After the fabulous RLEE told me I was the hottest WILF in the room—at the funeral—he followed up with, “That’s probably one of the Top Ten Things Not To Say To A New Widow.”

Well, a little longer into widowhood, there’s been more than ten. But it sounds better as a Top Ten list, so here’s the top ones for me. These are some of the things that get said, how they get heard and what we can do to make this a little easier for each other.

For the friends: these may have blurted out from you to the bereaved, or you’ve wondered what on earth to say or do for your newly widowed friend. I know there’s lots of things I didn’t understand until after I was widowed. Unless you were downright thoughtless or cruel, whatever you said or did is generally OK. Why should we know exactly the right thing to do, because after all, who knows the right thing to do about death? The answer: no one. But we all face it at some point, perhaps we can help each other out a bit.

For the widowed: think of these as a primer for what you’re going to hear (and I promise, you will) and how to grin-and-bear-it when you do. For the most part, they mean well. It’s hard, but try to look for the love behind the silly comments.

  1. The Big One: or “If there’s anything you need, let me know.”
  2. As Time Goes By or “How long are you going to drag out this widow thing”?
  3. Hearse Chasing 101 How’s that life insurance policy working for you or “Did he leave you enough money”?
  4. At Least You Got It All“I just got divorced so I know how you feel.”
  5. Good Luck With Your Next Fifty Years. “So-and-so lost their spouse years ago and they’re still not over it.”
  6. My Death Is Better Than Your Death. One-upping the newly bereaved.
  7. Get Back On That Horse or “When are you going to start dating”?
  8. What About Me? “You were prepared for his death, but I was shocked by it!”
  9. Well, Aren’t You The Merry Widow? “You’re so brave”!
  10. The Sound of Silence: The sin of not saying anything at all

Born in 1961. Married in 1990. Widowed in 2007. Blogging in 2009.

70 comments On Top Ten Things Not To Say To A New Widow

  • I’ve got one for you. At the pub, right after my husband’s memorial service, one of his mates said to me, “Well, you’ve got to find a new man now.” My jaw dropped. I smiled and walked away. What the hell else was I going to do? There was a crowd around us and lots of people heard it, so he had plenty of people to tell him why I walked away. I think he was mortified once it dawned on him just how inappropriate, rude, unbelievable (and on and on) his words were. Oh my…

    I’ve thought of writing a book about what NOT to say when someone loses their spouse, but your website is wonderful, so I think I will leave it to you. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us.


  • Thanks! There’s a kind of funny line in the last episode of The Sopranos where Janis Soprano, following the murder of her husband, says, “Well, I gotta catch myself a new man now…” I’ve been telling people Jackie Kennedy Onassis’ quote: “The first time you marry for love, the second for money, and the third for companionship.” Let ’em find me someone with bongo bucks if they’re so anxious for me to remarry!

  • Thanks for sharing the appalling post memorial ” time to find a new man ” comment.
    I wonder if other widows have had shocking ” attempts to comfort the widow ” remarks, or worse, had someone try to ” hit on ” you immediately after your husband’s death?
    12 hours after my husband died our best friend of 25 yrs came over. After two glasses of wine he told me he’d always been ” attracted to me,” and tried to kiss me. Shocked, I pushed him back and told him I could never think of him as anything other than a brother or son, and asked him to leave. At the door, he tried to kiss me again. How on earth could anyone do such a thing? Ultimately I ended the friendship, losing not only a family- like friend, but the past he shared with me and my husband. Has anyone else dealt with a similar betrayal? Thanks and Blessings, Susan

  • Here’s my longer post on the subject. I don’t think it’s uncommon, in fact I think it happens all the time. While it’s incredibly annoying and hurtful for the widowed—far more than others realize, I think—I believe a lot of it comes from a “savior” complex… the friend wants to save the helpless widow. In fact, I don’t think it’s always men hitting on women, I think the opposite happens just as much.

    Some of it might be tied to the “when are you going to get dating again” approach. I think loved ones are so desperate to make things better for the grieving that their only solution is for the widowed to find love again—the sooner the better.

    But what’s so hard about it is that the grieving, like Susan, winds up having to end friendships because they just won’t take no for an answer. That part, I really don’t understand.

  • Constance Spellman

    My so-called friend did not come to the funeral and a few months later said to me “What are you going to do, steal someone’s husband” All I have to say now is thank God for Caller ID.

  • I found this website only a month ago and it has brought me so much peace.

    My beloved Bryant left me 11 months ago to a sudden heart attack (his particular kind of heart attack is nicknamed “The Widow-maker”). I am not one to stand on ceremony but I have been completely appalled and offended by the remarks I’ve heard since day 1 of my loss. I have to share a few examples:

    My uncle, who was the closest thing I had to a father-figure growing up, said this to me 5 weeks after losing Bryant, “You’re already looking for the next one, aren’t ya’?”. We were at a huge family gathering and it was all I could to do to not stand to my feet, cross the lanai and slap some sense into him. I pursed my lips, fought back tears and stomped like a toddler into the bathroom so that I could cry. 5 weeks after losing my soul-mate and I was accused of searching for a new man? I could not imagine a larger insult.

