Why Widows Don’t Need Help Finding the Silver Lining
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Short and Sweet Summary: We widows don’t need help finding the silver lining. We are forced to learn how to turn lemons into lemonade. But sometimes you want to cry like a two-year-old and throw a temper tantrum instead. Go right ahead. I’ll be right there with you.
You know the people who think they’ve got it all figured out?
The ones who spew out tired cliches like, “time heals all wounds” and “every cloud has a silver lining.” You know who I’m talking about?
Those who, in their attempts at profound wit in finding the silver lining for you in your life, fall flat on their enlightened face because they don’t know shit.
Yeah. Those dummy idiots. They can take their tired cliches and stick ’em where the sun doesn’t shine.
I apologize in advance for the rant.
MAYBE YOU WANT TO THROW A TEMPER TANTRUM
I know people try to help.
They can’t possibly know what widowhood is like without experiencing it. So, I get it. People want to say something, anything to take the edge off an otherwise tense, emotionally draining conversation.
That’s when those tired cliches and platitudes pop up. And the nervous sweat beads gather at the poor soul’s temples and she starts blathering on about how her great aunt’s neighbor’s cousin’s sister dropped dead of a heart attack at 81. Or how her boss had to tell his kids their dog had cancer and it was the hardest conversation ever. And the worst yet, “at least you don’t have to deal with insert dumbass comparison here.”
But, in all the sad stories you’ve heard, I’m sure that somehow, someway, everyone had zero problems finding a silver lining and they all lived happily ever after. Right?
Well…nothing about widowhood gets wrapped up in a nice, neat bow.
Maybe I want to throw a temper tantrum.
Sometimes I can find the silver lining and sometimes I just want to be a big fat baby who complains and throws a hissy fit because that’s what makes me feel better.
Haven’t I (and you) earned the right to scream obscenities at the universe and beat my fists on the ground when I feel like it?
I don’t need my chirpy neighbor to remind me that “today is a new day!” I woke up this morning and the sunrise is a pretty good indicator that the calendar changed dates.
I don’t need the admonishing reminders of how blessed I really am. I know I’m blessed. Really, I do. But some days I want to scream and cry like a two-year-old.
I promise I’ll get over it. But for the love of everything good and holy let me have my freaking tantrum.
Can’t people just acknowledge my tantrum and say, “man, that sucks. I’m not even sure what I would do in that situation. But knowing you, you’ll figure something out.”
Is that too much to ask?
Maybe even go a step further and say, “I know you’re completely capable of figuring this out, but I’m here if you want a second opinion or need to bounce around some ideas.”
Instead of the tired cliches. I’m sick and tired of the tired cliches.
MAYBE YOU DON’T HAVE IT ALL FIGURED OUT
I think what makes a lot of people nervous is when we widows don’t have it all figured out.
Why do people expect that we somehow instinctively know how to deal with grief? That because we are grieving we are experts at how to do it the “right” way?
Grief has no timeline. No guidebook. And just like everything else in life, it’s not universal. We each deal with grief in our own way.
So, it makes people nervous when we don’t have it all figured out because how are people supposed to know how to help us? When someone says, “let me know if you need anything” what they really mean is “I have no flipping idea what to do and I’m hoping you can tell me exactly how to help you because if you’re not 100% clear on how I can be of assistance, then I’m at a loss and I’m completely useless to you.”
But, we don’t always know what we want or need. Yet, people still sit back and wait for directions. If we can’t give them explicit directions, they sputter and stutter, “Well…I’m, ya know…ummm…I’m here, you know if you, like, need me or anything,” but turn around running in the other direction because it’s far less volatile in the dust than face-to-face with the crying jags and pain of widowhood.
The thing that gets me so riled up is that I’m not asking anyone to fix any of my problems. I don’t know what to do in a hell of a lot of situations, but I eventually figure it out.
MAYBE YOU CAN FIND YOUR OWN SILVER LINING
I’ve been through enough shit storms to find my own silver lining. I don’t need anyone telling me how to do it.
I just wish people would please stop trying to make everything better. I’ll have good days. Sometimes I’ll have bad days. My bad days are horrible…I’ll admit it. But I’m allowed to have them without people jumping in and trying to fix what they don’t understand.
Because the proposed fixes like, “you need to move on” or “you need to do XYZ” are nothing more than regurgitated BS. I don’t need to do anything other than what is right for me at a specific moment in time. And that changes pretty much daily.
