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The Hurt Of Judgment

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I haven't posted anything in a while. I come on every once in a while and start to write something, and then I stop.

My husband Jeff died 6 months ago after fighting cancer for 9 months. The roller coaster before his death was unreal.....and the one after was even more unreal.

I am posting now, ready to bare my soul.....taking the chance that I will be judged, but hoping that I won't be.

I met someone a month ago. Someone who is beginning to really mean a lot to me. Steve makes me happy......he makes me smile, and yet when I am not with him it has caused me nothing but problems.

This past Saturday was my 40th birthday. My husband Jeff had promised he would throw me a party and we would do it up big. In his absence, my girls decided to plan a "surprise" party for me.....and that's when the problems began. My girls know that I have been spending time with Steve so they wanted to invite him....and I had confided in Jeff's sister that I was spending time with someone, so my girls mentioned to her that they were inviting him. Well, needless to say - to my face she was very supportive, but my kids got another story. She told them they were NOT to introduce him to HER family....and perhaps he could come later after HER family was gone. Well, it became to overwhelming for my teenage daughters to handle and they confided in me what was going on. Needless to say, the "surprise" was ruined and I was now left with trying to figure out how to handle the whole situation. I am truly understanding of how difficult it would be for any of them to see me with someone new, I would never do anything to hurt anyone....but I was also left feeling like my happiness didn't really matter to anyone.

I decided that my girls should have the party at 2.....and then have Steve come over at 5. My close supportive friends would still be there, and THEY would be able to meet him. While this seemed like the best solution, it also left me feeling bad that Steve couldn't be part of the original plan. He has been nothing but sweet and supportive - he lost his brother a year ago and knows somewhat about the grief that I am still dealing with. I talk openly with him about Jeff and my life before and after his death....he is such a wonderful listener and a great support for me. He is content to take things at my pace and he knows how much I truly appreciate that.

I guess what it boils down to is this - after dealing with all the stress of the last couple of weeks, I am questioning who my true friends and family are. I realize that everyone grieves in their own way.....but it almost seems like they would be happier if I was curled up in a ball on the couch crying every day rather than continuing on with my life.....the way Jeff wanted me to. When your husband is diagnosed with a terminal illness, you are given the opportunity to discuss so many things - and that was one topic that we discussed repeatedly.....how if anything happened to him, he wanted me to find someone to make me happy, someone that would treat me like a princess.

If my husband was still here.....I would be spending every second of every day finding happiness with him. I would do anything to have him right by my side, but as we all know - we don't get a say in the matter. What I do get a say in....is how I live my life now. I am still here.....I am still alive......and I will continue living.

To my friends and family who judge? I guess I say to them - when you have lived everything I have lived through in the last 4 years....well, then you get to decide how I should be handling things now. I do not dishonor my husband by moving on.....I honor him by continuing to live, with his love and memory in my heart forever.

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You wrote

"If my husband was still here.....I would be spending every second of every day finding happiness with him. I would do anything to have him right by my side, but as we all know - we don't get a say in the matter. What I do get a say in....is how I live my life now. I am still here.....I am still alive......and I will continue living.

To my friends and family who judge? I guess I say to them - when you have lived everything I have lived through in the last 4 years....well, then you get to decide how I should be handling things now. I do not dishonor my husband by moving on.....I honor him by continuing to live, with his love and memory in my heart forever".

