New widows need to talk about
It is most important for friends and
relatives to know, and understand, that grievers in general are totally consumed with themselves: their own feelings,
their needs, their memories, their safety, their finances, their fears, their marriage, their pain, their loneliness, their survival. They need to talk and
think about all these things for hours on end, for days on end, maybe weeks on end. It is very difficult for them to focus
on subjects outside their own realm. They probably can't worry about the PTA bake sale or about Suzie and Joe's marital problems,
or the price of gasoline, or politics, or how to keep rabbits out of the garden. These "problems" seem trivial, silly, compared
with their problems about how they will survive their loss. Unfortunately, they have no extra resources to
spend helping confused friends and relatives learn to understand them..
but other widows really DO know exactly what widows go through.
These widows complain that you, their
friends and families, often abandon them after a few weeks. From your point of view, you may stop visiting
her so often because you feel helpless and frustrated, nothing you say seems to help her. Maybe you have become
tired of hearing the same sad stories of his death. Maybe you think her husband wasn't quite as wonderful
as she now thinks he was. Maybe you think she is just acting crazy and isn't responding to grief as maturely and sensibly
as (you think) you would. Or, maybe her low moods and tears are keeping
you from feeling completely well and happy in your own life.
Regardless of why you don't see her more often, from
her point of view it probably feels a lot like you have abandoned her. This isn't helped by the fact that most widows already
feel they have been abandoned by their deceased mates. I remember that feeling of abandonment. I remember that I sometimes
felt like toddler whose mother has just dropped her at a complete stranger's house and left without a word. Nothing feels
familiar, like your world has just ended.
Widows feel abandoned by their mates and by their impatient friends
As I've said, only widows really know what other widows got through. But anyone can learn a bit about what
they go through. Take some time studying pages on this site. That will be a good start. Then compare your own life patterns with what she may be going through. You can't begin to understand her
without recognizing how different her life is, and how different she is, now that she is a widow. Once you realize that,
you will have fewer problems learning to be her friend. .
every seemingly crazy or horrible or scary thing they feel and do is perfectly "normal"...for a widow, which is a different
kind of "normal" than you and her other friends might know.
experience a wide variety of emotions and peculiar symptoms.
Each person grieves differently. The path of grief is
totally unpredictable, except that most people will go through some or all of the accepted stages, and erratic symptoms often
appear without respect for those stages. Some stay in deep grief for years, but most show remarkable adjustment during
the first months, and especially after a year or two. Depression, often the most difficult stage, also sometimes signals
the beginning of real healing. According to recent studies, grief generally lasts from four to seven years. This does not
mean widows will remain that long in daily agony, like the first few months. Most widows begin to function more normally and
experience brief bouts of optimism after several months.Those bouts of normality usually become more frequent and longer
lasting, but it can take four to seven years before all semblance of grief disappears.
Widows often seem to be "over it" and "in charge."
Don't relax; it might just be a vacation from grief. Be wary; one doesn't
just get over grief, like measles.
Know that this natural, and...be patient with your