Friday, 30 September 2011

The things people say

I have been musing over the inexplicable things some friends have said to me. On two occasions friends have sought to console me – at least I assume that’s what they were doing – when I have expressed sadness over losing my husband. They have countered with “couples are not always happy.”

Well no, but couples make the choice to stay in the relationship even if they are not always happy. Clearly there is enough happiness for them to maintain the relationship, or enough needs are being met so they are stay invested in the relationship.

It is such a bizarre thing to say to someone.  Is it really meant to make me feel better? That other people might be sad or unhappy?

And in one way it makes me angry too. Try having no choice; you will die no matter what you do. I can only imagine how hard it was for my husband, no I can’t even imagine what it must’ve been like. I can only say what I experienced. When he was diagnosed it’s as if all the hope and the joy was sucked out of my life and I was living in a vacuum. I couldn’t see anything good in the future.

My heart was a solid, heavy lump in my chest. I couldn’t think straight. In the early days I would wake up in the morning and for a split second forget and be blissfully ‘normal’, then I would remember and be under a cloud of sorrow.

Later there was no forgetting. I would despair over how I would survive it. The sorrow felt so great, I felt trapped, I didn’t want to watch him suffer, but I couldn’t walk away and let him suffer by himself.

And now two years on, selfishly, it has become about me. I still miss him, but I feel lonely more. I want to be in a relationship again; not any old relationship though. Obviously I can’t replace him or our relationship but I want to try again with someone else.

Most of the time I feel OK, I’m not excessively sad or unhappy because you have to get on with life. Even the two year anniversary was OK. I passed it with friends and didn’t feel too sad- a few days later though the sadness has hit again.

I still feel embarrassed about it, eg when I was out for lunch the other day, and inexplicably felt bleak and sad and teary. I don’t want to show that to people, to have them think I am weak, to have them think I am still grief stricken. I am lonely, yes, but not grief stricken, which is progress. Still, I’d like to not feel lonely anymore.

I’d really like my friends not tell me that not everyone else is happy anyway. That’s not very helpful. I shall, instead, listen to my friends who are more empathetic. 


  1. If it helps (and it doesn't really help *me* ;) ) I think the friends' comments are along the lines of people who say things like "Maybe terrible things are happening in your life but you shouldn't complain. Some people have no arms and legs!"

    I hate that logic! It may be true that someone in a bad situation or illness still has the luxury of both arms and legs, but that doesn't make whatever they're going through less difficult or less painful. Just because something could be worse doesn't mean that what "is" is therefore acceptable.

    That's the logic I think your friends are using, if understanding "where they're coming from" is any help. To me, it's an indication of cluelessness. People who don't know what to say and are grasping at straws, or worse, people who think they DO know what to say and have no clue at all. Silence truly is golden at times. Most would do better to say nothing, and just listen.

    That moment in the morning when you feel ok for a split second.... I know that. It's difficult to describe that sensation. I think you did it well.

    As for now, for what it's worth, I don't think you're being selfish or weak. I know you want to feel better, and I'd love that for you - who doesn't want to feel good?! But your feelings and experiences in all this don't cause me to think less of you in any way. They're feelings. I don't like or dislike someone's feelings. I like them :)

  2. There is no such thing as a correct answer when a person has not experienced a great loss or other grief. Most people eventually end up carrying a sorrow or thre. That is why we cry at odd times. Those friends cant know what they dont know. Just let it go and dont carry it around with you, as anger. Yvette.

  3. NQ- I know, and thanks. I've swung back again to feeling good/OK. Fortunately not all my friends say dumb things like that. One particularly good friend always lets me cry on her shoulder and understands, so that's nice. I have made use of her should recently and it has helped immensely.

    Yvette- you are right, they can't know what they can't know. The anger has been only momentary, I have let it go now. Good advice. Blogging, as always, helps coz you get to say it and then it loses its power. . . .Thanks.
    Stella x