Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Tis the Season...Is it a sweet bitterness?

Tis  the season to be jolly, falla lah lah lah, tee dah dah dah!

I had an interesting conversation the other day with a young female in a position to help others.   I had called to find out if assistance existed for my particular situation.  One does not know until you ask.

I was explaining my situation what I needed, what do to get help, if help existed, when this woman said, "Oh, it's okay to be bitter, it's completely understandable."

SCREECH.  Seriously an abrupt halt in my thoughts.  My mouth dropped open, I bit my lip and thought back...exactly what in all this did I say that might lead a person to interpret it to bitterness.  If I needed help with bitterness, I think I'd probably go to a counselor.  After quickly thinking in my head back on what I said, I could not for the life of me connect "bitterness" to any statements made.  I am not bitter about it, concerned, yes, but bitter, no.

So I did what I have not done, ever, in my life.  I asked.  "Bitter?  What do you mean its okay that I'm bitter, Would you mind explaining to me what you mean?"  I decided to make her responsible for her statement.  If I sound bitter I need to know.  I don't want to do bitter.  Maybe my situation and trying to explain it sounded like complaining which is like bitterness?

She went into explanation:  "Well, you lost your husband and you are widowed, he didn't set you up and now you are in need of help.  He left you.  All widows are bitter people I see it all the time.  Its okay because I broke up with my boyfriend who cheated on me and it makes me bitter too, so I understand. Breaking up with someone is a loss also"

Wow.  Now I'm thinking:  What happy pill did she take today?  Maybe the break-up happened quite recently?  Taking a very deep breath and saying very many ohmmmm's in my mind before responding: "It is sad when a man cheats, it hurts.  What concerns me is your statement...all widows are bitter people.  Is this truly how you think of me.  Do I sound bitter?"

Silence.  Then, "I didn't mean to bother you with my problems.  But you need to admit that you are a widow and are bitter from the experience.  He should have "set" you up for life.  Unfortunately he did not, and now you have to ask for help which is something you don't do."

WOW.  Actually it's true, I'm accustomed to trying to do things myself before asking for any help.  I am incredibly uncomfortable with this.   But, no, now I am what is called mad.  Its called anger.  What an incredibly generalized statement.  How dare you say that about my husband.  Is this how those of us who lose a loved one are perceived?  We are automatically bitter?  Or this gal is having a real bad day and thought to make mine worse by insulting my husband?  How dare she belittle my husband he is not here to defend himself.  I have to do it.  The thoughts rushing through my head made me pivot.  My husband was a hard worker.  He did the best he could.  It's not his fault I can't seem to get my life together.  Which I thought I was.   It was not his nor God's fault he fell ill and passed on.  No one has control over this.  So why would this cause me to be bitter or hate anyone?  I may have gone through a bitter stage long ago feeling abandoned, yes, but we can snap ourselves out of that.

I let the conversation end.  I didn't even defend my husband to her.  Why bother?  She was convinced of his guilt.  I did however, have the question in my mind I sound bitter, do I act bitter.  Do I walk around and personify bitterness?  What if I do and am not aware of it?  Lord, no wonder some folks suffer from neurosis.

I turned to a few others who are widowed and asked them if they went through a bitterness that others saw and they didn't.  Amazingly, the response from each was, "No, actually I was never bitter, but many of my closest friends assumed I was going to be bitter.  It was insulting and hurt.  You're being accused of being bitter aren't you?  Are you alright?  Would you like to talk about it?"

This was intense for me.  I had to think.  I agree with stages.  I have seen my own stages.  I can also see where my anger almost turned to sweet bitterness taking hold. But, just where are some individuals getting the idea that being bitter is a necessary stage to progress through?  Therefore, all, widows/widowers are probably bitter.  I begin to question myself, and no, I don't need to start the self doubt.  Situations cause bitterness.  I can see where some situations I have gone through I picked up a bit of bitterness.  So I need to let go of that. 

I was stunned to learn that we are often thought of as bitter individuals automatically.  It's sad.  Most widows I have met are actually quite strong, resourceful, and incredibly graceful individuals.  We plod on through life in our own way.   Let go.  This idea of "bitterness" seems to crop up when we try to take control of a situation we need to deal with.  Suddenly, no matter what you say or how you proceed, you are thought of as a "bitter" widow.  LET go.  Funny thing: if you get perturbed and try to defend yourself, you are acting bitter.  So, not much can be done about this one.  It is situations like this, and generalized comments that will cause a bitterness.  LET GO.  I could feel my mind reeling and looking for answers.  I don't think there are any.  I think I just ran into someone having a bad day.  If I was bitter, most individuals would avoid me and not stop to say hello.  I should think anyway.  I'm letting this one go!  Yes, this is one to let go otherwise, bitterness will well up.  Done.  I am letting go!  Okay.  Let go.

