Widows: Is it Time for Us to Tune Out?

Is it just me…or does it seem like the world is going to heck in a hand-basket? Earthquakes, nuclear explosions, tsunamis, idiots in government.  I hear even that sweet, young man, Charlie Sheen, is having issues.

Everything that is going on in the world today is enough to overwhelm anyone if they really let it sink in.  And I feel like, as widows, when we let something sink in…it sinks.  We’ve had ringside seats to the fragility of life and that little mental picture is something that will never go away.

When we see disaster, we’re picturing the family members who are lost and the others who will somehow have to carry on without them.  When we watch how the government is functioning (or not, as the case may be), we feel for everyone who is affected and wonder how we will keep going.  Even when we see Charlie Sheen, most of us are feeling true sympathy for the children who, let’s face it, have lost a father.

Bad news.  It’s EVERYWHERE.  We can’t escape it for the simple reason that it sells.  Gloom and Doom bring in more advertising bucks than “Modern Family” ever will.  Even if the news is good, it seems like there’s always some “Fox News” reporter eagerly waiting his or her turn for the spotlight to criticize whatever is going on (has Bill O’Reilly ever agreed with anyone?).

Even my old safety net, “The View,” has let me down.  I know it’s up to them to talk about Hot Topics, but the other day I watched it and was severely depressed.  I just can’t take it when Whoopi gets sad.

So now I’m down to watching “Fashion Police” on “E!” Joan Rivers will never let me down and speak about the medical outcome of a nuclear explosion while she’s bagging on what Justin Bieber wore to the Oscars.

Then again…Justin Bieber depresses me too.  I’ve been on the verge of a mid-life crises since I found out that his parents are my age.

Anyway.

Watching the news as a widow…well…I’m just going to say it.  It’s not a good idea.  With the prevalence of sad stories, chances are you’re not going to see something that will make you turn off the TV with a sigh of contentment.

We are all so vulnerable while we’re grieving, sometimes watching what’s going on in the world just makes us feel helpless.  It makes us feel like it’s us against a planet that’s falling apart.  Even people who haven’t gone through what we’ve been through feel that way.  But being alone (especially as a new widow)…it’s just too much.

Now, I know I’m going to get some push-back from people who are going to tell me that it’s not a good idea to bury your head in the sand.  And I agree.  But if you’re starting to feel overwhelmed with life and “the big picture,” it’s time to turn off your cable and pop in “Pride and Prejudice” or something.

I’ll give you an example of how this works.

Right around the time my husband died, the recession happened.  Every night, the news about the economy grew scarier and scarier.  The entire country was on the brink of financial ruin.  And I was sitting in my house every night with my three young children, petrified about how I could possibly get through this without my husband.

Bring on the anxiety attacks.

I finally got to the point where I just couldn’t take it anymore.  Everything about the economy, new outbreaks of viruses, violence in schools…I didn’t even want to leave my house.  So I did a very powerful thing to help myself.

Click.

I know some people don’t agree with the phrase “ignorance is bliss.”  But partial ignorance isn’t always a bad thing.  We can feel empathy for those suffering in Japan and donate or volunteer to help without seeing the same unfortunate man floating by on the top of his house over and over again.  We can send prayers to families who have lost loved ones in accidents or tragedies in our own country without seeing the gruesome scene on the news 5 nights in a row.  We can be helpful contributors to society without listening to someone who doesn’t even know us tell us what we should be thinking.

We can know what’s going on in the world without seeking out the bad news.

For those of you who are feeling just exhausted with the world, I have a suggestion.  Turn off.  Log out.  Give your mind and your heart a break.  Read news that feeds your soul and makes you want to get up in the morning.  Seek out positive places to find things that will occupy your mind.  Read the Arts & Entertainment section and recycle the rest.

Give yourself a bad news break.

And please…whatever you do…do not buy tickets to attend Charlie Sheen’s live show.  I can’t imagine anything more depressing than that.

Catherine Tidd 2011

Catherine Tidd

More Articles Written by Catherine

Catherine Tidd is a widow and the Founder of www.theWiddahood.com, a free social support network dedicated to anyone who has lost a significant other. She is also a writer, public speaker, and mother to three young entertaining children. She received a degree in English from Rollins College in 1998 and has since worked as a writer, editor, Marketing Manager, and Event Planner. Originally from Louisiana, Ms. Tidd currently lives in Denver, CO. To read more of Catherine's work, visit http://widowchick.blogspot.com

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  • Diane says:

    I’ve been thinking about this subject lately. I watch a lot of news – we always did. The sad stories in the world today definitely add to my depression over my husband’s death (almost 2 years ago now). It seems to compound the feeling of being “powerless” – no power to stop the world’s problems, or stop my husband’s accident from happening. I watch a lot of tv, and I’m on the computer a lot. It’s a distraction, but I guess not a very successful one.

  • Jo says:

    When my daughter died nearly a year ago I could not bare to watch any TV at all. I could not focus on the story for long, my mind would wander nor was any of it of any interest to me. Using the computer wasn’t much better except for answering the many emails I got from friends wondering how we were doing. Some knew I wasn’t answering my phone much, I closed myself up. But what did help was reading, lots and lots of reading about grief, heaven,what we go through in the process, other peoples stories, etc. I soaked it up and couldn’t order enough books fast enough. I’d settle in a quiet room if the house was busy, and/or sit with my husband at night. I still don’t watch very much TV, only a couple shows a week and perhaps some local news a bit. I may never go back to knowing what I did before about the world out there. I have my family, my friends, my church and of course more books.

  • Catherine says:

    Thank you so much for your comments. I just find that sometimes when I start to feel a little “overwhelmed” I can attribute it to the amount of current events I’m absorbing! It just seems like everything these days leans towards bad news. Some days it’s just too much. Right after my husband’s death, I had a hard time getting through books…I didn’t have the attention span. Now, I try and tune out and pick what I call “mental floss” so that I can turn my mind off for a little while. Hugs to you both!

  • Vanessa says:

    I agree that turning on the television can be such a negative “distraction” from thinking about my boyfriend whom I lost only a few months ago. I am very thankful that I have not lost interest in reading at all, and have doubled the amount I used to read since he died very unexpectedly at the age of 36. I stay away from the romance genre because its too much for me to read about people who get to do all that he and I never got the chance to do. Same with television. I cant watch the current events because sometimes I actually think to myself, “This is so horrible Matt, you’re lucky you dont have to had to know about this.” And then I verbally slap myself for thinking such a thing because I would give anything on Earth to have him back, including my own life. He was so sensitive to others suffering that when things like the tsunamis, earthquakes, etc happened he would become very depressed. I honestly really wasnt to in tune with others suffering until after he passed. The only shows I can bear to watch are comedy type shows or movies but still barely watch those. However, one show that has always calmed me down and made me feel better watching is the Golden Girls. I have seen every episode at least a hundred times, but I can still watch a 24 hour marathon straight through. Even the fact that 3 of the 4 actresses portray widows, and talk frequently about the husbands they have lost, it is done in a way that actually makes me think that life does get better again after such a loss. I know its just a television show, but it really helps me watching it. It can always make me laugh, even when I know what the punchline coming is.

  • Catherine says:

    Vanessa…I am having a little chuckle right now because I have gotten to the point where I just can’t “decompress” without watching The Golden Girls. Some nights it’s on on 2 channels and I can flip between the 2. In fact…I can’t believe this…I’m watching one right now that I haven’t seen! They’re familiar and comforting and I’m on board with you.