It's common knowledge that after the death of someone special, everybody suffers. We all talk about how much the widow suffers but many others are so very affected as well.
One of my best friends, who was also one of Jeff's best friends, has definitely changed. Right after Jeff died she was overly protective of me and I appreciated it. She wasn't afraid to be blunt and tell people what I really needed, which sometimes put her in the line of fire but she stood by me and shielded me.
But after those first couple months after Jeff died there was a strain in our friendship and I couldn't figure it out for a really long time. I spent entire sessions with my therapist talking about her. We had what I call a "come to Jesus meeting," finally where we hashed it out, we spoke our truths and just overall, communicated.
She had been pulling back from me because she was trying to protect me. She didn't want to talk about her dating life and the good things that were going on because she felt it wouldn't be fair to hurt me like that. She was trying to protect me from her when what she didn't realize is that she was only hurting me.
When I finally made it clear to her that hearing about others and their good times and happiness didn't make me sad, but that it was a reminder that everyone has ebbs and flows in their lives. Hearing about other people and the good things that are happening to them is a distraction for me and that I actually need to hear these good things because it reminds me that my life will one day be good again. She apologized and said she would try to include me and not be afraid to talk about the good things that were going on in her life, especially her dating life.
I also reminded her that she tells all of our other close friends about the good and bad in her life and when she leaves me out I feel isolated and alone. She was horrified at that and didn't even realize that her actions were making me feel that way.
I've heard that the way people respond to someone else in a traumatic situation could potentially be the way they would like others to respond to them if and when they ever go through their own traumatic experience.
Again, communication is so very important. We as widows and widowers need to communicate our needs and those who support us need to communicate their needs as well.
If you are noticing that relationships are strained, consider communicating what your needs are and gently explain that you are not feeling supported and you are struggling. I can almost guarantee that your friends and family have no idea that their actions, which I'm sure are trying to protect you in some way, are having the adverse effect.
Communication is the only way to truly feel supported and safe.