in the anger stage. I would obsess over questions like, “Why did my husband have to die?” “Why did this happen to me?”

Sid’s death planted some seeds of bitterness that began to sprout. I started to resent other people’s happiness as I only focused on what I didn’t have anymore. I felt so cheated by the untimely death of my husband. It just wasn’t fair.

Then one day I saw myself in the mirror—although not literally. I worked with a woman who had been widowed a decade before me. She was a hateful, unhappy person who lashed out at everyone around her. All she could talk about was how her life had been ruined by her husband’s death.

I vowed to somehow get past the bitterness I felt. I couldn’t imagine ending up like the woman I worked with—hating everyone and everything. Of course, it was unfair that our husbands had died. But you cannot let grief fester until it becomes something ugly that defines the rest of your life.

I also took to heart words from my grief counselor. She once told me that Sid would be very disappointed if I never found a way to live a happy, productive life without him.

Fighting bitterness is very individual. But at some point after you lose your spouse, you have to do more than just exist—you have to live again. Life is too short to spend whatever time you have left being miserable and making everyone else around you miserable, too.

It wasn’t easy, but I began to try to direct my thoughts to everything I did have. For one thing, I focused on my wonderful memories. Sid may have left me too early—but the time I had with him was great. I also had a loving family and supportive friends.

Another thing I did was to try to find new interests and new reasons to be enthusiastic about my life. As my counselor said, plan A was gone. I had to find another plan for my life.

It was an uphill battle, but I slowly began to realize that life could be good again. Fighting bitterness was tough but I had to be tougher. I wanted Sid to be proud of me.

It is so important to win the battles we encounter in our war against grief—even if it is a vicious opponent like bitterness.

 

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Melinda Richarz Lyons

More Articles Written by Melinda Richarz

Melinda Richarz Lyons earned a B.A. in Journalism from the University of North Texas and has been a free lance writer for over forty years. Her articles have appeared in many publications, including "Nashville Parent," "Cats Magazine," "Reminisce," "True West," "Frontier Times," "Kids, Etc.," "Cincinnati Family Magazine," "The Tennessean,"The Fort Worth Star-Telegram," "Chicken Soup for the Soul: True Love," and "Chicken Soup for the Soul: Grandmothers." Ms. Lyons is also a published songwriter, and was the 2004 co-recipient of the Academy of Western Artists Will Rogers Award for Best Song of the Year. She is the author of several books, including "WOOF: Women Only Over Fifty," "Murder at the Oaklands Mansion," and "Crossing the Minefield," the story of her journey from grief to recovery. She has four step children and nine grandchildren and currently lives in Tyler, Texas with her husband Tom.

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  • Melinda, thanks for sharing your “Fighting Bitterness” post. I can identify with how that sudden loss often tumbles us into a deep depression. I had a similar experience after my fifty-four year old husband died unexpectedly. I was angry and felt so cheated. That anger and bitterness can be very destructive. Like you, with the support of others and trudging through that uphill battle, I focused on the positive memories and discovered meaning in life again. Now, thirteen years later, I’m living a productive, happy life just what my loving husband would have wanted.