I've been doing some online research on that dreaded topic, ENVY. This is what I've come up with so far.
- Envy is related to wanting something you don't have, whereas, jealousy has more to do with taking something that isn't yours or having to give up something.
- Envy is considered a very negative trait and that is why it is hard to openly discuss. People are very uncomfortable admitting feeling envious and those who do face criticism.
- But it is a very common and normal reaction in grief or otherwise.
- In relation to the "Stages of Grief," envy is tied in with anger, which is the second stage (although today, the order of the stages isn't considered as important and it is acknowledged that they can be mixed and matched, and returned to time and time again.)
- A grieving person tends to be envious when they feel they have been wronged through no fault of their own. They also tend to feel powerless in regard to turning their lives around.
- Interesting enough, a person usually is most envious of people they identify with and are similar to (in my case middle-aged, middle-class moms).
- Also, what is usually the object of the person's envy is that which the person holds most dear to them (in my case marriage and a husband/intact family).
- Although I came across numerous references to envy being a part of the grieving process, there were very few recommendations for how to work through the emotion - except strongly worded references saying how bad it is to be envious. Suggestions I did find are related below.
- You can't just tell a person to stop being envious. Doesn't work.
- What does work is for the person to fully experience the emotions behind the envy vs. stuffing the feelings or denying them. That means staying with the feelings when they take over and to try and understand where they are coming from and why.
- Once a person has an idea of why they are feeling envious and about what, ways to manage the envy include diverting your thoughts to another topic (changing the subject). Also, and this one made a lot of sense to me, when the feelings overtake you, to start thinking about your personal strengths, successes, etc.
There is another football game on Friday so I'll see how I feel sitting in the stands with my lonesome. It'll still be hard - I'm not expecting the envy to just go away. But I tell you I will be holding my head up and will not be down on myself for feeling envious for what I long for and so dearly miss and have been missing for many years now, simply because the cancer hands of fate took my husband away from me and my boys.