Does Time Help Grief?

Grief doesn’t come in nice, discrete stages – it often comes in waves and I’ve found that with the passage of time, the waves don’t last as long or reach as high.

But there are still times when they come washing over me and I found this last month hard to handle.  It has been over five years since Donnie died but on his birthday he would have been fifty-eight years old.

All our plans for retirement, enjoying the cottage and travelling died with Donnie.  We lose so much when our husbands die and it takes time and effort to get back on track.

We need to grieve but after the tears and shock we are faced with confronting a life that is strange – a non-couple, single again life.

We need to find support that understands our confusion and pain – change our way of thinking and expand our horizons.  It sounds easy but it’s not!

I looked after my grandchildren this past weekend while their parents were away.  While doing their laundry I wondered if my son wore the same size pants as his father.  Silly, isn’t it – the thoughts that pop into our minds.  But while folding the laundry I couldn’t resist looking at my son’s pant size.  And there it was – he wore the same size as his father.  Such a silly and unimportant fact and yet it was important for me to know.

Birthday’s, holidays and anniversaries will come and go but grief can still be overwhelming as you realize that all your dreams and plans have been totally wiped out, never to come true in the ways you had imagined.  I felt that Donnie was always going to be the other half of what made me feel whole and it took me a while to feel complete again.

Dealing with the loss of your spouse is a process that takes time.  Grieving also takes hard work to find your bearings again and to feel like you are a valuable, though single, person.  But if you continue to put forth the effort and give yourself time, you will eventually heal and find your way.

Feelings are a big part of what makes you a distinct person.  Coupled with your thoughts, beliefs, and values, they contribute to your uniqueness.  What you feel isn’t right or wrong, good or bad – Feeling just are. 

Your feelings will change over time, especially as you begin to work through them and create new thoughts and behaviors.  Grief doesn’t go away on its own; it needs to be dealt with openly and honestly.

7 Responses

  1. Sharon Augustyn
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    I read “Does Time Help Grief.” My husband passed just four weeks ago and it feels like forever. My life as I know it has changed now. I am still going on my walk in the morning as we used to but the loneliness is the worst. I know I will have to cope by myself and right now that is all I can concentrate on. One step at a time. Joseph was my best friend. How do you go on when that is taken away? But go on, I will.

  2. Dottie Robinson
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    Yes grief is hard, Our Annisvary would have been on yesterday we would have been married 36yrs. Our plans was to be living in San Deigo by the beach enjoying life and each other, I miss him so much. I still have my moments. But I am trying to go on with my life.

  3. Julie
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    I lost my husband 5 weeks ago. We too had so many plans. He died 16 days before our 30 th wedding anniversary I am trying to be brave in front of people especially our daughter who lives away but it is so hard. I am doing all the legal stuff today and have had a meltdown. I feel so lost without him I dreamt that he had died weeks ago and feel like I made him die. What a stupid thought but I can’t help it.

    • Mary Francis
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      I’m sorry to hear about your husband’s death. You don’t have to be brave for anyone as it’s normal and natural to cry and grieve. As widows we are always thinking about others and how they would be uncomfortable with our grief but grief is part of life and you need to travel through it and not hide it.

      We often have dreams and feel that they are with us. Guilt is also common as we all wish we could have – should have, done things in a different way. My husband was only 53 and I felt that I should have been more firm about his life style choices especially smoking but in time I came to understand that they were his choices not mine. It has only been 5 weeks and doing all the legal paperwork is always a fast track to stress and a meltdown.

      I will not lie – there will be many meltdowns but as time passes they will be fewer and not as intense. Meanwhile try to find some widows in your area that you can talk to because they understand like no one else can.

      Take care, Mary Francis PS There is a section on my blog called “The First Year” that may help you understand the ups and downs.

  4. Betsy Way
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    Just read the article “Does Time Help Grief”, and would like to add that yes it does. However, there is always that song, or smell, or funny moment, or special thing, or whatever that reminds you of your loss. After 21 months (8/30) I find myself still taking one day at a time. I need to find “me” again. Because he was so sick there was a lack of intimacy, which I find I want and need badly, for me. But again, have mixed feelings on that. He would want me to grieve for him, but not be alone. After 37 years, it is bittersweet to even think of being with another man, but do so want that attention again. Am I being selfish? Is it to soon? I’m scared but lonely. Thank you for this newsletter. One day at a time.

  5. Susan
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    My wonderful husband died in August 2009 from a sudden and vicious infection. So, I am going into the fifth year without him. I can’t seem to shake the sadness even after 5 years. We did not have children which makes this journey more difficult, I think. Also, I am not working which is terrible for me. I was taking time off in between jobs when he died and I didn’t have the support of a church or working community. I am driven (well, I was), and I want to work but I am just frozen as to putting my resume out there. I’m well educated (Ph.D) but that isn’t helping me believe in myself and that I can have a happy joyful life without Tom even thought I can feel myself holding back. The positions I have held are behind me…….the future lies ahead if only I can step into it. I have tremendous experience but now I seem to think I can’t do any thing… this common after 4-5 years? when will my old fighting self come back? It seems to have left with Tom……..I an confused and scared.

    ps I am seeing a grief therapist…i feel that I am doing all the right things but my heart won’t come along…..
    oops – sorry this is so long and cathartic………..

    • Mary Francis
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      Susan -there is no time frame for grief and healing. I have a sister whose husband died a few years ago and they had no children. She is really struggling to get her balance back but recently she has taken an interest in charity work. Doing for others has taken the focus off what is wrong and put the focus on helping others. I noticed a big difference once she stepped away from what she didn’t have. You are a “fighting self” and it doesn’t have to come back as it has always been there, you just need to claim it. You are in control of your thoughts so please start thinking “positive” every day. That is the best medicine in the world. Take care, Mary Francis

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