Monday, February 18, 2013

Get Over Your Grief! It's Been How Long?

by Kate Collins

Don't you hate advice given by someone who has not walked in your shoes? This Valentine's Day was rough for me, and it's my third!!! one without my beloved Greek. It's been 2 1/2 years since he passed away suddenly, yet some days it feels like it just happened last month - and the pain feels that sharp, too.  Yet there are people who think that because it's been that long, I should be "over it."

I try to explain that you don't "get over" losing someone. Their departing doesn't just leave a hole in your heart. It leaves a big scar across it, too, and scars don't go away. They fade a bit, that's all. But unless you've gone through such a momentous loss, there's no way to understand. And I'm not blaming anyone for that. I was one of those clueless people once. It was a great place to be.

I remember when my best friend lost her mother. She grieved hard, and I had no way to relate. My mom was alive and healthy -- until she wasn't. Then it was my turn to get it. I felt terrible for being nonchalant about her loss.

So I do have to bite my tongue when someone tells me I need to get over it and move on. Of course I've moved on. You have no choice but to move on. You have to get up every day and face life, and life is all about change. But please don't tell me to get over it. "It' will always be with me because the "it" is my husband. I don't want to get over him. I love him still.

That's why I was so grateful to find a grief counselor who had also lost a husband. She got it! That's also why I can't understand how someone who's never been married can be a marriage counselor. I mean, really? Even with all the training in the world, unless you've been married, you just can't get it.

Do you agree with my reasoning? Have you ever been told to "get over" something?


30 comments:

  1. I know exactly how you feel. Although I still have my beloved husband with me, I lost my beloved father 18 years ago - and I'm still not over it. I remember those first few months - I didn't want to hear anything about getting over it or moving on or he was in a better place - he wasn't here with me and that was extremely painful. Even after all this time, I'm still not over it - I've moved on, but it still hurts.

    Kathleen

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  2. I do agree with you. I haven't been through a loss as yours, but my advice to a friend who broke up with another friend (make sense lol), was that she will never get over the loss of her husband. He thought she should've by now since it had been 6 years since he passed, but I gently reminded him that she won't get over it since they where together for such a long time, but in time she may get passed it enough to move on with him. They did get back together. Hugs and blessings to you.

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  3. I lost my husband 2 1/2 years ago also and people don't understand. I know that when they say "get over it" mostly they want me to find some kind of happiness. But all I hear when that is said is, "find a replacement" ( although, I've heard that one too). I really just want to tell people, "my husband wasn't a goldfish. You can't just go get a new one to replace the former and be happy-go-lucky and loose all the pain." I do find comfort from others who lost their husbands many years before who tell me that even 40 years later and another husband later, they still cry for the one they lost. You never "get over it", you only learn how to live with a "new normal".

    I am so sorry that you have to travel this lonely and painful road too.

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  4. Oh Kate, I am so sorry people have said that to you. That is just insensitive. When my mom lost her beloved husband of 60 years, she was relieved to read that "she was allowed to take as long as she needed" to grieve. There was no set time. We can't all experience everything others do, but we can all be sensitive to their world and just give hugs and listen and meet them where they're at. You've been so open and honest about your loss and we've all benefited from that. It is easy to see how you "love him still" OF COURSE!
    As a fan, I send you wishes for good memories. Thank you for sharing. Adrienne in MN

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  5. I have not lost a husband, and I can't imagine how that would feel. However, I lost my mother - who was also my best friend - almost 20 years ago. Most of the time, I can just remember the happy times as I go about my day-to-day living. However, there are times that the loss seems to blindside me. Christmas is always hard because it was always so special for her. And when things are going wrong in my life, and no one else seems to understand, I miss Mom so much that it seems like I lost her yesterday. We all have to heal at our own speed, but there are some things that we never really heal from. I hope that time will help to lessen your pain and bring you some peace, although I'm sure there will still be moments that you feel the loss as if it were new.

