Author Topic: Lifes unrealistic expectation  (Read 5404 times)

April

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Lifes unrealistic expectation
« on: May 12, 2016, 09:18:43 AM »
Going through this grief process for myself and helping my children.. I've found that us humans have an unrealistic expectation of how life is "supposed" to be.. Grow up in a picture perfect house.. star to the high school football team.. go to college.. get a great job.. get married.. have children.. live a picture perfect healthy life.. "my Dad was supposed to help me build a tree house.. watch my games.. hug me when I'm sad.. watch me graduate.. walk me down the isle".. Self pitty is a cancer.. get rid of it before it even starts.. There is no cookie cutter script to life.. it's not going to happen the way we picture it.. sickness happens.. death happens.. injury happens.. life happens.. it's going to be beautiful.. ugly.. heartbreaking.. exhilarating.. and it's going to be ok if you allow it.. There will be unexpected roads and road blocks being thrown into our idea of how life is going to go.. if you can't get passed those road block.. you're not going to see other roads being presented.. you're going to be stuck forever.. never moving on.. that isn't how it's supposed to be.. that isn't how your loved one would want it.. we are not fragile beings.. we are not victims.. we are not destined to be sad and miserable for the rest of our lives because a loved one has passed.. we were ment to continue on creating more to our story.. that's what they would want.. something bad happens in everyones life.. no one is immuned to devistating circumstances.. it's important to learn how to get passed the road bumps and blocks.. to move on.. to find a new way to be happy.. being happy isn't promised and not always easy.. you have to want it.. get passed the junk thoughts that are making you not happy.. and be greatful for what you do have today right in front of you.. it's ok to be happy again

Mizpah

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Re: Lifes unrealistic expectation
« Reply #1 on: May 12, 2016, 10:14:20 AM »
I've found that us humans have an unrealistic expectation of how life is "supposed" to be..

There is no cookie cutter script to life..

Yes yes yes yes yes.  We barrage ourselves and each other with ideas of how life should be - some of my friends and I refer to ourselves as being "ruined by literature," i.e., the perfect love story or ideas of happily ever after.  It's movies, too.  It's even paper towel and laundry detergent commercials, for Gd's sake!!!  We've been forced to live lives less ordinary, and accepting that and all that comes with it, oh man, it's a process if ever there was one.  I'm five years out, and thought I was really well-adjusted, but relationship issues have recently shown me that I have major lingering problems, including RAGE, about my life derailing from the road more often taken....  I am really glad you wrote this today.  I really need to let go of the ideas I've adopted since a very young age about how my life will look, what success is, and come to find more joy in this off-script scenario. 

[A bit of a tangent, but I've always wondered why our culture has an allergy to the word "victim."  I mean, I know to live as though you're a captive to circumstance is not good, stuck and self-pitying forever, but honestly in objective truth, we were victims of our loved one's deaths.  That's an accurate statement.]
widowed 2011 (DH 28)

Captains wife

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Re: Lifes unrealistic expectation
« Reply #2 on: May 12, 2016, 11:28:00 AM »
Well put - for a long time my sadness was partially related to the fact that my life wasn't working out how I thought it would work out. And I kept comparing my life to the lives of others (or at least how they portrayed them). And I still do that to some extent. BUT  I have been working on letting these things go....and focusing on happiness in the last few years. Its hard to change mindsets but possible when we try.

April

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Re: Lifes unrealistic expectation
« Reply #3 on: May 12, 2016, 12:36:38 PM »
Awe.. you are welcome!!
I'm always working on my mind set too.. and yes.. we've been so brainwashed by the commercialization of the perfect family.. the perfect life..  it's so easy to get caught up in!  Nope.. this is my deck of cards.. I can sit and cry about how I seemingly have it harder then someone else.. or I can take control over my obstacles and handle each one as they come.

