Saturday, August 8, 2015

Just a Shell?

I have been reading some blogs by other widows.  One (The Cat Widow) is from a rather young (just 30 years old) widow.  When I find one of these blogs, I like to find the posts they wrote when they were as far along into widowhood as I am.  For me, it was 3 months yesterday.  I was busy most of the day, but the times I was on my own, I had a harder time than expected.  At one point I was in my car crying and really missing Rudy and then, dammit, I hit a racoon.  I'm such an animal lover, so that was pretty horrific.  Instead of crying worse, I shut down.  Just went numb.  I drove the rest of the way home in a state of nothingness.

Today, I read a post from The Cat Widow that made me think about that numbness.  First, she explained the difference between grief and mourning.  I had never heard there was a difference.

Grief is an internal process. Lots of emotions come into play and the process is different for everyone. Mourning, however, is grief that is expressed to the world. Mourning is how a person works through her grief by outwardly expressing the things she is feeling inside.
I have plenty of grief, but I avoid mourning.  I work really hard to hide my sadness.  I work hard to be cheerful and make sure others are comfortable around me.  I don't want to cry in front of other people.  I prefer to be alone with my sadness.

Then, her post went on to say this -
In grad school and during my time doing a graduate internship with hospice, I was taught that grief without mourning is frightening and destructive. Grief without mourning is how people become shells of their former selves. How people succumb to demons and emotional pain. How people get stuck and cannot move forward. 
 That got my attention, especially because of the part about becoming shells of their former selves.  That struck home because I often feel like a shell.  All empty inside.  I shut down often - just like I did with the racoon.  The shutting down is scarier than feeling sad.  I can't even explain it.

This is not my drawing, but it
sort of fit how I feel sometimes.
If I believe the grad school logic in her post, then it would be prudent for me to try to open up more.  Unfortunately, I don't think I can do that.  I don't even want to do that.  You won't see me breaking down in front of others, but maybe my writing can count as my mourning.  I can write some of what I'm feeling.

I'm not going to worry too much about being a shell. I don't think I'll get stuck in this state.  I know I'm not going to succumb to demons or not be able to move forward.  I don't know how long it will take to get a little real life back in me, but I feel sure it'll happen.  I'll just continue faking it 'til I make it. Sometimes faking it feels real.

Anyway, maybe it's best to look at this shell thing another way - a shell is a protective covering.  I'll use it as long as I need it.

By the way, grief is different for everyone.  Even though I am not in total agreement with the point of view in The Cat Widow's aforementioned post, I really do like her blog.  Her posts could be really helpful to other widows.  Her husband committed suicide due to ongoing pain.  I think that adds a whole extra level of pain to the grieving process.  She's dealing with it gracefully.