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What A Widow Really Wants You To Know

mswijiknyc's picture
Posts: 421
Joined: Oct 2010

I wrote this from my perspective - change the wording around to suit your situation and share if you would like.

To My Friends and Family - Hey hi how are you? Unless you really want an honest answer, you won't ask me that. You see, I've lost not just my spouse, I've lost a part of myself. I've lost my sunshine, so everything right now is dark and stormy. I know you are trying to understand, to process this so you can help me. But until you are in this position you can't fully understand. Please don't try to equate this gigantic hole that I have with a loss of your own. It's not the same. I understand you want to help me, but by doing that you aren't.

I am a complete space cadet right now. Chances are good that I will forget the conversation we are having five minutes after we finish, I will forget how to do simple things, and I will forget that there is a world outside myself. Right now I am trying so very hard to process this and it is so hard. My brain has shut down in an effort to preserve itself because my body is under extreme stress. Grief is not just mental, it's physical too. For now I need this to happen. Please be patient with me. Over time things will get better, just not right now. I know you care and if you see me floundering reach out as best you can.

I know I sleep a lot sometimes, and sometimes I don't sleep at all. I know I eat too much, and sometimes not at all. I know I am all over the map; I'm having a hard time processing everything so even the small things are monumental. Unfortunately, for now, I'm a bit like a toddler. I don't know what I want but I know what I DON'T want. I don't want you to tell me that they are better off. My brain might grasp this, but my heart does not. I don't want you to tell me that this is God's plan or God's will. That may be true, but I am angry that my baby isn't here with me anymore. This defies reasoning to me, so being told that this was orchestrated beyond me will just piss me off. I am angry enough, and I don't want to spew that out on you. Don't tell me I am better off. I don't care what kind of marriage we had, my spouse might have been a scumbag but they were MY scumbag. I will take them here with me on their worst day versus not being here at all. I don't want you to tell me things that you can't know without a crystal ball: you'll be ok, you'll find someone else, it's what they would have wanted, or anything like that.

I want you to love me the only way you know how: by treating me the way you always have, but with a little extra care. Check up on me more than you think necessary. Sometimes that phone call will be the thing that gets me out of bed that day. Help me with things that normally I would know how to do on my own. Offer to cook or clean or do my laundry or help me pay my bills. This goes back to the space cadet thing. I also have little attention span (shiny moment syndrome) so be patient when you have to remind me repeatedly or repeat yourself over and over.

Gently try to get me to go out in public. Eventually I will need to be around people again, but I will need to do this slowly. When we do go out, gently remind me to dress in something presentable. I have been living in my pajamas and comfy clothes so long I have forgotten what going-out-in-public-wear is. Gently remind me to fix my hair and put on some blush.

I am going to be all over the map emotionally. Let me talk when I need to, cry when I need to, be silent when I need to. I know your ESP is broken, but you don't need to be a mind reader. I just need you to be you. Talk to me, talk with me. I love you and when things start to look better I will never forget how you were there for me when I needed you.

I hope this helps you understand me. I have a hard enough time understanding myself right now

Posts: 829
Joined: Aug 2010

Hey, good to hear from you again. I'm sorry you're having a rough time. It sucks doesn't it??? I was doing pretty good, but lately seem like I"m falling apart alot. Start crying for no frickin reason. People don't understand how we feel. Guess cause they haven't lost the loves of their lives. It's easy for them to say "move on", but when we feel like 1/2 a person, it's hard to move on.
Have you gone for any counseling April? It really helped me. Course so did the meds I was on for 10 months.
I bought a puppy in May. She was born on my birthday, March 10 and is part yorkie & part maltese. Love her alot, but she had an accident. On the night of July 4th , I put her down on the top step of the basement and thought she could go down. Well, she started to go and went so fast she couldn't stop. Cried so hard when she got to the bottom and was holding up her paw. I ran down & picked her up. Had to take her to emergency animal hospital. They x-rayed it and found it was fractured near her elbow. Had surgery the next day and they put a screw & pin in. So she's confined to her crate except to go out to the bathroom. Gets her stitches out on thursday. So that was another stress I didn't need.
April, just take a day at a time & don't worry about what people say. If you feel like crying, cry & don't let anyone tell you to move on till you're ready.

