Widowed, Alone, Lonely, Grieving: Picking At Old Scabs?

Patricia Hubbard

Visitors: 327

What did you mom tell you about picking at scabs?

“Don’t do that, you will only make your sore worse!” Was mom right about the scab picking. “If you pull off the scab, you may have a scar forever. " Maybe she was right.

What does all this junk talk have to do with being lonely? Well, we all do it, we pick at our painful parts. We cry about how our life stinks, we lament the loneliness and wish we could go back to the “good ole days” when our spouse was here with us.

That is not necessarily a bad thing, but how long are we allowed to linger in that cesspool? What do we accomplish by scab picking?

Does it bring our loved one back? Does it feel better? Are we moving ahead with our lives? Well, yes and no.

The Process of Grief

At first, when the wound is deep it is so painful:
1) We are shocked that this could happen to us, “I never thought he/she could leave me.
2) We cry, sometime endlessly, it seems. Loss hurts a lot.
3) We refuse to believe we are truly alone.
4) We are angry.
5) We want to blame someone, anyone, God, the hospital, the Doctor, our spouse for smoking or not taking care of his or her health. We may blame ourselves.
6) Undeserved, guilt, sometimes infects our ability to see clearly.
7) If we do the right things, we begin to heal from the inside to the outside. The scab forms and the pain lessens. Then, maybe we feel strong enough to think of other things. Just maybe, we can hope for happiness again.

If we try to pull the scab off too soon, we go back and revisit all these places again. Again, deep wounds have to heal from the inside, out.

If one thinks he/she is different and can forego all the previous emotional ups and downs, they are preparing for a fall. It could be a month or even years, but the process of grief is not escapable.

Patty Thought She Had The Tiger By The Tail

Patty and her husband had had a very rewarding marriage. They loved each other very much, made many good memories, and were able to weather the ups and downs of a step-family situation until the children were grown and on their own. Her husband, Sam, became ill as a result of his years of smoking. After 8 years of using oxygen, mountains of pills, regular doctor visits and twelve hospital stays, he became progressively worse. They had to accept the inevitable, that he was dieing.

As far as Patty was concerned she felt she had grieved before his death. Each night she went to bed, she did not know if it would be his last or not. “Facing reality, ” made her feel she had the whole grieving thing already whipped.

She managed to stand tall through the funeral with unusual strength and little tears shed. After all, they were celebrating his life, not his death. Friends marveled at her courage.

Two weeks later, she sat in church, alone, looking at all the families and began to realize she was alone, really alone! Trying to remain aloof to the lump in her throat, she looked at a couple, seated two rows ahead of her. The husband put his arm around his wife’s waist.

Then came the FLOOD! Patty could not stay in the church; sobs racked her body so badly that she had to go outside. A friend saw what took place and followed her. Listening to her painful lament, with the patience of a saint, her friend, Fran, told her it was very normal for her to feel the pain and ok that she was crying so profusely. Needless to say, Patty had to go home to mourn alone for the rest of the day and then some. Patty engaged in one support group after another until the well dried up and she felt strong alone.

There are some who feel it is a weakness to break down, cry, to feel sorry for yourself. Patty learned it was a part of the healing process when losing a spouse.

Trying To Fill The Hole Of Loneliness, Too Soon

George was a different story. He and his high school sweetheart had many reasonably, happy years together. When Cancer came to call, life took a downward turn. Realizing that her time was short, Susan told George, “Don’t you stay alone; you need to find someone to love you when I am gone. ”

Taking her at her word, he began his “search” 6 months after her death. Wrong!

Granted he and his wife had actually grown up together, but they were married 35 years ago. Let’s face it, things change! People are different, morals are different, and customs are different. Courting in the 70’s was quite different from 2007. That young man who married in the 70’s was naive about the culture then, but today, life changes at warp speed. He is in a jungle, in comparison.

After being rejected on many levels, his self-image was showing. It could be compared to throwing a kid into the water and telling him to swim!

Guess what? George is picking his scabs again. Bewildered, wondering why he is not sought after, needed, and appreciated. George must understand that he has not let his scab heal over yet. Regardless of his wife’s caring for her husband, she put him under unusual stress to find someone, thinking it would make it all better. It is not going to happen. George in trying to find someone to replace her, will probably be very disillusioned, because no one can BE anyone else. George needs to spend time understanding:

1) Who he is.
2) What is important to him?
3) What are his likes and dislikes. Does he like quiet times, or the party scene?
4) Would he enjoy the freedom of traveling, fishing, golfing, just sitting in front of the TV with no responsibilities of another person, but himself?
5) Are there things he could not abide in another person? Supposed she smoked or drank too much, would that cause him to be repulsed?
6) Did he have an unfulfilled desire to become a sculptor, or writer?
7) Is religion important to him? Is that a non-negotiable?

A newly widowed person owes it to him or herself to explore these and other issues before bringing another person into their personal environment. It is also not fair to the other person to enter a relationship without offering a whole person, without, unhealed scabs.

For more tips and tools to on how to survive divorce and loss and make healthy relationship choices you are invited to visit: http://www.butterflyintonewlife.blogspot.com/

Patricia Hubbard has Facilitated a Support Group for Separated, Divorced and Widowed people for the past 11 years. She has been the writer/ producer of “SINGLES PERSPECTIVES" a newsletter for Single Friends in Christ, a social group for Singles in Virginia Beach. Besides her writing, coaching separated, divorced and widowed persons occupies most of her time.


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