You know…I always hesitate before I write about something hard I’m going through. There is always a fear that a new widow will read it and think, “My gosh…I’m just trying to get through today. This woman has been at it for almost four years and she’s still having a hard time???”
I’m always worried about it because when I was newly widowed, I became friends with a woman I had an instant connection with who was about a year ahead of me in the Grief Game. As I neared my one-year mark, so proud of myself that I had actually made it, she made a comment to me that just about shattered my world.
“The second year is the hardest.”
WHAT?? I had waded through birthdays, tread water through holidays, just about drowned in the every day…and now you’re telling me it’s going to get hard?
I swore that if I ever met a new widow that I would never say that. Because the truth is…it may not be true. Grief is different for everyone. For some, the first year is the hardest. For others…they may sail through until the 10th. Bottom line: You should never listen to or read about what another widow is going through and think it’s absolutely going to happen to you.
Because they’re not you.
Our hardest times are as different as we are. I don’t share your birthday. And even if I did…that may not be the hardest day for you. You may have more memories on New Year,s Eve or President’s Day or…Monday. All of these things are different.
We’re all different.
As I’ve always said…grief is tricky witch. Just when you think you’ve pummeled her into the ground, she sometimes sticks out her foot with her gross, gnarly toes and trips you up.
I know I should put it in a more poetic way, but I’m tired so that’s all I got.
Being widowed…it’s not who you are. It’s where you are right now. And some days, you’re more widowed than others. Some days, you can actually function like a normal human being.
And others…well…you’re tripping some stranger at Wal-Mart with your own gnarly toes. Just ‘cause you feel like it.
Yup. I get it.
Widowhood…it’s something to get used to.
It’s kind of like a new relationship.
I’m pretty sure you didn’t move in with your significant other the moment you said “hello.” They took some getting used to. Even if it was a quick courtship…you eventually figured out what life was going to be like from day to day.
I mean, really. Remember when you were first together with your significant other? And the feelings were so intense? What you were experiencing was so new. It was all you thought about. It just completely consumed you.
Then…you dated for awhile. You got to know each other. You were more comfortable.
Finally the relationship part of it settled in. You didn’t really think about it…you were just in it. Occasionally, feelings from when you were first together would pop up and surprise you.
When the loss first happens, it’s there. It’s in your face. It’s all you can think about. Every decision you make is based on that new relationship you have with your grief.
Then it settles in a little. You start figuring out its quirks and how it operates. But instead of bringing you roses, it’s playing songs on the radio at inopportune times. It sneaks up behind you to give you a “hug” when you least expect it. And even though it never did the dishes, you’ve figured out by now that it never will.
Sooner or later, it stops shaving and you don’t really think about it. It farts in bed, tells you what it doesn’t want for dinner but doesn’t offer a solution, and goes out with its friends without clearing it with you.
It’s kind of here to stay.
Eventually the newness wears off. And just like any relationship…that happens it its own time. Could be a year. Could be a week. Could be a decade. Or for some…it may always seem new. It’s just all about where you are.
Where my analogy fails to help is with the mortgage. ‘Cause Grief never stepped in and offered to pay half.
Catherine Tidd 2011
Thank you for saying that. I think a lot of websites offer advice about how to handle your birthday or “the second year” but since everyone’s experience is different it doesn’t always make sense. And I think it causes some people to feel guilty if they aren’t having a hard time on their birthday or if they are doing better during the second year.
I think it takes a lot of us a long time to figure out how individual grief really is. Even now I’ll catch myself thinking, “Now…why aren’t I doing that?” when I talk to another widow. Honestly…I think the main key to it is forgiveness. Forgive yourself when you’re happy. Forgive yourself when you’re sad. Give yourself a little space and know that your timeline won’t match anyone’s. Thank you for your feedback. Hang in there!!