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  6. I know just how you feel. I lost my dear hubby on May 4th, 2011 and our 49th wedding anniversary is coming up on March 18th. I have friends tell me just get over it, he's gone so its just another day, not your anniversary anymore. I have to bite my tongue to keep from telling them wait until you're in my shoes, we'll see how fast you get over it.

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  7. First of all please let me say how sorry I am for your loss. Yes, I totally agree with you. This also applies to everything we deal with in life. None of us can completely relate to what someone is going through until we have walked in a similar circumstance. We can be there for that person. I also agree that time does start to heal that wound, but a scar is permanent and left behind. Great post. Blessings, Susan Fryman susanngarrylee@yahoo.com

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  8. Dear Kate, I have never lost a husband but did lose my mom over 20 years ago. One thing I decided is that I don't want to fill or mend the hole in my heart. There is no way to fill it. Yes I have moved ahead and have a truly wonderful life but time is irrelevant to my grief. In my opinion. My moms sister with whom I had an equally close relationship died this past Thanksgiving creating a new hole to keep moms company. I wear the holes like a badge if some sort. Life does go on but no, I won't ever stop the grieving process. Thank you for sharing your story.

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  9. I feel sorry for your loss, I am lucky enought to still have my wonderful husband. I lost my precious Daddy two years ago and my Sister, who died at a way to young age, five years ago. I really hate when people tell me they are in a better place. You never get over someone you loved dearly. It gets easier, but someday's it feels like they just passed. A sound or a sight will remind me of them, and it starts all over again. I guess some people doesn'y understand until it happens to them.

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  10. It's very heart-warming to read all of your comments. Everyone suffers loss of some personal kind at some moment of their life. It's sad that people who haven't experienced it yet feel they have to give advice. The best advice is to just listen and feel compassion for that person.

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  11. Dear Kate,
    I've been a fan for years, I've read how you've had your ups and downs and was terribly saddened by the news of the loss of your husband. I agree completely with you, unless someone has been in your shoes, they shouldn't be giving you advice. Somethings you never get over, losing a husband, I imagine is one of them because I can't imagine my life without my husband or children. Just like I wouldn't seek advice from someone who was a marriage counselor and never married. Life is an experience, something you can read about, even relate to, but one has to live it to truly understand it. As always, I wish you the very best.

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  12. I lost my mother twice, once to Alzheimers and then again when she died. Both were heartbreaking - Alzheimers maybe a bit more because she was still with me physically but had no idea who I was. That was 32 years ago. Just yesterday, something I was reading reminded me of her and the pain of losing her and all the years we could have had together was overwhelming, I never had the chance to give back to her. She never knew her grandsons - she would have been a glorious grandmother. None of us truly understands the pain of another. Sometimes when I meet someone who has just lost their mother, they will say to me "you understand". I do understand but that does not lessen their pain nor does the passing of time diminish it completely. The grief we experience is the price we pay for loving and having been loved. As someone posted, the grief may lessen with time but it is always sitting just below the surface. For what my mother was to me and for the love I was so lucky to experience, I'll tolerate the pain when it surfaces. When someone tells you to move on, just nod, then go listen to some music you both loved, or have a treat you both enjoyed and then have a good cry and bask in the love you had and still have.

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  13. I know how you feel. I lost my husband 22 years ago. He was 56 and too young to die. I must admit, it is easier now but I still cry at times. I think of him often and wonder what he would think of me selling our house. I still miss my father and mother and dad died in 1976. I seem to talk to him more than the others.. What I find hard is that I am the oldest one left and I have only a son to ask about things.. I wish for the older wisdom. Still, life goes on and we cope. Life is an amazing thing and we do go on. I agree with you that people who have never been married can't know what it is like to loose a spouse.

