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Tuesday, June 11, 2019

6 Ways to Support Your Widowed Girlfriend or Boyfriend

What can you do to support your widowed girlfriend or boyfriend


In this article, we give you six ways you can understand and support your Widowed Girlfriend or Boyfriend. We hope it helps you see us a bit differently, and gives you the tools you need to navigate our world.


Photo by Gregory Hayes on Unsplash


6 Ways to Support Your Widowed Girlfriend or Boyfriend

Here's what you need to know about us widow(er)s... we're different. We are simultaneously grieving the past and pushing ourselves forward into this new life that was forced upon us. We want to pursue you while honoring the past. Here's what you need to know and what you can do.


Allow us to feel guilty


There are many firsts after our spouse died when it comes to a new partner in our lives. Among others, there is the first date, first kiss, first time sleeping with and first time developing feelings for someone else. There’s a good chance that we will experience feelings of guilt around the time that any of these things happen. The reason is that we did not divorce our spouse and we didn’t choose to be single. They died, which means that we still loved them very much and still wanted to grow old with them. At first, we may feel as though we are cheating on them, or we may be upset that the only reason this is happening is that our love has died. You can help us through these times by allowing us to feel the guilt and offering your kind words. Embrace us in a hug and remind us that it is understandable that we would feel this way and that you are here for us and we can talk about these feelings with you.


Expect us to worry


Depending on how our spouse died, we will probably worry about that with you. If our spouse died from a heart attack for instance, and you experience any heart-related issues, you should expect us to worry and maybe even panic. This is because we know the life-shattering pain of losing a spouse and we are afraid that it can happen to you as well. No matter their cause of death, you should expect us to worry. Don’t ever disregard this or push us away because of it. We are worried because we have feelings for you and want to keep you in our life. Allow us to express our worry to you and find ways to help us to overcome it for the moment. You probably won’t cure us of it for the future, but for this moment you can help to calm us.


Expect us to love hard


Once we get to a point where we care deeply for you and begin to fall in love with you, it’s important to expect us to love you deeply. We know all too well how fragile and short life can be. We know the guilt of taking someone for granted and not always expressing the love in our heart. Because of this, there’s a good chance that we will love you like you’ve never experienced unless you’ve dated a widow in the past.


Embrace our spouse


Depending on how long it’s been since our spouse passed away, we will have some of their belongings in our home. We aren’t going to clear them out until we are ready to do so, not because someone else wants us t ho. When you’re in our home and see these things, we want you to respect them. Look at the pictures we have on the wall and ask about our previous life. Notice the urn and tell us how you think it was a beautiful choice and tell us how you’re sorry that we have to live with the pain. Don’t obsess over the items in the house, and don’t be jealous of them. If you pick something up and we say it belongs to our spouse, put it down and say that you respect that and don’t want to mess with it.


Don’t be jealous


Along the lines of jealousy toward our spouse’s belongings, also don’t be jealous of our spouse. We still love our spouse, but you already know that based on how we talk about them and we need you to respect that love. It’s easy to almost idolize a loved one who has died, and that may be intimidating for you. We don’t want you to think that we can’t love you with the same ferocity, and we don’t want you to think that they were the perfect person either. In order to honor our spouse, we are more likely to tell the good stories than bad ones, therefore it looks like everything was perfect all the time.


We can be super awkward


Some of us widows were married for a decade or more, and some were not so established in marriage before our spouse died. The commonality between us all is that our love lives were set. We never needed to date again and we were able to be goofy and comfortable with our partner because they were ours forever. Now in the dating world sometimes it seems as though we wear a sign on our forehead saying, “Hi, I’m new here!” We forgot how to act and what to talk about on the first few dates, and we have the ability to turn any conversation grim very quickly. “I loved that movie, too! My husband and I saw it at the theater and then a week later he died.”




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Thank you for spending time with us today.

We hope this helps you either process your own grief or understand those in your life going through it. Please check out our Resources page for more articles and some links to the tools we've found helpful. For more about who we are, click About Us.


Adrianne and Darrell, fellow Widows/Widowers

Friday, June 7, 2019

Dating a Widow(er): What NOT to say to your widow girlfriend (or boyfriend)!

A widow is a different breed; if you're going to date us seek understanding not comfort.


In this article, we discuss the things we Widow(er)s have actually heard from the people we've tried to date in our new life and how it made us feel.


Photo by Huy Phan on Unsplash



Things NOT to say to your widowed girlfriend/boyfriend, or you risk getting dumped


"I’m uncomfortable with your spouse’s pictures in the house."