Clearly you have this under control just by what you posted, I also have met someone and it has caused a total isolation from my wife's children and they are not honoring there Mother's wishes as she wanted, I am approaching the 1 year mark on Valentines Day, Brenda has been a true God send and we have connected as we both thought we never would again, see her husband passed in August 2009 and the twist for me is Brenda is my wife's niece, we all have to put ourselves first we have shared our new companionship with her children and mine and I must say all is good, they all except that we need to be happy and they want us happy as I would imagine all of our children do, you are honest and so truthful in your feelings posted and it's very positive energy feeling what we have found, for me I have found a new me, someone who is still alive and full of so much love, my wife Ruth and I spoke many times of my finding someone else should she not beat the cancer but we both never thought she wouldn't come out OK but as we know things went differant...

in my thoughts you are doing what your heart tells you and I support you in everyway, in fact I'm so thankful that God has brought Steve into your life, I pray everyone who has, is and will go thru what we are finds someone to share there life with should they choose, I like you still honor my wife's presence in my life as she will never leave the spot in my heart she took many years ago and at times I feel her encouragement in my new journey as I prepare to move and leave our home because her children are so selfish and do not understand what and how we feel and have decided not to honor there Mother's wishes and convey there intrest in the home to me as my wife did not have a will and my name is not on the deed, but it's OK in fact they are doing me a favor as the property is underwater due to a mortage she aquired before I met her, I take every day as a day God decides what happens, not me....and this all must be part of the plan for me....stay positive and stand your ground lady I assure you as a husband I would want that for my wife if the circumstanses were flipped the otherway.....

God Bless


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Hi Perkins, I have just a couple minutes until I have to run out, but wanted to voice my support for you and offer an opinion on how your friends and family are handling things with you.

First, I am glad that you are able to enjoy the company of someone who is able to make you smile. You already know that your husband would want this for you, so, as you've stated, the problem doesn't lie with inner turmoil, but instead with the turmoil others are creating. For what it's worth, I think not matter how things eventually go, you will never regret taking the high road in this situation. No doubt, everyone who was friends with you and Jeff, and especially family members, are still dealing with Jeff's death. As you mentioned, people react in wildly different ways in grief, and while some of the people in your life are not yet open to the idea of you having someone new in your life, and are not handling it as we wish people would, I don't believe it equates to them not being your friend, family member, or wanting happiness for you.

While it is true that effectively, their actions are impeding your happiness, I believe it highly unlikely that is their end goal. Not everyone is good at grief, and I speak as someone in that group--my recovery at losing my wife will be measured in geologic time. I know beyond a doubt that my Tanya would want nothing more than my happiness and for me to find someone to share my life with--that's the intellectual take. My internal wiring makes me feel like I'm cheating, being disloyal, etc., even though I know intellectually this is not true. I don't hold anyone else to this standard, so I don't know why my brain is holding me hostage.

You know the friends and family that are causing you distress, so only you can determine whether or not their actions are directed at you because they're unconcerned about your happiness, or whether they are having trouble processing Jeff's death as it relates to you as a couple. It could also be cultural dogma that insists you wait a certain amount of time before removing your black veil. These sorts of things are part of our history, and consequently are part of our internal wiring--some more than others.

If you are gentler with your friends and family than they're being with you, it could pay lifelong dividends.

I hope this helps a little--gotta run! ~ Steve

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Tammy, dear ~ It's unfortunate that your surprise birthday party did not turn out the way everyone had intended, but it seems to me that the solution you came to was the most appropriate one, and certainly the most considerate one on your part: to separate your party into two segments, so as not to make anyone feel uncomfortable ~ and for that you are to be commended.

I think the problem here is not so much that "everyone grieves in their own way" (which is true). The problem here (I think) is that each of you is grieving different losses. While you have lost a husband and your daughters have lost their father, your sister-in-law has lost her brother, and her parents have lost a son. We simply cannot know how this death is affecting every member of your husband's family; we can only assume that their reactions and their ways of processing this loss are unique to each of them. If you've spent any time reading the posts in each of our different forums, you already know that for each and every one of us, the worst loss is the one we are experiencing now, because we all grieve at 100%.

Again, I can only echo what Steven has already said to you: To better understand their reactions, try to put yourself in their shoes ~ and if you can, forgive them for being unable or unwilling to put themselves in yours. In the end, you cannot control what other people think of you, and as long as you live up to your own standards of behavior, as long as you approve of what you are doing and why, then you can hold your head up high and go on to live a good and happy life, knowing in your own heart that you have Jeff's blessing.

