Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Grief vs. Restructuring

This may be the most important post I ever write on this blog. I'm reading the new grief book that has been in the news, Ruth Davis Konigsberg's, "The Truth About Grief." Basically, the author asserts that new research, of which there is not a whole lot, points to the fact that "most" people suffering a loss can "get through it" in the course of six months to a year without extensive therapy, endless blogging or "walking into the pain." I won't dispute this assertion. In my case, the day my husband died I knew he was gone. I did mourn for him but never longed for him after his death because I knew he was gone. So why have I resorted to blogging and detailing my life as a widow?

This book in one small paragraph mentions the "restructuring" that widows and widowers have to go through after the death of their spouse. This involves creating new lives as singles, only parenting if there are kids, creating new identities, having to learn new skills, handling new tasks, dating again and so on. This is all referred to as restructuring. I have called it secondary grief losses in previous posts but I think restructuring is a far more descriptive term.

I think what happens is that most people do probably get through the grieving portion of a loss but then get tripped up on the restructuring part. At least that is how I'd describe it in my life. I really have had a challenging time in picking up the pieces and going forward. My restructuring skills haven't been that strong and dealing with financial issues stemming from a recession and more loss from failed relationships hasn't helped.

So some people may see my struggling as grief but I do believe that has long passed and what is really at issue is the fact that I've just had a tough time living and raising my sons on my own. Just one small paragraph is a book. Funny, when I first went to therapy it had nothing to do with grieving for my husband but figuring out what I was going to do with my job - whether to quit because the hours were unsuitable for my life as an only parent.

Anyway, that is my take on it. And I guess holding this perspective I'd hope that there may be more emphasis on how to help people like me better handle the restructuring aspect of widowhood because so many years later I'm still in the thick of it with not a whole lot of light at the end of the tunnel. I keep looking for that light though...


  1. You are absolutely right. Whether we call it "the new normal" or "restructuring" or Kubler-Ross's last grief stage. or whatever, we all go through this. Sometimes when you think you've come out the other end of the tunnel, you get slapped with another incident and have to restructure again. I'm going to look up the book on Amazon. Thelma Z

  2. Love the post I also had to reinvent myself, after 26 years of marriage. I was a stay at home mom no real skills except for caretaker. I have since found a job working with the profound mentally and physically challenged. I love my new job. My clients have given me the ability to face my fears of loneliness. Chuck left me 2 years ago. I will admit it is still a struggle. But knowing I am not the only one going through this gives me comfort.

  3. This is an important post and I agree with you about the "restructuring." I'm coming up on year 5 and, after doing everything "wrong," (according to common wisdom), I'm ending up in a very right place. I have an e-book about my journey (From Dragon Country to Wonderland) coming out in mid-September. Would you be interested in a guest blog post?