I don't know about anyone else, but I do know, life goes on.    The eggnog on sale is as sweet as I remember!   It is sad I do not have my husband with me, but I will make it through the holidays once again! :)


Three more days.  Will I get it all done?!!  Hey!  Who cares!!  The world will not end!



  1. It's such a shame that people have such preconceived ideas about others. And even though the bitterness comment would have bothered me, what bothered me, personally, more about this conversation is the statement about her understanding what you're going through because he boyfriend cheated on her. I'm afraid that would have sent me off on a tangent...:-) That was one big pet peeve for me of others' comments...they DON'T understand...they're not me. And they especially DON'T understand if they've not lost a spouse.

    Sorry, now I'll climb off my soap box...LOL As far as the bitterness.....I truly believe if you had a good friend, they would share with you if bitterness was becoming a problem, don't you? One of the things I've tried to do, as I've walked this journey is to remind myself to "consider the source" when things are said. Doesn't make it better on our feelings but maybe a way to let it go easier.



  2. I often wondered about the "bitterness". Having watched my mother give up on life after my father passed away (15 years ago), we the children often associated this with bitterness. Being the second of the sibblings to loose a spouse, and the first to openly share her experience with the family, I can now say that it was not bitterness she chose. Today I can say, that what my mother was living with was a broken heart. I do not wish to give up on life and I am resolved not to, however, living what I am living today, I can certainly appreciate how easy it is to step off the cliff! Bitterness? I don't think so - and this can only be seen by those who have not lost such a "significant" other. It is all about the relationship you were blessed with.

  3. I agree I think it's broken heart syndrome. I would like to move on and am trying, but it feels so odd. It really does. Sometimes even my shoes don't feel right. But I supposed it doesn't help that its his shoes I am wearing. Literally!

    No, I have met folks with bitterness, and they are frightening. Bitterness can hit folks who haven't had a spouse pass away or anyone as far as that goes. Bitterness is very obvious.

  4. I am a 45 year old widow and I am bitter--plain and simple. My husband of 20 years missed his last life insurance payment just before his death last year--this after nearly 20 years of paying. I am employed, however we took nearly 50% in paycuts and had our pensions terminated several years back and have yet to see any of it back, even though we are nearly two years overdue on a new contract. My once happy life is now a struggle and I'm barely hanging on. Who has the luxury of being able to grieve when you spend all of your time just trying to survive. I didn't even have a funeral for my husband because I couldn't afford it. I donated his body to research (not his wishes, but finances dictated what had to be done) and the ashes are in a box next to my bed. Part of the problem may be the fact that I live a long distance away from friends and travel for a living--therefore I am alone most of the time and have been since my husband died. Only one has come to visit me since he died and when I have been in the area where many live, those closest to me claim to be too busy to see much of. With the exception of just a few people, most have no idea what it's like to face this type of isolation, which is only made worse by my financial situation. I don't even know this person I've become and it's scary. I was always a very positive, upbeat person and most people still think I am, however inside I am increasingly bitter and angry. Life has just become too much of a struggle and so few really understand.

  5. Hi, sorry I didn't comment been out of town. I hear what you are saying. It is hard really hard. Especially upon losing everything you've ever known, losing your income to pay bills, people in your face telling you what you are doing wrong, never a pat on the back to say good job. Support groups are few and far between. Its sad, really sad. I hope things start looking better for you in time.
    Thanks for responding.

  6. I published a comment on bitterness on the previous "older" post-- egocent./survival. Can you look at it?

  7. I am officially bitter. Never was before. All my grown children do is want money from me. I feel I would be worth more dead than alive. Wrote something like this on the older post. Any thoughts about how I can reverse this feeling?

  8. Hi Anonymous. Boundaries. They are very hard to make, but very important for us. Please check out the "widowed village" link on the side of this site. Sometimes it takes the understanding of many and support from others to maintain healthy boundaries. Stop letting them rely on you. Make loans, put it in writing, and give the payback time. Make it a contract and if you have to get tougher, do it.

    You need to be able to enjoy yourself and be happy. It will happen. It takes us time to readjust and kick start again!


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