Tag Archives: grief

Nick in healthier times

Are you over it yet?

Hi again, I hope everyone is having a good week so far and to those of you who have stumbled across my blog, hi, you might want to read a little about me here or at the beginning of my story here.

Today i’ve decided to write a little about my experience with how people react post my loss and the question i’m often asked, ‘are you over it yet?’ Yep, people are actually that direct.

I’ve written previously about how difficult it was immediately after the loss and also a bit about moving forward, which you can read here but this takes a different turn again, about how people react 6 years later.

Because things change from sympathy (i’m so sorry, are you ok?) to now 6 years later I get (really? but you married again, so you’re good) No lie, i’ve actually been told this!! Like apparently it just erases the pain and memories, like some magic pill.

And yes, don’t get me wrong, I am great, I am married again to an amazing guy, who didn’t bat an eyelid at me being a widow with a kid, he has been a constant stream of support and love. It did help that we dated as teens, so he was no stranger to me or my family, but still, he took on more than most men would. And he has never once asked me to stop writing about Nick or my time as a widow, in fact he has come to me with suggestions for posts.

He is very secure in our marriage and my love for him.

But back to my point of this post and this blog in general because when I first started writing over 3 years ago (yes, it’s been that long!!!) I was constantly told, I must be doing this for the therapy, to get things off my chest.

(Because I definitely wasn’t writing for all the free PR stuff you see bloggers getting, though OPI if you’re reading this, i’d love the Fiji or the new California Dreaming  Collection, thanks!)
In reality, I felt an urge to write about what had happened to us, Nick encouraged it before he passed. I did originally think it would only ever be for my daughters to read one day, but off it took on Facebook one day when a friend posted it, and the rest is well, you know, history.

I didn’t particularly feel like I was being freed of any feelings, but I did re-discover my love of writing and yes, there were days I cried while writing remembering all the times and Nick, but I was always happy to do it.

Then came the beautiful messages, as it took off around the world from other young widows, feeling like they weren’t alone. And not just widows, but anyone who had been through a loss or hard time, who were reading along and writing me such beautiful emails.

By sharing my time and feelings, like my widow humour and my life since, it gave them hope, that they too could get through this and live their next chapters. And also the emails from people who’d not suffered a loss but how reading along made them appreciate their own lives even more. Kind of like, ‘well, my husband does piss me off, but I love him and he’s still here, so guess I should appreciate that’.

These letters alone are enough validation for me to keep writing, and believe me there are so many. But, please keep writing me though, I love hearing from you!

But, i’m always asked, ‘so now that you’ve written your story, are you going to keep writing, like, what else can you say?’ or ‘you’ve written about Nick enough now, don’t you want to get on with your life?’, and my favourite, ‘are you over it yet?’

I get this, I really do, but writing these posts, does not mean I’m living in the past or that I don’t appreciate my future, I seriously look forward to growing old(er) with my husband and in all honestly, I have so much more I want to write (maybe even a book one day, like you all keep suggesting!)

It’s as though I’m really being asked, ‘aren’t you over your loss yet, it was 6 years ago?’ and the quick answer is no, i’ll never be completely over losing Nick, while I have this amazing new life, it doesn’t replace my previous one.

Would you ever forget a grandparent who passed away? Just never mention them again and act they never existed, well of course not, then why should I do the same? Nick was and is a huge part of my life, he shaped me into the person I am today. I refuse to stop mentioning him because it might make other people uncomfortable and trust me it does. I see how people don’t know what to say once I mention him, even something as simple as ‘oh yeah, Nick and I went there once…’ becomes a conversation killer, they don’t know where to go from there, they change the topic real quick!

But honestly for me it’s fine, just keep talking, I won’t break down in tears, unless we’re talking about my 2 year old not wanting to sleep at night, because that’s painful.

When my loss first occurred everyone was walking on eggshells around me, not sure what to do or say, 6 years later, I find that the sensitivity of losing my first husband has almost completely gone, and that’s fine, I get it. Time has healed the shock of losing Nick, and though he’s left a void, people have moved forward and worked around it. Like knowing someone with a massive wart on their nose, you know it’s there, you just don’t mention it all the time.

I guess in that analogy i’m the wart or am I the nose, umm ok then, moving right on…

Recently I was told I was too young to understand life, by someone much older than me, I was offended and replied that i’d lost my husband to cancer when I was just 30, I waited for the penny to drop for her, like she’d agree I’d already been through so much, but instead she replied, ‘yeah, but you were young, wait til you get to my age, then you’ll know life.’

I took a moment to check myself, was I being too cocky about this life and death business, I did feel as though she washed over the fact i’d already been deeply touched by it, but that by no means makes me an expert in life, right?

But she had reacted as though, because I’d been widowed young and re-married, that it didn’t matter and unfortunately i’ve had this reaction so many times before, I shouldn’t let it bother me.

I’ve also had people tell me we weren’t married long enough for it to impact me enough, because I still have so much of my life left to live. I understand that, but i’ve also been through something so heartbreaking, so i’d say I know a little about life and perspective and Nick and his illness unfortunately taught me that and of course, I have a heap more to experience as I continue on in my life without him.

