A Widow’s First Year

Every widow is unique and responds to grief and healing at her own pace. It is essential never to compare one widow to another. Each and every widow has her own individual beliefs about how to deal with her feelings of loss.

Some widows need to talk about “What Happened” almost immediately following the loss. It pre-occupies them, just as a person may be pre-occupied with an accident or some other tragedy.

As a widow, if you’re living alone you must make use of your social skills because absolute loneliness is just too hard to bear. Work at gradually getting out and meeting new people by traveling, donating your time or getting a part time job.

No one can take risks for us, face our grief for us or give us self-esteem. No one can spare us from the journey of grief to healing. That is simply the way of things, and after a while we learn to appreciate our blessings.

A new widow is immediately plunged into a scary new life. The challenge of going from being part of a couple to being single is daunting.

Sociality believes that grievers want and need to be alone. How many of you remember being told not to bring up the death of your Uncle to your Aunt? Your family hoped to avoid the topic of the loss, in an attempt to protect your Aunt.

But we need to let a widow remember her husband and share her stories when and how she wants. Love and respect her enough to quietly let her talk and just be there for her.

15 Responses

  1. Sharron Challis

    Sometimes it helps to talk about my husband and sometimes it hurts so bad. It hurts being alone.

  2. Angie

    It has been 20 months since my husband passed away. No one talks about my husband with me and when I bring him up (just a memory that our conversation brings up) I can feel the discomfort in the room or on the phone. Why don’t people understand we need to remember our husbands? Why can’t I just say a memory and someone chime in with a memory of their own? My life as I knew it ended on 12/3/2015 and this new life has been a hard start. I still cry everyday and miss him so much. I’m realizing that I still have not gotten to the place of acceptance. I’m involved in everything I can find and have met a few acquaintances and one good friend, a fellow widow. But I am still alone a majority of the time and it plays havoc on my mind.

  3. Mary Francis

    Dear Angie. I’m so sorry about your loss and agree that others get uncomfortable when we talk about our memories. But it’s important that we do so. Key an eye out for others in your area that have also lost a loved one because they also need to talk. Together you could make some new friends. Mary Francis

  4. Mary Francis

    Dear Sharron, I wish there was an easy way out but there isn’t. Grieving hurts and there is no way around it, being alone and single is hard. But we widows are strong and we survive so hang in there. Mary Francis

  5. Ruth Dodds

    I live alone as well and have very little family. I feel I am trapped in this house with bad memories,not happy ones,the cancer saw to that. I want so badly to move but my husband did not make very good arrangements for my future. What little money I have doesn’t get me much.I was told I’m not rational,I should see a doctor,you name it because I am so unhappy here. I do work and I’m starting pet therapy for Hospice patients. That doesn’t change the fact that I have to come home to this empty hose. My husband and I agreed when we were left alone we would leave. My attorney tells me walk away,walk away to where! I am on anti depresses but their not helping. Time that’s what everyone says. My fear us my sanity won’t stand the test of time.

  6. Mary Francis

    Dear Ruth. Your attorney advises you to “walk away” so that must mean that there is no equity in your house. Step back a moment and think – if you could live anywhere you wanted where would it be? What kind of place – rental, senior apartment, assisted living – know your options. Get all your financial data together and consider your choices. Your not trapped in the house – as your attorney has said you can walk away. But before you do that know all your facts. Your in charge of what you want so don’t let fear of change keep you in a situation where your not happy. Mary Francis

  7. Janette Lewis

    Hello, So many wonderful and loving sharings. I am new widow — four months. My husband took his own life by shooting himself. I found him within seconds and was unable to save him. He suffered with treatment resistant depression. I am Bipolar and we were primary caregivers to my husband’s 40 year extremely demanding, sometimes violent developmentally disabled son – 200 lb., three-year-old mentality though most of the time a gift to all. I took care of him for 22 years. His mother hasn’t seen him in 14 years after being accused of molestation – never proven. She is a minister! He has now gone back to his mother who will likely try to dun me or legally try to get money. I have had no one around who wants to talk — even when I ask — unless it’s about what a tough time they are having. I am learning that there is sometimes a level of rejection of any loss but particularly of being a survivor of a loss by suicide. Some people judge or simply just turn away. Some think that they understand and feel compelled to tell me all about what they know nothing about. Some shun — in the truest Biblical way. I would simply like to be alone during the upcoming holidays. Family dynamics are complicated and often, I can be all right in the presence of people, only to feel like I must leave seconds later. There are also emotionally abusive people involved — some alcoholic. (I am a member of AA and Alanon for almost 30 years, as was my husband. I am medication compliant and actively work at my recovery in all areas.) I have a deep faith. I don’t find it difficult to be alone. I am not suicidal. I still put the highest value on the life God gave me. At this time, I don’t feel like doing volunteer work but will, in time. I am starting grief counseling — group and one on one. Perhaps, there will be people who want to be with others who are experiencing the same loss – by suicide which is “complicated grief” who would like to get together. Maybe, if the group is good, I can offer to put it together myself at a restaurant of someone who has a home large enough to provide a place. Thank you for this site and I look forward to being a participant. I find on line support extremely beneficial. I look forward to not being so verbose! Blessings, Jan

