Author Topic: The sympathy window  (Read 1936 times)


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The sympathy window
« on: September 22, 2016, 02:19:33 PM »
I'm 2 months and 8 days into this. At first I bottled everything up, because I'm the girl who always has it together. I'm the girl people come to with their problems.  I do not cry. I am not weak. And people told me how strong I am, and I was just stupid enough to think maybe this wouldn't be so bad.
    Only now... now I'm not right at all. Loneliness hit me like a ton of bricks right at a week ago. I alienated an old friend of mine by clinging to him like panty hose fresh from the dryer. I got some joy from talking to him.... and I couldn't bear to stop. . so I drove him to the point he would no longer answer a text. After that, I have had suicidal thoughts nearly every day. No plans to carry through with that. I have two kids with no daddy. So I have no choice but to just muddle through this. And there is no one to talk to. No one gives a damn anymore because for two months I appeared to be handling things fine and now the sympathy window has expired. I don't want to be this woman. I don't want to feel these feelings. I don't see the point in living like this. .... And no one gives a SHIT.


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Re: The sympathy window
« Reply #1 on: September 22, 2016, 02:44:53 PM »
Hey there Shannon,

Believe it or not, there are PLENTY of people who give a shit, but they are probably a) giving you space; b) not sure how best to help; or c) feeling awkward and unsure of themselves -- an all-too-common after-effect of death. People just don't know how to act around us wids.

But - there are also those of us here on the widow board that care and will listen. Keep reaching out to us. I'm not on the board as often as I was back in the beginning of my journey (I am over six years out now), but I do check in from time to time. I saw your post and wanted to reach out with a hug!!

Hang in there. I don't have any glowing pearls of wisdom except to say that this is hard, just like you knew it would be, but it gets better with time. Keep busy, find things you love to do, and do them. Spend time with the people who make you happiest.

I still think of you, Mick...every SINGLE day!


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Re: The sympathy window
« Reply #2 on: September 22, 2016, 05:09:07 PM »
Hi Shannon,
Please be patient with yourself.  It is okay not to be strong, right now your will have emotions that come from the depth of your soul and you can not stop those emotions.  With time you can control the emotions better but it is okay to cry, scream, or deal with these feeling in the way that works for you.  Remember you need this time to heal, like a burn it will not hurt as much over time but it will change you.  Here you can vent as needed without judgement.  There are some jewels out there that will help you through this, appreciate them.  A lot of people do not understand and will say or do things that will hurt.  Most just do not understand I would never want them to have to understand. 
Wishing you peace and comfort,


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Re: The sympathy window
« Reply #3 on: September 22, 2016, 06:20:30 PM »
We are here and we "give a shit"
I wish I had a way to make the hurting stop
please know we are here and we hear you
sending you hugs
take care 
My everything


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Re: The sympathy window
« Reply #4 on: September 22, 2016, 06:46:15 PM »
People around you do care. I agree they don't know how they can be helpful. Sometimes you need to let them in or have a friend act on your behalf. I am pretty similar to you. I am the mom who did everything. I did PTA, I worked, I volunteered for other foundations, I took care of my family, planned events, pursued my own hobbies and interest. I was always 200% busy and able bodied to do things myself. Cut yourself some slack. You have an array of emotions playing through you as you feel loss without your husband but you feel you need to maintain a certain status quo for your kids. Are you and the kids doing any counseling? This might be a good time to help figure out and understand how you are feeling now. Hugs! We are here!


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Re: The sympathy window
« Reply #5 on: September 22, 2016, 08:57:44 PM »
Yes - I agree that there are people here who care.  There are also people in your life who care.  I would take the time to find a grief therapist who can help you work through some of this stuff.


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Re: The sympathy window
« Reply #6 on: September 24, 2016, 07:57:17 PM »
This is a tough one, Shannon. It takes a lot time for the shock to wear off, so people think you are coping, and move on. But you are destroyed - it just takes a while for you to notice, and by then it feels like you are too late to ask people for help.
If you are some who has always been capable and sure of her own power, you might not know how to ask for help and you may hate it. And so often you don't even know what you need and what to ask for. You just want your love back and life to go back to normal. I know a lot of people around you feel helpless and they are also in pain; it hurts them to see you in pain and not know what to do.
But many people do want to help - they are just waiting for you to ask and tell them what you need. It can feel horrible to be so vulnerable and needy, but do trust them to try their best and trust that they care. I was in the same position as you at the 2 month mark. It took a while but it did get better once I learned to ask for help, to realize some people just couldn't help - they didn't have the emotional tools, and other people that stepped up to help that I didn't expect. Your alienated friend will come back later when he can.
They do all give a shit. I know it doesn't feel like it, because they are living their normal life with their families and they have absolutely no concept what widowhood feels like.
I was so ragingly angry. That's how I managed my grief. It feels like a more useful emotion than grief, and vulnerability, and helplessness, which I had never really felt before. I was used to managing everything, helping others, being in charge. People didn't know who to relate to this new me, and I didn't know how to relate to them with all my new emotions. Ones that felt like weakness, after everyone telling me how amazingly strong I was in the first month or two.
People do give a shit. At the very least, we widdas give a shit because we know what you are going through.
I'm so sorry. 
"When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight." Kahlil Gibran