But, i’ve rambled long enough again, so I’ll end with some advice, never ask someone who’s grieving or been through a loss, whether it’s been 6 days, 6 months or even 6 years if they’re over it, because chances are, like me, they’ll always have a piece of their hearts missing. Like my Instagram post (@the_polished_widow) says, ‘You are near, even if I don’t see you. You are with me, even if you’re far away. You are in my thoughts, in my heart, in my life. Always.’

Til next time, Michela xx

p.s if there’s something you’d like to ask me or you’ve had a similar experience, i’d love to hear from you,  just write to me via the form below!

They said what ??

Welcome back to my next post of 2017, see I kinda promised to keep it going and here we are.

If you missed my post from the other week, you can click on it here.

But, now onto this weeks thoughts…

Firstly, if it wasn’t hard enough losing my husband at 30, worse still, was that I apparently did not receive my copy of the ‘how to grieve and move on after loss, in order to not offend or disturb anyone else’s life‘ handbook.

I mean really, that could have saved so many other people their sleepless nights, worrying about what I was doing, right?

Apparently how I dealt with Nick’s passing, had such an impact on how others treated me and definitely what they thought of me. I’ve written numerous times about how I felt I didn’t grieve properly, based on societies expectations.

I didn’t have a breakdown, I didn’t cry for days on end, I didn’t wear black, I returned to work fairly quickly and worse still I remarried. Oh the horror!

And because of all these things and many more, you can catch up on some of what i’ve already written by clicking here and  here for my funeral posts, I found myself constantly being watched for when they all assumed, the final straw would break me and it would make everyone else feel better to finally see the young widow inconsolable.

That was all in the early days post Nick’s passing but truth be told, I still faced judgement over my life decisions long past it.

When my now husband and I started dating, I constantly heard that it was ‘too soon’, ‘it wasn’t appropriate yet’, and ‘that I should wait a while before I told anyone’.

But what is the rule on how long before exploring a new relationship, because again, I didn’t get the handbook???

I have no idea why it impacted anyone else, I was still mourning the loss of my husband, I felt ‘relationship guilt’ for seeing someone else, who by the way, was very respectful of my situation, and I was also beginning to find my new normal and that was all ok with me.

Luckily for me, my own family and even Nick’s were very supportive, and this made things a lot smoother.

But once ‘friends’ found out, they suddenly distanced themselves from me. Apparently, ‘they couldn’t see me with anyone else’, ‘it didn’t feel right to them‘, ‘they were sure, Nick wouldn’t be happy’, and ‘they would never do what I was doing.’ All of these things were nonsense and those that knew Nick, knew he wanted me to be happy.

And my favourite comment, ‘Nick would be turning in his grave if he knew’, what a crappy thing to say to a widow!! And what does it even mean?!? I’ve also heard, ‘he’d be doing cartwheels’, let me assure you, he wasn’t that agile. I’d like to think he’d be giving himself a high 5 instead, over how great it’s all worked out.

All of these comments and judgement were never helpful, it just made me question my friendships and what I was doing, even though I knew it wasn’t wrong. And yes, these things were said to my face, not behind closed doors.

Hard to imagine, right?

And because of this, most of those friends never took the time to get to know my now husband, choosing instead to just fade from our lives with their own small minded opinions about us, including that I must have never loved Nick because I have now replaced him?!?

Oh yeah, that must be why I still have his photos up and write this blog talking about him.

I’ve had widows write me to say they found their next love within months of their partner’s passing, and another widow who writes me often, who suggests within 12 months most of his widowed friends had new partners but then I know another widow who has hidden her boyfriend for years to please her strict family.

What people need to understand is there is no time limit and for the most part, the widow is probably already questioning themselves enough, without the added interference of those around them.

Isn’t it wonderful that people who have gone through such a loss, can have a second chance at love again. Isn’t that worth being supportive. You may not understand the situation, but while you sit on the couch next to your partner watching The Real Housewives of wherever, maybe spare a thought for the friend of yours, widowed or even just single, sitting home wondering if they’ll be alone forever.

But ultimately, I choose to forgive the stupid comments and move forward with my life at my own pace, like Mother Teresa said, ‘if we really want to love, we must learn how to forgive’.

You don’t need to be a widow or have a friend go through this type of loss, the message is simple, keep your judgement to yourself. Most of what you say, will get back to whoever you’re talking about, and it will be hurtful. And like the old saying goes, ‘if you don’t have anything nice to say….’ well, you get the point.

Thanks for reading along and allowing me to brain dump my thoughts into something legible again.

And I’d love to hear your thoughts on this, so write me and let me know.

Til next time, Michela xx

 

So, this is what it feels like to hurt

Thank you to everyone who read, shared and commented on last week’s post about my two husbands, I was overwhelmed by your words of support. If you haven’t read it yet, you can find it here.

I want to share with you today, So, this is what it feels like to hurt, about my time following Nick’s death.

It sure as hell wasn’t easy, much as I made it look like a breeze. Here I was telling everyone how accepting I was of his passing, how OK I was, but in reality it hurt like nothing else i’ve ever experienced.

