Sometimes I feel really sorry for my family. They are the unfortunate souls who have to listen to my bellyaching on any given day. Whether it is over a temperamental computer (a constant), a renegade cat (times three), my frizzy hair (which is supposed to be sleek and shiny), or the number on my scale (which depends entirely on my bad-girl eating the night before), my family has to listen to my whining about the pettiest of matters. When my daughters have completely lost all patience with me (again, on any given day), they either individually or collectively interrupt whatever tirade I happen to be in the middle of and bark:
"You're over it!"
Now this is admittedly pretty funny and those of you with children will no doubt relate and giggle along with me. But let's now take that "You're Over It" attitude and apply it to your Healing Journey.
How many times have you been told, "It's been [however-many months/years] since your husband/wife/partner/significant other died. You just need to:
"Get over it"
(...as if you needed a reminder as to when your beloved passed away).
I will pause while you roll your eyes in agreement, because I know that is likely what you are doing right now. Sadly, a majority of those in the widowed community have heard this phrase at least once during their Healing Journeys.
But what happens when:
You are not "over it"?
What happens when you hear these words (in many cases, over and over and over again) and inside, you are thinking, "Well, I'm not over it, so clearly there must be something wrong with me." Your brain then locks in on the "There must be something wrong with me" part of the phrase and poof -- that is exactly where your focus goes. The result? You actually begin to think that something is wrong with you.
I take great pleasure in sharing that:
There is absolutely, positively nothing wrong with you.
The fact is that the majority of people who are telling you to "get over it" are saying this because it would be easier for them if you "got over it". It is easier for them if you hurry it up and move through your healing processes because they do not want to deal with it anymore. It is easier for them if you would just conform to their healing timeline, which is the timeline that they are using to dictate to you. Most of all, they are uncomfortable with the "widowed" part of the deal that you now bring to the table. They want the person that you were "before"; the person that you were when you were One-Half-of-the-Two-of-You...because it is easier for them.
People fail to realize that while you have lost your spouse, you did not lose the love or the life that you had together... and that is something that you never will -- or should -- "get over."
No matter how much time passes and no matter where your new life takes you:
You will never be "over it".
Now, if a significant time has passed since your beloved's death and you feel seriously compromised in your recovery; if you are unable to function in every day life (at work and/or at home); if you either are or feel as though you want to cope in a destructive manner, you should immediately seek professional help and/or medical attention -- there is a lot of both out there and you do not ever have to suffer alone or in silence. However, you must also accept that you will never be "over" the event that was losing your beloved. It entirely alters your life. You are forever transformed. You can move forward from the loss, but you will never be "over" that loss... and you may let people know that fact in that very way.
I had been widowed just over a year and well into my own Healing Journey when my mother gave me some very wise advice (which I both follow and dole out to this day). She told me to stop and look back at how far I had progressed since that awful season in time when my husband passed away. When I actually took the time to stop and examine how far I had progressed to that point (and have progressed since that time many years ago), I started worrying less about being "over it" and started appreciating the healing that I had accomplished instead. To this very day, I still take those occasional pauses to look back and remind myself just how far I have traveled since that most darkest season in time, when I thought that I would never see light or know love ever again.
Quit worrying about being "over it" and quit worrying about the people who are telling you that you should be "over it". Embrace that you are not ever going to be "over it"; that you are instead going to move forward from it and that you are going to do so in your way and in your time. You are also going to take a periodic pause to stop, look back and see just how far you have come since you became widowed -- whether it was ten minutes, ten months or ten years ago.
Never stop listening to you.
You are the one in the driver's seat of your Healing Journey. You are in charge of this very important and deeply personal part of your Healing Journey. Take charge, take control and take over - because regardless of what anyone else says or thinks...
Your life belongs to you.
Carole's latest book, "Happily Even After..." is the winner of the prestigious Books for a Better Life Award. For more information about Carole Brody Fleet and Widows Wear Stilettos, please visit www.widowswearstilettos.com.
Watch for Carole's third book coming in 2015.
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Earlier on Huff/Post50: