How Does A Widows Life Unfold?


I have a fondness for telling other widow’s stories, extracting nuggets of truth to inform, inspire or benefit another widow.

After Donnie’s death I was uncertain about what to say or how to say it.  The truth is, I was just moving by instinct and a passion to help others grieve and heal.

If I knew then what I know now, I would never have wasted even a single minute doubting my path.  It’s natural to question and doubt, but the older I get the less I worry about anything.

I now see that my life unfolds in direct relationship to how I accept change.  I know that the turmoil of life shall pass, because it always does.  Life is like the seasons – Winter goes into Spring, into Summer, into Fall and then back to Winter.  If we get stuck in Winter it is because we are afraid of change.  Spring cannot come to us unless we are ready to accept it.

No matter what you’re struggling through – the pain, the grief and the anguish – you can still go inside of yourself and find peace.  Whatever is happening, you control your reactions and emotions.  Clearly you can’t control the event, death has its own time, but how you react, grieve and heal is all on your time.

I wish I knew this when Donnie died.  I could have saved myself a lot of heartache and self-doubt.  It’s a gift to finally understand, at any age, that you are the creator of your own journey and can go down any path you choose.

Losing our loved ones has taught all of us that we are more resilient than we knew, in large part because we did have them to love.

7 Responses

  1. Mary Bernuth
    | Reply

    Hello Mary Francis,
    My husband Jim passed away in of 2020. Only two months ago and yet it seems a lot longer. Jim was diagnosed with a terminal untreatable cancer five years ago. Just as he would have wanted it, he was doing remarkably well until he fell one day and he died ten days later. The suddenness of his death has been a surreal experience but it was expected at some point. We spoke about it often and just a week before he fell he said he was the happiest he had ever been and had no regrets. What a blessing for him to feel this way after 75 years. We were married for thirty years. A second marriage for both of us. We had one daughter who is now 28 and Jim had a daughter with his first marriage who is now 41. They both live close by and our oldest has two young children who were both the light of Jim’s life and are the light of mine also. For weeks after his death I felt more gratitude than grief for the deep love and friendship we shared. The humor, the hugs, the dancing in the kitchen, and the love songs he would spontaneously sing to me. I work as a full time licensed professional counselor practicing Jungian and Somatic therapy with adults. I returned to work just two weeks after Jim’s death. My work is going well and gives me a perspective and strength in ways I’m still discovering and imagine will continue to discover for many months to come. Recently, the astounding grief and unbelievable loss roles in from the deep and takes me to my knees. I surrender mostly and trust the ebb and flow to return me to my feet again. Your messages have helped me immeasurably. Thank you from one widow to another.

    Warmly, Mary

    PS: Please change my email to the one listed below. I’m closing down my Comcast account. Thank you.

  2. Mary
    | Reply

    My husband of 39 years who was 67 died totally unexpectedly on June 11…he was fine on Wednesday we ran errands did normal stuff and he had a happy day, even though he’d been dealing with a chronic pain disease (RSD) after an injury in the Navy in the 1970’s he was a positive person. As normal at 11 that night we said “Good night”, “I Love You” and as was his habit he said “I’ll see you in a bit” because we usually woke at about 3am to take a bathroom break! That night we both slept all night probably because we had been so tired from everything we did the day before! I woke at 6am and went to the bathroom and he was sleeping peacefully on his back as usual, so I didn’t disturb him. He always got up at 8am and I felt him move at what I assumed was his usual time then he settled back in the bed and as happened sometimes his pain was severe and he decided to just stay in bed a bit longer. I woke at 9 and got up and prepared for the day as usual then I realized he’d not said a word…this was completely out of character. Went back in the bedroom and the rest is a nightmare…
    So far I’ve read nothing on this site that has helped me in any way. I’ve been searching for help everywhere since June but nothing meets what I need whether it’s live or virtual. Maybe it’s me and maybe I subconsciously don’t want help…but I hate where I am in more ways than I can express…

    • Mary Francis
      | Reply

      Dear Mary. I am so sorry for your loss and the pain you are going through. Did you check out the Resources page on the website. It has a long list of online resource sites that are free. Hopefully you will find what you need. Take care and be safe. Mary Francia

    • Kim Wingert
      | Reply

      Dear Mary, I am wondering if suffering a sudden death adds an element of shock for us. No warning, no time to even wonder if he’ll make it or not—just gone totally unexpectedly. My husband Andy of 38yrs died three weeks ago at 62. We had a great Columbus Day weekend, Monday champagne in bed after coffee, a wonderful dinner with our grown daughter and my mom—lots of good talking and candlelight. Wednesday morning he got up at 4:45, made coffee and brought it to bed where we talked for an hour, as we did every day; he went running, I saw him doing a little gardening…next I heard him make a sound and I heard a thud. I thought he had dropped something. A few minutes later, after looking all over for him, I found him on the bathroom floor already gone. Absolutely no warning. At 59 I am no longer a wife, my daily patterns have no meaning, my future is erased. I don’t know what could help me or you. I do find stories like yours something I can relate to. Three years ago I struggled with a very aggressive cancer, but we could talk about it. We talked about if I died what would happen—but when he died there had been none of that preparation. I am stunned. I will have an entirely different life. I like what Mary Francis said about the seasons. Right now I am in a blinding blizzard with a long winter ahead of me. I don’t want to live in a perpetual Winter, but I do think even when I begin to “thaw” there will always be a snowball in my pocket.

      • Mary Francis
        | Reply

        Hi Kim. I totally understand your question, wondering about sudden death compared to a long illness. My Donnie died sitting at the kitchen table the day we were to go see the doctor for his tests results. He never knew how sick he was. I was only fifty years old. We never got to say goodbye, but I didn’t see him in pain, suffering from an illness and/or the treatments. For Donnie sake, I’m glad he went easily, but so sad he was only 53. I’m not sure we would have ever talked about the end even if we had the time. It would have meant acknowledging that it was possible and at least at that point we were not in that place.

        Sorry for your pain. Take care and be safe. Mary Francis

  3. Linda McAllister
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    My dear husband of 52 years died two years ago after a six year illness called multiple system atrophy which is a bit like als and parkinsons. I did quite well the first year. I teach a few guitar and uke lessons and had lots of little lunch dates with friends. My mental health much of this year has been very difficult with anxiety and depression. Covid has made things much more challenging. I do try to keep busy, I walk or swim daily. I have a number of physical problems which make walking difficult and have chronic pain. My days sometimes seem to last way too long. I would like to hear how others have found ways to cope or even thrive.

    • Mary Francis
      | Reply

      Dear Linda. I am sorry for your loss.

      If you want to chat amongst other Widows the best place is my Private Facebook Page. Go to Facebook and type in search bar “The Sisterhood Of Widows – Private Group for Widows”. Please answer all the membership security questions.

      Take care and be safe. Mary Francis

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