Please take care. Carole

Posts: 358
Joined: Aug 2009

It has been over year since my Terry has passed and I am still riding that roller coaster of ups and downs. Lately, I feel so overwhelmed with life...finances, the house an elderly parent. There just doesn't seem to be an end to the stresses. I am sure there were many stresses when he was here but we shared them together. Now I am alone and they are so magnified. Counseling does help but I guess the "cure" is time, time, time.

Hang in their ladies.

mr steve
Posts: 286
Joined: Sep 2009


If you need someone to yell at feel free, I got big shoulders and I'm in good shape for it.


lovingwifedeb's picture
Posts: 184
Joined: Aug 2010

Thank you for sharing it... many of us have been trailing behind you April encouraged by your words as you walk down this path of greiving and what it brings into ones life. It hasn't been easy for you or anyone here but we need to know that it must be survived. Although our spouses did not the cancer we must continue in honor of them and to remember them and the places in our hearts with love. I'm glad to see you back, I have missed your sense of humor and at this point in my healing I need that most of all because I don't seem to have one anymore.

Peace to everyone here.

UKLady's picture
Posts: 85
Joined: Jan 2011

April- this was such an echo of some of my feelings I showed your post to my daughter-who arrived from Asia seven weeks after Steve died,(she was the one person I wanted a hug from all this time)- I love her- but the question *feeling a bit better now?* was soooo not appreciated! Still at least she sort of understood why I was suddenly in tears in mine and Steve's fave bookstore and a *moment* hit so hard I nearly doubled up on the floor in anquish. Your post could not have been better timed.

Yet again you have showed courage in telling us truthfully how you feel, and in turn it has helped us. Your generosity is appreciated in all its manifestations. My husband had more baggage than a mule train bless him, (don't tell me you peeeps thought I should say he was perfect? ;-) ) but I loved him anyway and that is the point-unconditional love- its not hard to understand for us who lost our soul mate- but its not a good enough reason for others to judge that against some sort of scale and weighed in the balance we should therefore have some time frame to heal that they have in mind should he have been up for sainthood but didn't quite make it :-)

Its precisely one year ago we were on our honeymoon-and looking forward to our new life- it should not be so hard for people to understand that my worlds collide from time to time? Having said that I have a few good friends, who will let me talk it all out and just let me be myself and that's priceless to me just now.

April, if you are able- try and post something-anything hun!-there are so many of us-that understand, that we shall all try our best to listen and help.

Peace from my home to yours as always


ButterflyLake's picture
Posts: 44
Joined: May 2011

I can't relate to some of the things you said, because I've lost a parent, not a spouse. But some of that is so spot-on, it's like you're a little woman living in my brain who wants to explain to people why I'm such a flake lately (and was throughout caregiving).

I think it's common to be totally spaced out when you're processing or grieving. On the morning of my mother's services this weekend, my best friend came over to curl my hair (sweatpants be damned, I was going to look good for the shindig). Instead of licking her finger and touching the curling iron to see how how it was, my best friend just skipped the middle-man and licked the curling iron. We were laughing about it, but she said, "I really don't know why I just did that." I responded, "because you're grieving, honey." I've done some pretty space-cadet stuff too along the way.

As far as how people react to you (us/we who are going through the cancer journey)...i think that people don't know what to say and just go on auto-pilot. When you're engaged, they ask you about your wedding. When you're married, they ask you when you're going to start having babies. When you have a baby, they ask you when you're going to have another. And when a loved one is sick or has passed, they ask "How are you holding up?" As for that last one, what a ridiculous question that most people don't want the real answer to. My standard response was "hanging in there!" My heart and my mind wanted to say, "Are you kidding???? I'm totally shattered!"

I loved your post. Thank you.

