What being widowed at the age of 26 taught me about grief

Amy Morin author on a sailboat

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“I’m sorry to tell you, but Lincoln passed away.” I stared at the doctor and didn’t say a word. I was too focused on thinking how I could rewind the clock by a couple of minutes so that what he said somehow wouldn’t be true.

But it was true. My 26-year-old husband had just died of a heart attack.

Clearly, you aren’t supposed to have a heart attack when you’re that young. It didn’t make sense.

And for the next few months, nothing really made any sense. I was a therapist and I knew about trauma, loss, and mourning. But an educational background in the stages of grief didn’t provide any consolation to my broken heart.

The more I grieved, the more I realized that the textbook information about grief wasn’t all that helpful. It was my first-hand experiences that taught me the biggest lessons about loss. Here’s what being widowed taught me about grief.

We have no idea what to say to people who are grieving

Whether someone insisted, “You’ll get remarried again someday,” or said, “At least he didn’t suffer,” those types of statements didn’t help.

But I never fault anyone who struggled with what to say to me when my husband died. Trying to find words that offer solace is tough.

I always felt bad when people struggled to find words to give. And I’d find myself acknowledging, “Sometimes, there just aren’t any words for what you want to say. I get it.”

We’re uncomfortable sitting with people’s pain

I didn’t make good company for a long time. I didn’t feel like talking sometimes. And you’d never know when I’d randomly start to cry. I might actually laugh at something for a minute and then cry because I was sad Lincoln wasn’t there to laugh with me.

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And while I was fortunate to have some friends and family members who were willing to be around me when my heart was shattered, I know my rollercoaster of emotions made a lot of people really uncomfortable.

They made jokes and tried to cheer me up. Or they talked about the future in a way that tried to convince me that something really good was just around the corner.

I get it. It’s tough to just sit with someone who is in pain.

We put a timeline on how long you should feel bad

A lot of people said things like, “Don’t make any big decisions for a year.” That’s sage advice. I wasn’t in a mindset where I could make good decisions.

But, it also sort of sends a message that says, “You’ll feel better in a year.”

And there seems to be this notion that the more you love someone, the longer you’ll grieve. It felt disloyal to smile, have fun or enjoy life again.

Even though I knew there was no timeline on healing, there was still a strange tension about “getting better.” Almost as if feeling bad for too long meant I was somehow deficient since I couldn’t pull myself out of it, but also the notion that feeling better too fast …read more

Source:: Business Insider


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