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Ruby

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Wondered if anyone who's been down this road had any thoughts about a couple issues in coping with the aftermath of loss. 

1) What to say when you're asked, "How are you?" I've been reading a lot of Marty's writings - including on this topic - very helpful. And think it's going a bit better. (You can see the relief when people hear you're "ok." Can't say I blame them.)

2) Reconnecting: After weeks of being mostly a recluse, had a number of engagements the past week - things with friends, some dovetailing with community work that was of mutual interest in the past. Didn't want to do any of it, hardly feeling capable. I don't have a large social circle - my husband and I did everything together, which I loved. Those that are in my life I care about and realize relationships will erode over time with this continued self-absorption. There are a few people I needed to have invited over but haven't - because I don't feel up to it and because I can't be bothered to clean. (Finally, after dust balls grew into boulders, I did manage to vacuum a couple days ago. Progress.)  Conversations with family have become less frequent. They all lead busy, interesting lives. I'm happy for them and hearing about them is a welcome diversion. But I think they're concerned about what I'm doing - nothing - and wondering how long this will go on. A very good question. I'm definitely not good at this. Writing this is cathartic and does seem to be clarifying the choices. But so very hard; just want to stay in my cocoon forever.  

 

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As far as continuing relationships with family/friends, sometimes it helps to push past our comfort zone and go out to lunch alone or with someone even when we want to crawl into bed and pull over the covers.  I think most of us feel that way in early grief.  For me, going to church w/o George was very hard, so was going alone to a restaurant, and a huge one was getting groceries w/o him.  We do push through because we know we need to, but also balance with honoring our need to grieve, be alone, cry...I think balance is key.  When you see others you may not feel like talking about mundane stuff but it helps our relationships to ask about the other and show genuine interest.  Hopefully they also will care enough to listen to YOU as this is a very hard time in your life.  If they expect you to "move on" or "be over it" I hope you will be CANDID with them and tell them honestly how this is and that your hope is to EVENTUALLY adjust to the changes it means for your life but expecting to do so at this time is unrealistic and impossible!  TELL them you don't expect them to know how you feel, they can't.  Even if they have gone through loss, not all losses are equal and the same just as our person/relationship was unique to us.  I learned to grow a lot of moxie when my George died, the one who was my advocate and protector was gone, now it was up to ME to stand up for myself, no one else would.  I have to do that still.  Not fun, but somebody's gotta do it!

One of the things people try to do is relate to you with their experience but sometimes that might invalidate OUR experience in so doing, so important to let them know how it makes you feel and what you need from them!  Many times they WANT to help but don't know how.

I wish you the best and hope all your friends don't disappear overnight as mine did, my two besties did not even bother going to his funeral, and that was long before Covid times!

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Kay, this is great, thanks so much. The grocery store trigger was huge - walking in and just bawling. Going to different stores now. It's nice to be reminded that we're not alone in our responses.

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Yes, it was very hard watching husbands & wives get groceries together...that was us, me hawk watching the cashier, him bagging the groceries.  Now it's just me doing everything, no one to talk to on the 50 mile trip home.  Instead of my husband carrying them in, I use a wheelbarrow. ;)

You are not alone here.

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  • 5 months later...

Ruby, I can only speak for myself of course, but I think I needed the social interaction especially after looking after my mother in the final months of her life, and doing this during COVID.  During this time I hadn't really been connected with my friends other than occasional posts on social media.  Fortunately they were all very understanding in what I've been going through.

My mother's longtime friends helped as much as they could; they would periodically visit bringing food, and to give me a break even as my mother was getting weaker.  After she died, I got together on occasion with a few of them.  Today I have infrequent contact.  I realize they have their own lives and it would be unrealistic for me to expect them to be around a but more because they were friends with my mom and not me.  I could actually initiate more contact and give them a quick call just to see how they're doing; that's definitely something I need to work on a bit more.

In her later years when she would be driving less and less she would ask me to take her to her favorite grocery stores and restaurants.  Looking back those were enjoyable times.  Now when I go to the same groceries or eat at one of the restaurants she liked there will always be the feeling of something missing.  Someday I will adjust.

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