“You’re so brave. I could never go through something like this.”

I know you mean well, but try not to say this out loud. I’m not being brave. And I am most certainly not “the Merry Widow”. Brave was making my marriage work despite his many affairs and through the worsening disabilities we both faced. What I’m facing now is merely getting through this terrible event. Do not mix bravery with having to go through what got thrown at me. Do not mistake me enjoying myself in a social situation with my broken heart. Two different things. Believe me, I’d turn tail and run if I could.

My grandmother, who had lost a son (my uncle) when he was only 42, would say, “Some things you just have to live through.” That’s very true. Some things you just have to put your head down, lean into and get through. If you love someone and I presume as a sentient person there’s someone you do love, you’re going to face this loss at some point with someone you love. You’ll get through it too. We all do. Just in different ways.

This comment made me feel pretty bad and I can’t really clarify why. I’m sure the speaker was just trying to tell me they admired me and wanted me to know. But it kind of made me feel invisible, since I felt so crushed and lost. I didn’t feel brave in the least. It takes a huge amount of energy just to get through every day after the death. I’m sure she wanted to be supportive and was admiring me getting out in public at all. It just made me feel like I had no one to lean on.

Some things you just have to live through.

Born in 1961. Married in 1990. Widowed in 2007. Blogging in 2009.

4 comments On “You’re so brave. I could never go through something like this.”

  • I am constantly being told how “strong” I am. I just smile and say, “I’m glad you think so,” when, if fact, I am miserable most of the time. My husband died nearly two years ago and my pain is just as sharp as I felt at the time of his death. I not only lost my husband, but also my best friend, my lover, my confidant, my most loyal supporter. It hurts like hell, but I do the best I can to keep going through life as normal as possible.

    Life is for the living and I hope to get mine back at some point. I keep busy, I travel, I read a lot, and I try to take care of myself, but I most certainly am NOT strong!

  • 12 months down the line of being a widow….if I look strong and brave it’s just a mask I am wearing. Not brave and very lonely. The if onlys haunt me. I knew Shep was terminally ill, but we tried so very hard to squeeze so much out of his last 12 months. I try to carry on with all of our dreams and plans but in reality there is only me now….no shared plans. I miss that most of all

  • I lost my husband a little over 2 weeks ago and my friends tell me how strong and brave I am. I don’t feel that way. I break down crying many times a day. It takes all I’ve got just to male it through the day. I try to go back to work and have to hide in the bathroom to cry. I miss him so much. Just a few weeks ago we were talking about where to set up the Christmas tree. Now I have a bouquet of white lilies in its place.

  • Four weeks one day and 20 hours ago he died. Suddenly. I sometimes stray into ‘ if onlys’. I stop myself. I know it changes nothing. The small practicalities of life I cope with. The enormity of life without him is too big for me to grasp. I’m 58. There seems little point in whatever time I have left other than to make sure my boys do not have the same problems with the windi g up of my affairs as we will have with their Dads. And how do I cope when people start thinking I ‘m over it. I will never be over it. He was the whole point of my life.

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One more thing…

How else do I know what hurts and what helps? Because not only were they done to me… I learned through this process that I am certain to have done the very same "Don't" things to others at some point along the way. If you're one of them, I am genuinely sorry. I'm trying to learn.