Cheryl currently writing articles that help individuals going through emotional issues due to the death of a spouse.
Trust no one
My grandmother used to say that I should never trust what anyone said but to watch what they did and she was right. People say things that they may mean at the time but rarely follow through on. I am finding out through my own experience, as well as that of others, that when you become a widow people treat you as if you have the plague. Initially, everyone is there sending cards, giving money, food, support and prayer but as time goes on even family pulls away. I have heard this said over the decades and have read numerous posts on Facebook groups for grief so it is common. If you loved your spouse, slept in the bed with them, and were with them on a daily basis there is no way to simply get over it. Others have a right to cut off their phone calls and visits and even renege on promises because that is their right. If you expect there to be periods where you are all alone then you may not feel resentful when contact is cut off. Never trust what anyone tells you but pay attention to see if they follow through.
People mean well
I recall a man, who after the death of an older brother, told his last serving sibling that they were going to talk every day. Over time, however, this individual slowly discontinued the contact. At first, it was several times a week, then weekly, and then less often. When there was another death in the family I heard him tell someone else that they were going to keep in touch but it got to the point where the other individual was doing all the calling and finally stopped. People mean well and believe at the moment that they will follow through with what they say but often they do not. A few years back I pondered that I no longer had a church family, co-workers, and had never had a circle of girlfriends. My time was spent with my husband, children, and grandchildren. I had only a few associates whom I kept up with on a regular basis, and my family disconnected after the death of my grandmother in 2010. I realized then that if my husband preceded me in death that I would have no one to turn to and I accepted it. Processing that then and living it now are quite different.
Emotions will wander
I hear so many widows say that people act as if widowhood is catching and no longer reach out to them and that is sad but true. You may find that those you expected to be in your corner were not. You will also hear, "Call me if you need me, a lot which puts the burden on you. Your emotions will be all over the place and there are some situations you will have to deal with alone. The empty recliner, your husband's seat at the dinner table and especially his empty side of the bed, You may have days where you do pretty well and others where you cry all the time. No one wants to hear this and if you share it you risk them running when they see you coming. Widows are sometimes seen as Debbie Downers and in this day and age, everyone is all about positive energy and speaking positive confessions. As a widow you represent death, especially if you and your spouse were seen out and about together. Some people don't want to hear you talking about missing your husband and others simply do not know what to say to you.
Remember that everyone has their own stuff going on. Siblings, parents, inlaws, or children whom you expect to be by your side are trying to maneuver their own lives.Do your best not to take it personally if they put some distance between themselves and you or they talk about their own lives and don't ask how you are holding up. You might be grieving on your husband's birth date but don't expect anyone else to share your sentiment. For some, it may be difficult and they avoid you so that they will not become emotional and cry. Others may just want to focus on a positive issues but you don't have that luxury. Remember the old adage is true. When you laugh the world laughs with you but when you cry you cry alone. Your heart may be breaking and you need someone to listen for just a few moments but find that it seems no one is there.
There are resources that you should check out to see if they will benefit you. Grief support counseling might be an option so find out what is in your neck of the woods. Because of COVID-19, you might find therapists who will work with you via Zoom or the telephone if you don't want to go into an office. I advise checking out Facebook groups for widows because there you will find like-minded individuals who can relate to what you are feeling. Please pay close attention to descriptions because there are some groups that are for widows and widowers who desire to date again. Make sure you find those that are for grief support only until you decide your future.
Keep in mind that you are the one who will have to take certain steps that no one else can do for you such as closing accounts and deciding what to do with your spouse's belongings. There are parts of this journey that no one else can walk with you and you must do it alone. It is important to realize that even in the death of your spouse jealousy from others is a reality. Those who may not have been married as long as you might point out that they did not have such a relationship. They may tell you to be thankful you had a husband for x number of years because they did not. Some who say this may truly trying to be helpful but others may envy the fact that you had a long marriage. Only those who have buried their life partner can understand the pain you feel and that part of you is no longer here. This is why it is important to expect nothing from anyone and if you do receive support be thankful. If you are a Christian you must deal with people telling you that your husband is no longer in pain and in heaven. Others may give you scriptures but none of this stops the pain in your heart. This is a process and you might even find if you are a person of faith that you are unable to pray or read the Bible for a while and this is normal. Sometimes just hearing or reading that others have or are experiencing the same thing can be a big help. Widowhood can turn people away so expect it and try not to be too disappointed.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2021 Cheryl E Preston
John Hansen from Queensland Australia on June 29, 2021:
Sorry for what you have had to endure, Cheryl. Thank you for sharing.
Cheryl E Preston (author) from Roanoke on June 29, 2021:
Yes it is so very sad. I get that feeling from women as well. I loved my husband and am not interested in other men. So sorry your aunt deal with that.
Caren White on June 29, 2021:
My great aunt (grandmother's sister) lost all of her friends when she became a widow. The women were afraid she would try to steal their husbands. People are so cruel.
Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on June 29, 2021:
I am so sorry that you are experiencing this, Cheryl. I hope as time goes on, it gets easier for you.
Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on June 29, 2021:
You were married for a long time, Cheryl. I cannot imagine using my husband either, and it sure could happen. I am sorry you are having such a struggle. I thought people would treat you better than what you described. I hope this process gets easier for you.