    But there were, indeed, larger insults to come.

    I, too, had a gentleman make a move on me. He and his wife were good friends (not best friends) with us. Yes, he was still married when my husband passed and he made it very clear within a week that if I needed to borrow him to release some sexual tension, then he would be happy to (and I quote) “help me out”. What??? I consider myself an overly passionate person in this particular arena but, at the time, sex could not be farther from my mind. I am no longer friends with the couple.

    One of my favorite faux pas happened two months after the death. A friend of mine kind of came out of the woodwork and invited me to dinner. She told me to dress up, put on make-up, do my hair etc. I was so touched by her gesture to get me out of my routine so I did as she asked. I met her at the restaurant and she had brought a male friend that she just knew I would love! I shook the gentleman’s hand (I never got his name) I walked over to my friend and asked her to never contact me again. I walked back to my car in tears.

    And, I’d like to comment on Constance’s post. Since I’ve been widowed, our former married friends don’t call or come by any more. I was told by a few other mutual friends that I’m now a threat to their marriage because I’m widowed and desperate. I have never cheated on a boyfriend or husband but now that I’m widowed I’m considered a slut? I’d love to know how this originated in our culture.

    Since I’m considered a young widow (I’m 41 and my husband died at 51), and since my husband was the first of all of our friends to die, then I think no one has had time to “practice” what to say to a widow or widower. Another reason why I love this website. As our Practical Widow so poignantly pointed out, when people are at a loss they say nothing and that’s often worse than saying the wrong thing. Even before this horrific event, I always kept my responses to someone who lost a loved one brief but genuine. Now, of course, my experience has brought me to an entirely different level. I don’t say “I’m here for you” because I’m actually there, in their house or at the store or wherever I know they’re going to be just to be a warm body. The isolation after my husband’s Celebration of Life event was stifling. I couldn’t believe how fast people scattered.

    One other point that I can relate to is the “you’re so brave/strong” comment. If one more person tells me how strong I am, I’m going to shoot their pinkie-toe off with a bazooka! So many have said, “I don’t know how you do it; it would kill me” and it almost did. I lost 14 lbs in 9 days. I developed bleeding ulcers which still aren’t under full control. I started smoking and drinking again (which I’ve now stopped). It almost did kill me. But, like most of us, I have children to raise and I cannot leave them without a parent. I’m not strong, I’m surviving. So many confuse bitch with strength and they’re too different titles completely. 🙂

    While I don’t have all the answers, I’m glad there someone who can at least be a guide for those who truly want to help the bereaved. Death is an inevitable part of the life cycle, we all know this. But it makes it a pinch more bearable if you have support, even if it’s from a group of strangers on a website.

    Thank you all for sharing your stories.

  • What a great post… I totally agree that our friends have not been able to practice for those of us who are younger. I think the best we can do is try to understand they aren’t necessarily being malicious, they simply don’t get it. I have to admit there’s times when the petulant side of me comes out and I think to myself, “you’ll see, this will happen to you too one day and then you’ll be sorry.” (I do try hard not to think that way, but hey, I gotta be honest here). In my better times, I think sometimes the stifling loneliness couldn’t be softened by all the visitors in the world. What I’m really lonely for is my husband and the way of life that is now gone. So yeah, I think that’s the times when you have to pull it together and be that strong bitch 😉

    Also, the “help me out” line nearly made me spit out my coffee. Ummm…. dude…. Really? Wow. I gotta hand that one to you as being one of the best “What Not To Say To A New Widow” that’s come along… almost as good as the blind-date-fix-up! I genuinely don’t understand why people think I can just replace the late husband with a new guy and I’ll be happy again. I guess it’s a way for people to try to “fix” the problem.

    So thanks, Angelia. Do you have plans for the first year anniversary? Are you getting through those dates as well as you can? All the best to you and if it helps, you’re not alone…

  • Also, about the couples scattering like cockroaches when the light comes on, you might soon find yourself at the Widows and Gays Table. I’m also puzzled by my sudden expulsion out of some couples’ sphere of friends. Was I really only your friend because I had an escort for the party? Honestly, that’s a much worse reflection on them than it is on me.