From Nick’s initial diagnosis, we were always realists, very aware of the situation, relying it to anyone who’d listen.

Things weren’t good, they wouldn’t improve, pancreatic cancer would claim his life. 

We were so united in this, that it just made sense to me, following his death, that I would continue on the same path.

I was OK, Claudia would be OK, we would manage without Nick and be OK.

Just weeks prior to his passing, in his fear of being forgotten – a very real emotion for the terminally ill, he decided to fill our once empty walls with photos. Photos of us, our daughter, our families, our holidays pics etc.

All the memories he never wanted me to forget. He spent nights splayed out on the floor, going through our photo albums, picking the right ones, he was so proud of  his finished photo wall.

So, this is what it feels like to hurt

So, this is what it feels like to hurt
View of our photo wall that still remains

Having gone from only having a few photos on display, we now had walls and every available space full of them, including finally putting up in our bedroom a wedding shot, 6 years later!

Plus my girlfriend Margaret, had organised for us to have some professional photos done as a family and these went up too!

So, this is what it feels like to hurt
Nick & Claudia’s professional photos

After Nick died, especially that first week when the house was full of people, everyone would stop and marvel at all the photos, and comment on how wonderful he was to put it all together. How lucky I was to have this permanent reminder on the walls of our life together.

Yes, I was fortunate, but I didn’t feel that way at 3am, when the baby was crying and I had to walk past the ‘wall of Nick’, wishing so hard that he was here with me. I’d walk quickly past with my head down, so not to look at the photos of his happy smiling face.

Angry, that I was left alone to raise our daughter, angry that he could smile at me when I walked past for the umpteenth time that night to soothe her. That all I wanted was to nudge him in bed and say, ‘your turn, i’ll get her the next time’, like I imagined we would have.

Of course, anger is a rational feeling in going through the stages of loss and it did eventually subside, bringing me to the full acceptance I have today, but it sucked at the time.

I had often felt like a single mum, even when Claudia was born, because Nick was so sick, that it naturally fell on me to look after them both, often simultaneously. After his passing, there was no one else but me, all the time.

I felt cheated, I hadn’t gone into this parenting gig, thinking i’d be going it alone. Of course, when she was a dream child and luckily she mostly was, I was fine, but when she was sick or teething, there was no one to pass her to.

I have huge respect for single mums out there, it’s hard work!

Sometimes around 6pm, when Nick would have been returning home, i’d jokingly have a conversation with one of his photos, ‘Hi love, how was work? So glad you’re home, she’s been a real pain this last hour, can you take her while I start us dinner, and can you change her nappy please!’

And while our families were so supportive, they couldn’t be with us 24/7 and I was so independent, that I refused their offers of help.

I was OK, we’d be OK.

I wasn’t the first single mum widow and I wasn’t going to be the last. 

I was determined to go it alone, Nick and I had been such an independent couple, that it was the only way I knew how to be now.

And while I got angry at my situation, it wasn’t aimed at Nick, because I knew he’d do anything to be back with us, it was at life in general.

Mostly i’d have these thoughts alone, because I worked hard on not showing anyone this side of my grief. I felt like I couldn’t show my vulnerability, because everyone kept telling me how well I was handling it, how it was helping them by seeing me so strong. I found I spent much of my time making everyone else feel ok about Nick’s passing.

I heard it a million times that if I (his widow) was coping, then everyone else should too. I felt like I couldn’t fall into a heap, because so many people were looking up to me as a pillar of strength, but sometimes all I wanted to do was throw my phone out the window and be alone.

I was happy to spend time with family and friends who felt like they weren’t coping. In talking to me, they seemed to feel lighter and gain some perspective. If I could openly talk about my loss and pain, while still focusing on all the good and positive that came from it, then maybe they could too, they still had their partners, children etc to go home to.

Some days were too much though, and once Claudia was in bed for the night, i’d find myself feeling so mentally drained, that i’d sit in my room and cry, for the love I lost and the pain I felt and for having to go through this alone.

Seeing happy families was too much, at that stage and I have vivid memories of being at a friends for lunch when they suggested a walk to the local park and the thought of seeing families playing on a Sunday, was enough for me to blurt out every reason why we had to leave so abruptly, sounding something like ‘ive left washing out, got people coming over, Claudia looks tired, it might rain, running late, thanks for lunch!’ Rushing out before they had a chance to register what just happened.

There were some things I just wasn’t ready for.

It was hard for me too some nights at home, looking at all those smiling photos on the wall. At one stage, feeling sorry for myself, I declared my lounge room area a ‘Nick free zone’ and took down all the photos in that vicinity.

It became my place to sit when I wanted to watch mindless TV and not be reminded of him and it usually worked a treat with a glass of red wine!

But all the talking couldn’t detract from the pain, it hurt so much to think of our time together, having to go it alone now, of not having him physically by my side ever again, but I was OK, we were going to be OK, we are OK.

I’ll leave today’s post there, thank you for reading along and your continued support.

Thank you for your beautiful comments and messages, you encourage me to keep writing,  you all inspire me everyday!

Please don’t forget to subscribe in the box below and Like The Polished Widow on Facebook.

Til next week, Michela xx

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