Monday, August 17, 2015

Does It Get Easier?

I don't know about some of you who are further down the line like I am...but sometimes I feel like I'm doing a disservice to the newbies when I tell them it gets easier.

I don't mean to and it's not like I'm lying - I think the problem is that "easier" isn't the right word.

And I don't know what is.

Let's see...the synonyms for "easier" are the following:

calmer (  That doesn't apply.)
relaxed (Are you kidding me?)
comfortable (Never.)
simpler, uncomplicated, effortless and unproblematic (There's laughing in my head right now.)

Okay, so all of you newcomers are right.  It doesn't get easier.

But there are a lot of us out there functioning and many are doing it quite well.  So, what's the deal?

Every once in a while, I come across an article or a quote in a book that perfectly describes something that I've experienced better than I could ever articulate.  I love it when that happens.  I feel like hugging the writer and saying, "YES.  Thank you so much for putting into words what I couldn't!"  

But it's hard when the right word doesn't even seem to exist.

I think most of us who have been hanging out in the Widowhood will often use the word "adapt" when it comes to describing where we might be years after the initial crumbling of our former worlds.  And when I look up the synonyms for that (sorry about the impromptu vocab lesson), the following words come up:

alter (Okay.  I'm trying.)
adjust (Working on it.)
change (And HOW.)
rework (Don't rush me.)
fit ( there's a thinker.)

I've been trying to think of an analogy that might fit this situation, but most are pretty inadequate.  I've been thinking about the summer I sprained my ankle and was in one of those boots for a few weeks.  Yes, the boot made my foot feel better, but I had to change the way I walked and that caused me some lower back pain.

The injury was there.  And while I tried to fix it the pain moved to another location.

I know that's kind of a dumb way to think about the pain of grief, but it does sometimes seem like the moment we fix one injury, another comes up in its place; as soon as we get used to sleeping in a bed alone we get invited to a wedding and have no "plus one" and that sends us over the edge once again.  The focus shifts from what we previously thought was so hard to the challenge that's before us.

And that's not easy.


It does make me wonder if those of us who have learned to be adaptable are the ones who are able to say it gets "easier."  And I actually don't think that you're either adaptable or you're not - I think that it depends on the situation.  

There have been times in my life when I've fought so hard to hold on to my past that it would be impossible for me to change.  And then there are times when I've closed my eyes and jumped, hoping that it will all work out.

And it does.  One way or the other. 

I guess the bottom line is the idea of widowhood getting "easier" in any way totally depends on the person.  We all know that all of our timelines are different, our situations are different, and our coping methods are completely individual.  

I know that, in the beginning, when someone would tell me that it gets easier, I wanted to know the exact date, time, and cause of death of the person's spouse so that I could compare notes with my own situation.  

" her husband died two years before an in exactly six months, four days, and three hours things should be getting easier."

Doesn't work like that.

And the truth is, that what "easier" means to someone could be completely different from your definition:  She could mean that she actually took a shower that morning and remembered to put on matching shoes while you're thinking she means that she is now remarried, got a promotion at work, and is training for a marathon.

I can assure you, that this journey is never "easy" for anyone...I don't care how far out you are or what your current life situation is.  Life will never be "simpler, uncomplicated, and effortless."

But then never was.


  1. Here are my thoughts:
    accustomed - we become accustomed to our new situation
    familiar - it is now the 'familiar' face of our life
    The sharp edge of our grief has become blunted over time.
    I say this as I sit in the midst of *my* bedroom, where there used to be a queen size bed, and there is now a twin, and a desk, and stacks of 'stuff' moved from other rooms for me to sort. Sometimes a blunt instrument can hurt pretty bad, too.

  2. Someone told me, "it doesn't get better but it does get easier." But you're right, 'easier' doesn't really describe it, especially as 'easier' is defined. I like Katiu's line above that the "sharp edge of our grief has become blunted over time."

    It's been six years for me and I'm creating a life I love but that doesn't mean I don't miss him and which I had my old life back. It only means that I'm creating something I also love in place of what I've lost.

  3. I think it gets less "intense". We are not as surprised by the pain now, we are more used to it, but that doesn't take away the pain it just lessens the initial impact. The pain itself is just more familiar.

  4. When my spouse died a widower wtote and offered sympathy and told of his experience, using words "you get used to it" and I have found his words to be true.

    You don't want to "get used to it" but the reality of a death and what it means for living settles in over time.

    The void is there; the pain remains. The tears can come in unpredictable ways. I miss my spouse every day. Not easy. But I am able to focus on a new "now" and move forward. I can laugh and I can dance (now I just have to find someone with whom to dance!).

    But if I don't I know I will be OK.

    The widower who offered these words is now gone also. I found his words helpful and sustaining during rough patches (you know what I mean).

    I offer his words in hopes they may help others also.
    Virtual hugs come your way.

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