Living life as a widow is something no one imagines or dreams of.
If you are not a widow – be thankful that you have never had to go through our pain. If you are a widow, know you are not alone. Widows are unique. We have lived through losing our future. We have had to wake up to the empty bed, fallen asleep with unwashed clothes just for the scent, and put on a brave face for the world to ease the discomfort of others. Loss of your spouse shakes you to your core.
Being a widow means surviving through times when you are surprised you can even breathe. It means gaining a mental toughness to handle the challenges of broken dreams and the memories of a life that ended too soon. For widowed parents it means telling your children that their parent is never coming home.
Widows Around Us
Once I became a widow, I started to notice all the widows around me. News of car accidents and plane crashes now make me think that someone else just joined the widowed life. I knew some widows before becoming one, but I never slowed down my life enough to truly attempt to understand their struggles. I certainly never thought I would be forced into this new world.
When I first became a widow I felt alone, scared, and devastated. Friends and family helped me to the absolute best of their ability, but I was acutely aware of the fact that they were able to go back to their normal life and my normal had all but disappeared. My normal had been stolen – shattered, and I had no idea how to even begin to piece it back together. A year out, I can say that it still hasn’t gone back together. Widows have to create a new life to move past surviving and into living again.
Accepting the term widow is a journey in itself. Months went by before I started to even say the word. Now it’s like a second name. The word used to make me think of an old woman, who wears black all the time, surrounded by gray and dreary days. I couldn’t wrap my head around associating that word with me. I can now tell people that I am a widow without feeling uncomfortable. The term “widow” describes something that happened to you, it does not describe YOU.
Being a widow means that you loved, lost, and survived. I was lucky enough to have been married to my best friend and honestly the best person I ever met in my life. Many people in this world never know that feeling. I was proud to be his wife – one thing I can do to remember the love we had in our marriage is to be honored to be his widow. He lived his vows and truly loved me “until death do us part”. What more could I have asked for?
Learning From Experience
My saving grace came in the form of other widows. Although I knew a few, I never realized how many widows were already in my life! Widows are like a hidden group of beautiful souls that have been forever changed.
My aunt became a widow when my uncle passed away in his early 40’s from cancer. I cried at the funeral and celebrated when she started dating again. But, in-between? Nothing. I didn’t know how to help – or that I should.
I met another widow at a neighborhood party hosted by Steve’s aunt and uncle. I had met this person a few times before, but never knew she had been widowed. She asked how I was doing in a way that only those that have walked through grief would understand. She gave me advice about making decisions that result in my and my children’s happiness. Most importantly she shared her story with me about the social stigmas of being a widow.
Society thinks there is an “appropriate” time to grieve. Some would say it is a year, some two years, while others are concerned if you couldn’t pull your life together in a couple months. In the grieving process you move too slow or too quick – there’s no just enough that is spelled out for you. You start to wonder what is wrong with you.
This is where we can help. Widows helping widows is POWERFUL. There is hope, guidance, and normalcy that can only be offered by those that have walked before you on this journey. It is a journey indeed and often one of self discovery.
For the Non-Widows
Have you ever been divorced? Lost a sibling or a child? Do you know someone who has been there? It’s a lonely place to be. My goal is to help those that are going through any life altering event. There are no winners or losers in the grief journey. There is no competition or measuring stick about who’s journey is worse.
We need to accept that life is the journey. Some of us are thrown hand grenades that forever alter our course. We all know someone who has had a life altering experience through divorce or death. We are all in this together.
This blog was started with the hope that by sharing my story I can have a positive impact on others. I’ve learned a lot about myself through this journey and a lot about what it means to be prepared for the worst in life. There will be tactical, easy activities that you can complete within a couple hours to ensure you are prepared for the unexpected. I want everyone to be prepared – ideally before a life altering event. Most importantly I want you to know that you are not alone.
In the past I was guilty of temporarily feeling sorry for someone that just lost a spouse and then moving on with my life. Occassionally I would say to Steve, “I can’t imagine ever losing you.” Your mind goes there after hearing of someone else’s loss (or at least mine did) and it was horrible to imagine. The imagery was was nothing compared to reality.
People surround you and help, but then everyone else gets to go back to their own life. Their life may be altered by the loss, but as a new widow, you are left with the ashes of a life. It’s almost as if there is no life to return to. It takes time, strength, and sheer persistence to literally start your life over.
My goal is to make it OK to be a widow. There are a lot of “young” widows in this world and I want to empower us to make a difference together. Widowhood is now synonymous with strength in my mind – I don’t have a life like any of my friends. I don’t live a life that people dream of. In fact, one moment in my life reflects most people’s deepest fears. One moment.
What I have come to realize is that there is one moment in time that changed my life forever. One simple moment. One decision that I would have made 100 percent of the time. Steve did exactly what I would have done and yet, that decision resulted in the end of his life.
One moment changes a life, but it doesn’t have to define it. What defines life is how you live each day. Being a widow means seeing the world differently than everyone else around you. Let’s embrace our differences together, empower one another, and give each other strength.
Are you a part of the Widow Club? Feel free to share your story in the comments or reach out to us via the contact page.