  • @Angelia Dean
    As I read your post I cried. I lost my husband, my soul mate, 15 years ago to the “widow maker” I was 28, he was 30. We have three little ones and poof he’s gone. Still hurts so bad. My father said, “well you still look good and your young. You need to re-marry.” I was so numb and in disbelief that I trusted my father and dated a controll freak, dumped him after 4 years 🙁 Family and friends would tell me the “Your so Brave”, WTH, No I’m not! I’m forced to live this way. Other’s have told me “You need to get over it.” GET OVER IT??? He was the love of my life and we have three kids together, that I must raise alone, and have. My kids are 19, 18 and 15 now. I’m still single and I will remain single unless GOD has another plan I don’t know about. Thank You for your post. You gave me the strength to write this to you. I’ll add you to my prayer list :]

  • sharon lynn terpe

    I am glad I found this post. I only have one friend whose husband died and she
    lives in another state. Is there a feeling of being “other”? My friends are all
    kind…some friends have suffered the death of a child…my sister (married to my
    brother, but my sister) endured his death and then several years later the death of a child. Adult child. She has incredible strength….”don’t cry because it’s over; smile because it happened”. And that is her public face. Not everyone can
    do that….I wish you all comfort. Right now I need the pain.

  • Leah (another widow)

    My husband died on his way to work 6 years ago. I have heard every one of the 10 things and at least 10,000 more. My all time favorite-they-mean-well-but-it-still-irks-me is “how brave I am.” Really? I always want to ask them to explain that but I have learned to just say nothing. I started a blog the year Michael died just to have a place to write out what it really feels like to get to work and the first call I got was the emergency room at Mass General telling me to get there as soon as possible. Other than the widow/ers I meet up with on a regular basis, no one gets this widow business. Its not like a divorce or losing your cousin. Thanks for the post – it made me smile on a day that started in tears remembering the excitement of getting ready to be married on New Year’s Eve way back in 1989.

  • Oh, the “You’re So Brave”. Or even worse, the “Merry Widow” comment. I don’t know why I find that particular comment so grating, but it is. There are a lot of things I have been brave about but being a widow is not one of them. I suppose what most people are trying to say is that they’re impressed we’re upright at all, or maybe that they’re relived we’re not actively weeping in public. I don’t know if saying it another way would be any better to hear.

    Leah, this must be an especially hard time of year with a wedding anniversary and the general holiday bedlam. Good luck to you. And hey, remember… you don’t have to be brave…

  • I have just passed the one year mark of the murder(by a intruder in out home) of my darling husband. A week or so before the year and Christmas had arrived, a old friend (a man of course) said, ” So, is everything back to normal?”.

  • My husband died 4 1/2 years ago. The line I heard the most was, if there is anything you need, just let me know! Yeah right!! You can almost see them smacking themselves in the head for saying it. And hoping that you don’t call them.
    Some of the remarks people make are so insanely stupid. And one day they will get it. And possibly look back and think, did I really say that?

  • I just lost my husband a month ago. I came home from work and found him dead on my living room floor. I don’t even know what the cause is yet. I am getting all of these comments and more. I just don’t know what to say to anyone. Even the simple “how are you?” I say “everything is fine….I am ok.” In my mind I am thinking how the hell do you think I am doing. I have and 11 year old daughter that I have to be here for now alone and I am a 38 year old widow after a 20 year relationship. The word widow didn’t even come to my mind until someone said it to me, “Wow your a widow now!” I thought “What? What r they saying? I am….i’m a widow. How? why? and what am I going to do now and what am I suppose to do now?”

  • I am so sorry. Get through every day the best that you can. And know that you are not alone. This is a very hard time for you now. Be kind to yourself and reach out to those who love and support you.

  • The worst thing said to me at my husband’s wake was – “Well, at least you are single again” I think my jaw dropped but I said nothing.

  • I lost my husband of 23 years two months ago, he was 47 I am 45. We have two teenage sons and I am trying my best to find a new normal for us. What shocked me the most is not so what someone said but how people who you considered close family have just disappeared. Family who live within 1/2 mile from me have not called or visited once. I don’t get it, don’t people realize the hardest part is once the funeral is over and we have to live without our husband/father. Soon it will be christmas and I will have to spend it with some of these so called family members, what will they say when they see me “whoa I haven’t see you since the funeral how’s it going?” Leave it to tragedy to find out people’s real character, at least I now know who really has my back. People are so inconsiderate.

  • Just finished reading this blog. I think I wrote it….but I did not, of course. I have been a widow for 387 days. Met my husband on a blind date, together for 43 years, married for over 41. We spent our last Thanksgiving, wedding anniversary, and Christmas together in a wonderful hospice facility where he received incredible care and I was able to be his wife and not an inadequate caregiver. I could no longer care for him at home.
    Donna, like you, one of the hardest thing for me to realize is that the family relationships that I thought existed, did and do not exist. We spent every holiday, birthdays, and just no special reason days with “family” for 43 years. When my husband began to really decline, none of his brothers-inlaw, neices or nephews visited him druing his last six months of life. “It was too hard on them” was the exact quote I received. Really. WTF…it was not about them. What great disrespect my beloved, brave husband was shown by them. And, not to sound selfish, but to a lessor degree….me. I am still invited to those “bring a gift events”, like birthdays and holidays. But not one of them has picked up the phone to say lets meet for lunch or dinner.
    So, along with grieving the loss of my husband, I have also grieved the loss of relationships that I thought existed but do not. I have learned I have better friends than family. And, those are a select few.
    No, I am not over it yet.
    No, I don’t want to meet someone.
    No, I am not brave.
    What, I am is…..grieving, lonely for HIM not just anyone, sad, purposeless, and no longer whole.
    Will it get better with time? Who knows. I don’t….if it does, you can’t prove it my me.
    I have learned you have to go through the grief not around it.