Our spouse was our past, present, AND our future. Our love didn’t end when their life ended, and the pictures show my life as it was. It’s important for you to understand and honor the late spouse because their death is the ONLY reason you’re able to get to know this person that you clearly enjoy spending time with.

"I don’t like to see the giant urn in the living room, can you put it in a closet? "

Do you want to live in a closet? If not, then you should realize that that urn contains the last physical bits of our spouse that we will ever have. At some point in the future, we may choose to put it in a bedroom or our children’s room or on a shelf where it isn’t so much on display. However, right now isn’t that time, and you can see that by the fact that it is still where we placed it to begin with.

"You need to get rid of your spouse’s belongings and clothes so it doesn’t look like you’re still married."

We will keep as much or as little of their belongings for as long as we need. You should understand pretty quickly that there will never be a time where every item of theirs is out of the house. Grief takes time and letting go of objects is a part of that process. We are inherently capable of experiencing two different processes at the same time, so if we are enjoying your company then the process of grief and the process of getting to know you will coincide.

"I don’t like that you still cry about your spouse. We are supposed to be in a relationship but you’re stuck in the past."

Just as stated above, our processes can coincide. If we are dating you, then you should consider yourself to be lucky because our heart was shattered into a billion pieces when our spouse died. We are opening up to another person and we are probably very apprehensive about it. The best thing you can do with most widows is hold us during our tears and let us know that you’re here for us. It’s not okay that they died, and life sucks during major grief, so don’t tell us otherwise. Be here for us and support us through the moments of sheer anguish.

"You should cut ties with your spouse’s family because they’re not your family anymore and it makes me feel uncomfortable."

When we got married, their family became our family and we love them as such. Asking us to cut off communication with them will seem heartless to us because these are the people we spent the last several holidays and birthdays with. They were devastated with me and for me when my spouse died. They may even be happy for us and glad to know that we are dating you because they don’t want us to be in pain forever. Give them time if they are uneasy about meeting you. If we love them then we want you to love them as well.


Seriously... This isn't about you. Death is NOT Divorce. 


We are an entirely different breed of single and you must be seeking to understand more than to feel comforted. In time, as we are slowly open to you, we will find ways to incorporate you into our lives just like in any other relationship. In the beginning, you need to know we are probably more hurt but also more capable of appreciating love than other single groups, and you'd be lucky to have us if you can stick with the program and not get selfish.

There are many more things NOT to say to us, but the takeaway from this is that we have been hurt to an extent that we never imagined possible.

If we are dating you, then we need for you to be supportive of us and our grief. We enjoy spending our time with you and get excited to talk to you and tell you about our day, just like anyone you may date, but we have some emotional pains that won’t go away quickly. They may even make us more afraid to open up, or more hurt if you leave.

Those hurts can and will soften over time, and having the care and support from someone we trust will help that process immensely.



***

Thank you for spending time with us today.

We hope this helps you either process your own grief or understand those in your life going through it. Please check out our Resources page for more articles and some links to the tools we've found helpful. For more about who we are, click About Us.


Adrianne and Darrell, fellow Widows/Widowers

The Five Stages of Grief for Widows

What do the Five Stages of Grief mean for me?


In this article, we discuss the adapted model of the Five Stages of Grief, as they relate to the life of a widow surviving the death of a spouse.



Source: PsyCom.net



The Five Stages of Grief as they relate to the Widow



We have all heard of the 5 stages of grief: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance.

Swiss-American psychiatrist Elisabeth Kubler-Ross developed this model of grief and published it in 1969, based on her extensive work with terminally ill patients. It’s pretty well understood in the scientific community that these 5 stages aren’t linear in the way they present, and different people may experience all, some, or even none of them.

Again, this model was based on her specific experience with terminally ill patients, not with the grieving spouses. You may have experienced watching your spouse go through this process if they were diagnosed with a terminal illness, but many of us experienced the sudden death of our spouse.

Once the death occurs, we are then fully in the grief process, so the above 5 stages are likely to occur with no predictability in sight. It’s common for someone to describe the “roller coaster” of emotion that they may experience in any given day or week.

How the five stages work in the loss of a spouse

Denial is our mind’s way of protecting us from the severity of the grief to follow and allows you to live in an alternate reality. For instance, we might hold on to the hope that someone wrongly ID’d our spouse’s body before calling us.

Anger often stems from the thought “Why me?” or “Why did God allow this to happen?”


Bargaining happens when we begin to plead for a change. “If you change this, then I’ll change that.”

