Widowhood Is Not Funny

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

That Was Then, This Is Now

Becoming a widow means coming around 180 degrees in your thinking, a complete paradigm shift, if you will. Nothing is the same as it was before and it never will be again. As each situation arises, your mind automatically goes back to how you handled that particular problem or event before your life turned upside down. However, that won't work anymore. Your life is not the same and neither are you. It's almost as if the old you passed away with your husband and the new improved you has emerged from a cocoon. You feel fragile, uncertain how you're going to deal with life now, maybe even terrified of being alone. But there's no getting around the fact that things have changed. Refusal on your part to change too will lead to yet more fear and uncertainty.

Keep in mind too that it doesn't happen right away, this acceptance of change and the willingness to go along with it. In the first months, all you can think is, "I can't do this, I can't do this by myself!" Up to that life-shattering event, the two of you always handled everything as a couple, and now suddenly, you have to make decisions on your own, life-changing decisions, and there's nobody to help you with that. Now you're single and have to deal with everything on your own. That's scary!

In the first months, you may find yourself unable to focus on much of anything. Your mind flits away from hard tasks. Unwanted thoughts fill your mind and terrorize your soul. Some days, just getting out of bed is a major accomplishment. There are days that seem so bleak, you wonder if you'll survive the sadness. In my case, my family tried to keep me very busy the first month, spending time with me, taking me to lunch or shopping. It was very difficult to concentrate on things and a part of me just wanted to go back to bed and cry. I really wanted just to be alone, which in hindsight was probably not the best idea. Being with other people forces you to deal with the world around you, forces you to focus. Besides, you can't stay in bed forever.

I discovered that even simple things like paying bills, getting the car serviced, dealing with the phone company were so hard. But there are things that simply must be done. There is no getting around it. You're now totally responsible for everything. There is no more division of labor and responsibility. You now have everything you did before and everything your husband did as well. There are some days this can be absolutely overwhelming. In the first months, doing something as simple as getting the car inspected would send me into a meltdown.

Part of the difficulty for the widow is that she's used to taking care of her husband, in many cases for quite a few years. In my case, it was thirty-five years of looking after my best friend and soul mate. Suddenly, I only have myself to take care of, to look after, to be concerned with. Three and a half decades of putting my husband first left a pretty large gap in my life. Of course, it's three and a half decades of him putting me first that throws me into a meltdown. The person who loved me the most is gone from my life. How do I live the rest of my days without him?

That was then, this is now.


  • At 8:43 PM, Blogger suzy said…

    hi. my name is Suzy and i am a 34 year old mother of 2 wonderful boys. I got the title of widow stapled to my forehead almost 3 years ago.I love you "widowhood is not funny" thing. its so true! you realise only us widows can appreciate it! thanks for sharing your thoughts

  • At 11:48 AM, Blogger AlannaK said…

    Hi Suzy,
    I'm so sorry for your loss, but I'm glad you came to visit. As for the title of widow, it sometimes feels as if it's been stapled to my heart. Of all the titles I've held in my life, this is the one I was least prepared for. It's probably been a hard road, being the sole parent for your boys, but it sounds like you're doing well. Hope you'll come back often.

  • At 12:39 PM, Blogger poetjpb said…

    Write more...

    JP Brown
    from AARP

  • At 1:18 PM, Blogger just me said…

    hi - I'm Maria and also a widow. I am 39 years old and my husband of almost 9 years died on June 30th, 2005 of cancer. We have 5 kids between us - 2 of his, 2 of mine, one of ours. The first 4 are grown, but the baby is still with me - Megan is 8. I found your blog though a grief support message board a couple of weeks ago. Just wanted you to know there are some of us out here reading.

  • At 9:43 PM, Blogger cynthyy said…

    Hello and thanks from the bottom of my broken, empty heart...Dave and I were together for 15 yrs; We lived together most of that time, best friends, fishing partners, soul mates, all of it. Diagnosed w. lung cancer late March, he deligently did radiation and chemo and tolerated well and eager to continue, he so wanted to live! We always planned to marry but for various reasons, put it off and always felt married. My mom sick, died, then his mom, folks saying don;t marry w/o us being there, etc. Then the diagnosis, incorreclty staged at IIB, actually IV, end stage. He was gone in 3.5 months. When reality of seriousness set in(not sure he realized how serious till the end..) We decided to finally get married, did so in his hospital room and it gave us peace and joy, albeit sadness as we feared the future and rightly so.... Complications of lung cancer began 6/10, hospitalized 70 mi from our home, he came home w hospice care on 7/5 and passed on 7/9, day after my 57 th birthday. He would be 57 8/8. I feel like I am going crazy, cry easily and often, trying to work, probably have to sell our house (3 yrs ago we moved to Sierra mtns, our dream...) Wil need to move down the mtn some, smaller house, below snow linw and an incredible amt of "stuff" to deal with. I am soon starting hospice grief support and taking Ativan to keep my sanity, just barely. I love what I have read here and welcome any first step advice. Dave passed on 7/9, it seems surreal and would appreciate any and all support. Thank you and God bless. I do have a sister 120 mi away that has and will come again, 2 sisters in law 3 hrs away that were there for us till the end but we were never that close. I feel so alone..........Cynthy


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