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  14. I can relate in a way. I lost my only sister 37 years ago and it still feels fresh. She was 16 years older than I - almost more like a mother to me than our own mother. Then she became my best friend and sister. When she had open heart surgery at age 37 and spent 8 more years sick from heart disease, the tables turned. I felt more like her mother. We ran the gamut of emotions. There's never been anyone like her and most likely never will. I still grieve her passing to this day. A year after she died, a member of the women's club I belonged to told me to "snap out of it, it's been a year already". I still resent her unfeeling remarks.

    Just listen to your own heart and grieve at your own pace, no one elses.

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  15. When my dad died 20 years ago, my mom was told, "You don't get over it, but you get used to it." That about sums it up.

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  16. I would have found it hard to bite my tongue! Everyone grieves in their own time, in their own way! It never goes away, it gets easier in some respects but if a person has not gone through this they should be there tokens and ear or a shoulder not hurtful comments. I've been told to get over my divorce! Divorce is like a death too. Took me several years to "get over it." And I think it is worse when it comes from family members the most! You're an awesome person Kate! You know when you need help and when others aren't helpful to you! God Bless!

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  17. I truly believe that grief is a very personal matter. I lost twin boys that were still born at 40 weeks. They died the weekend before the doctor had promised to deliver them even if I didn't go into labor. My family never has under stood my grief process. They wanted me to put it behind me them moment I came home from the hospital and proceeded to take apart the nursery and haul it out in front of me. To this day almost 19 years later they don't want to hear me talk about them.

    And then there were the years that I was the poster child for infant loss among my friends. Every time someone lost a child it was expected that I should talk to them and help them through it. It was like I supposed to welcome them into the club. No one who has not been through it would understand when I told them everyone grieves differently and needs time and space. I would tell them if they wanted to give my phone number out I would talk to anyone about my experience but I would not call someone out of the blue like I had the perfect answer to help them feel better.

    We all have our own path and our own time to deal with grief. One day you find you don't cry all the time and another day you find you can smile. Feel comfortable with your own process.

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  18. I know how you feel Kate. 8 years ago this March, I lost my father. He was only 51, it was hard then and it's still hard today. I understand completely what you're going through. My husband cannnot understand my grief. It is hard sometimes because he cannot grasp what I am feeling.

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  19. Your post spoke exactly of my feelings. I lost my father very suddenly in May (and I mean suddenly: he said he was going to the shop and would be back soon but took a massive heart attack while out and nothing could be done to save him). Every day I feel an ache as he isn't in my life anymore and yet I have to listen telling me how much easier I should be finding it and "am I not over it yet?" My mother had known my dad since she was ONE - yes, ONE - year old (my dad and my mum's brother were best friends in school), they fell in love as teenagers and got married so she doesn't even remember a time when he wasn't in her life and she has people asking her if she's over it yet. And, only a few short months after my dad passed away, my cousin got engaged and told me it was about time she got a bit of attention as we had had enough!! Everyone feels grief differently and no one - especially someone who hasn't even been through that kind of grief - has any right to tell someone how they should be feeling. Thank you for making me realise that it is not selfish to still feel this way, despite what others seem to think.

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  20. The words may be, "Get over it" -- but that's not necessarily always what they're really saying. I feel that, in many cases, they are erecting a barrier between the grief they see in you and the grief they fear, they know, they themselves will come to bear in their turn. Some may feel a bit too keenly the anticipation of their own pain ... and, by negating yours, they seek to negate their own to come. I'm not saying this excuses them for their unintentional cruelty, but perhaps it explains it a little. I was there, once, as a very young child, when a playmate had lost her father ... and, for the first time, I realized my parents were not going to live forever ... and I feared ... and was cruel.

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  21. I've lost a boyfriend and my father to cancer. I will never be "over" those losses...one was over 20 years, one 14 years. They are both in my heart and will always be there.