  • I haven’t seen my situation here. I was married for 50 years to a very controlling man. After he died, roses kept showing up on his grave. My best friend told me who was putting them there, he had been cheating on me for years with the same woman. I knew he had in the past but I thought it was over. I had asked him for a divorce a couple of times and each time he begged me to stay with him. I confronted her and from what she said I know it was true. The worst part was she knew intimate details of our family life and I found out that he had told our favorite nephew about it. I am devastated and don’t know how to move on. Then I found out that one of my own daughters knew about it shortly after he died, my nephew told her and she didn’t tell me. She did the eulogy at the funeral and made it sound like he was a great man. Can you imagine what a fool I feel like?

  • PracticalWidow

    Pat, I am so sorry. Such deep betrayal on top of loss is staggering. You’re right, there aren’t a lot of comparisons to a situation like this. You must be in a lot of pain.

    I would advise finding someone who you trust and who you can talk this over with — a counselor, priest/minister/rabbi, doctor. Someone who is neutral, who will be on your side and who will help you work through this. I’m sure that all around you are hornet’s nests of emotion and it would be easy to feel betrayed by others who might have known what was going on but didn’t know how to handle it… and still don’t. That may end up making you more lonely than you already are and you don’t need that, not now.

    No matter what the husband did, the problem now is that he has officially had the last word. You’ll never get answers — good or bad, right or wrong — from him. That only increases your frustration and make you feel more crushed than I’m sure you already are. And unfortunately, we tend to take those feelings out on the living. I honestly think it will help you to find someone to help to get your anger out safely, to help you work through that tangle of emotion and to help you feel safe in your life again.

    My husband also had an affair, although I knew about it all and I knew it was over by the time he died. He was a good man, even though he did an enormously damaging, immoral and painful thing. It took me a while to come to peace with the unfairness of it all. Part of that is taking control of your life again, however you find that to be. I went to counseling for a while (in fact, more than one because I didn’t like the first one!). I kept it to myself so I could feel that I had my own secret source of strength. It helped a great deal. I hope it does for you as well.

  • The part about him having the last word is so true and that has been bothering me a lot. I will never get any answers from him and it is almost more than I can bear. I would give a lot to talk to him one more time. I am trying to work my way through this, but like you say, I think I need outside help. I too thought it was over by the time he died, but I was very wrong.

  • I lost my husband of 30 years unexpectedly about 6 months ago. I found your site while seeking input on wearing wedding rings after being widowed. I have learned there is no standard. Then I saw this post about the top 10 things not to say. I have had several of them said to me. My most memorable occurred less than a month after he died. A friend (also a widow), asked if I would consider getting married again. I had not words to answer as it was the farthest thing from my mind. The question that has been the hardest to answer is “How are you doing?” I find myself mentally asking myself if they are sincere, or just casually asking. Sometimes I wanted to reply ….tell me how you think I should be doing and I will tell you if I agree or not. Luckily, I have moved past that stage. People tell me they admire me for the ‘strength’ I have…..I see it as doing what I have to do. It is truly an adjustment……I am not used to the word ‘widow’ yet. Even that takes time getting used to.

  • Here’s one….
    I lost my husband 4 years ago. Friends will say…wow, it’s been that long ago? Time went by fast!
    Well, no. No, it didn’t go by fast. Try crying yourself to sleep for 4 years. Try having just memories of the good ‘ol days, and not being able to make any new goods memories.

  • All of us are united in that we have huge burdens to bear. I am weary of being told, alternately, “You’re so strong/brave” when I’m not, or that I should be stronger/braver. Try doing that when part of your soul has been ripped out from you AND you’ve been repeatedly stabbed emotionally/spiritually with a double-edged sword ! interestingly, my gay friends have been the most steadfastly compassionate because I was not a threat to their relationships to begin with. My friends who are also widowed are the only ones who are qualified to say “I’ve been through it. I KNOW.” Fortunately, we have a close-knit church family but I wish people would understand that the last thing on my mind is stealing someone’s spouse, especially since my soulmate husband and I were committed to being faithful to each other. We didn’t live in isolation booths, in our everyday lives we had to interact with others. That’s a given. That we always chose EACH OTHER is the blessing and the testament to love.

