To the woman who just lost everything

To the woman who just lost everything,

I am so sorry. If you are anything like I was, you are absolutely sick of hearing those words. But I want you to know that I mean them. I am SO sorry that this is happening to you.

There will be so many people who offer to help you, who are “there if you need anything” – some of them will mean it. Unfortunately, for the vast majority, it is just used as a space filler. They don’t understand that when you will really need someone is at 3AM when you wake up with a start from the best and worst dream that you have ever had. They do not understand that what you need will be for them to just run an errand for you, that you won’t want to see them.

You feel like your world just ended.

It did.

Do not let anybody tell you otherwise. Yes, you may still have family and friends who love you. Yes, you may still have a career waiting for you. Yes, you may still have children that need you.
You went to bed one night and everything was fine. By the time you attempted sleep the following night, the life you thought you had ceased to exist.

This hurts. This is not fair.

I cannot even imagine what you are going through. Every person’s story is different. Grief is an ugly little thing and it presents itself differently in every person. But I will say that I’ve been there.

I have felt the pain. I have laid in a hammock outside sobbing so that the people that came to comfort me wouldn’t hear. I have walked aimlessly through the days, unable to form coherent sentences. I have smiled and laughed and then cried because I thought that feeling happy should not be allowed.

I have relived every single second leading up to, during and after the event that took my husband’s life. I have analyzed every detail and asked every “what if” question imaginable. Hundreds and thousands and millions of times.

I have been told that I am too young for this to happen. I have been told that since I am young, I will find love again. I have been asked extraordinarily inappropriate questions about the circumstances surrounding his death and about how I choose to live my life.

And if these things have happened to me, I know they are probably also happening to you.

I want you to know that you will be okay. I know it doesn’t feel like it. Sometimes I still am not so sure. But you will make it through another day.

I want you to know that no matter who your husband was or how he died, he was important. He mattered. He still matters. He will always matter. Even if nobody else seems to care, I do. You will always have me.

I want you to know that whatever you are feeling, thinking or doing: YOU ARE NORMAL. There is NOTHING wrong with you.

I felt relief when my husband died. Yes, there, I said it. I had some relief. Our life was chaos. Would I go back to it given the opportunity? Yes. But I cannot change the fact that I was grateful that he was no longer suffering in this world.

I had self-harm ideations. I sometimes still do. For me, so far, they are only thoughts, but they are all-consuming. I couldn’t talk about these things with many people because of the look of fear and pity l would receive.

I don’t have good advice for how to cope. I’ve tried sleeping, not sleeping, drinking, not drinking. I’ve tried exercise, laying on the couch all day, making myself too busy to think about it. The grief is always there. Even if you are really good at blocking it all out, it will be there waiting for you.

Take your time. Deal with what you want to deal with, how you want to deal with it. And ONLY do it when YOU are ready. Do not let anyone rush you into making decisions.

The most crucial thing for me was finding my tribe. Find your tribe. Find your group of people who will be your safe space. If you don’t know anyone, turn to social media. My tribe is a secret Facebook group filled with a bunch of widows and widowers. I can go there whenever I need to cry, rage or be excited about something. The lack of judgment. The support. It is incomparable.

Find your people. Let them lift you up.

To the woman who just lost everything:

I know you are hurting. I know you are angry. I know you feel helpless. I know.

There is hope. There is healing. There is happiness.

You will find it.

Just take your time.

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