There is going to be a lot of triggers that will remind you of your lost loved one. Some you may think about and dread, but others can take you quite by surprise. As time goes by, those triggers of memories won’t be quite so painful, but in the beginning they can be quite overwhelming. Some of them may be so random that you will never know when they will pop up.
Some of the small triggers that bring you to tears can be eliminated to help you cope and some of them can be enhanced to make you feel better. For instance, my husband always used Head and Shoulders shampoo. In the beginning, when I grabbed the bottle to wash my hair, the smell overwhelmed me and I remembered how he smelt, fresh from the shower. I got rid of the bottle of shampoo and replaced it with a lavender scented one. Lavender is a very relaxing scent.
When I was really, really lonely I would put a bit of his aftershave on one of his shirts and sleep in it. While it did make me miss him, the scent of the aftershave seemed to comfort me. I was used to smelling that scent on the pillows and bedclothes, so I guess it was a sense of normal. Strange how one scent can really upset you and another seems to comfort, isn’t it? But it does happen.
You might seem to be coping quite well one minute and then something will trigger a memory and the pain and grief will come sweeping back. I found that I couldn’t watch certain TV shows anymore because we had enjoyed them together. PBR bull riding was something we enjoyed watching. We would cheer on our favorite riders and bulls. When I tried to watch it alone, the empty spot beside me on the sofa was just too overwhelming.
These triggers are all part of the process. As time goes on, you will learn certain ones that trigger a warm smile and which ones are still too painful to handle. Some just take you by surprise. You may be in a room full of people and think you are doing fine, when you hear a bit of a song, or someone says something that reminds you of a memory. There is no reason to hide your emotion, because friends and family will understand.
It’s been nearly 4 years for me now and while some of the triggers bring a smile to my face, there are still others that will resort me to tears. Hiding your emotions to put on a “happy face” is not good for you and your friends and family shouldn’t expect you too. Your loved one may be gone, but the memories will last forever and you never know when one might surface. I promise that eventually many of them will make you smile and feel all warm and fuzzy…
Losing your husband also means losing your best friend, the person you spent the most time with. In the beginning there are plenty of people around, popping in from time to time to check on you. Eventually people get on with their lives and assume you will do the same. How do you “get on” with a life that is now so much different?
If you had been married for a very long time, like I was, you probably don’t really know how to be alone. My days were okay, because I was used to him spending long hours at work. The hardest time of day was that time slot when you are thinking about what to fix for dinner and you realize there is no one to fix dinner for.
If you feel like fixing a full meal and setting the table for dinner, continue doing it. It is a sense of normal that you may need to cling too. The first time my family sat down to a birthday dinner was the hardest. My husband’s empty chair just seemed to scream at everyone. My daughter-in-law quietly got up and got a place setting and glass to fill the empty space at the end of the table where he always sat. It added a sense of normalcy to the table that helped us. There is nothing wrong with doing it, especially if it helps your loneliness.
Evenings by yourself will be the time when you feel the loneliness set in. Those hours between dinner and bedtime seem to stretch on and on. You may even find that you can’t enjoy the same television shows that the two of you used to watch together. Change the channel and find something that you will enjoy. As awful as it sounds, try watching something that perhaps you never watched because your spouse didn’t like it.
The longer you sit around and think about how lonely you are, the lonelier you will get. You may even find yourself sinking into deeper depression and you really want to overcome that feeling. Change your chore list around so that you have something to do in the evenings. Do the laundry, or scrub the floor to keep yourself busy for a short time. The important thing is not to sit and dwell on your loneliness.
Social media sites are great ways to ease the loneliness without actually having to deal with people. If you have never tried facebook, it can be a wonderful way to feel connected to the outside world. There are many groups you can join, and I’ll tell you from personal experience, that the people you meet can quickly become your friend. Besides, it is sometimes easier to type your feelings out to someone across a screen then it is to sit face to face with family or friends.
My facebook friends got me through some really rough evenings and many of them are now true friends, even though we have never met. It is great to know that a friend is just a log in away anytime you need to talk, or can’t sleep. You are welcome to send me a friend request at My Facebook Profile and I will help you overcome the loneliness and spend the evening with you, just like many people did for me.
My name is Donna and I am just and Everyday Woman trying to figure out this aging thing, I also get to figure out how to do the Widow's Walk through life. I lost my husband to cancer nearly four years ago, after being with him since I was 15-years old. He was always a big fan of my writing ability and I thought, "What better way to honor him, than to keep on writing and maybe be able to help someone else who is going down this same path.