I think one of the most "surprising" (not in a good way) things about being a widow is that while it's perfectly acceptable and the "norm" for people to grieve and miss their parents, their siblings, children, friends, or other family members, who have died - we as widows/widowers are expected, sometimes even met with demands, to "get over it", "move on", "quit your crying".
While other forms of grief are rarely met with "it's been 8 years, you aren't over it yet?" - widows and widowers hear this on a regular basis.
When a parent dies, no one tells that child (at any time) - "Well, it's time to find you a new parent!"
When a child dies, we are not told - "Ok, enough is enough, time to get out there and find another one!"
When a sibling or other family member dies, a friend dies - we are told, "Take as much time as you need to grieve. Grief never dies, because Love never dies."
When we lose a parent, a child, a friend, or family member, we are told to remember the good times, to cherish the memories. But rarely (again) are we told "well, at least you had them for such and such a time - just be thankful for that!"
And yet, a widow/widower hears some of the most crazy and outlandish things!
What makes our love less?
What makes our grief less?
Why do we have to "get over it, and move on" ? ? ?
Love is love - I don't care who you love, how long you love.
Grief is grief - no matter who you are grieving, no matter how long you have grieved, no matter how long you do grieve.
Great grief is indicative of a great love.
Grief is simply love with no place to rest.
Grieving does not mean that we are wallowing in the grief.
Grieving means that we are breathing, taking one moment at a time.
It's hard to know what to say to someone who is grieving - even after 8 years.
But sometimes, just your presence, or hearing you mention their names, or a hug, a "how are you doing?" - those things can mean the most - - after a moment of grieving, after years of grieving.