  • Something that has helped me as a widow is to talk about my husband at every opportunity. I talked to a taxi driver about cricket (he was interested in the sport) and told him about my husband and one of his great matches. If I am walking past a swimming pool with a friend, I tell him how my husband hated swimming, and why, and an interesting conversation develops. I suppose what I am saying is that I do this to keep him alive for me, I wear a wedding ring and always think of myself as married. When I’m alone in the night and frightened by illness and death on the horizon, I look at his picture, which is normally hidden in a drawer as even 8 years after his death, I cannot look at it without preparing myself. I tell his grandchildren stories about him when he was a little boy (he told me these stories years ago) and so they now feel they know him and are pleased that they did have a real grandfather who loved them even if he is not here now. Sometimes they even ask me questions about him.
    I find that this approach has made other people not afraid to mention him, or his death, and they dont make the amazingly stupid remarks I have read in the other stories. They can see that he is still alive in me, and made me so happy. They dont have to know or think about my pain.

  • That’s an excellent suggestion. I’m a big believer in “Speak my name and I shall live forever”, we all reflect the love we share with one another and it’s even more important to carry that on when someone has died. Thanks!

  • I’m glad to see that I’m not the only one hearing weird comments from people. My husband passed away one month ago, and I got so many comments about “You’re so young – you’ll find someone new soon” or my favorite so far “You’re young – you’ll get over this soon”. While I knew my husband for 16 years we were only married for 5 years, and we moved to find work, so now I’m in a new city without any family. I’m still not sure if that’s not a blessing in disguise.

    However, the friends, we did make in the last two years have now stopped returning my calls. I never even thought it was because I was now “single”. I don’t see myself in that light. However, it did make for a lonely Christmas and it will be even worse for New Years. I miss my husband every day, he was always the love of my life, and my best friend for so long that I’m not sure how to get on without him.

  • Dear WILF ( I laughed so hard at your title!)
    Thank you so much for this Blog, I appreciate it so very much, including all these amazing ladies contributing with comments.
    I am not a widow (yet?) but find myself confronted with that possibility. (Damn it! You’re so right! We will all face this at one point one way or another.)
    I am trying to “prepare” in practical and spiritual ways. I know, no such thing. But that doesn’t mean I should abandon that endeavor, I find. One thing that’s always worried me is our isolation from society due to his illness. Plus we were always different anyway. I thought I should really try and make new friends so I have a network for “just in case”. Now I am not so sure anymore. Suddenly I am much more comfortable with going this alone, as we were. I have met nice strangers in a support group and I understand better now that the necessary redefining of self can only truly begin after the drastic change has actually taken place. Friends may not even be there and then I wasted time I could have spent with him instead. There will be other nice strangers in due time I am sure.

    Again, thank you! I will keep absorbing all the info on here – it is so enlightening.

  • It’s nice reading all these comments, I feel after 4 years I should be moving on, or so people think I should, but I can’t and after reading these comments I don’t feel like I am alone in sharing the same grief after this amount of time. Like the last post I miss my husband every day, he was the love of my life and I can’t see myself ever getting over him, its the loneliness that I find the hardest, having shared everything with my husband for 34 years since I was 16 and now no-one to talk to when something horrible or wonderful happens, yes I am lucky I have four beautiful children (only one living with me now) but it’s not the same.
    Yes I have all those comments made by friends and family, the one that I hate the most is ‘Oh I just lost my mother/father I know how you feel’, NO YOU DON’T KNOW HOW I FEEL THIS WAS MY HUSBAND Arrrgh.
    I also agree that talking about him to people is good too, my counsellor (yes I went to a counsellor 2 years after my husband died and I didn’t want to but it helped) said it was good to talk to people about it.

  • It’s been 16 months for my husband of 28 yrs. the family ,friends and kids ( they live 3 hrs. away) have all stopped coming around …My house is on the market as I can’t afford it without my husbands income …comments are just think how much money you’ll have when you sell that you’ll be able to travel the world …. (We had planed on selling our home to do just that )but with whom will I travel with now ???? I’m afraid it’s our burden for loving so much… I miss him more and more as time goes by 🙁

  • The ‘You’re so strong’ comment always surprises me, too. I lost my soulmate nearly 4 months ago after 30 years of marriage and 36 years of friendship, and if people think I’m strong then I must be a better actress than I thought. I pretend to be strong in order to get myself through my days at work without crying (much) and to help convince our two sons that I’m ‘okay’ so I won’t add to their own burden of grief. The problem with keeping up this brave front is that people – including me – sometimes forget that I’m actually quite fragile. I have been ambushed by casual remarks, song lyrics, and everyday familiar moments, and I also find that I need to avoid women who habitually complain about their husbands because I just want to shake them!

