He Would Be So Disappointed in MeNov 06, 2020
Understatement of the year: losing a spouse is hard. There is crushing pain that comes with the territory. We miss their physical presence, mourn our shared past and grieve for the future we planned.
But it doesn’t stop there. In addition to the pain that comes with the territory is an extra-large serving of suffering that our brains create.
Just one example is that fear can so easily become our mindset after loss. Our brains have been traumatized, so it makes sense they kick into full-fledged "protect us from everything" mode. For me, fear dictated every decision and most thoughts, but I could not identify it as fear. I just thought I was downing in grief.
Had I been able to identify the profound fear that was dictating my every move, I could have better understood my journey.
I could have been "on to" my brain. I could have said to myself, "Brain, I hear you and I know that you're trying to protect me, but we are safe." It's easy to let fear drive the car, so to speak, and yet the goal is that we drive the car (and allow fear to ride in the backseat).
Fearing that we are disappointing our husbands is a special kind of torture. We tell ourselves that if we are "strong" we are succeeding and making him proud, and if we are "weak" then we're failing and disappointing him. These thoughts pile suffering on top of the pain, as if the pain weren’t already enough.
The truth is that life-after-loss is a place of devastation that leaves us picking up a million pieces and trying to reassemble some form of a life. It's a messy, difficult process and it's hard to see any result.
As we stand in that pile of wreckage, we judge our journey as right or wrong, too fast or too slow, that sobbing means failing and stoicism means success.
Deciding that how we are grieving is a disappointment to our husbands is simply a thought; a sentence in our brains. It’s a painful thought, but the good news is that it is 100% optional.
Most of our husbands didn’t know what it is like to lose a spouse and then try to reconstruct a life out of the wreckage. Or how it feels to suffocate under the weight of grief that is parked on the chest. Or what it’s like to freefall into an abyss of uncertainty and confusion. Or how the long days turn into impossible, sleepless nights. Or how the cruel transition from “we” to “me” feels.
Like most of society, they simply didn’t know. Good for them.
What they may have said was that if anything should ever happen to them, they would want us to find happiness again. Perhaps they even encouraged us to find someone else. Or maybe it was never discussed at all. In any case, we think they are looking over us, shaking their heads in disappointment. Which makes us feel even more horrible.
Please don’t believe everything you think. Like any thought, that thought is optional.
What if the opposite were true?
Might it also feel true that he is still by your side, cheering you on, and not in any way judging you? Perhaps he is celebrating even the smallest accomplishment. Maybe he is proud of you for having the courage to keep stepping through a life that feels like it has ended, however uncoordinated and shaky your steps might be. What if he is celebrating that you have so far survived 100% of your most horrific days?
What else might be true for you?
When you decide what is true for you, (that doesn’t make you feel terrible) please write it down and read it daily. This will train your brain to think this thought, not the thoughts that create extra, unnecessary suffering for you. After all, you’ve been through enough.
If you can’t shake the feeling that you’re disappointing your late spouse, my six-month coaching program called Life Reconstructed can help. If you’re ready to invest in a powerful solution to end your suffering, simply click here and we’ll see if it’s a fit.
Learn more about Life Reconstructed.
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