Going out in public after loss

Facing the world after losing someone that you love is no easy task. 

I remember going with my father to Walmart around one or two AM after Josh died. He needed a phone charger and I just needed to be reminded that the world was still turning. Somehow. Somewhere. I was in a state of shock, I’m sure my pain and disbelief was written all over my face. But the beautiful thing about going out into the world when most of it’s inhabitants are asleep is the lack of people around to look at you with pity or curiosity or confusion.

I’ve cried in grocery stores since losing my husband. I’ve gotten angry and pushed people’s carts out of the way. I’ve stared daggers into the backs of many individuals walking slow as molasses down the middle of the aisle. I’ve wanted to step in between a couple arguing about what type of coffee to buy and tell them that it really doesn’t matter. Get both. Just remember that you love each other. 

In all fairness, I am largely an introverted individual. I am also a highly sensitive person (sometimes referred to as an empath) where I can literally feel the emotions and energies of everyone around me. And because I am still learning how to control this “ability” it often leaves me extraordinarily drained. 

That being said, going out in public after loss is one of the hardest things that I find myself having to do. 

I used to enjoy grocery shopping. I used to like strolling up and down the aisles, seeing if I forgot to put something on my list. I used to like finding little treats I thought that he might like. Now, however, going to the store is like preparing myself for battle. I have to make a list of what I need. I try to make it as short as possible so I can quickly get in and out.  I have to mentally prepare for people being inconsiderate and ignorant – stopping short, standing in the middle of the aisle, taking twenty minutes to find the “perfect” piece of produce. I used to be so patient. Now, I have to constantly tame the beast inside of me. On a particularly trying day, like today, where I was gone for an hour and a half at two different stores… I have to come back home and take a break.

Going out in public and trying to fight off the anger that’s bubbling because your husband isn’t trying to convince you to buy every damn thing in Costco is hard. Going out in public and trying not to fall into a fit of sobbing hysteria because his favorite drink is on sale and you have no reason to buy it anymore is hard.

Going out in public after loss is like a slap in the face. It is a reminder of just how much your life has been affected by the hole that your person left behind. You don’t get to hold hands walking into the store, you don’t have someone to ask if we need more milk, you don’t get to discuss the benefits of having pork for dinner instead of chicken this week. 

Just another reminder of everything that you once enjoyed or took for granted. Another reminder of everything that you won’t ever get to do again. 

I sometimes joke to my friends that I want to wear a shirt that says “I’m a widow” so people will know, so maybe they will understand why I am trying so hard to speed through the store. So that people will see my eyes full of tears as I put back the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups because I won’t eat them and he no longer can…and they will understand. 

Going out in public after loss is a very painful and raw reminder of just how alone we now are. 

But we’re not alone. There are many people out there like us. 

So the next time you are out and you feel a panic coming on, remember at this very moment there is at least one other person out there with you. They are feeling the sadness closing in. They are wishing, more than anything, that their loved one were standing right next to them or waiting for them at home. 

We have lost a very important person in our life. But we still have each other. If you’re in the “club” – you know what I’m talking about. 

The normal, everyday activities turn out to be the hardest. In those moments remember this:

You are not alone. Together, we can do this.  

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