Ok, you’re a widow now. What are you going to do about it? I have been a widow for almost 2000 days. I know that because I just asked Alexa. That’s 5 years and counting. Holy Crap. Some days I feel sorry for myself and some days I feel damned proud of myself. But the point is, I am doing it. I didn’t think I could, but here I am. Life as a widow does not have to suck! Here are some things I have learned…
I have learned
People mean well
At least I hope they do. They just don’t know what to say. It’s difficult. I am sure that we have all said the wrong things at one time or another. Here are some things not to say. Seriously, don’t say any of these things. I have heard them all. Some after losing my 3-year-old daughter and others after losing my husband. Better to hold a grieving person’s hand, silently, than to say any of these things.
- “At least he lived a long life, many people die young.” Right, I’m lucky.
- “He is in a better place.” Really, better than with me?
- “He brought this on himself.” Just weird.
- “There is a reason for everything.” Just stop talking.
- “Aren’t you over it yet, she’s has been dead for a while now.” I heard this for years after my daughter died. Even from members of my own family.
- “You can still have another child.” Really? How do you know? I heard this a lot.
- “She was such a good person. God wanted her to be with him. Or another variation: God needed another angel.” OK, I hate God, then.
- “I know how you feel.” I’m pretty sure you don’t. My world just ended.
- “She did what she came here to do and it was her time to go.” Again, stop talking.
- “Be strong.” I don’t want to be strong. I want to curl up in a fetal position and stay there forever.
Go With The Flow
I have learned not to be insulted when I’m treated like a child who couldn’t possibly make a decision on her own. Without my husband. Imagine that. To be honest, in the few days while in grief-induced brain fog, I couldn’t make a decision. Now I can.
I greatly appreciated the dinners and visits in those early days and wonder how I would have made it through those months without my wonderful friends.
I gradually became more confident and learned to take over the running of the house. Of course, I missed my husband but figured out how to get along without him. Not great, but OK. Surprisingly, the advice still came.
Separate yourself from toxic people
That’s right, weed them right out. You are going through the hardest, most stressful time of your life. You are desperately trying to keep out of the deep pit of despair. The last thing you need now is critical, complaining, hurtful people. You don’t have the energy to suffer through someone else’s drama. Did someone insult them? Boohoo.
Learn to say “no”
No is your new yes. “Join this group or that group, take a trip, get a job, entertain more, take a course, date, don’t date, sell the house, don’t sell the house, take in a boarder…” The suggestions did not stop! I appreciated the caring, but I learned that I was the only one who could know what was best for me. I slowly took on the things that felt right and ignored the rest. Honor your intuition.
Let go of the guilt
At first, I felt guilty saying “no” so I didn’t. Geesh, I did stuff I didn’t want to do just to make my people happy. I sat in a rug hooking class for 2 hours and almost fell asleep. Enough of that silliness!
Another thing: Do not feel guilty about being happy. A terrible thing has happened to your husband but you are still alive.
Ask for help when you need it
This is hard for me. I really don’t like to ask for help. I hate it. So if you’re like me and can’t ask for help, do what I did. Hire people. Give yourself a break. I hired people to do the things I absolutely couldn’t or didn’t want to do. As a DIYer, this was and still is mighty hard. But necessary. I am NOT Superwoman. Even though I try.
Make things easy
I learned that grieving takes a lot of energy. I needed to do things in as easy a manner as possible. So I bought products to help me. Here is a little list. Just a tiny, little list. But the point is to make your life as easy as it can be right now.
Products I bought to make my life easier
I was close to tears of frustration the first time I tried to put on a bracelet with a clasp without my husband to help me. It seriously takes 2 people! So I bought one of these…
This little gadget is fantastic! Easy to use and inexpensive. No more frustration.
After my husband died, I felt something I had never felt before…fear. I knew there was no reason at all to be afraid, but there it was anyway. You see, I had never lived alone before. Every little noise sent me diving under the covers. I should have bought one of these devices right away.
I already had a doorbell so I was able to get the wired version (to attach to the existing wires) and not be bothered with a battery to charge up. That decision made, I spent quite a bit of time trying to decide if I needed the fancier models that were much more expensive than the basic model. I decided I did not. The Ring Wired at about $60 works with my phone and my Alexa. There is a video that shows exactly how to install it as well.
Now when I shout “Come in” from my recliner, (still healing from surgery), I know who will be entering. Not a guy selling solar panels. Peace of mind at a real bargain.
This thing is essential. I use mine just about every day now that I have super tall cabinets and no tall guy to get stuff down for me. This grabber is super light and even has a magnetic tip.
Grocery Bag Carrier
No one to carry your groceries in? Here you go, these are brilliant. You can load these bag holders up with heavy plastic grocery bags and still carry them comfortably into the house because the handle is so soft. Even 80 pounds of grocery bags will not dig into your hands. They fit in your purse.
Widow Wrap-up: Life Does Not Have To Suck
I have read lots of commentaries written by widows. One thing they all say is this: “Life Sucks Now!” And it’s true, life really did suck in the beginning. I have learned that happiness is a choice that takes real determination. Life will get better. Widowhood is a solitary journey. It may take a while, but you will figure it out. Hang in there.
As always, take care. You can do it
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4 thoughts on “Widow Hacks, Life Does Not Have To Suck”
Wish I had thought of the grocery bag gizmo. No more thin skin bruises for this old gent.
And you did it well!
Thank you so much for sharing your experience. I was wondering if/how you think about when it’s time to have sex again. It seems like a very complicated decision for widows/widowers.
Hello Blog reader,
You are right, dating after the death of a spouse is a complicated issue as everyone’s grief is unique. In addition to feeling guilty about dating someone other than one’s husband, the widow feels concerned for her children who are grieving as well. We need to balance all that with the desire to move on and find happiness. Most of us haven’t dated in a long time and have no idea what to expect. There is the fear of rejection.
A widow doesn’t wake up one day and decide she is ready. That is the bad news. The good news is that there is no harm in taking the first step to see how it goes. Hopefully, she has a supportive family who wants her to do what is right for her.
Thanks for your question,