And if anyone wants to come over to do my laundry, you are more than welcome to my home. : )

skipper85's picture
Posts: 231
Joined: Sep 2010

Hi April and everyone:

It's been 9 months since Paul passed. It seems like yesterday especially since I still get flashbacks of times he was in the hospital, hospice, things he said, the way he looked, the pain he was in. Today was especially hard so I came back to the message boards and knew you would be here. Some days I'm almost just fine and can get things done. Today I can't seem to get it together. The fatigue is overwhelming sometimes. I have meds and lots of friends and family for support. I know my kids are hurting too and sometimes we are able to help each other out of our funk. I don't want to stress them out thinking I'm crashing and burning though since they have other life stresses to deal with besides their Dad's loss.

I think only another widow/widower can understand what we're experiencing. I'm not going to "get over it". You don't "get over" 40 years of marriage. They were by no means perfect years. Some of them were downright awful but there's that unconditional love that binds you together even when one of you is gone.

I know I have to exercise to help with the stress - but I keep putting it off. Every room in my house is in different stages of redecorating or renovation. I can't seem to get just one room completed. Sometimes I think I should just sell the house and everything in it and start fresh. But you can't erase what's in your mind and in your heart.

I guess it will just take time to "adjust". I have friends (all widows)that I go out with regularly. I usually have a nice time, but then I come home. Mornings are the hardest for me.

Thank you for posting April and everyone. I know I'm not alone and I hope we can all get through this horrible period in our lives.



Posts: 829
Joined: Aug 2010

Too bad we can't all get together & talk. Sounds like we all are going through the same emotions. People who haven't gone through what we have don't understand & think we should be back to normal. Tom (my hubby) died 18 months ago and I just feel like it's never going to get better. Maybe cause it was so traumatic is why it's taking me longer. He hemmorraged in the bathroom and every time I'm in there I can picture him after I helped lay him on the floor. I felt so helpless & was hysterical & just ran out to wait for the ambulance to arrive. It was so sudden, we never even got to say goodbye.
We were married for 46 years & loved each other so much.
I guess we'll all have good days and bad days and just have to learn to liver our new life.
Hang in there Skipper. "Carole"

skipper85's picture
Posts: 231
Joined: Sep 2010

What many of us are suffering from is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. This is separate from the grieving.

There are (3) phases to recovery:

1. Impact phase - victims react to protect themselves and the lives of others - a natural reaction; or, may be stunned and unable to protect themselves.
Stressors during this phase can lead to subsequent health issues:
a. Threat to life
b. Helpless feeling
c. Loss of loved ones, home, possessions
d. Feeling responsible
e. Inescapable horror

2. Immediate post-disaster phase - rescue activity begins, first sign of disaster's (death) effect on viction's mental health appear - Emotional responses to stressors.
a. Numbness, despair
b. Denial, shock
c. Flashbacks, nightmares
d. Reaction to loss
e. Anger
f. Hopelessness

3. Recovery phase - prolonged period of adjustment to return to normal; time depends on extent of devastation, ability to recover - Physical responses to stressors show up.
a. Problems sleeping
b. Indigestion
c. Fatigue
Social responses to stressors may follow
a. Difficutlies at work or with relationships

At 9 months since my husband's passing I am somewhere between steps 2 and 3. Where are you?


angelsbaby's picture
Posts: 1171
Joined: May 2008

i am right along with all of you and its been 2 yrs and 6 months since my man died and i miss him every day like it was the first day

take care


Posts: 146
Joined: May 2009

My husband died a year and a half ago. Three days after he died, his youngest tried to break into the house and beat me up because I took his car back from her. While I'd been out, caring for him, someone at work convinced the officers that I was incompetent. I was forcibly retired in Jan. No one in either family is still in contact with me. Most of my social interaction occurred at my job.

I'm doing my best. Have started a little business, Have taken care of myself as well as I can. Heard from someone today who more or less said that I wasn't getting back to normal as quickly as I should. Meant it well, but it hurt. I am bascially reinventing myself. It isn't easy.

