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Jamie Greenebaum Headshot

Life in a Bubble With Pain and Grief

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A rant. Blogging -- who the hell am I writing to? Blogs are posted online, and then what? You think your friends are reading them. As a way of keeping in touch with you and understanding what you are going through. But my friends are not reading my blog. I don't know who the hell is reading my blog.

I do know that I get these wonderful, compassionate, insightful comments from strangers -- I don't have a clue who they are. Just that something I wrote touched them to such an extent that they feel a need, a desire to reach out and touch me back. They get my pain. They connect with my pain. I guess that is the point. They are a gift to me from this blog.

But my friends? They don't want to think about the pain. So I walk around like I am in a bubble. In the bubble I have my pain and my grief. And I interact with regular people, normal people, people who have not lost a spouse, husband, wife. People who are not widows/widower. That's what normal people are. I say things, they say things back to me. There is an interaction -- but the pain and grief inside the bubble is untouched.

These "others" I talk to, they don't get it. They just see -- I guess they just see what they want. Maybe the bubble is like a mirror. It reflects back what they want to see. They don't want to see inside. They don't want to see my pain. To them I am on a girls' night out. They forget while they go home to their respective husbands, I go home to an empty house.

It is a really strange, bizarre, isolating existence. And if one more person tries to relate to me by saying they understand because their mother/father/sister/brother died, and then add their cat/dog/bird/gerbil died... Hey, I'm an animal person and I keep hearing about dead pets. Does everyone get this? Do people say these insane things to other widows? It is mind blowing.

You think your friends are there, and they are not. They want to just keep moving forward. They don't want to hear that you are still grieving. They want to explain it away or they just don't want to go anywhere near the pain, the grief. And because I am still in pain and grieving, they don't keep in touch.

I have established what I call my Do Not Call List. This is for people who want to fix me. Or tell me I'm fine. Or have just the book that will cure me. Friends who don't want to take the time to listen to my pain at a particular month anniversary. Friends who believe I should be over it by now. They are.

I now see there is a universal Do Not Call List. And I've been put on it by a lot of people who I thought were my friends. Maybe the grief is too terrifying. Or losing a spouse is too terrifying. Widowhood -- you do not want to go there. They don't want to think about it. And if they relate to me too much and if they empathize with me too much it means they have to think about the unthinkable. Thinking about what if their husband/wife died.

So, I am left here in my bubble. In my bubble, I can appear "normal" to some people. Does this mean I put my old friends on my Do Not Call List? And just stay with my new widow friends?!?! It is a really bizarre consideration. I find that I can open my soul to people I've known for such a short time because we share the pain and grief. And I can't open my soul to people I've known for a long time because they don't want to share that pain and grief. I find I am now searching for connections and compassion and understanding, and that distraction is no longer enough.