Unfortunately, about two months after you’ve lost your husband your friends kind of forget about it. They dropped over a lasagna or sent flowers. They may even have taken time off work to attend the funeral. They shed genuine tears for you but soon the demands of day-to-day living set in and their life returns to normal. But, not so for you!
This is when you need the most support – right when most of your friends have moved on and are thinking “she will just have to get used to her new life”. Although this is true to a point time has to pass for grief to heal and soften. Partly, it’s because they want to believe you’re feeling better, but they also feel helpless and uncomfortable, unsure how to help someone navigate their grief. “After the ‘I’m so sorry’, and ‘Here’s a casserole’, people just don’t know what to say.
So they say nothing. In the days after a death, there’s a surprising amount to do. But as days become weeks, the activity subsides and the harder times begin. The initial deep shock has started to wear off and there you are just floating along with no idea how to behave any more. You start to wonder if you are boring people, are you being depressing or a downer to be around.
People desperately want to think that you’re OK, maybe so that you’re no longer on their ‘to do’ list to worry about.” Grief can spring out of drawers and cupboards, off shelves, from photographs and music as it clutches at our heart, and send us to the depths loneliness. They think they are being helpful when they urge someone to “Be strong” or exclaim “You look so well!” to a friend who’s grieving in the hope that it might be true.
So you’re always trying to find this balance between wanting the world to know that you are deep in mourning, but not wanting to inconvenience anyone. It’s worse months later when the support of those first few weeks slowly fades away.
So what can they do to support us in the darkness?
Speak the name of the person we have lost. Then give us a chance to talk, cry and even to laugh. Widows don’t get ‘over it’ as if it were a surmountable obstacle. We get more comfortable with our discomfort, but there’s no set time for grief.