Monday, December 26, 2005

Men and Mourning......The Mistakes I Have Made

My thoughts are jumbled today and I am trying very hard to sort them out. I knew my spouse was mourning the death of our friend, Julie, who died suddenly and unexpectedly on Dec. 2nd. What I didn't realize until today is how deeply it has affected him. It took and incident early Christmas morning to open the door of my understanding just how the loss is affecting him. You see, what I thought was something else altogether affecting his mood--basically, the Christmas season. I thought he was over Julie's passing, because he seemed to go back to normal in a few days. Usually, Christmas is difficult for him because some bad memories happened during the season. He has been estranged from his son for many years. Another close friend died suddenly and unexpectedly a few years ago on December 18th. His closest friend died a couple of years ago suddenly. I think that Julie's death, brought all those others back to him and the postponed grief has now hit him full force.

Yesterday, Christmas day, I made a comment to him(in front of my mother and sister) that he had not bathed in 4 days. True as it was, I had struck a sword thru him with that comment. I often babble on to him without thinking of what I am saying. He was embarrassed by my remark and immediately started packing to leave for home(a 4 hour drive). Right then, I knew that I had really blown it! I followed him out to the car, apologizing and asking him to stay. He was not to be dissuaded by anything I was saying. He said that I could not take it back and what was worse I had said it in front of my sister and mother. What I had said to him was unkind and brutal in his depressed state of mind. I spoke at length with him, begging him to stay, since we were about to celebrate Christmas with breakfast and exchanging of gifts. Finally, after a long time of talking, he decided he would stay, but would not come back into the house because of the embarrassment. My sister went out to speak with him and he did talk to her. Between her and my mother, they eventually convinced him to come in the house.

The family ate breakfast and opened gifts. We left for home immediately afterward. There was no conversation in the car for the 4 and 1/2 hours home. We went to our friend's house to take them their presents and visit with them. Christmas was very hard for them without a wife and mother. They had presents that Julie had purchased before her death that were to be opened and viewed with sadness. We stayed until the kids went to bed and then we came home, once again in utter silence.

This morning I was able to speak to my sister and really see how badly Julie's death has affected my husband. When Julie died on December 2nd, I cried and grieved and eventually moved on to a different stage of grief. My husband is still stuck in the grief because "men don't cry" and so it's all bottled up.

I was also able to see that I am jealous that he is grieving over Julie and the special bond that they had. As a result of that jealousy, I have been unkind in the things I say to him and also the way I say them. I have not been givng my husband a safe place to grieve. So all that's left for him to do is be depressed. When you're depressed, you don't take care of yourself. So not bathing and shaving and eating too much, previously, such a mystery to me, became clear as I spoke with my sister. I made the mistake of thinking my husband was tough and could make it through anything. He and Julie had a special bond forged during the time she and Chris lived in Yorba Linda and Phil was over there every day helping them to prepare the property(should I say junk yard?) that Chris inherited from his parents. Phil and Julie continued their special friendship when both families moved to Arizona. When he would run errands, he would stop and drop Harry, our dog, off with Julie to dog-sit. Then, at the end of the day, stop back by to pick him up and have a long chat with her. I underestimated their relationship and how much the loss of her would affect him.

So now, I need to repair the damage I have done. (I do realize that his depression is not my fault and that I may not be able to help him) I know this will be a long and difficult road. But I must, with the Lord's help, rebuild the love and trust between us. He may be a long time in forgiving me. When I extend my hand, it may be slapped away. When I offer love and care, it may be rebuffed. I need to pray and be willing, that's all. Be willing and be kind. Give him a soft place to fall. I need Jesus' strength to go the distance.

Jesus, Lord help me, be my strength and let Your love flow through me to my husband. Use me, Lord and I give all the glory to you.

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