SoVerySad

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Re: Lifes unrealistic expectation
« Reply #4 on: May 12, 2016, 01:57:19 PM »
I understand and appreciate your greater message, however I feel compelled to add that each of us experiencing the loss of our spouses has their own journey to travel. Finding happiness again doesn't follow a single approach that works for everyone. While I realize that everyone in life experiences hardships, I do believe some are more significant than others and would include the loss of a spouse as one of those. I'm not ashamed to say that I do feel victimized by the loss of my husband, as if one of my most precious things has been stolen away from me.

We didn't have a perfect married life, but we did have a damn near perfect close marriage. We had a lot of hardships we endured together, starting with finding out 2 months before our wedding he would need open heart surgery right after the wedding. Many challenges followed. We held tight to each other and fought our way through each one, leaning on each other and keeping that positive attitude. We perfected it and people marveled at our ability to keep smiling through it all. That was because we had each other to lean on.

Now, I have a whole new set of challenges, worse than any I've faced before, and my partner to lean on to help me cope is gone. That requires time to learn how to find new ways of facing the heartbreak and challenges. I'm always happy to see that people are able to move forward more quickly by thinking positively, etc. Anyone who finds their way through this situation is to be admired. Yet, those who struggle more/longer/less gracefully are to be admired as well. Perhaps even more, because despite their sense of hopelessness and temporary fragility, they haven't given up. They're still trying, finding drive within even when their mind doesn't recognize it.

Hugs to all of you finding your way however it works for you... 
Without you, Baby, I'm not me.

April

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Re: Lifes unrealistic expectation
« Reply #5 on: May 12, 2016, 06:17:32 PM »
I admire the closeness that you shared with your husband.. my husband and I met in 2000.. both separating from a previous marriage.. we married in July of 2001.. it would be 15 years this July.. We had an unspoken bond... many times he'd do or say something.. I wouldn't say a word.. just looked at him and he'd look over at me and say.. "shut up April" and we'd both laugh.. we knew what each other was thinking.. It's a closeness I don't think I will ever have again.

My post is the kind of thinking that helps me get through.. If I find myself down.. I talk my way out of it.. sometimes.. I talk to husband.. we do have 4 children that also help me not to dwell.. I'm just too busy to be down and out.. plus.. I really need to be positive for them.. so they can move on.. I have to set an example for them or they will be depressed adults.. they deserve a shot at a happy childhood.. a happy life.. they've been robbed of their father at a very young age.. these are the things I tell myself to move on.. so they move on.

Just like what I said about there is not cookie cutter life.. there is not a cookie cutter way of mourning.. I in no way meant to offend anyone.. and am so sorry if I have.. I can most certainly appreciate the different ways we all mourn.. and I respect that.. it does make me sad that people can not get passed it.. I know it's not what your loved ones would want.. If I was gone tomorrow.. I know it would crush my kids.. but.. I hope they don't get hung up on my death.. because if they can't live on then I truly die.. they are my way of living on. I just thought.. maybe I can pass on some of the tools that I've used to get through.. maybe.. it can help someone else.

xoxo

Trying

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Re: Lifes unrealistic expectation
« Reply #6 on: May 12, 2016, 07:51:04 PM »
I think it's reasonable to expect that most wids will go through periods of feeling sorry for ourselves, cursing how unfair life is, getting angry thinking everyone else's life is perfect.  I know I have and still sometimes do.  I have seen the devestating effects when people stay stuck in this phase so I have made an effort to not dwell in that thinking.  Of course it pops up occasionally, like last night when I was out with 2 good friends and they were telling stories about their families and I felt filled with jealousy and anger.  I was able to keep my thoughts to myself because I recognize them for what they are but let it out in my car on the way home. 

I have no judgement of anyone who takes longer than another to get past this phase, we all have our own unique circumstances.  I had promised Tim and myself that I would not allow his legacy to be that his death destroyed me.  I'm making progress towards that promise but some days it's harder than others.

There is a lot of space between bitter and happy, sometimes some where in the middle is enough of a goal.

You will forever be my always.

