As widows, we spend a lot of time saying, 'I'm okay'. 'I'm coping.' 'I'll be fine.' 'No, it's okay, I can manage.'
Sometimes we are putting on a brave face for work, protecting our family because we don't want them to worry, fretting that we are boring our friends with our grief, or avoiding the subject because we just don't want to talk about it.
I believe that we need to think about being honest with people about what we are going through. I don't mean tell everyone that you meet on the bus that you are a grieving widow (though you can if you want), instead being open to those people who care. After all, we can't expect them to be honest with us if we're not honest with them.
Sometimes, we are pretending to ourselves. Pretending to be okay is allowed to give us a break from all that… stuff. Our brains actually can shuttle between okay and not okay to protect us, in what's known as the dual process model.
Pretending long term isn't so good. It can be emotionally and physically exhausting. Being honest to ourselves about our grief, accepting that it's how we feel, and sitting with it, can help us to process our feelings.
It's important to remember that it’s OK not to be OK.
I was widowed at 50 when Tim, who I expected would be my happy-ever-after following a marriage break-up, died suddenly from heart failure linked to his type 2 diabetes. Though we'd known each other since our early 20s, we'd been married less than ten years.