Shattered by loss; it is hard to deal with the death of a loved one
Dear Annie: Last month, I lost the man of my dreams, my husband. It hurts so bad without him. I don’t know what to do. I miss him terribly. He was my everything for years now. He was my heart and soul. My heart is broken into a million pieces. I have talked with counselors; some help, others don’t. We still had so many plans for the future. It just hurts. I want him back but I can’t have that. I want to cry and at the same time want to laugh and smile for all the good times we had. I feel so lost and empty without him. I feel like I lost a part of me that day. Is there any advice you can give me? — Grieving Wife
Dear Grieving Wife: I am so incredibly sorry for your loss. As therapist and grief advocate Megan Devine writes in her book “It’s OK that You’re Not OK”: “There is a quiet, a stillness, that pervades everything in early grief. Loss stuns us into a place beyond language.” There are no words to adequately address your pain, but here is my meager attempt.
You’ve suffered a devastating blow. It feels like you lost a part of yourself that day because you did. I won’t attempt to offer you solutions, because your grief is not a problem; it’s the natural reaction to this traumatic, life-altering event. I say all this not to make you feel worse but to make you feel heard. All of your feelings — from desperation, to anger, to numbness, to the whole-body heartache that thrums beneath it all — are valid.
That doesn’t mean you’re condemned to a lifetime of suffering, or that you need to endure this alone. I commend you for reaching out to others for support over the past few weeks, and I encourage you to keep doing so. Continue trying out counselors until you find one you like. Eventually, you might even consider joining a grief support group. While the pandemic may make it difficult to meet in person, there are online grief-support communities, such as Grieving.com and GriefInCommon.com.
Lastly, keep holding onto those good memories like a raft. No one can ever take them away.
Dear Annie: I am 32 and living at my childhood home with my mother. I was once away at college and had several mediocre jobs in a few different cities. However, my inability to find a job that paid well enough to sustain my independence resulted in me moving home with my mother a few years ago. I was laid off in May due to COVID-19, but my employment there was rocky anyway.
I look back on certain failures, and I’m incredibly embarrassed and ashamed. I am desperate to take responsibility for my life and become an adult, but the fear and my inadequacy are overwhelming. I am having difficulty coping. Am I destined to struggle for the rest of my life? — Man-Child
Dear Man: It breaks my heart to hear how you talk to yourself. I can tell from your letter that you’re a thoughtful, emotionally intelligent person. But all the reassurances in the world won’t mean a thing if your depression and anxiety keep getting the last word. So, first and foremost, you must prioritize your mental health, through therapy and any other necessary treatment. And if you feel like you might hurt yourself or just would like someone to talk to, you can call 800-273-8255 any time.
Additionally, taking part in something bigger than oneself is a spiritual salve. I strongly encourage you to volunteer somewhere, whether virtually or in person. You can find opportunities at volunteermatch.org. You have a lot to offer the world. We need you.
“Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie” is out now! Annie Lane’s debut book — featuring favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette — is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to firstname.lastname@example.org.