Wheelerswife

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Re: Lifes unrealistic expectation
« Reply #7 on: May 12, 2016, 09:47:56 PM »
I've come to learn that each experience of loss has similarities, but each is also very different.  Different people come to their losses with different resources and under different circumstances, and those can impact the experience of loss.  Those resources/circumstances can be things such as financial stability/instability, faith and religious beliefs, the support of others that surround a person, whether the death comes after a short or long illness or whether it is sudden and unexpected, the manner of death....and so many more things.  People also have different life views.  The reality, though, is that people's reaction to death really isn't very predictable.

If I looked only at my experience of the loss of my first husband, I might only "know" that it is possible to grieve heavily for a number of months, to reach out and form friendships with others on a similar journey, and that my heart would become open to new love in a year's time.  My husband's death was predictable for a very long time and the last 16 months of his life were very fragile for him.  When he died, one of my first thoughts was, "This is the day I have dreaded for 18 years."  I had thought about what this moment would be like for a long time.  Back several years ago, I once posted that I was prepared for my husband to die, but I wasn't prepared for him to be dead.  I was somewhat surprised by the depth of my sadness...I had never felt that before and I didn't know how sad I could really be.  But, I somehow managed to pick myself up and I started living again.  I fell in love and remarried when I was 18 months out.  Life was wonderful...with that underlying sadness because I had known great loss. 

Fast forward...less than 3 years after remarrying, my incredible husband died without warning.  I seemed level headed about the whole thing for a couple of days, but in reality, I was in shock.  I started having panic attacks.  I worked to try to keep myself grounded.  I continued with school.  My anxiety continued to escalate.  I had a huge lump in my throat.  Sometimes I seemed like I had my act together, but I was probably stuffing down the overwhelming sadness and anxiety.  It didn't help that I had medical problems and had major surgery 6 weeks after he died and I was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive cancer.  But...I am stubborn and resilient and I march onward.  Or so I think I do.  I get reminded on a fairly regular basis that there isn't a lot over which we truly have control. I can try to be strong and positive, but that often isn't the reality for some people.  The bottom line is that sometimes, it just takes time, and it isn't necessarily possible to predict that time table.  I think, too, that we have to acknowledge loss, and nothing, including a positive attitude, can assure that we actually process the loss we experience.  And if we don't process our loss, it pretty much comes to bite us in the backside.  I'm now 2 years and 4 months out since the loss of my second husband and I still feel the sting and I still cope with anxiety, but I am more ready to move forward than I was.  It is sometimes hard for me to believe that at this point after the loss of my first husband, I had been remarried for 10 months already.  Each situation is different.

So...just be careful that resiliency and a positive outlook and acknowledging the unfairness of life doesn't stop you from processing the real emotional impact of the death of your husband and your children's father.

Hugs,

Maureen
Life is short.  Love with all you've got. 

Barry 11/29/55-9/22/09       John  1/16/57-1/11/14

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SoVerySad

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Re: Lifes unrealistic expectation
« Reply #8 on: May 12, 2016, 10:43:10 PM »
April,

Please know that you didn't offend me, so there is no need to worry about that. Yes, I was really blessed to share such a connection with such an amazing man. It sounds like you were really blessed as well. I also talk to my husband all the time.

Hugs...
Without you, Baby, I'm not me.

Portside

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Re: Lifes unrealistic expectation
« Reply #9 on: May 14, 2016, 04:18:24 PM »
So...just be careful that resiliency and a positive outlook and acknowledging the unfairness of life doesn't stop you from processing the real emotional impact of the death of your husband and your children's father.

You had me up until this statement. I would submit that a positive outlook very rarely interferes with a normal processing of grief – even that of a person that might be derisively called ‘incurably optimistic’. It’s been my experience that those that hold positive thoughts throughout all of their trials, no matter how ugly they may be, seldom are unaware of what has truly transpired. They simply face the hard truths of their experience squarely and decide to try to concentrate on all for which they have to be thankful.