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  22. All of your posts make me want to cry because I can "hear" your pain in your words. JJM, I believe you hit the nail on the head for many people.They don't want to think about the kind of pain they may experience themselves, so maybe they hope that if you "snap out of it," they will be able to do that, too.
    I hope for those of you who haven't suffered a deep loss, you will know what to do and say when someone close goes through it. Just listen, and above all, let them talk about the person/s they lost. It's not morbid. It's healing. I love to talk about my Greek. He was and will always be the love of my heart.

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  23. Shortly after my dad died (20 years ago and yes he is still missed by all of us), my mom saw a friend at the grocery store who had lost his wife a few years prior. She asked him if it ever got easier and he told her that it doesn't get easier, it just gets farther away. That is the best description of loss that I have heard.

    There is a movie with Judd Hirch and Kate Nelligan. He is a cop and she is the mother of a missing child. After a while her friends are encouraging her to go on with her life, and she tells them that she is the one who will decide when it is time that no one else can feel what she feels.

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  24. On Valentine's Day I was noticing online the singles who complained about FB postings of the flowers or wonderful meals that others rec'd from their sweethearts on V-day. I could kind of get it, but also thot it was pretty minor. Then late that night my sil posted pics of the lovely dinner her hubby made for her. Her hubby is the brother of my husband who died unexpectedly 5 years ago Jan. They met at our wedding. It was like I had been stabbed and I was surprised. On 60 Minutes last night they interviewed Dame Maggie Smith, so well known now because of Downton Abbey. I wanted to cheer when she said the truth--at 78 she keeps acting because otherwise "it's all rather pointless" otherwise. When the interviewer asked what she meant she said it was because it is lonely to have lost your love (her beloved 2nd hubby died years ago)and not have that companionship anymore. I almost stood up and cheered!! She smiled later talking about her grandchildren and obviously she has done a lot with her life, but I'm so happy someone said the truth outloud!!! Thanks for your post, Kate. Bless you and bless us all who have loved and lost.

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  25. I have had two of my children die prematurely. My son when he wa only 7 was killed by a drunk driver. A daughter told me to get over it that I should not be grieving after all this time. That was before her sister, my daughter died of cancer rather suddenly. I know that she will grieve for a long long time and that I will not tell her to get over it. And I will not get over it. My heart is broken and I have no idea if I will ever 'get over it'.

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  26. I lost my first husband a few months after my current husband (of 16 years) lost his younger brother a month before his 19 birthday. A few years later our friend lost her husband in a tragic work-related accident. Everyone was telling that one day it wold be better. She woke up every day waiting for the magical day. We told her that you never get over it, the hole is always there. You move on, but there is no magical day where it all goes away. She was so thankful because no-one had ever said that before. She began to think something was terrible wrong with her. I feel it is their wish to have you "back to normal" unselfishly as well as for their own peace. They may not want to face up to whole subject.
    I always think of the WWI... Lest We Forget... if we forget we become less human...
    I've carried something in my wallet since I was 13 years old. It was written by Chaim Potok in his book, The Chosen:
    "….words are cruel, words play tricks, they distort what is in the heart, they conceal the heart, the heart speaks through silence. One learns of the pain of others by suffering one's own pain, he would say, by turning inside oneself, by finding one's own soul. And it is important to know of pain, he said. It destroys our self pride, our arrogance, our indifference toward others. It makes us aware of how frail and tiny we are and of how much we must depend upon the Master of the Universe."

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  27. I am very lucky to have my hubby around as well as my parents. I don't understand but I don't say get over it. (Hugs)

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  29. I totally agree with you. I haven't lost my DH, but my brother passed away 5 years ago. And like you said...you never "get over it"...you just move past it. There are still some days that something happens or someone says something that reminds me of him and I grieve all over again.

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  30. Jude, that Chaim Potok quote was so wonderful!
    Ozone, you hit the nail on the head. You move past grief but it's always there in the rear view mirror.
    Rachel, I am so very sorry for your loss. Losing children must be the worst grief in the world. God Bless You.

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