If I need to throw a temper tantrum, I will. When I need to save the world, I’ll put on my widow warrior cape and rescue those of you in need of encouragement. When I need to sleep, I’ll turn everything off and crawl into bed. Even if it’s at 2:30 in the afternoon.
I don’t need help finding the silver lining.
Because sometimes I don’t want to.
WIDOW WRAP UP
It’s hard being a widow. I wholeheartedly give you permission to cry and scream like a two-year-old when the weight of the world gets too heavy and you want to stop pretending to be OK.
When you decide that you’ve had enough of your temper tantrum, I fully expect that you’ll get back to the business of directing your life in whatever way makes sense to you. I don’t for one minute believe that you’ll spend an eternity in your tantrum.
So, I won’t tell you that “tomorrow is a new day!” or that you’re blessed beyond belief because at least you don’t have to deal with “insert dumbass comparison here.”
I will support your tantrum. Support your ability to find your own silver lining. And, tell you that you’re doing an awesome job in a really shitty situation.
That’s how it’s done, people.
- This is an Audacious Alternative to a Gratitude List
- Do You Make People Anxious? Here are 5 Ways to Improve Relationships
- Don’t Compare the Beginning of Your Grief Journey to Someone Else’s Middle
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THANK YOU for this!
I was just commenting on IG to a fellow widow who usually only post positivity. Today she posted the “ugly” and I saw JUST HOW MUCH folks responded.
I told her that, while thanking her for her “positive” emphasis. I’m a cheereader too. A “silver lining” specialist, am I. UNTIL THIS.
Now I am a “I Don’t Know” specialist.
And God, how I wish others would join this more “real and honest” way of relating to one another.
I wanted to tell you that I have LITERALLY stomped my feet repeatedly like a spoiled two-year old throwing a tantrum and I SWEAR that afterwards it was like I just went to the best therapy session ever.
My husband was a “pastoral counselor” and was gifted in loving people with empathy and compassion,
He NEVER tried to fix people.
He often said to me, “People need to get it out, Bec.”
He was referring to being listened to. To being heard. To “getting the pain out.”
And he was an EXPERT at it.
I know God is good.
I know He loves me.
But, I pretty much don’t “know” for sure about much else.
And I don’t think anyone else does either.
I appreciate you.
And I’m sorry we are in the “category” of widowhood that neither of us probably ever imagined we’d be in.
Thank you again for writing. For sharing. For being freaking real.
@understandinggrief (which I am only at the kindergarten stages of)
I appreciate you, too 🙂 And your comment and your validation that we don’t need to be fixed. Just heard. I’m so happy when I hear about other “don’t know” specialists. Who can really know shit, for sure? No one I know. Let’s keep on keeping it real for the sake of humanity!
Thanks for keeping it real. I’m so glad that I stumbled upon you. This is a club that I never in a million years dreamed I’d be a part of. Frankly, I hate every single part of being a widow- the heartbreak, the tears, the anger, The relentless grief, the feelings of hopelessness- not knowing what my future looks like and feeling like all my hopes and dreams have been shattered and thrown into the bottom of the deepest darkest ocean.
But then I don’t have to explain myself to you- you know these feelings intimately!
Thanks for keeping it real and speaking honestly from your heart ❤️
Hi Charlene, I do know these feelings. They’re the big, ugly, heavy feelings that almost crush you with their intensity. But I also know the huge, beautiful, lighter feelings of happiness and joy found after loss. Little by little happiness and joy come back if/when you let it. You’ll get there too eventually. But you have to stumble through the muck first ❤.
Thanks for this post! Although I am lucky ( or unlucky) to have two very good friends who are also widows. Both of their husbands were ill for a few years. Mine was unexpected and died suddenly, and a lot younger. They don’t say these things to me but not sure they truly understand.
Hi Monica, the suddenness must be so difficult for you. It’s hard to accept any death, but the young ones are the worst. Sending virtual hugs ❤.
I loved this site. I have been a widow twice in the last 7 years. One after 23 years of marriage and the 2nd time after 5 years. No it doesn’t get easier but you do learn alot about yourself and what you can do. Some days are really hard others are pretty good as you say. People do say stupid things but I have gotten to the point that I can just ignore them. My life is changing again but I know I will make it better because I want better. Hang in there everyone.
Hi Connie, you have an amazing outlook considering your tremendous losses. Plural 😔. Thank you for sharing your words of wisdom ❤.
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