On the other hand, a negative and ‘woe is me’ outlook, while understandable for a time, will, invariably, drag one down into a deeper hell than that which has already been visited upon the poor soul who experiences it. Mental health professionals have rough but well thought out guidelines upon which to compare the parameters (length is one measure for instance) of grief to see if falls into the area where intervention is necessary to return the griever to health.

While it is true that each of our experiences while being widowed is unique - that does not mean that each of our reactions to the death of our spouse can be considered healthy or even ‘normal’. I believe that idea to be a fallacy and potentially very harmful.

I find it a bit sad that April’s post here where she promotes happiness and the idea that keeping your chin up for your own well-being attracts comparatively few supporters. A few others even caution against her (wonderful) outlook. Sadder still are the numerous other posts over the years where one states “It’s not fair!” or “It wasn’t supposed to be this way!” or even worse, one is jealous of another couple or individual. The response to those group of posts seem to attract a chorus of widespread agreement and concurrence. What are we – seven years old? Not fair? Nothing in life is fair. Why would one think it would be? I’d be ashamed to admit such feelings if I had them.

Reinforcing misery does just that – reinforces it. It does nothing to lessen the very real anguish of the person suffering. While it is comforting to know someone else felt similarly at one time, to pile on and say ‘Yeah, me too.” simply prolongs it and does not contribute at all to the eventual return to normalcy. 

Best wishes - Mike
The war is over for me now. But those of us who did make it have an obligation to build again, to teach to others what we know, and to try with what's left of our lives to find a goodness and a meaning to this life.

Wheelerswife

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Re: Lifes unrealistic expectation
« Reply #10 on: May 14, 2016, 06:49:55 PM »
I find it a bit sad that April’s post here where she promotes happiness and the idea that keeping your chin up for your own well-being attracts comparatively few supporters. A few others even caution against her (wonderful) outlook. Sadder still are the numerous other posts over the years where one states “It’s not fair!” or “It wasn’t supposed to be this way!” or even worse, one is jealous of another couple or individual. The response to those group of posts seem to attract a chorus of widespread agreement and concurrence. What are we – seven years old? Not fair? Nothing in life is fair. Why would one think it would be? I’d be ashamed to admit such feelings if I had them.

Reinforcing misery does just that – reinforces it. It does nothing to lessen the very real anguish of the person suffering. While it is comforting to know someone else felt similarly at one time, to pile on and say ‘Yeah, me too.” simply prolongs it and does not contribute at all to the eventual return to normalcy. 

Hi, Mike,

Thanks for your perspective.  I think you and I have both been around long enough to see the gamut of young widow/widower experiences.  Sometimes, yes, it is good to know that someone else is having an experience similar to one's own; just knowing that one's situation is not so unique confirms some degree of normalcy, especially for people in the earlier days of grieving.  That extends not only to "negative" experiences, but to "positive" experiences, such as feeling resilient in spite of the unfortunate circumstances in one's life. 

I never did figure out just why I was graced with a shorter grief track after my first husband died.  Believe me, there were many people, widowed and non-widowed, that questioned whether I had just glossed over all of the emotion that loss of a spouse brings.  Personally, I don't think I did, although a fellow widower (not affiliated with this site) recently questioned me as to whether I was still "stuck" in the loss of my first husband. (Umm..I don't believe so.)

I do know others who were able to pull their chins up, find some version of a silver lining, and make the best of the circumstances of their lives.  I keep in touch with a fair number of folks who are doing very well.  I also know of others who approached widowhood in the same manner as I did early out who eventually realized they had to face their grief.  Sometimes, this was after situations in which they would say they made fairly "expensive" decisions.  I've never been one to hold to the "don't make big decisions for a year" advice, but I suppose that advice was doled out for a reason.  Maybe it should be: "Consider whether making big decisions in the first year is truly best for you as a young widow.  Some others wish they had thought about it more carefully."

So...my last line was really just meant to be a bit of caution only.  We are all different and we can all own our own experiences.  If someone who is finding themselves to be struggling finds optimism from someone's story of resilience and positivity, I think that is wonderful.  Do we need to hear more of that?  Perhaps we do, lest those reading here may hear a lopsided version of the experience of young widowhood. 