  8. Mary Francis

    Hi Jan. Thank you for sharing your journey with us. I think it’s great that you are doing one on one and group support for yourself. Who knows where our journey will take us and you may very well be helping others in the near future. Take care. Mary Francis

  9. Monica

    Hello! I am a new widow – 5 months. My husband died in his sleep from cardiac arrest due to his kidney failure from diabetes. He was just up and about the day before so I’m still dealing with PTSD from being the one to try and wake him and realizing that he was gone the next day. I’ll never forget that morning; touching his arm and it being cool to the touch and wondering if it was because the window was open. I came around to the other side of the bed and that’s when I knew something wasn’t right. He was 47. This month on the 16th would have been our 4th wedding anniversary. I didn’t have the best relationship with his family but you know the old adage about weddings and funerals bringing family together. And for that time we did come together, but now that it is going on six months, the phone calls and text messages have stopped. I’ve reached out to them and maybe they’ll respond or when they do it’s like I’m bothering them. He and I didn’t have any children so I’m in the house alone. I don’t live near his family so they don’t come visit. It’s like I no longer exist to them. I talk with my sorority sisters but they have their own lives. My church family expects that I should be okay, otherwise to them where is my faith and that angers me to my core. It’s not that I don’t have faith; my whole world changed and I have to accept that my prayers were not answered in the way that I wanted. My co-worker lets me vent and cry but we’re at work so I can only hold up her day for so long. I have been seeing a therapist with one on one sessions and she has suggested I find a professionally led grief support group. She says I’m beating myself up too much about crying so much; that it’s healthy. If I listen to other people, then I’m crying too much and not doing enough to take my mind off of my husband being gone. It’s the loneliness and not having a constant ear that gets to me. I miss my husband something awful and am still dealing with the hurt, anger and depression of him being gone.

  10. Mary Francis

    Hi Monica – I’m so sorry to hear about your loss and at such a young age. Of course you are going to be crying and it’s natural to feel all those emotions of anger, hurt, depression and loneliness. Grieving has to have it’s time and you are only just starting this journey so please don’t set yourself up with high expectations of healing fast. A broken heart takes it’s time to heal. Also, don’t expect too much from others, they all have a life that has gone back to normal and they can only relate so much to your pain. You have to take control, grieve when you need to, but also be open to joining groups or hobbies so that you can make some new friends. But in all things look after yourself first and let his family find their own way. Take care, Mary Francis

  11. Angela Crane

    I understand all you are saying. Nothing takes your mind off it talking is good and healthy and so is crying. A grief group I went to and still go to from time to time is Griefshare.org. Go to that site and put your zip code and find one near you. I have also found that widows are lost in the church, but it is still imperative to attend and worship the father even if you cry through the whole thing. It took me awhile to stay for the whole service, but I kept going and left when I had to and now 2 years later I can attend a full service. It makes it especially difficult when you don’t have close family to help you. Neither do I. When my husband of 26 years died as suddenly as yours from a heart attack after the funeral my 2 step-daughters, who have 5 of my grandchildren, cut me off completely. It’s very painful and a loss on top of a loss. I also found that writing my story down about the happening of the day he died helped tremendously. The more I wrote it out the less I cried and the nightmares went away. Try writing that morning out each night until it becomes less traumatic for you. I hope my words help somewhat-although we all know nothing quite does it.

  12. Monica

    Hi Angela! Thank you so much for sharing the information about Griefshare.org. The therapis that I’m seeing on a one-on-one basis also gave me some resources to find a support group. I’m back to attending church on an almost regular basis; I still find it hard to attend third Sundays as on each third Sunday of the month he was extremely active. For awhile I wouldn’t attend first Sundays because that’s when we took communion together. I have step-children but they’ve pretty much cut me off and so I understand the loss of that as well. I will definitely try writing out. Your words were definitely helpful. Every grain of support that I can gather is appreciated. Continued prayers for you.

  13. Monica

    Hi Mary Francis! Thank you for your kind words. And yes, I’m trying to embrace that others have their own lives and can only relate so much. I’m learning to accept that people say and do things because they don’t know what to say and do and most times I just have to walk away from them. I just happened to stumble across this site; well I guess I should say, I was led by God. Thank you for providing this. I miss his family because they were a connection to him, but I don’t miss the toxicity of the relationship and for that, I’ll have to heed your advice and let them find their own way. Stay blessed, Monica.

  14. missing_David

    I lost my beloved husband this past March and am still completely devastated. He fought through one major illness afteit of the hospital he spend so much time in. Other than my sweet pooch, am completely alone. All of our children live over 350 miles away. I pray each night that David will come and get me, and then morning comes and much to my dismay am still here.

  15. Mary Francis

    Dear Shana Annie – Don’t rush your grief, it has to have it’s time. If you have children than you may want to move closer to them. Being around your children and grandchildren may help you not to feel so lonely. Life is a gift even if it seems worthless to you now, if you start looking for everyday blessings it will help you appreciate what you still have. There is a reason for your life – now its up to you to find out why your still here. Take care, Mary Francis

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