On March 15, 2017, it will be two years since Steve took his own life. I went back to read the blog I had written a year ago on the first anniversary of Steve’s death. Much of that blog talked about my grieving and my observations of how people re-act to those that grieve. Some things have not changed in the past two years. I still cry a lot over the loss of Steve and I miss him terribly. On the plus side, I have found out who my true friends are and I am learning not to lament the loss of individuals in my life who I thought were people that once cared about me.
I did have an interesting “aha moment” this week. It was precipitated by two experiences. The first was a blog I read called “Widowhood: The Glass House Of Grief”. It was written by Michelle Steinke (One Fit Widow). Michelle lost her husband several years ago in a tragic accident. Here are some very interesting excerpts from her blog:
“Regardless of your kind of loss people are going to tell you that you are doing it wrong, you should be doing it differently, and they know the way”
“You should not be judged as to how you process your pain – but you will be.”
This brings me to the second part of my “aha moment” experience. It came in the form of a communication from someone that was connected to Steve and myself. This is someone I no longer have a relationship with. To give you some background, I did not attend Steve’s funeral. It would not surprise me if some that read this may be judging me right now. How could I NOT attend the funeral of the love of my life for over 33 years? I have my reasons which I will not go into and given the circumstances, in retrospect, I wouldn’t have done anything differently. Regardless, it does not matter what my reasons were, it was part of my grief journey and I did what I had to do to survive one of the most painful and life altering experiences of my life. Also, how I acted while grieving does not justify some of the cruel actions that a few have taken after Steve died, some which have occurred as recently as February of this year.
In the communication I received this week, I was told that all of Steve’ relatives and friends supported the family and I chose not to be at the services during that painful time. That brought me back to what Michelle Steinke’s said about being judged. It is starting to become clearer to me now as to why many may have reacted the way they did to me. Previously, I chalked up the unkind words or actions and avoidance of me to my being public about the cause of Steve’s suicide or perhaps I was blamed for his death or even because people just did not know what to say. Now, I am thinking I may have been unfairly judged.
Steve and I were cognizant of the fact that it is human nature to be judgmental at times and we tried to help each other to refrain from doing so. We never forgot about a yoga class we took in California where the instructor said judging people makes our hips tight. From that point on, when either one of us would start to judge someone, the other would ask “are your hips getting tight?” This would make us smile and we would try to have a little empathy for the person instead of judging them.
We both realized, as hard as it may be not to judge others, no one has the right to do so unless one has walked a mile in someone else’s shoes (which is virtually impossible). In my situation, no one could possibly know what I experienced in the years leading up to Steve’s death, or the aftermath I struggled through after he died. No one was ever in the room with us when we talked about our life together or what we wanted done should one of us die before the other one.
Judging a person for how they handle their grief is a place no one should ever go. At some point in our lives, we will all experience the horrific agony of the loss of a loved one and we do not need the additional pain of being judged by others as to what we should or should not do on our grief journey.
I think now would be a good time for me to go practice some yoga. Notice I say practice, as it is something that I must do every day to become proficient at keeping my hips loose.