Depression is a sign that we are beginning to live in the reality of the death of our spouse and is very commonly associated with grief. Signs of depression are not wanting to talk with others or leave the house, a basic withdrawal from our previous life.

Acceptance is sometimes misinterpreted as feeling “okay” with the death of our spouse. However, this is more apparent when we believe that we will eventually be okay and that we are having good days more often than bad days.

In a week, we may have uncontrollable tears one day, acceptance one day and then the next feel depressed and not want to leave the bed. That’s ok, and experiencing the roller coaster of emotions is, unfortunately, a reality that grieving spouses have to face.


What happens at the stage of Acceptance? 


Do we just go on with life in our new sense of normal, or is there something else working in our minds that help us through our journey?

David Kessler, a grief expert, and author, through his own personal losses, has added a 6th stage of grief for those of us living through it.

Finding Meaning.

In his book, “Finding Meaning: the 6th stage of grief” Kessler gives us his insight on how we can transform the way that we move forward from complete despair to honoring our spouse in a loving way. Because we are still amongst the living, we do have the need to continue on and many people already attempt to find the meaning behind it all. Although my meaning will be different than yours or someone else’s, having a roadmap that can help us to navigate toward a brighter future is highly beneficial.



***

Thank you for spending time with us today.

We hope this helps you either process your own grief or understand those in your life going through it. Please check out our Resources page for more articles and some links to the tools we've found helpful. For more about who we are, click About Us.


Adrianne and Darrell, fellow Widows/Widowers

Thursday, June 6, 2019

12 Dumb Things People Say To Widow(er)s and what you can try instead.

What NOT to say to a grieving widow. 


In this article, we will talk about how to be sensitive to a widows loss, and not make things worse.


Photo by Claudia on Unsplash




There is no loss like that of a spouse. It doesn't compare to your grandmother, divorce, and especially not to your dog. We understand you are trying to relate, but many times you do it in a way that feels insensitive to the loss we've experienced. The following are actual things we've heard and how you can attempt to do better.

Note: It's likely that nothing you say can help. The goal of anything you say should be to convey your care, acknowledge (and not minimize) our pain, and let us get it out if we want to.



Dumb things people say to us and why it’s so idiotic…


1. “You are being so strong!”


We think, "No, friend, I’m a mess and I am not sure if I’ll ever be able to feel normal again."

While it's true that the greatest strength is sometimes leaning into the struggle and facing it, most of us Widow(er)s are not feeling strong in any way. Our world has shattered. In fact, we may be contemplating suicide or battling dysfunctional depression and we are surviving right now, not thriving. Hearing this only helps us know that you don't really see us for who we are in this moment.

Instead, try saying "I know it's so hard and you feel shattered, I see you, I hear you."


2. “Your kids need you.”


We think, "Yes, I’m aware that my kids need me, but I need my spouse and now I feel completely alone. I’m sinking and you expect me to save someone else."

We will find times to pick ourselves up off the floor, wipe our tears, and make food. We will love on them and cry with them. Some of us may even need you to take them for a few hours because we cannot physically move, overwhelmed with grief. In rare instances, you may need to take them for longer and let us go to a treatment facility.

Instead, try saying "Can I take the babies for a few hours while you rest?"


3. “You’re so young. You will find someone else!” 


We think, "Death doesn’t end love and my heart has exploded inside my chest, yet you expect me to be comforted by you telling me that I’ll find someone else?"

We built our life around this person, our inner and outer life. That dream has shattered into microscopic pieces and cannot be rebuilt. While it's true that we may find and forge a new relationship, it will not be the same. It will be qualitatively different. It will not replace this one. It's not a car. "Oh gee, your car got totaled, but you can by a new and better car.".

Instead, try saying "It's devastating to lose your spouse at any age but you are so young to have lost like this already. I am so sorry."


4. “It’s time you start dating to keep your mind off of your spouse.” 


We think, "I don’t want to date and I don’t want to keep my mind off my spouse."

Here again, there may come a day that we open our hearts to love again. And if we do it before we're ready and then break up with that person, the compounding of the grief of those two very different losses may set us back decades if we're not careful. Let us decide if and when it's time to move forward. When we do move forward, we will always carry them with us, even into the new relationship. They are a part of us now, we "became one". They are who we are, and our new spouse (should we decide to love again) will be falling in love with who we are today because we knew (intimately) our first.

Instead, try saying "Is there something we can do to honor your spouse's memory today?"


5. “My relative (insert name here) died too, so I know how you feel.” 


