Victim Mentality

Some widows develop lifelong victim mentality following the death of their loved one. They feel that they have been wronged or robbed of something precious.

It places a burden on family and friends who must be on constant alert to never say or do anything that could be perceived as thoughtless or hurtful.

You definitely don’t want to carry that “victim” feeling for the rest of your life. When your spouse died, there was broken hopes, dreams and expectations. Now is a good time to write out the thoughts and feelings that their death robbed you of communicating. This gives you the opportunity to clearly state your loss and the hopes/dreams that are not going to come true.

It’s okay to be angry, sad, frustrated so don’t judge yourself for having these emotions. Deal with them by writing it all out so that you can say goodbye to the pain, to being a victim and be free to restart your life and find happiness again.

There is a difference between normal grieving (which is healthy) and having a victim mentality (which is unhealthy).  Don’t let what has gone wrong in your life become all consuming – never to see the blessings you still have.

13 Responses

  1. Mrs T
    | Reply

    I can say that I feel robbed and everytime I see couples especially in my age group i feel more robbed. How are they allowed to have their spouses but I was denied this. Makes me really jeolus and truth be told, I do sometimes feel like a victim of circumstance. I also understand that this is no ones fault, it i what it is. Sometimes people do comment that “snap out of it” which is why i would rather keep away from them as they are happy to discuss their perfect lives but when i talk about my life it sort of like spoils the mood for them. This is my reality and somehow its wrong to talk about it as it makes other people feel uncomfortable.

    • Mary Francis
      | Reply

      Hi Mrs T. I think we should talk freely about how we feel but I agree that it can make others uncomfortable. The key is to find someone who can relate to our grief because they will listen to us. I don’t know how long you have been widowed but grieving is normal and we are victims of life. The key is to heal so that doesn’t become our whole life. Easier said then done but sharing our journey with others helps. Take care of yourself first. Mary Francis

  2. Mrs T
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    Thank you Mary
    I am 41, widowed for 7 months

    • Mary Francis
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      Mrs T please don’t expect too much as your in the early stage of grieving. It’s an emotional time and I remember thinking the same way about couples, especially my first Christmas when I was out shopping. Hold on tight to your true supporters as they are your life line. Mary Francis

  3. Jan
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    Mary,
    I found this article very interesting. Yes, seeing other couples does hit the nerve of sadness that he is no longer at my side but I also can feel happiness for them that they still have that pleasure and can only wish for them that they are not taking their time together for granted. As we all know, it can be taken from you at any moment.
    I do feel victimized by the legal system though. Being a widow of a “lost person”, the legal system in my state does not recognize someone deceased for 5 years. Life insurance companies and Social Security cannot process a claim without a death certificate and it costs thousands of dollars to petition the court for a presumptive death certificate prior to the 5 years. My husband is still missing after over a year in the wilderness that he so loved to hike in. If he had been in war, gone down in a publicized plane crash, etc. they push those claims through. I am working on accepting this and fighting it at the same time. Because this is just wrong for people to have to go through this when their life has been turned upside down. Whenever a legal issue comes up it opens the fresh wound and then I work through it again and again.

    • Mary Francis
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      Dear Jan. I’m so very sorry to hear about how it works when a spouse goes missing in your state. It’s hard enough to be a widow without having to deal with the legal system. It may be worth your while to pay for a visit to a lawyer that specializes in this field to get expert advise. Take care of yourself and know that you heal through the support of family and friends. Mary Francis

      • Jan
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        Thank you Mary. Yes, I’ve been to two different attorneys and have been told by both that it would cost around $25000 to petition the court for the presumptive death certificate. It’s a very hard place to be stuck in limbo.

  4. Joyce D.
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    I am glad I came across this website. I am newly widowed this summer and I feel lost. My husband had Parkinson’s disease and I was his caregiver until he had to go to a nursing home. Now that he has passed, I feel I have no purpose – my kids are grown and don’t need me, I don’t have a husband to take care of – not much to do. I need ideas of what to do to get my purpose and love for life back.

    • Mary Francis
      | Reply

      Dear Joyce – you will have to get out and try old / new things to see what strikes your fancy. Have fun doing it and your love for life will come naturally. Mary Francis

  5. Ed S
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    Hi Mary,

    As a widow, do you really believe this?

    I am a widower and heavily involved with a UK charity for young widows. While it is very true that some suffer grief far worse than others, no grief is “normal”, I don’t think I’ve yet to meet a widow who I would describe as a victim.