    There have been some clumsy but I’m sure well-intentioned comments from co-workers, and a few unexpected no-shows from friends who should know better, but the only real faux pas I’ve experienced were from people who seem to be competing with my grief by telling me all about their own. ‘You think you have it bad? Let me tell you about what I’m going through” is NOT the way to comfort a new widow. Let’s find something else to talk about for awhile, please.

  • I think we get told we are supposed to “move on” so we think we should and feel guilty when we don’t. But I think it’s more about assimilating and living with what’s happened than it is “moving on”. If you remain alive, you’re moving on simply by the passage of time. And you’re doing a fine job of it, however that might be.

    (ps: I’m six years out and just recently had the, “I just got divorced so I know how you feel” comment tossed out at me!)

  • Loved the list. I have heard most of it, plus there was the person who shared by telling me about how their dog died. And the person who said to me “I should have sent you a card, but I just don’t deal with death very well.” People falling all over themselves apologizing about not be able to get the the memorial service, to the point I was comforting them. Even the therapist I went to see asked “What are your plans for moving forward?” — 6 weeks after my husband died! Taking cooking classes at the community center was mentioned . . . surreal.
    The “you’re so strong” comment? People really do want you to be OK, for you and for them, because death is very very scary and thinking that you’re strong, and maybe that they would be strong too if (when) it happens to them, gives a sense of control over the guy wearing the cloak and carrying the scythe. I cut people a lot of slack for trying to say something, even when they fumble it. So when I hear, “You’re so strong,” I say to myself “Damn right, I am effing awesome. I am so awesome I got out of bed and got dressed and came to work today. I’m just sitting here staring at the wall but I showed up. I am so awesome I made myself an actual dinner and sat down at the dinner table and ate it. I am so awesome I wrote 5 thank you for your sympathy cards before I couldn’t go on.” If they’re a bit closer friends, I say “You’ll be able to do what you have to do if that time ever comes for you.”

  • In the first few months, I considered myself a success if I was showered by noon and not drinking before five o’clock. I think your last comment is just perfect “you’ll be able to do what you have to do…” It’s very true and it has the extra effect of telling your friends that’s exactly what you’re doing: doing what you have to do. Thanks for this.

  • I lost my husband of 37 years 9 months ago today (today was the funeral nine months ago); I have been crying all afternoon and feeling that I just cannot go on with this loneliness. I have turned to the web in search of answers, help, advice and guidance to survive tonight and tomorrow and the so on. As I read your comments, I hear an echo of my shock — shock at my husband’s family (to whom I dedicated my life) who has simply turned away…beginning at the funeral! And all our “close and dear” friends who are simply drifting away. If I send out an email, they tell me that they have been thinking of me. But why is no one calling me? writing to me? dropping my to see how I am? inviting me to join them? What’s wrong with me??????????????? My husband was very sick for 15 years of our marriage. The last two months in the hospital were terrific. And now, all I have is loneliness and grief, solitude and sadness. I just don’t know how we bear. In the past few days, I feel that I just cannot bear it. I go to work every weekday and work as best I can into the late hours. But the weekend, like right now, is purgatory. During my husband’s illness, I truly, genuinely believed that his family and my/our friends would be there to take care of me, to care for me. This — the absence of that care and support and contact — make this horrible situation all the worse. How can this be? How can this be?

  • I discovered this blog today while trying to vent some of the frustrations I’ve been feeling with my group of friends, as it relates to my husband’s death nine months ago from leukemia. He was 43, I was 35. No kids, one dog (a godsend, really–she’s a great and constant companion). A year after his diagnosis, he underwent a bone marrow transplant that failed. We’d been together for 5 years and married for two and a half. I deeply miss him and can’t believe he was taken from us so young and so tragically, and after such a fight. Our life together was barely off the ground when his illness struck. He loved football, so today’s big game and all the hubbub around it made me so much more aware of his absence.

    in terms of what people have said to me following his death, I have heard all these things and more, including (the worst) a remark similar to a comment above where a (married!) ex offered to ‘get me off.’ Not to mention, this proposition was made in the very room where my husband passed away under hospice care only a few weeks before. I’ve also been cornered by a woman at my brother’s wedding (which was hard to attend in its own right so soon after his passing) who said she would “make it her life’s work” to find me a new husband. Ugh. Just no. I also try not to recoil from the frequent ‘pitying look’- you know the one I mean.

    What makes me saddest, however, is how my married (my real ?) friends have all but vanished into their child raising soccer mom lives. I do reach out about dinner or movies, but their parent fortress seems impenetrable. lucikily, i do have several close gay friends who are much more available and inclusive. I am definitely not ready to “date” as that sounds like a whole new level of baggage and stress I am not equipped to handle right now. Plus i know that im not ready- the idea repels me. I simply need to find ways to mediate my loneliness on my own terms– without the immediate assumption of others that I should “get another man.” fortunately, i live in a larger city and can easily find new activities to do or groups to join, but I’m trying to build up the bravery to go to these events solo. It is terrifying, particularly as ones’ entire mindset must change to “I’m a widow” and then eventually (?) to “I’m single”. I feel mostly like an asexual interloper at this point: not fitting in to my former married friend groups, but certainly not identifying as “single.” There is a lot of drifting and will take some time to find my way (with dog as my copilot).

