Wishing all my widowed friends peace and comfort, the love of family and friends, strength in spirit and the happiness that comes from within.
All of us every single year, we’re a different person. I don’t think we’re the same person all our lives.
Who will you be this year? Please be hopeful and open. Embrace those who love you. Smile. Accept invitations. Find something you’re passionate about and let it bring you joy. Relax. Be a good friend. Don’t hold grudges. Dance. Get outside. Let yourself laugh. A lot. Accept change. Get lost in a great book. Exercise. Get organized. Be yourself.
As the holiday season comes to an end and a new year begins, there’s often a sense of “moving on,” regardless of when you lost your loved one. Make this year about you. Be good to yourself. Perhaps it’s time for new traditions to emerge. Allow yourself to grow. Choose happiness.
In my experience, misery (the widowed version), doesn’t love company, we actually often prefer to be where others are not. Nor do we want others to be miserable (translation: widowed). But most of us will probably feel miserable before we move on.
I didn’t put up a tree or decorate that first Christmas. The thought of unpacking holiday ornaments alone (even though friends had offered to help), or worse, coming home to an empty house with fake holiday cheer would have been unbearable. Be prepared to be miserable, to feel alone (you’re not), and to think that it’s always going to be this bad (it won’t). Being realistic about your grief and knowing that other widow/ers are experiencing the same often eases the pain and loneliness. We are together in our own little isolated worlds. I remember one holiday a few months after Robert died (I think it was Easter Sunday), I told relatives I was going to a friend’s house; and told friends I’d be with my family. Sometimes it’s not so much about wanting to be alone, as it is about not putting ourselves in the center of a joyous occasion that contrasts so sharply to how we feel. That said, it’s fine to pass on an invitation now and then, but don’t seek out constant isolation.
It’s been almost five years since Robert passed away. I had an OK Christmas that first year and thought I’d be fine New Year’s Eve, until I wasn’t and found myself weeping, despite being surrounded by wonderful friends. But the next year was easier and the one after that much better. Now I look forward to the excitement of the season. For those of you who are going through the holidays with a heavy heart, cherish your loved one’s memories, and know that in time you will find joy.
Have you ever wondered how your husband or wife would have coped if they had been the surviving spouse? My husband was a packrat. He referred to me as the Space Police – it was not a term of endearment. I kept our living space livable; how he kept his man cave in the basement would leave many speechless. And so I envision my once beautiful house on an episode of Hoarders, the voiceover mentioning “since the death of his wife, he hasn’t thrown anything out” accompanied by shots of boxes stacked two stories high reaching to our cathedral ceilings; narrow walkways through rooms crammed with Price Club purchases; piles of discarded clothing on chairs; columns of old newspapers piled high; the dining room table a mountain of unopened mail.
The phrase ‘Surviving Spouse’ sounds like a reality show of a life interrupted. How do you envision their life without you? What would they have done differently? Who would they have relied upon? Would they have risen above the devastation and created a meaningful life for themselves? Or spun out of control and spiraled into a dark and dangerous place? How they would talk about you, post mortem? When would they start dating? Would they remarry? ‘Survivor’ – to remain alive after an event in which others have died. Captured in that one word is both an end and a beginning. How do you imagine your partner would have begun their new life without you?