Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The shame of it all...

What I love about coaching is that each session with a client brings up something new, a new perspective, some learning for the client; but after the session the learning for me continues also.  A recent session about root cause belief got me thinking about why it has taken me 11 years to work out that I want to help other widows along their journey to finding life, love and happiness again.  It struck me that at times I have felt uncomfortable with other widows, and in fact in the first couple of years I avoided other widows.   Why was this so?   I thought on the surface that it was because seeing their grief, their pain was too much, I didn’t want to be taken back to that place.  But after a discussion with a friend on this very matter, and some quiet reflection on the dark drive home it struck me that actually the reason I avoided being with other widows was the shameful feeling of being a fraud, that I wasn’t like the rest of them.    A fraud?  How come?  Because the overwhelming feeling I had when my husband died was that of utter relief.  That it was over for him, and it was over for me.   There was of course sadness and numbness but most of all it was relief and I felt ashamed of that relief.  My husband had fought cancer for 9 years, 5 of them with a terminal diagnosis.  It changed him.  It changed me. The man I married was not the man who died 9 years later, and I know the girl he married was not the girl he left behind.    Occasionally towards the end I would see glimpses of the man I married, but in the main he had long gone.   My grieving actually started a long time before his physical death, amidst the fear and anxiety of impending widowhood, though the doctors never gave an indication of how much time he had.  I think, as widows, we tend to put our marriages on a pedestal, or at least publicly we do, as we may think that is expected of us.   Several widows I have worked with tell me their marriages were wonderful, and indeed they may have been.   Each and every relationship is different, and so each and every widow’s journey is different.    If my husband had died suddenly after 9 years of a 'normal' marriage without illness then I have no doubt that my grieving would have been very different.   Our marriage was what it was.  At times tough, actually towards the end mostly tough…...but we were committed to seeing it through together, even if the journey changed us and our relationship beyond recognition.  

I hope also gives reassurance to other widows out there who find themselves in a similar position, locking away the truth of how they really felt.   Let us not feel ashamed or guilty about our relief, it doesn’t take away the love and commitment we had to our husbands, but shows us to be human in our desire to see the suffering for all involved to come to an end.  

Until next time...

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