I met a new widow yesterday. Our daughters went to school together and I had heard of her husband’s passing. We happened to be in the same place so I introduced myself.
It’s heartbreaking meeting people who have just lost a spouse. I know a bit about the journey they have ahead of them. I also know that there is nothing anyone can do to take away the pain. I gave her a hug and my phone number and it seemed inadequate. Here is what I would have liked to have told her.
Dear newly widowed – I am so very sorry that you are joining this club. None of us want to be here but we try to stick together. I remember when I was in your place. I was in shock and I didn’t think I would ever recover. I really wish that I could offer you some special words of comfort and magically take your pain away. I won’t pretend to have that kind of power.
Most people will not know what to do for you. Some of them will unintentionally add to your pain. I truly believe that most people have good intentions but they just don’t know what to do. When you think about it, it’s kind of surprising that death is still such a strange and uncomfortable topic. We will all die someday but it is sad to think about losing someone. Most people like to think you just say goodbye and move on. Unlike those people, you and I know what it is like to lose the person closest to you, the one who knew you like no other.
I’m going to be honest, your journey is going to get harder before it gets better. I wish that weren’t the case but you are in shock right now. When that wears off you will feel your loss even more. This is normal. Give yourself a break and just allow some time to grieve. Don’t let anyone give you rules or a timeframe. We all handle it differently and there is no right or wrong way to grieve.
I do believe that our loved ones would want us to move forward and live the best life possible. It’s hard to imagine doing that without them but I’m trying to make my life meaningful as a tribute to the love we shared. You will find what works for you.
I can’t promise that the pain will go away but, for me at least, it has become more bearable. I still think of him everyday but it’s usually a happy thought.
Remember that you are never alone. If you don’t have family or close friends there are a variety of grief groups as well as online support groups and a lot of people who understand.
I’m so very sorry that we are meeting under these conditions but I promise to be here if you ever need me.
Danell teNyenhuis is a full time graduate student, studying Professional Clinical Counseling. She lives in Clovis and blogs about her life after losing her husband, Patrick, two years ago. You can find her on her Facebook page, My Life After Patrick, at www.danellt9.com, or firstname.lastname@example.org.