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Maybe I am hanging onto a little anger myself. Maybe if any of Jeff's family had been around when he and I were going to chemo twice a week every week.....or going to radiation daily I wouldn't have any anger. If I hadn't been the only one to hold his hand while he was getting sick from the treatments.....or the only one to take care of all his kids needs while he was exhausted. Maybe if I hadn't spent the last year and a half tiptoeing around everyone else while dealing with the fact that my husband was going to die, I would be a little more willing to see things from their point of view. Maybe if it hadn't taken 4 months for anyone in his family to come to my house to see how I was doing - while I kept hearing from different people how many "family" gatherings they were having that I wasn't even invited to.....I'd be a little more receptive. So many times while Jeff was alive I heard what an "angel" I was.....a gift to him in so many ways. And yet now that he is gone and I'm not "needed" to take care of him.....it feels like I have been kicked to the curb.

I lost my husband.....and had to deal with THAT alone. They all have spouses that they can grieve with, draw support from. I guess I have just gotten to the point where I am tired of being the bigger person. Saturday was supposed to be MY day.....and again I was the bigger person and had to come up with a solution to keep everyone else happy. I guess I'm just wondering how long is the "acceptable" amount of time to be grieving.....when am I allowed to be happy? Is there a date to circle on the calendar? If they think for one second that because I spend time with another man that I am not still grieving, they are crazy. I just now have a shoulder to cry on when the tears come.

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Oh my dear Tammy, no one here is saying that you don't have every right to be angry, and I'd venture to guess that if any one of us were in your shoes, we'd be hopping mad, too. If there is any place where you can vent your anger and feel safe in doing so, I hope you know it is here. I don't see you as "hanging onto" your anger ~ Instead, I see you as expressing it appropriately here, and that is perfectly acceptable. Please know that here you can rant and rave to your heart's content, and as long as you don't take it out on anyone else, no one ~ NO ONE ~ here will judge you for feeling as you do. I'm just glad to know that in the person of your Steve, you do have that strong shoulder to cry on, in addition to the virtual shoulders of all of us who continue to be here for you

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Dear Tammy,

I know you have been struggling to make this post. I just want to say that I know the fear you had to push though to get it done. I am so PROUD of you. I also want to wish you a Belated Happy Birthday. I want you to know also that I DO NOT JUDGE you. I totally understand how good it is for you to have Steve in your life and I am happy to know that you do. Good for you! I am sure you both benefit as you both need a "shoulder to cry on" Steve is also actively grieving. I know that you and Jeff had those conversations about the fact, should he die, he would want you to move on and be happy in life. I want to say though, even if you hadn't, it would still be OK.

I just have to say that I am feeling angry at Jeff's sister right now. To put that kind of "pressure" on your girls is inexcusable! How dare she do that to them! She and the rest of them have the right to feel however they choose and they also have a right to grieve as they choose. They do not have the RIGHT to impose that on your girls and put them in that struggle. I cry now just thinking on what your poor girls must have gone through. Not to mention the fact it was YOUR BIRTHDAY!!! YOUR DAY, and it should be all ABOUT YOU! Your poor girls were trying there best to carry out their dead Father's wish to throw you a surprise 40th birthday party. If I could I would give them both a hug!

I know you understand how Jeff's family may find it hard with you becoming friends with Steve. I know you would never want to cause them any harm. I totally get and validate that you were feeling LEFT OUT on your own BIRTHDAY and that you felt like your happiness did not matter and had to mould and shape yourself to meet others needs and not your own. I am so sorry that you and your girls were made to feel this way!

I am glad that you feel some anger actually. I feel some right along with you!

I support you to keep on keeping on. You are doing great! I know Jeff is smiling and resting in peace!