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Re: The sympathy window
« Reply #7 on: September 24, 2016, 11:41:55 PM »
Hugs for you!  We are all here for each other, vent when you need to.  And I agree fully with the above posters, it takes a while, and it will likely surprise you who steps up and who backs away.  At six months now, and while I may have looked strong to others, I know I am only now beginning to remotely get it together.  It's OK to be a wreck.  Your life was irreparably altered.  ((Hugs))!
I promise I'm eating.  Not well, but I am eating.


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Re: The sympathy window
« Reply #8 on: September 26, 2016, 06:35:16 PM »
Your post really resonated with me. Although I'm over 4 years out, I remember those early days and months well. I, too, was "strong." And so people thought we were okay. The first couple of months I was okay only because I was in the fog of grief. You are enveloped in a cocoon of cotton - dense, soft, blurry and vague. You feel pain but it is more a shadow of pain until the air hits the wound. That happened for me around 2 months in.

At that point, folks had moved on. I remember feeling outrage that the world continued to turn for everyone while it felt like it was stopped for my daughter and me. It took me a while before I felt like I could ask for help. That was one of the most important things I did. I learned that people really, REALLY want to help but feel helpless in the face of your loss and grief. They are relieved when they are asked to help you - it lets them feel like they have something to do. In some ways, I think it helps alleviate their guilt about a) not knowing what to do, b) not doing something earlier, c) guilt about their lives being whole and complete while yours is shattered.

At the same time, I've heard it compared to a house fire. When the house is on fire, there are firemen to put it out. Once they leave, you are left with a shell of a home needing rebuilding. Then the builders come. They stay until it is habitable again. What we need as widows are the builders. Those that will stick around for a long time. Unfortunately, most people are firemen.

And if it helps, know that people here really do give a shit.
here is the deepest secret nobody knows ...
and this is the wonder that?s keeping the stars apart
i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)
~ e.e.cummings


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Re: The sympathy window
« Reply #9 on: October 07, 2016, 05:23:20 PM »
So sorry for your loss - 4 months and a big dose of reality and waking up this week. It is all so hard and I feel like the hurting is just starting now. Time has changed for me and days can seem like ages and so much seems to go on all the time and pass me by. I too find it hard to ask for help and as we had a business which has to keep going it looks like I am doing fine but I feel so helpless. But I have found like today that it passes and there are windows when some peace and calm can come in, and there are people who give a shit. And this board helps me to realise that other people have/are going through it and that it is ok to voice those terrible moments when you are just lost.
So confusing and complicated, I have 3 girls with no daddy now and they are starting to show their hurt a bit more which hurts me. Today has had the full spectrum of emotions for me and them, strength I am finding comes from unexpected places and as the fog of shock clears I can at least talk more about it all. Hugs to you and hope there has been some 'better' since you posted.


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Re: The sympathy window
« Reply #10 on: October 08, 2016, 07:10:16 PM »

I'm 6 months out from losing my husband - just a little bit more than you - and I want to echo what some people before have said so beautifully. People really do want to help but a lot of them don't know how. They've never experienced loss and just don't know what to do. Just this week I got a very sweet message from someone I hadn't heard from since the memorial. She'd been thinking of me but would get so wrapped up in her day she forgot to reach out. Somehow it meant even more to me after all this time. Don't give up on people yet.

Though I've never had a loss this deep, I have also lost my father and a sister, so I had some idea what to expect. I prepared my kids by telling them that some people will amaze you and some will disappoint you during this time. It's always true, and the amazing ones are often the people you don't expect.

I'm the strong one in my family, keeping everyone else going emotionally and physically, and making decisions when no one else wants to. My husband traveled constantly for work, and I took care of everything in his absence, so help is not something I was familiar with.

But something that hit me soon after H passed was that LETTING people help me was like a gift I was giving back to them. I know...we're the ones who've lost something precious, why do we also have to be generous? But by giving them that gift, by giving them a space to show their humanity and kindness, it made me feel better, too. I like that people showed their best sides, especially in the world we live in, and no one that I asked refused the call. It also allowed me to tune into my grief better, understanding the difference between a rough day and a "please help because I can't do this by myself" moment.


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Re: The sympathy window
« Reply #11 on: October 10, 2016, 05:12:27 PM »
Here is the beautiful piece called the Art of Presence referred to by hikermom re: the firefighters and the builders.  Worth reading if you have not already.