About a year after Tom died, I felt a bit of relief from grieving. It was my goal to get through that first year, thinking I’d feel better afterward. Well, I felt the weight of the sadness lift and, shortly after, embarked on a few adventures out of my comfort zone.
Initially, this felt good, and I figured I was over the worst of it. But I began to hear from widow/widowers and read that the second year can be harder than the first. I dismissed this thinking confident I was tougher than most and this wouldn’t happen to me.
Meanwhile, I started having some negative experiences — with guys and dating, with my job due to a looming layoff and with my health. With each setback, I started grieving again. I was back to crying and, even though active socially, just felt really glum a lot. My revelation was that the second year of grieving can be harder than the first.
Why? It becomes harshly real that your loved one is dead — for good. You see your married friends together enjoying travel, parties, nights out with other couples and you aren’t. You see your couples friends taking care of each other, and realize you have no one to protect you anymore — but you.
So, yes, don’t fool yourself that if you tough out that first year, it will be better. I’ve now started my third year as a widow, and I think I may have weathered the eye of the storm. I still cry and have my moments, but I’m thinking about other things. I’m not obsessing anymore. My concerns are more focused on what I’m doing this weekend for fun, who is available to go out and the well being of my friends and family.
After all, I managed to avoid getting laid off, and I’m keeping men at a distance for now. Who knows what lies ahead.