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5. "You're taking it so well"

No, I don't. Not even close. Not even after so many years.

But let's go back to D-day and the first few weeks and months. When you imagine yourself in a widow's situation, what is your first thought? That you would be devastated, that you wouldn't be able to cope, wouldn't even know what to do, where to start, a combination of these or something similar, right? Those are the exact thoughts widows have. Difference is, right there and then it doesn't matter! They need to do it somehow, even when they are devastated or can't cope and doesn't have any will to even get up at the morning. They have to. So, they try their best.

Let's list some reasons of why one could think we are taking it so well. To start with, widows are pitied and many of them have someone in their lives who would enjoy seeing them breaking down. It's a sad, but a realistic possibility. So, when they choose to go through this with grace, head held high up and hiding their most vulnerable moments and breakdowns from the world, that's not them 'taking it well' - it's them keeping their dignity and others noses out of their business.

Do they function, organizing everything form the wake to the funeral, the estate matters, insurance, solicitors, and whatnot like a pro? The practical and bureaucratical necessities are tasks on a to-do list that cannot be skipped and they are extremely important, and frankly, confusing as hell. They must be done right and when completed, they can give some sense of control and structure of the fight. Like, okay, one thing is over, it's sorted, onto the next. Powering through. This is not them 'taking it well' either - it's a survival mechanism. My own experience with this was that I was switched into a different mode completely when dealing with all these, and about six months later, when is was all over and there was nothing more to sort out - I ended up in a deep-deep hole - because I only had my grief left to deal with, and guess what? I did not take it well. Did I show it to anyone? God, no.

Do they take care of themselves, did not become frumpy, the house is not a mess, and they might continued with their hobbies or participate in gatherings and even have some fun and let out one or two heartful laughs? Good for them, this is great! Does it mean they are 'taking it well'? No. What should they do? Sit in a corner of a dark room, crying all day? God knows on some days that's all we want to do, but that's not the right direction, is it? Most widows do their best to live this new life and heck, even enjoy it here and there. This doesn't lessen their grief and certainly does not mean that they are taking it well. What it means that they are really good in pretending that they don't feel as bad as they actually do.

Of course, how time passes, they will take it better and better. They adapt and grow around their grief, but it will never fully go away. Take me as an example. I'm four and a half years out as I'm typing this. I learned to lived with my loss, completed a degree, changed jobs (multiple times), I have small successes in my hobby, I travel, go out, laugh.. You can say I am doing well. I took this whole thing as well as I could - which was quite bad overall. And on some days, it's just as bad as it was at the beginning.

I can't decide if this comment is a compliment or a hidden judgement, but it doesn't really matter. As a compliment, it's wrong because they very likely just fake it well enough so technically you're complementing their acting skills, and if they mean it as judgement, well, they can go with it to a different direction, far, far away, keep walking, then stay there.

To learn more about the nosy, inappropriate and straight stupid, I mean ignorant comments, check out my book on the below link:


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