Thursday, September 22, 2011


I have a Facebook Account, and quite a few of my friends have recently posted the following:

It's hard to explain to someone who has no clue. It's a daily struggle feeling sick on the inside while you look fine on the outside. Please put this as your status for at least one hour if you or someone you know has an invisible illness (MS, Bi-Polar, Depression, Diabetes, LUPUS, Fibromyalgia, Crohn's, Arthritis, Anxiety, Cancer, Heart Disease, etc.)  "Never judge what you don't understand."

I can relate to this sentiment.  Widowhood, although not a disease, is a traumatic event that causes an invisible scar on our heart that we have to live with for the rest of our lives.  It’s a sadness that will dwell within us for the remainder of our days.  Even if we go on to live a full, even generally happy life, remarried or not, with friends and family that love us, there is always a part of our heart that will never heal, no matter how many wonderful things may come our way afterward.

However, this does not typically show on the outside, and on the occasional day that it does show on the outside, I’m tired of people who think I’m crazy, weak, or just seeking attention.  Nothing could be farther from the truth.  When my pain does show on the outside, all I want,(besides an opportunity to crawl under the covers) is a little understanding for the daily struggle that I am dealing with, even if that understanding comes in the form of silence when you’re at a loss for words.  That would be much better than the look that says, “Here she goes again!”  It’s amazing how insensitive people can be.

What I don't really think people believe is that I really dread those days that grief rears it's ugly head when I'm in public.  And the amazing thing is, that it shows up without warning, without triggers.  I could be happy one minute and in the next minute, the grief is bubbling up inside me like acid reflux.  When it happens, I think to myself, "Oh crap" because I know what comes's unavoidable...the misunderstanding and uncomfortableness of others.  Some avoid me, others give me a look that wonders what could possibly be wrong...I mean...he died over a year ago!  Aren't you past this by now?  They can't deal with my emotions, so they have to minimize them.  I'm sure it is some sort of defense mechanism on their part, but they have to learn that it is very hurtful to the one who is grieving.  And believe me, the last thing we need is something else that hurts.  It's like kicking someone who is already down.

So when a widowed friend or co-worker seems a little emotionally "under the weather" one day, for no apparent reason, depending on what is appropriate for your relationship with that person, give him or her either a hug, a sympathetic smile or just some space without judgement.  It is truly appreciated.

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