  • Can anyone recommend a useful book? My husband died somewhat suddenly 11 mos ago – he died 2 wks after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. We figured we had 3-6 mos, but he went shockingly fast. I feel like I’m stuck mentally in that experience, it’s all I think about. I’ve read a dozen books on grief & mourning in the past 6 mos and they all seem full of platitudes, not at all helpful.

  • If you can possibly believe this, my husband died in a 1-car rollover accident. Some of his “closest” friends and family, kept asking me DETAILS of the accident. “Did he have his seatbelt on?” “Why didn’t he have his seatbelt on?” “”maybe he dropped his cell phone and was reaching for it.” “He always wore his seatbelt – why not this time?” I got so disgusted with the questions, I finally answered – I think to his mother of all people – “Maybe he didn’t have it on so he went quickly and didn’t end up a vegetable in the hospital.” A “close” friend of his d e s c r i b e d to me, with morbid enthusiasm about how he found out that the car rolled 3 times. WHY ON EARTH would I want to hear that!

  • I have been a widow coming on 3 years. Can honestly say I’ve heard them all. The most irritating and unbelievable came from a co-worker who approached me at a local market about 3 weeks after my dear husband of 32 yrs had died. “How are you doing? So what stage of grief do you think you are in?” I always try to befriend new widows and help if I can. Maybe that is why this has happened. We can rarely help someone if we’ve not shared the experience. I have several friends that are widows. We joke sometimes that we are in the widows club. We provide companionship for each other and we know what the other is going through and help by just being there for each other. God Bless you all on your journey of widowhood.

  • Deb
    I lost my wife 18 mos ago to ovarian cancer .Im not going to say I know how you feel because everyones loss is unique to them. I will say its the worst pain ive ever felt having to watch the one you’ve loved and shared your life with lose there battle .I would like to recommend a book for you and everyone else who is grieving to read .Its called Grief Recovery by John w james and Russell friedman ..Theres also a website please have a look its not a magic wand but it has helped me enormously .its changed my life.Good luck to everyone who is walking this road.(I certainly wont tell you all to be brave~)

  • To Ro,Deb and Lisa. – recent posts

    Firstly Thank you, I have not felt so connected to other beings as I have reading your posts.

    I lost my husband that I was with for 23 years, I was 17 and he was 9 years older than me when we met and we were married for 13 years. He was diagnosed with cancer last July and was gone by December and he was my everything. I have been going through everything you are, the people who keep saying to me that “they just expecting him to walk through the door” are driving me crazy but not as much as the ones that just keep telling me that “they just can’t/don’t want to believe it” or my personal favourite the ones that keep reminding me how much in love we were..what the f is wrong with people?

    I can relate to everything you have all said. Except I made a big mistake and had a one night stand with a guy ( in between a few liasons with some hot chicks!) and I have spent the last 23 years thinking I was infertile to horribly find out that I am pregnant!! CRAP!!!

    So horrified don’t know what to do, other than get rid of it!

  • I have found “HowTo Go on Living When Someone You Love Dies” by Therese Rando very helpful. It explains the different periods, waves , multiple stages whatever this process is ….in very real language. It has helped to assure me that no matter how overwhelmed, lost crazy, I may feel that it is all ” normal” for you. And that, as was noted earlier, we will eventually find a livable form of assimilation in this new life. No matter how much I can not accept it yet. God Bless you all. Thank you for sharing your stories. It is bringing me great comfort.

  • Widiwed too soon

    The worst things that I have been told is that I am a strong person and was put into his life to bring him happiness, to let him know that he could be loved for who he was and not for what one can get out of him. The second thing was that I am still young and can find someone new and the last thing that really heart was that I wasn’t married long enough to be considered a widow. We were married for four months to the day when he passed away. I haven’t had time to mourn because I am dealing with his estate, ex wife who seems to think she should get everything so she can sell it off and is using their son to try and get it and dealing with bill collectors and a mortgage company that won’t acknowledge his death nor the fact that I am not responsible for the bill. At present, I am widowed longer than I was married, I still don’t have a death certificate without the word “pending” on it and am still waiting on the tox report. What am I to do? Where do I turn? My shrink is more interested in my wedding album than she is in my well being. I am one step ahead of my charge cards and still haven’t made it through probate. This is the longest winter I have ever lived through and I believe I will still be heating this house in August. Where do I go and which way do I turn? I am lost, alone and scared. Am I wrong to still Love my husband? Or talk with him as if he were still here. Do I walk away and move on as if all f this never happened? I cannot do that. I still Love him and had a lot more Love to give him. I wasn’t done showing and giving him the love that he never received before. I just got him to start enjoying life and living again. I know God has his reasons and that this slump will not last forever but it sure feels like it will right now.