We think, "Your aunt, brother, grandfather, whoever, wasn’t your spouse, your one true love, your soulmate, so you really have no clue how I feel."

There is a reason why marriage is considered such a divisive topic, why people swear they'll never get married and say "It's just paper". While it's true that some marriages are without true intimacy or connection, we were designed to "become one" with our spouse (paper or not). There is no other form of human interaction as integrated as a couple that decided to become one for life. We do not minimize or devalue your grief and it is important and meaningful, it is just not the same. Nothing is the same. Even two widows picked at random had different types of relationships with their spouse and grieve that loss from different places within their soul. We were torn in two. We did not lose "a part" of ourselves, we lost half of ourselves. We became one and then it was ripped from us. We will never be the same person that we were before we joined and then lost.

Instead, try saying "I have grieved a loved one but I have never grieved a spouse. I cannot imagine what that must feel like. I am so sorry."


6. “When my dog died, I was devastated so I know exactly what you’re going through.” 


We think, "Are you serious?? I love my dog but the love for my spouse doesn’t compare!"

While the nature of people's relationship with their pets can be close to the heart, and it is true some do love them like family. Here again, this is not your spouse, see number 5.

Instead... try just not saying this at all. See number 5.


7. “I got divorced last year and I wish my ex would just die!” 


We think, "You have no clue how this feels and because I know this pain I would NEVER wish this on anybody!"

There just is no comparison. Take it from those of us who have survived a divorce, remarried, and lost that second spouse. It's not even in the same ballpark. We loved our spouse, fought to make it work, and they were ripped from us. For whatever reason, many legitimate reasons, you and your spouse chose to part ways. Maybe they left you emotionally long before you left them physically, those are both choices. They were not suddenly and inalterably ripped from you. No choice was involved. And take it from those of us who were going through a divorce that wasn't finalized when our spouse passed away, it wasn't what we really wanted in our heart of hearts. The pain of loss is far more than you can imagine. With the possible exception of extreme abuse, if you get your wish, you may find you regret it.

Instead, try saying "I recently went through a divorce and had to grieve the loss of the dream we'd built together. Even then, I cannot imagine what you must be going through because you still loved him/her."


8. “You’re lucky they died and you didn’t have to go through a divorce, that’s expensive and nobody feels sad for you!” 


We think, "You’re an idiot." See number 7.


9. “Good thing you never had kids together, because they died anyway.” 


We think, "What I wouldn’t give to have a miniature version of my beloved spouse."

We built a life together. That life included dreams of a future family. At least if we'd had a child, their legacy would live on and we could tell them amazing things about their missing parent. This is simply double grief, loss of ourselves and loss of a promise that didn't come.

Instead, try saying "Your spouse was an amazing person, I'm sure your kids would have been adorable."


10. “At least they didn’t choose to leave you, that hurts so bad.” 


We think, "Death is forever, I promise it hurts worse than a breakup."

When you break up with someone, divorce or pre-marital, you are both making choices. It's possible one of you fought for the relationship and the other left, or you agreed it wasn't working. Either way, there is no comparison. We became one, then half was ripped from us. See number 7 & 5.

Instead, try saying "I cannot imagine losing someone that you were so close with. That must be devastating."


11. “I got a hobby when my husband died. Well, he didn’t die. We got divorced, but he’s dead to me!” 


We think, "WTF is wrong with you?!" See number 5 & 7.


12. “You should only think of the happy times, so you can be happy again.” 


We think, "I’d be happy if my spouse was here so we could have these happy memories together."

We became one. Good, bad, tough, awful, exhilarating... it was all a part of who we were. We will grieve the awesome moments we can never talk about again together because only we shared them. We will grieve the apologies we never got to make amends for. We will grieve it all.

Instead, try saying "Tell me about him/her. I want to hear."


What you can say:

Anything you say should be aimed at:

1. Conveying you care.
2. Acknowledge OUR pain, not yours.
3. Letting us express our pain, if we so chose.

Try:

  • "I am so sorry, that must be devastating."
  • "That's awful, tell me about it (or tell me about him/her)."
  • "You must be shattered, is there any task, no matter how small, I can do for you right now?"
  • "Can I take care of (kids, laundry, cleaning, think of something) so you can have a few hours of rest?"


***

Thank you for spending time with us today.

We hope this helps you either process your own grief or understand those in your life going through it. Please check out our Resources page for more articles and some links to the tools we've found helpful. For more about who we are, click About Us.


Adrianne and Darrell, fellow Widows/Widowers