Friday, October 2, 2009

Living Among the "Untouched"

I had a productive and interesting session with my grief therapist today. She brought up an aspect of grief that she has encountered repeatedly in her practice. People who have not experienced loss are hit like a ton of bricks when it touches them. She said that these individuals tell her that they were totally unaware of how much loss hurts and that they did not appropriately respond to others in the past because they just didn't know. "So this is how it feels," they moan! "How could I have ever told my friend/sister/brother/mother/co-worker to get over themselves, stop being so self-centered, to move on and deal with it?" They admit they were insensitive.

My therapist added that it is hard for people to have effective relationships when one of the couple has experienced significant grief/loss and the other has not. We were talking about my second marriage and she said that it is like one person always trying to fit a square peg into a round hole when explaining their feelings or perspective. She doesn't believe that couples have to be on the same level of shared life experiences or that their losses have to be the same (spouses dying for example). But she does believe that experiencing grief/loss has the potential to profoundly cause us to grow. And that there has to be some level of that shared kind of growth for a relationship to work. It is her opinion that one of the reasons for the failure of my second marriage is just because of this factor. My second husband led a pretty charmed life (and he had never been in any long-term relationships either). We just weren't matched up on a mutually similar level in terms of the hardships we'd faced over our lives. Nor did we share a compatible level of psychological insight (another factor my therapist finds couples needing to share). Sad but true.

My experience of widowhood has continued to make me feel jaded and frustrated as I continue to interact with those people lucky to have not faced much loss in their lives. I don't seem to be able to connect with them. It is difficult to explain my life views or experiences. They don't want to listen and they don't understand. It is a tough hurdle to face every day.

Today I am grateful:

1. For seeing the display of carved pumpkins in the window of a florist - it was so simple and cute. Just a large number of pumpkins on shelves against a black background.
2. To be able to have someone to talk to in person who does get what I feel and has always told me that what I feel I am entitled to feel.
3. For the rain we have been having. I love the rain because it makes us appreciate the sunny days more and it slows us down to get chores done inside.
4. For living in a safe community.
5. For the $5.99 Friday pizza special.


  1. I have to agree with you wholeheartedly. 3 years into this journey I still find that no one outside of my grief group 'gets' it. The people I encounter in my everyday life all think I should be over it and moved on by now. 3 years in and all I can say is it isn't better it's just different. It's so hard when there is no one there to talk to. Thank you for writing this blog. I found it today and I can identify with so much of what you have to say.

  2. Kelly - You hit it on the spot by saying that it doesn't really get easier, it is just different. Thanks so much for reading and commenting. I'd like to hear more of your insights.

  3. i feel great empathy for you. it's coming up on only 8 months for me and i have been falling apart all over again, or is it that my daughter's wedding is over and the stress of that doesn't keep me as occupied? i am sorry that you have to leave the house to go to work. so far my world is solitary and unencumbered by the "untouched." my very brief brushes are from grocery store checkout people who ask, "oh, and what brought you to our city?" responses have ranged from awkward to heartfelt. but they have only ever lasted for one second, then i walk back home.

    you have the unfortunate circumstance of being out in the world, and of having a lot of family, friends, and acquaintances whom it seems feel they know best.

    but don't think because i've been thrust into a solitary life that widows can't reach out and slap widows. my worst dressing down about "getting over it" faster was from a widow of 2 1/2 years. her comment? "no one truly matters that much. you couldn't have been that much in love, there's no such thing. he was a paycheck who mowed the lawn and was your partner in life but he died. get over it and move on." i didn't write it. i pasted it in. so see, you don't even need to leave the home to be told what you're doing wrong. =o}

    be good to yourself. keeping looking for hope.

  4. wNs - I cannot believe another widow would say such things to you. People we love are not expendable/replaceable. The only widows I have really connected with are online so I haven't received too much advice from anyone else in my situation. You raise a good observation that you don't even have to leave your home to get blasted.

    Your feelings are valid and an indication of where you are right now. Absolutely no one has the right to take that away from you or tell you that there is something wrong with you for feeling as you do! Stand tall and be proud of how much you loved your Dragon. It is pretty sad when we have to apologize or feel bad about ourselves because of how we are grieving. To have to deal with that on top of everything else adds insult to injury. Continue to be true to yourself. In the end, I think that is the only way any of us dealing with this will be able to survive.

  5. What a great insight. I felt this was a little like trying to deal with people who hadn't had kids. They just don't understand how everything you do has implications, and what it's like to have to consider someone else's needs first. Maybe that's not it.

    But I did see the world as split into
    people who've experienced complicated grief and those who haven't
    people who've parented
    and those who haven't.