People don't seem to realize that losing someone you love changes everything. For me there's no one to give my feelings balance, to say that it's not a tragedy if people stop remembering my birthday or to tell me I'm doing okay and taking good care of myself. Being your own cheerleader isn't easy. I don't think there is any "normal" rate of recovery. I think we all just need to go on every day as well as we can.

Posts: 22
Joined: Aug 2011

Feel like I'm walking around numb, Yesterday I didn't get out of pjs until 2:00pm. The last week we spend 6 days in the hospital. Came home to what was suppose to be 4-6 weeks of hospice. He lived 30 hours.
The week before the dr was helping us to arrange a cruise we'd had planned for over a year. We were to leave October 15th for a 7 day cruise. We both were so excited. I miss him so much. We were married 28 years and best friends. We did absolutely everything together. I can't even go to the grocery store without fighting tears. Went to the dr and meds are taking the edge off, but that's not me.
How do you know what to do now? When to go back to work? Who to call? What to change? Who guides you through the path of "have to"? Overwhelming.
God Bless All of you in the same boat...

grandmafay's picture
Posts: 1639
Joined: Aug 2009

There are no real answers to your questions. Only you know what is right for you. Don't be afraid of taking meds for awhile or seeing a grief counselor or joining a group. This is new territory for you and you may need to use tools that are new for you. This is you right now. Your life has changed and it will take time to adjust to those changes. I lost my husband of 42 years almost 2 years ago. There are still days when I feel fragile. I have learned to accept and expect those times. Time does help. Friends and family help, too, but you will feel the fog of grief for awhile. You may also go through the various stages of grieving and double back on some of those. Mainly, you need to grieve in your own way and time. I don't have any words of wisdom about how to go about this. I think we each have to feel our own way one baby step at a time. I'm sorry you are now a part of this group that none of us wanted to join, but glad you are here. There are some very wise and compassionate people here. Take care of yourself now. Hugs, Fay

Posts: 37
Joined: Sep 2011

I am still in shock, my husband passed away Oct 5th 2011 his heart stopped, he was Diagnoses end of May 2011 with a rear form of cancer in the samll bowel, I am in a bubble I am scare it will bust and I won’t be able to pick up the pieces, I just want it to be over. I want to donate his clothes but I can't bare to put them in bags maybe boxes will be better, I want to do it now while I am in the bubble I am afraid if I wait to long I will BREAK and I am not sure if I can recover, but I am scared in case I regret it later, the things I enjoyed doing working and cooking when I think of them my head hurts.... I am just going through the motions and there is so much to do.... I watch a lot of movies one day I stayed in bed from 5pm Wed to 5pm Thurs, I just needed a day there is so much to do. When will I be able to face people when will I be able to go back to work, I am good at home not so good outside the house, I am going to counselling on Monday at 2.00
I can't believe he is gone, but at the same time I feel at peace I feel he is so happy I smile when I think of him

Tina Blondek's picture
Tina Blondek
Posts: 1566
Joined: Nov 2009

Hi Geri
I was a caregiver for my dad. He passed in March 2010 from esophageal cancer. Geri....this is so, so, new for you. You are just in the beginning of grieving. Most of us who posted here are going on two years. You have got to give yourself lots of time. My deepest sympathies on your recent loss. Keep reaching out. Reach out to us, to friends, to family. You are not alone. I am very happy to read that you are going to therapy. It is available and it will help you. Lean on us. We are always here for you.
Dear Heavenly Father please be with Geri and her family. Please give them the strength they will need in the coming hours, days, months, and years. Give them the peace they all need at this difficult time. Help them to celebrate their loved ones life. Surround them with your love. Thank You. Amen.
Tina in Va

Tina Blondek's picture
Tina Blondek
Posts: 1566
Joined: Nov 2009

Thank you for posting this my dear friend. You have hit the nail on the head. I am printing this and giving it to my mom. Love and hugs to you.
Tina in Va

Susan53's picture
Posts: 179
Joined: Jun 2011

April you did a wonderful job writing your feelings. I am sure you will help so many people. I will probably try to copy this also and use it sometimes. Thanks so much. Your friend Sharon

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