Maureen
Life is short.  Love with all you've got. 

Barry 11/29/55-9/22/09       John  1/16/57-1/11/14

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April

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Re: Lifes unrealistic expectation
« Reply #11 on: May 15, 2016, 12:12:25 AM »
Although I can not wrap my head around mental illness.. depression.. drug addiction etc.. I do recognize and respect that it so very real for so many people.. including some of my own loved ones.. I don't understand why people chose to be sad.. chose to be addicts etc.. it is a darkness I don't understand and pray to God I am never shown first hand.  I feel so bad for people that can't bring themselves out of sadness.. out of grief.. I've been in grievance.. it's exhausting.. it depletes you're very essence.. I just can not stay there.. we weren't meant to. I know I am not immune to that kind of deep sadness.. I don't think anyone is.. I know one day my circumstances may change.. I hope if I ever do find myself within those dark shadows with no will to go on that I take the proper steps to get myself help.. life is just too short to waist being sad for a long length of time or to dwelling on something we have no control over.. that we can't change... that we can't bring back..  no amount of crying, begging or praying can bring someone back. 

I will say.. I don't think I could ever handle the death of one of my children.. I think that would be my utmost breaking point... but I know it can be a reality.. it is for so many people..  it happens.. my oldest is graduating high school this year.. he wants to go right into the military.. the very calling that my husband succumbed to.. I have to support my son even though it's my biggest nightmare.. even though it killed my husband and so many others.. this is his journey and it's my job to support him and help him reach his goals.. no matter my fears.. life is full of uncertainties.. yes he could die in combat.. he could come home hurt, physically and mentally damaged..  he could also get hit by a car on the way to school.. death is inevitable.. someone has to die and someone has to grieve for that life lost.. one day it will be our turn to be on the opposite end of grieving.. I pray to God I give my children the right tools to get passed my death so they can move on, live and be happy.. I would hate for my death to take someone elses life..  we have to find the strength to move on.. we do what we have to do to survive or we die.. maybe not our physical bodies.. but we die inside.. and that's no way to live.

 I lost my Dad when I was only 24.. At a very young age.. still learning a lot about life.. I had to decide weather to keep him on life support or let him go.. a decision I still wonder if it was the right one or not.. but I own it.. because I know my brother and sisters can't..  I miss him.. I miss the sound of his guitar.. of his laugh..  I am so lucky to have been able to sit across the table from him and watch and listen to him play.. I never got tired of it.. I loved it.. so many lose their fathers sooner then I did or they were abused by theirs or never even knew who their father was.

 I lost my husband to suicide 4 days after I turned 40.. but I am lucky to have experience love and marriage and the children, happiness and wonderful memories it brought to me.. it taught me so many lessons.. of tolerance.. forgiveness.. teamwork and loyalty.. I have been blessed with his children.. a part of him I will always have.. I have been given the honor to raise his legacy.. I hope I make him proud.

I held my youngest sister as she was grieving for the loss of her infant.. her heart ache ripped through all of us.. a couple years later we rejoiced with her when she brought 2 more beautiful lives into this world.

I watched in horror as two of my sisters and my only brother battle a heroin addiction.. I've cried for them.. I've cried for my Mother who's babies fell to this self destructive monster.. but.. I have been blessed to have siblings at all and to have 2 of them in addiction remission.. to be given a second chance to have them in my life.. I know that can change in an instant and I can lose them again.. maybe for good.. but for now.. I have them and am making memories with them.

I watched my grandfather kneel in heart ache before my grandmothers casket.. an image I will never forget.. an endless love I am blessed to have witnessed and be a product of.

 I am watching my other grandfather wither away to alzheimers.. a self made millionaire born during the great depression.. worked his way up from nothing and now he needs help taking a shower.. I miss the days I could listen to him go on about his wonderful life.. a life he loved and lived to the absolute fullest every God given moment of it.. I am honored to have known him and to have learned from him.. and to still be able to hug and kiss him as he slowly forgets who I am.

