For those of you who don’t know, year two of widowhood is brutal. And I want to explore this concept, I have spent more time thinking about this than I would like to admit.
When I first joined the online group Hot Young Widows Club (which I have mentioned before), I noticed that a lot of wids (my gender neutral term for widows and widowers) who were in their second year of widowhood were saying that it was harder than year one. And I couldn’t wrap my mind around the concept. I thought there was no way it could be harder than what I am dealing with right now.
But now that I am more than halfway through year two, I know they were right. And I’m here to break down why I think that is the case.
In year one, you spend a lot of time in shock. And if you’re anything like me, you also spend a lot of time sleeping. And your main goal is to just survive and get past that horrendous one year mark. And our minds trick us into thinking that if we just get past that day, we will somehow be okay.
But then you hit the one year mark. And it doesn’t get better. The shock begins to wear off and the finality of it all starts to kick in. On top of that, year two really challenges you to start living again. People become less patient with your grief. You become less patient with your grief. You begin to wonder if it will ever get better or if you’re destined to feel this overwhelming weight and sadness forever. You question if you can ever overcome this loss.
The answer to those questions is yes, you can. But the process of learning how to live without your person can be extremely challenging. Especially depending on age, if you have children, what your support network is like, if you have things like PTSD to also battle and overcome, all sorts of different circumstances that exist.
The weight of widowhood can be so heavy. Even when we do have those moments of happiness, escape, or normalcy all it takes is one tiny thing and it can send you crashing down into the pit of despair as I call it. There’s so many different major transitions, and you’re learning to navigate an entirely foreign life that not only did you not ask for, you’re also missing your person that you’re used to leaning on when times get hard. It is daunting and overwhelming on so many different levels. It can be really intimidating to be the sole person making these choices when you’re used to having a partner to bounce ideas off of.
So, if you know someone who is in year two of widowhood, be kind to them. Let go of the thought “it’s been a year already get it together” because that is not how it works. Help them find themselves and their new normal. Give them space to continue to struggle. Encourage them when they are battling to put their life back together. Hold them when they break down. And by all means, do not tell them that they are grieving too long or grieving in the wrong way. Grief expresses itself in extremely unique ways, just let it be.