Blessings and Courage, Carol Ann

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You won't find any judgment here, nothing but understanding and well wishes. And Happy Birthday, I'm sorry the wishes are belated!

What wonderful supportive children you have! It's very unfortunate that Jeff's family would try to put your children in such a difficult position.

I do know how you feel...I remarried after George passed away and although my family was very supportive, I ran across some people who felt I just wasn't grieving properly. I remember saying, "trust me, I looked around for George, HE'S NOT HERE!" I wish my judgment had not been clouded with my grief though because my choice turned out to be horrendous and has cost me dearly...through both heartache and finances. But that is not the outcome for everyone...some have found love and had a happily ever after outcome! I can't help but urge caution only because of my experience...continue to proceed with your relationship but be careful and cautious, don't make any quick decisions or actions until you've had plenty of time to observe how things go in the long term.

As for Jeff's family, give them some space and show grace to them, understanding they are grieving too and not on their best right now...in time they will probably come around, if not, you'll have to do what you can to protect yourself. You may have to have a talk with them someday and just ask them, not necessarily to agree with you, they're entitled to feel different, but to show respect to you and your kids, that is your right. But for now, I'd give it a cooling off period until all can see things more clearly and in a different light.

Gosh, just what you needed, as if you haven't been through enough!



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Tammy, have you discussed your feelings with Jeff's family? Is that possible (for you or for them)?

If I were a betting gal, I would suspect that Jeff's sister and family are feeling guilty for the very reasons you cite. If they have any grey cells at all, they know, in their hearts that they should have been better sisters/parents/etc. while he was still alive and fighting. Perhaps they were all just very frightened. Perhaps they truly believed that he would pull through. Now that he's gone, you're a reminder of their guilt.

I don't know whether you can pull it off or not, but I would suggest meeting your sister-in-law on her turf (her kitchen for coffee?), where she feels comfortable and doesn't feel ambushed, and calmly talk to her about how you're feeling. No accusations, per se, just how disappointed and unhappy you are about their actions. I'm not sure I'd even broach the subject of Steve, at least at the beginning, because I suspect that Steve is just another excuse for them to assuage their guilt. I might also suggest to her that putting your teenage daughters in the middle was inappropriate and that she should have voiced her opinions to you.

As for being happy with Steve, that's your business. I, personally, can't see myself ever being interested in another man, but it's been less than 3 months since my Glenn died. Besides, it would take too long to train another one! I used to kid him about that all the time. :)

I think that a calm, quiet heart-to-heart with your sister-in-law might clear the air and if it doesn't, you'll know where you stand and can move on to find new friends and family.

Believe me, I know where you're coming from with family/spouse conflicts. Hugs.


Sometimes I wish I was an orphan

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Hi Tammy,

First of all Happy Belated Birthday fellow Aquarian! :)

I have to agree with the replies you have received. Everyone does grieve differently. I don't think that this is understood by people enough (myself included). That being said, I do think that some avoid grief altogether and in your situation, seeing you with someone else is bringing out the grief they are avoiding.

I also agree that they are feeling guilty for their lack of support when you knew Jeff was sick. I don't think now is a good time to communicate about it all. Give it some time and let things settle a bit.

I know that it can be weird seeing someone with someone else (other than their spouse) after the passing of that person. Some people have a real hard time with it. But I am sure that Jeff would want you to be happy with Steve.

I had a real weird dream many years ago when I in a serious relationship with a woman who had lost her husband. Even though it was 10 years after his passing, at times I felt really guilty; as if I was taking something that was his. In the dream, he appeared to me saying that he had lost his chance to be a good husband and had his time with her and their son. He told me to be happy with them and please take great care of them. I have no doubt that this was more than a dream. I believe his spirit was telling me it was okay.

I am sure Jeff would feel the same about Steve. Just the fact that you talk about him shows you are honoring him and that Steve respects him. It is all good!

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I want to thank you all for your thoughts and insights. It is good to vent in the heat of the moment.....and then calm down and be able to see the big picture. I appreciate being able to do that here.

