Mass Confusion

Quite frequently these days, as I begin my 3rd year without him, I find this particular quote sent to me, or posted on my timeline. Grief is a stage through which we pass and not a place to linger.  Okay, I get that. I even agree with it.  But it doesn't help me a damn bit to read it.  


We are told that grief is an individual process with no timeline.'s a stage. Don't linger.  How do we know when we're lingering, is my question.  And even more so, when we're dealing with it in as many healthy ways as we can conceive, and the devastation remains present, how do we get from here to there? And anyways, aren't those two statements contradictory to each other?

I read a post today written by a woman offering life coaching, dealing specifically with widow support (the author is herself a widow), and she offered support in letting go of negative emotions such as sadness, loneliness, etc. Which sounds great on the surface but why are those necessarily negative emotions? Why are we as a culture so reluctant to give space to the darker emotions and recognize them as normal? Why must we march herd-like through life feeling only positive? Why are we pressured to move quickly through so-called negative emotions into the land of happy, happy, happy? Why must we always be tip-toeing through the fucking tulips? What about giving space to the darkness so that we can reach the fucking light?


You know what would be helpful in the midst of this confusion for me? If you're going to send me something about moving through grief, include step-by-step instructions as to how to do it. Don't just do a hit and run, along with a handy little tidbit about growing from grief or allowing it to destroy you.  Give me some solid shit I can hardwire into my brain and do. Because I will. I'll do whatever I need to do because I hate being this person I don't even recognize. Haven't recognized since the night my husband took his last breath.


This widowhood is the most confusing thing I've ever gone through. Ever.  I don't recommend it to anyone.

Showing 3 reactions

Please check your e-mail for a link to activate your account.
  • Heather McLaughlin
    commented 2015-06-02 19:37:40 -0700
    I completely understand and agree. Many days I feel like I want to crawl out of my own skin…I don’t know how to act around people as I am learning how to be an adult by myself. My husband and I met in college and grew up together. When he passed, I was left alone, feeling abandoned in a world I had no clue how to manage. Most of the time, I am still there…..of course, like all of us, we go through the damn emotions, but when do we ever understand..when do we ever somewhat repair our hearts…I don’t know how to navigate anymore…

  • Mark Liebenow
    commented 2015-06-01 16:48:51 -0700
    I agree, Alison. Today, if we are feeling sad or lonely, our only task is to be sad or lonely. If we do not allow ourselves to feel the “negative” emotions, do not allow ourselves to feel what we are feeling, then we will never truly experience being happy, because everything will be putting on a show for others, and we will feel hollow.
  • Jane Duncan Rogers
    commented 2015-05-28 02:29:10 -0700
    Alison Miller – you are right. It’s ONLY by welcoming all emotions that movement happens. All feelings pass, morph, change, even if only a tiny bit. That includes the so-called ‘positive’ feelings. The trouble is, we as humans usually want to hold onto those ones, and get distressed when we can’t. Then we try to ‘push away’, ignore or release the so-called ‘negative’ ones. Either way we are not being with what is. I’ve written a lot more about this in my forthcoming book Gifted By Grief: A True Story of Cancer, Loss and Rebirth, but a lot of my own healing has come as a result of letting whatever feeling it is be there, instead of trying to change it. Hope this doesn’t sound too trite, please email me separately if so. I just recently (and its 3.5 years now since my husband died) realised that I had successfully navigated the stormy waters of grief, and am now in a safe harbour. A very different one, to be sure, but it actually feels really good, even if I still sometimes look around and wonder how on earth I got here!