  • I became widowed a month ago. It sounds so strange to be widowed (I’m 60) but now I spend my days doing what I call Widow Work. Trying to figure out how to pay the freaking bills that he has paid for 25 years of our marriage! (Shame on me for being so disengaged!)

    Bob had been diagnosed with ALS (horrible, horrible!!) 18 months before he died and he died before he ever got to the terrible dark place that ALS takes people, so for that I am grateful.

    But I’m with so many of you on this board. What to do?? What to do now?? What do widows do???

    Our friends are circling me right now, but what can I look forward to in two, three, four years. They may be here now and then later drift away, but he was my life for 25 years!

    Today I feel like I’ll be damned if ALS is going to steal any more of my life than it already has. And I am planning to keep RVing which is what we did together. But I’m so newly widowed, I don’t know if I’m speaking from reality or fantasy.

    Did any of you have grand plans and just break down with grief before you could do them?

  • Dear “Widiwed too soon” Please hang in there. So much of what you wrote sounds like what I have gone through – and still am to some extent. Maybe you could find another “shrink” – I have my first appointment today with a social worker – it took me over a year to go. He is someone I can trust, because I went to him 5 years ago when I had the need. Don’t feel that you are WRONG at all to still love your husband. I swear my love for my husband has GROWN since he passed away – Not in the same sense as a love for a live person – don’t get me wrong – but I have a deep spiritual bond with him. His physical body is gone but his spirit is still very much alive. That is what I believe.

  • Yeah. My husband died last Tuesday from cancer that was diagnosed only 18 days ago. Would have been married 40 years 5/11. Our only child is getting married at our home 6/7. We were having such fun planning the wedding. Now she has no dad to walk her down the isle in front of 125 friends and family. This really sucks. I hate all the flowers and cards and condolence calls. I hate the thought of having to have a service and listening to all the well meaning comments. Other than my daughter,I am totally alone.

  • I have been widowed for just 48 hours my husband of 36 years was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumour just over 12 month ago, and in less than 12 month of losing my beloved father to stomach cancer. I nursed both of them at home and did not want to let them down, I am so proud of them both for the way they dealt with their prognosis.the loss of dad was devastating and I went for counselling which I found truly helpful as I was prepared not to blame anyone for what happened or the feelings I experienced. I do not understand why you would bother about what stupid things people say to you I just smile and agree, then do my own thing, I fell more in control that way and I don’t believe they mean some of the things they say, after all have you never said the wrong thing? Also they too do not have everyday experience of dealing with a widowed family member/friend.
    My grief will not let such things to rule the real issue of my loss, and I still want my friends and relations in my life, I forgive their follies.

  • On Feburary 11, 2014, my husband was in a motorcycle accident. he was recovering well after receiving significant trauma to his body and limbs. He was discharged from the hospital and died of a pulmonary embolism 3 days later. Gone, just like that, no warning, nothing. I too, have heard the barrage of lines, my all time favorite is, “What can I do?”…. that one makes me want the scream, “bring him back”. We shared 25 years together, and now I am a single parent of two teenagers.

    After reading so many posts about “family friends” I am grateful, you see, my husband suffered with Asperger’s. He was extremely antisocial and isolated. I used to joke with him that he would make a perfect hermit when he grew up

    I too put his wedding ring on my right hand when he was in the hospital, and I still wear my wedding ring set. If anyone ever asks me if I am married, I will hold up both hands and reply, “guess”.

    We are all brave in our own ways, even on the days when it’s too much just to get out of bed. I don’t know about you all, but for me life seems to continue to go on around me, but I am standing still. I’ve started painting the interior of my house one room at a time. I find it very therapeutic. We each will find our way.

    Blessings in Light

  • widowed too soon

    G, I believe things happen for a reason. I don’t know or have all the answers and I am still muddling through myself but if I found out that I was expecting and could afford it, I would say the heck with everyone and their opinions and keep that child. It may not be your husbands but it will help fill that void and I would proudly give it my husband’s name. Old testament the females would have to marry a kinsman to bear a child so they can pass on the family name. No one needs to know the details and you don’t have to tell the father of the child either. Maybe I am a rebel but I will not give in to people and their ways if I strongly believe in something. I would think hard about this before you make a final decision if at all possible. This baby just might be a blessing in disguise. Don’t get me wrong, being a single mother is not easy but the rewards can be overwhelming.

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One more thing…

How else do I know what hurts and what helps? Because not only were they done to me… I learned through this process that I am certain to have done the very same "Don't" things to others at some point along the way. If you're one of them, I am genuinely sorry. I'm trying to learn.