I can tell you that as much as I appreciate everything that my kids did for my birthday, I am so glad it is done and over with. It's kind of sad how much stress it caused. I try to be conscious of the fact that everyone is still grieving.....but what my sister in law put my kids through was unfair. She was lucky that I was able to control my "mama bear" instincts and put a smile on my face and pretend like I didn't know about anything that was going on. Academy award for having a look of surprise on my face? Definitely.....when what I really wanted to do at that point was hide away somewhere and have myself a good cry.

Ultimately I have decided that I'm going to work on my own happiness and not worry so much about everything else going on around me. I seem to spend a lot of time trying to please everyone else....and have come to the realization that I will never be able to please everyone. I keep telling myself to remember what Jeff used to say - people come in and out of your life - the really important ones are the ones that always want to be in your life.....and it isn't a whole lot of effort to keep them there.

I continue on in my journey through grief.....every day gets a little better. I wish the same for all of you!



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Dear Tammy,

When I read your post I thought of Mary Oliver's poem, The Journey. I want to share it with you. I am so proud of you. This work, this path, is difficult enough without all the unneccessary stress that others can sometimes bring to it. My mamma bear instincts where right there too when you told us what your sister-in-law did to your girls. I am the first one to say that everyone has a right to greive in their own way. I understand that it is hard for Jeff's sister, she is greiving the loss of her brother and my heart goes out to her as well. However, we all have a duty to keep all children safe from harm no matter what is going on in within our emotional self. I don't see that your sister-in-law lived up to that duty. Academy Award, for sure, for to have said something to your sister-in-law in the moment, no doubt would not have been received well, and caused yet more harm to your girls. So I say thank you for being a Mother who puts the needs of her children before her own.

Good for you Tammy! Like I said before; you are an inpiration to me!

Blessings and Courage, Carol Ann

ps: I did have the thought of you and Steve, and your girls, perhaps doing something more just the 4 of you to celebrate your Birthday. I know Jeff would support that for sure!

The Journey

One day you finally knew

what you had to do, and began,

though the voices around you

kept shouting

their bad advice--

though the whole house

began to tremble

and you felt the old tug

at your ankles.

"Mend my life!"

each voice cried.

But you didn't stop.

You knew what you had to do,

though the wind pried

with its stiff fingers

at the very foundations,

though their melancholy

was terrible.

It was already late

enough, and a wild night,

and the road full of fallen

branches and stones.

But little by little,

as you left their voices behind,

the stars began to burn

through the sheets of clouds,

and there was a new voice

which you slowly

recognized as your own,

that kept you company

as you strode deeper and deeper

into the world,

determined to do

the only thing you could do--

determined to save

the only life you could save.

Mary Oliver

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Wow. Reading through what you have gone through I am really just in awe of your wisdom in dealing with so much. I wish very much that some of my friends who have lost spouses could understand that the ones they loved (and will ALWAYS love!) would want them to be happy, to *live life* and share it with someone who will delight in it with them. Finding joy today does not lessen the joys of yesterday!

I absolutely understand your hurt at feeling judged by family who weren't there when they were needed, and now feel the need to exert unwanted influence on your life when it is not needed or desired! I am outraged on your behalf, and applaud your decision to focus more on your own happiness and healing -- it's time and you deserve it! The fact that your daughters could come to you when they were unfairly put in a tough situation while just trying to do something nice for their Mom -- it sounds like you have a good, trusting relationship with them and that they are ok with Steve's place in your life. What a blessing that must be!

I know we don't really know each other but I still feel really proud of you, if that makes any sense, and just wanted to tell you so. Oh, and happy belated birthday -- here's wishing you many more with much less stress! :)

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Tammy, you are indeed very wise. You keep working on your happiness, way to go!

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Anything I could offer has already been said in this post. Therefore, Happy Belated Birthday to you.


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