    As a victim is all too often how the outside world describes us – especially when we don’t fit the Hollywood stereotype of getting over our lost one in a couple of months, at most a year. It’s how onlookers describe us when we suddenly burst into tears at our desk for no reason. It’s how others describe us when they compare our grief to them losing their pet hamster.

    Not only this but to survive grief there is no other way than through it. Denying it or pretending to be happy for the sake of those around you is the worst thing you can do. It’ll just come and get you later, harder, when you least expect it.

    I’m surprised as a widow yourself you’ve produced this article.

    Would be interesting to hear your thoughts.

    Ed

    PS. I was widowed in October 2011. I’m over the worst but still miss my wife every day.

    • Mary Francis
      | Reply

      Hi Ed – Thanks for joining in the conversation. Yes, I do believe that grief is a “normal and healthy” part of life. It’s not a disease and it’s not a “mental illness”. I also believe that everyone handles their grief in their unique way. I do agree with you that we need to not move on but to move through it to healing. However, I also believe that even though we heal, our memories and grief will still be part of who we are till the day we die.

      People handle their grief their own way and yes, some deaths especially if tragic or sudden can cause a widow to fall into depression and feel that life is unfair – feeling like a victim to what life is. But widows can fight that mind set by looking for the good they still have in life.

      It’s okay that your feelings about this are different than mine. In fact that’s what makes our grief journeys uniquely ours. Take care, Mary Francis

  6. Aimee
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    Dear Mary,

    As a fellow widow and someone who works in mental health, I have to say I find this post harmful. I feel very uncomfortable with anything that boils something this complex down to “you gotta not be a victim of it”… it is harsh and blaming language and I am not sure anyone needs to hear that, especially when struggling.

    Clinical Psychologists cannot decide what “complicated grief” is or what unhealthy grief is because it can’t be pathologized. It’s impossible to even define because each loss is so unique and has so many factors involved in it… the person lost, the people left, the families, the relationship dynamics, faith, love, mental health, financial situation, stability, work, support, how we lost someone, at what age… the list is endless. These all affect how we grieve. Your article is trying to sum up something so complex into a matter of paragraphs which I feel makes it harmful to vulnerable widows who might be reading. Who can possibly say what grief is normal and what grief is somehow problematic? Who defines this?

    There is so much nuance and complex emotion around everything we go through in grief… from the feelings like anger and unfairness that are legitimate and need to be heard to trying to live in life version 2.0. I even hate the use of the word victim because it is used to discredit people’s legitimate feelings here. Feelings of unfairness are a very real and valid part of grief, a very natural part of it… and it is emotionally healthy to let ourselves feel those emotions and express them so that we can work through them. No one can work through something so complicated simply by focusing on blessings and deciding not to be a victim, it doesn’t work that easily. I would worry that the grieving read this and become anxious that no one will understand their pain, or be scared to speak up about still struggling because they don’t want to be seen as fixated on being a “victim”. I also worry about the non-grieving who will read this… who will then understand grief even less than they already do and make judgements on people who need their support.

    There are, of course, people who get stuck in their grief, and cannot get over how unfair it really is. I am one of those people… but I do not have a victim mentality, I am simply a human being struggling. For any hardship in life and any mental health problem, the worst thing you can do for someone is say “just get over it” or “choose not to be a victim”… that shuts down the conversation, doesn’t let the pain out and leads to a society where the grieving are silenced. Believe me when I say I have tried hard to focus on the good, but these emotions are far more complex than that. If grief were so easily remedied by simply focusing on positives and being told not to be a victim, then there wouldn’t be anyone in pain or suffering right now.

    I implore you to look at your words and see how they can be harmful to a society that already does not understand grief. Please don’t treat something so serious and individual and boil it down to a few paragraphs, it’s irresponsible to put this line of thinking into the world. If you want further reading or don’t understand my viewpoint, I would suggest reading the writing of author and counsellor Megan Divine. She is trying to change the conversation about grief away from this line of thinking.

    Thank you for your time,
    Aimée

    • Mary Francis
      | Reply

      Thank you Aimee for your views on this complicated subject of grief. You’re right that a short blog posting can in no way cover all parts of grief or speak to all widows. That blog posting is only one aspect of what can happen when a widow is grieving – it’s not meant to paint all widows as the same. We are unique in our grief and it’s great that we can listen to and respect each others point of view. There are a lot of authors and books about grieving and I would suggest that my readers go to Amazon and do a search on “widows” or “grieving” to get some excellent resources. The more we read, the more we will understand that there is no one way that is right for everyone. Thanks again, Mary Francis

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