My toughest battle so far is watching my children hurt for the loss their father.. to see them hurting so bad and not be able to fix it.. but I know they will be ok.. every day is a little better then the next.. we are getting there.. learning to live and rebuild.

 I have an infinite number of the most truly amazing events that happened in my life.. I have loved and I have lost and I know I have much more of both to come.. and I can only hope and pray that I can continue to handle each and every one..  I do not ever dare to compare my losses to someone elses.. and every time I hear of someone elses loss I think.. "I just can't imagine".. because every life is precious.. and you know what.. that's including our own.. cherish it.. we don't get another.. focus on the wonderful.

xoxo

LTSLforever

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Re: Lifes unrealistic expectation
« Reply #12 on: May 15, 2016, 04:15:56 AM »
We are all different and we experience our grief in different ways.  Regardless of what anyone on here thinks, I do NOT choose to be sad. Am I sad, am I depressed?  YES 
Depression is an illness that I have and, believe me, no one would choose this illness.

I think we all need to be a little more understanding of other people's pain.  We don't all have the same support systems and that makes a difference in how we handle our pain.  I also feel pain for Steve's parents; they have lost both of their children.

SoVerySad and WheelersWife - thank you for your posts
April - I am happy that you are able to focus on the wonderful. 


« Last Edit: May 15, 2016, 05:11:12 AM by LTSLforever »

SoVerySad

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Re: Lifes unrealistic expectation
« Reply #13 on: May 15, 2016, 06:05:57 AM »
Portside,

I really wish you'd have just stated your opinion without adding this statement:

 "I’d be ashamed to admit such feelings if I had them."

I find it to be inappropriate in this forum where we try to provide a place for people to share what they are feeling. No one should be shaming another for doing that here, IMO. Who are you to say what is right for another to feel? And if people add that they feel the same as another, that is their right as well.

I think if your positive approach to looking at the situations you've faced in your life has worked for you, it is wonderful. You've found what works for you and that has clearly served you well. It is good for you to post your experience as often as you would like to as someone else might benefit from it. But telling another member they should be ashamed of sharing their feelings is reckless when you have no clue what unique experiences the person has had in their lives and is currently going through. There is no one size fits all approach to anything in life. I suspect we approach life very differently. I don't think you are wrong in your approach. You don't have to be wrong, for me to believe my approach is right for me. Each person needs to find what works best for them.

April, depression is not a choice. People who are depressed are not just choosing to "be sad". It is a real medical condition, just as other conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, etc. are. Our society's lack of understanding of this places an extra burden on those suffering. I can see that it is hard for someone who hasn't experienced it to understand it.


« Last Edit: May 15, 2016, 07:17:19 AM by SoVerySad »
Without you, Baby, I'm not me.

Jen

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Re: Lifes unrealistic expectation
« Reply #14 on: May 15, 2016, 07:18:57 AM »
We are all different and we experience our grief in different ways.  Regardless of what anyone on here thinks, I do NOT choose to be sad. Am I sad, am I depressed?  YES 
Depression is an illness that I have and, believe me, no one would choose this illness.


April, depression is not a choice. People who are depressed are not just choosing to "be sad". It is a real medical condition, just as other conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, etc. are. Our society's lack of understanding of this places an extra burden on those suffering. I can see that it is hard for someone who hasn't experienced it to understand it.


Telling a person with depression to stop being depressed is like telling a person with diabetes to "just make more insulin." Like any chronic health condition, depression has to be actively managed every single day. It can be exhausting and debilitating. Grief exacerbates it, makes it that much harder to cope with. I would no more wish this condition on anyone than I would wish for them to develop diabetes or COPD or breast cancer. It's an endless fight, and compassion and gentleness are much appreciated.
I have love in me the likes of which you can scarcely imagine and rage the likes of which you would not believe. If I cannot satisfy the one, I will indulge the other. ~Mary Shelley, Frankenstein

"Dying is easy. Living is hard. ~George Washington, Hamilton