I cannot speak for every widow, or everyone that has ever grieved a big loss, but what I can do is tell my story and hope that my truth provides some insight into the mind of a young widowed mother.
The bad is pretty obvious. My husband was dead. He left and things just went to hell in my life. I was struggling to find a “new normal”, a normal that I despised, loathed, hated… I was putting one foot in front of the other each day to take care of my 8 year old daughter. I had to work, and while the work kept me busy, and sometimes kept my thoughts from whirling around inside my head, it was one of the last things I wanted to be doing. I had insomnia, I never slept, I had no energy, and I rarely ate. I had a large burden. Everything in my world was now squarely on my shoulders, and mine alone. The bills, the mortgage, all the responsibilities of household, a child, everything. There would be no reprieve. I had to keep moving forward. My motivation each day was my daughter, and keeping her life as “normal” as humanly possible. Some days it took all my strength just to put food on the table at dinner time. Some days, while she was at school, I didn’t leave the couch, curled up in a fetal position, answering work calls and emails as necessary from my phone, doing the bare minimum to get through the day, it sometimes took all day to mentally prepare myself for my little girl to get off the bus from school, because that’s when the real movement had to begin.
The ugly is something no one wants to see or admit. As a widow, I felt selfish and didn’t care. I wanted to be alone, I wanted to feel sorry for myself. I wanted to blame others for how I felt. I wanted to be angry and lash out irrationally at people. There were a couple of times I actually blurted, “my husband is dead.” Not for sympathy, but for shock factor. I know that is probably weird, and hard to understand, but I wanted people to feel as awkward as I did. In short, I could not see beyond myself and my own grief. I am ashamed now to admit, I did not think much about others, their lives, what they were going through. I think this is a natural reaction to grief, I think grief is all-consuming, and very selfish. In those early days, you could tell me your husband lost his job, and all I could think about was…at least you have a husband, mine is dead. I am not proud to make these admissions, I guess that is what makes them ugly. And just goes to show you the head-space I was in at the time. Just ugly.
I saved the best for last. Because hindsight is 20/20 and because I believe growth comes from every experience. I have to admit that there was indeed good from this experience. I can say, without a doubt, that I am a stronger person. I am more decisive, I am strong-willed, I am resilient, I am less insecure, I am more self-sufficient, I am who I am and make no apologies! And Lord help the people who love me and have to put up with me.
(And yes, I know the title of the actual movie is The Good, the bad, and the Ugly.)