Touched by loss. Empowered through community.

Blind Sided

Monday, January 20, 2014
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Over the last five and a half years, one of the recurring feelings I have experienced as a widow is that of being blind sided. Blind sided: to hit (someone who is facing another direction) suddenly and very hard; to surprise or shock in a very unpleasant way. Yes, blind sided is how I have felt in many situations, starting with when my 39 year old husband passed away in his sleep. I’m sure I could come up with other adjectives, but in this case, blind sided is my focus.

I have learned how to “move on” and “let go” and “go forward” from bring a wife, but the opportunity to be blind sided never ceases to exist. In the beginning, it was more commonly imposed by people with insensitive, stupid, and offensive questions or comments. As time went on, the smaller, less obvious experiences were the things that had the ability to take me down. In talking to many widowed people over the years, they shared many ways they had been blind sided, which included finding: meaningful items that were hidden; a box full of saved letters, cards and pictures; gifts or cards that were bought by a spouse and never delivered; letters that were started but never finished; unsigned legal documents that made it even more difficult in post widowed life. Then there are “secrets” a spouse may have not intended to be found- the porno stash; or cigarettes; or alcohol; or thousands of dollars charged in secret. I know a widow who found a set of divorce papers her spouse had drawn up that were never signed or filed. In going through and picking apart the “physical things” our partners left behind, we are subjected to all kinds of blind siding that may sometimes lead us to wonder if we ever really knew the person at all. Or, that might have confirmed that they were exactly who we had believed them to be. Either way, being blind sided can knock the wind right out of you.

Last month, I received a letter from someone Joe had worked with over 7 years ago. He wrote to tell me how sorry he was that he had not attended Joe’s service, but that he wanted to let me know that he still thinks about him, and sometimes dreams of him, and held him in high regard. The morning the letter arrived was an ordinary day, but after opening my mailbox, and reading a very unexpected letter, I felt blind sided. Because after 5.5 years, I don’t expect many people to talk about Joe anymore. For someone to have taken the time to look me up, write a very difficult and heart felt letter, and send ripped me up to take it all in, and be back in a vulnerable place. But it also brought me comfort to know that after all this time, someone WAS still thinking of him. So although my mailbox was the offending culprit on that day, I was glad to be blind sided in what turned out to be a positive way.

We have all been surprised or shocked in a very unpleasant way when we lost our partner. No matter if it was over night, or a short illness, or an extended long goodbye, we lost our hopes, plans, futures and dreams when we lost the one we loved the most. We all experienced being blind sided. Whether it be hearing something that reminds us of them, smelling that old familiar smell that brings memories rushing back, or longing for something we’ve not had in such a long time, losing someone inevitably can lead to feeling blind sided, in ways great, and oh so small. And in some ways, no matter how long it has been, I suppose that we will still experience it. But being able to see past the unpleasantness and find something good helps to bring a sense of clarity. That is how I have tried to treat my encounters with being blind sided. It’s still a work in progress.


I love this poignant post, Diana. How nice to have received that letter.

For me it has also been 5.5 years. Why just the other day I was cleaning out yet another box of files and found the vehicle registration for Basil's beloved 1978 Eldorado Cadillac. Visions of the joy it had brought to all and then how angry my young sons were when they learned that we no longer owned it. It brought up the memory of the day that car was towed away and it was like his funeral all over again. As long as that car was in the garage, it was as if he was only away for a while. When the car departed, the reality of our loss settled in. That day we got blind sided and seeing the registration forms brought it all back. However, like Diana, the grieving process is a work in progress as it ebbs and flows and we grow stronger.

I understand how you feel. Today was my husband mark's birthday, he died 3 years ago in December. I got a phone call from someone he knew to wish him happy birthday. As I explained that Mark had passed away, the sadness hit me again. His friend invited me to call if I need someone to talk to. My family honored Mark with pictures from a cruise we took together. I took the day off to take care of myself and just remember.

My husband has been dead for almost 5 years. I received a voice mail the other day for him, asking him to schedule a physical therapy appointment. Just listening to: "this message is for Tom ..." Blinds

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