how do you accept sympathy

(6 Posts)
PotKettleBlack Fri 08-Oct-10 23:39:55

so - it's 3.5 years since DH died and yes it's been shit and horrible and sometimes / often it still is. but you know I cope and I am getting on with life yadda yadda.

so when I tell people my potted life story, and they react to the obviously sad and awful detail that is that my DH died in his 30s, is it awful that I want to just carry on with the chat / story / life tale and not pause for receiving the condolence, the "that's awful" or "I'm so sorry" or the pulled face indicating that the person you're talking to has taken on board what you've said and is, rightly, reacting in a sympathetic manner?

Because I don't want to seem cold or dismissive, but I'm trying really hard to be ME. And though DH dying is part of my life story, it does rather get in the way. it makes people re-evaluate, and sympathise and <<whisper it>> pity me. And sometimes I just want to be straight about things - yes he died, yes it was and is shit but anyway back to what we were talking about.

Or should I allow someone to do the sympathetic bit and pat me on the arm and side track to the "how awful / difficult that must be bit"???

OP’s posts: |
luciemule Sat 09-Oct-10 10:35:32

You could be honest with them and say "yes it's sad but I can't be wallowing 3.5 yrs later etc and let's just carry on chatting"

That kind of jolly, assertive type thing might help them to get over it too and realise that you're a strong person.

I know it's not quite the same, but I've often chatted to aquaintences about their parents, only to find that one of them has died young. Whilst I say "oh I'm sorry", that's about it and I carry on. I would take their lead and if they wanted to talk about it, it would normally be obvious but if you say the above type thing, they will hopefully take your lead and carry on too.smile

exexpat Sun 10-Oct-10 18:09:42

Potkettle - I have the same story (DH died four years ago when I was 38, he was 41, two DCs) and also hate having to explain about it to new people. If I realise that someone needs to know, I usually drop it into conversation briefly then carry on talking before I have to answer too many questions - I can't deal with sympathy/pity either, or at least not from people I don't know really well. I don't know if there is a better way of doing it. And people's reactions vary so much anyway it's hard to know what to expect.

And yes, I know exactly what you mean about wanting to be just me. I'm not a tragic widow, or at least that's not how I see myself most of the time, and I don't want the way people treat me (and the DCs) to be coloured by that. I am a resilient, competent, generally cheerful person who has had something horrible happen, but I am still the same person. And the DCs are doing pretty well too.

We had to move countries and start from scratch with friends and schools after DH died, and I made sure that it wasn't the first thing people found out about us. But that can then backfire, eg when I realised that the mother of one of DD's quite good friends still didn't know after about two years. Having to explain after so long was rather awkward.

DadInsteadofMum Mon 11-Oct-10 16:33:42

Depends on what kind of mood I am in. Generally don't deal well with it so varies from a flippant "I'm so sorry" - "its OK wasn't your fault" to just ignoring it.

HMTheQueen Mon 11-Oct-10 16:54:26

I really hate the "I'm sorry" with the head tilt - you know the small tilt to one side and a bit of a head bob at the same time.

Yes, it was shit - yes, I have to look after DS by myself, but I am a capable person and we were having a conversation... can we continue now?

aDarkStarWithStrangeWays Mon 25-Oct-10 19:08:01

I just steamroller past it, I'm afraid blush Not quite talking over the top of them because that is very rude and ticks me off when people do it to me, but when the 'oh I'm sorry' appears I usually just nod and carry on with whatever I was saying. It seems to work.

Oh, and I rarely say 'oh, I'm sorry' when other people mention their losses to me. I try and take my lead from how they are, so if they seem like they need or want it, then I will, but if not I just acknowledge it silently and assume they'll bring it up later if they want to.

(Not widowed btw so not exactly the same circs, but lost family members in fairly unusual circumstances)

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