Monday, October 3, 2011

How to Talk to a Two-Headed Monster

I've been trying to write this blog post for a while but have always fallen short on being able to write what I want to say clearly. Today I found a letter that a widow had written to family and friends (unsure of original source) that summed up perfectly everything I've been feeling lately. The original letter is quite long and so I've cut this down and personalised it.

How to talk to a Two-Headed Monster (i.e. ME)

Understand that my world has fallen apart. Please don't run from my tears. I cannot control them. I'm not made of stone. Grief comes at me in waves and when it hits, it hits hard. I never know when a wave is coming and I just have to ride it out until the waters calm.

Please talk with me about Chris. It's not going to bring him back. I know this but it's more of a comfort to cry than to pretend that he never existed. I need to talk about him and I'm sorry if I repeat myself. My brain doesn't process things quite the way they used to. Don't be afraid to mention his name. You can't make me cry. The tears are here and I will love you for allowing me to shed them when I need to.

Only ask me how I'm doing if you really want to know.

Please stop telling me, “You're so strong”. I am not strong. I alternate between numbness and overwhelming moments of grief. When you tell me how strong I am I feel like you don't see me at all.

This is not something that I will heal from. This is not a cold or the flu. I'm not sick. I'm not depressed. A pill can't fix this. I'm grieving and that's different. The worst of my grieving may only begin months after my sweetheart's death. Don't set time limits on my grief. It may take six months or six years for me to function properly again.

I am not only grieving his death, but also the person I was when I was with him, the life that we shared, the plans we had for our future. The places we will never get to go together, and the hopes and dreams that will never come true. His smile. His laughter. His kiss and his touch. My whole world has crumbled and I will never be the same. Together we built a life together and I loved our life. He chose me to share his life with him and to be his partner. He didn't choose to die.

I will not always be grieving as deeply as I am right now, but I will never forget my Chris and rather than heal, I want to incorporate his life and the gift of love we shared with one another into the rest of my life. He is a part of me and always will be, and sometimes I will remember him with laughter and other times with tears. Both are okay.

I don't have to accept his death. Yes, I have to understand that it has happened and it is real, but there are some things in life that are just not acceptable. To me, the loss of the love of my life isn't acceptable.

I don't even understand what you mean when you say, "You've got to get on with your life." My life is going on. I've been forced to take on more than it feels I can bear some days. It may not look the way you think it should. My new life that I never wanted will take time for me to adjust to. So please, just love me as I am today, and know that with your love and support, joy will slowly return to my life. But I will never forget and there will always be times that I cry.

Trying to figure out what you could do for me takes more energy than I have. If you think of something...just do it. If you want to call me then just call...don't think that you are bothering me. Ask me more than once to join you at a movie or lunch or dinner. I may say no at first or even for a while but please don't give up on me.

Just don't abandon me. Please don't act like I have some contagious disease. Don't be afraid that you're going to upset me. Grief isn't catching. My world is painful, and when you are too afraid to call me or visit or say anything, you isolate me at a time when I most need to be cared about. If you don't know what to say, just come over, give me a hug or touch my arm, and gently say, "I'm sorry." You can even say, "I just don't know what to say, but I care, and want you to know that."

But don't give up on me. Somewhere, in time, I may be ready and if you've given up on me then I really will be alone.