I’ve been a widow for a little more than 90 days. Widow. I loathe that word. It’s a word that defines someone by the loss of a loved one. Typically, I want my Monday posts to be inspirational or motivational, so why write such a negative title? Because it’s true. The first ninety days of being a widow sucks. But perhaps I’ve learned a few things that might help someone.
My First Days
During the first days, grief consumed me. Waves of grief hit over and over and over again. I had things to do: arrangements to make, family and friends to inform. Ten or fifteen minutes, maybe a half hour of effort, exhausted me. If I wasn’t crying, I sat in a mental and emotional fog that nothing seemed to penetrate.
Friends said, “If you need anything, let me know.” Guess what? I didn’t know what I needed or how to ask for help. I couldn’t call anyone because reaching out was more than I could do. All I could think about was that my husband died.
One friend of mine texted me every few days for the first couple of months. She’d ask how I was feeling. Then, she let me rant and rave and share more than I should have. It was lifesaving. She still reaches out, just not as often.
Personal Event Days
There are so many things that are difficult as a new widow. Everything is new and painful. Anniversaries, birthdays, holidays, routines…all are reminders that my husband died.
He died four days before Valentine’s Day and forty-eight days before our twenty-eighth wedding anniversary. To say those were difficult days is an understatement. Each event took at least a week of messed up emotions to “get through.”
My son bought me flowers and cards. Other family members sent cards or called. I used my husband’s shirt as an over shirt. I paged through memory books blind with tears. Leaving the house or doing work was impossible.
It will be his birthday at the end of May. That day will be one hundred three days after his death. And it will be difficult.
My inclination was to climb into a hole and grieve. But one needs a balance of being alone and getting support from friends and family. Often, one needs professional help as well.
I am fortunate. My husband received hospice care. The nurses were wonderful for both of us. Hospice services are available now and any time during the thirteen months after my husband’s death. These services are available for my whole extended family.
My longtime friends reach out to me. It’s almost as if they worked out a schedule between them.
I keep a journal routinely. Believe it or not, writing about my feelings these past few months has helped.
I’ve also had the advantage of my training as a nurse, Nurses learn about the psychology and physiology of death and dying. I’m sure that’s made a difference. Though, sometimes it’s resulted in me being harder on myself than is kind.
There is no easy way to deal with grief. My training and some different personal experiences taught me that avoiding feelings only makes it more difficult later. So I live with my grief in whatever way it needs to be expressed. Sometimes it’s crying. Other times a sort of numbness takes over. I sit down and what I thought were minutes turned out to be hours.
But no one can endure raw emotions 100% of every day. So I’ve also allowed myself to take breaks, to play mindless games or watch B- action movies.
Perhaps the most difficult thing for me is to be patient with myself. I’m learning to listen to my body and respect that my energy levels aren’t up to my intentions. And I’m learning to let that be okay for now.
Life Goes On
Over these past three months, it’s gotten easier but it’s not over. The one person to whom I could turn to for advice or a hug or to share frustrations or celebrate a small win with is dead. That sucks. Always.
Slowly, I am able to work on my next novel more and more. Some days, it doesn’t happen.
By the way, about the word “widow.” I am not a widow. His death does not define me. I am a woman whose husband died. Words make a difference to me.
I wanted to share this portion of my journey to remind myself and anyone else who needs to hear it. Life is a journey. And the first ninety days of being a widow sucks. It does. But it doesn’t suck all the time. Not even for a new widow. For now, I’m taking it the same way life comes at me, one day at a time.