I will not tell you to keep your chins up about Valentine’s Day.

I will not try to convince you that there are worse things than being a widow on Valentine’s Day.

I will not tell you to count your blessings.

I will not tell you to pray instead of drink.

I will not tell you that you should focus on all of the other people in your life who love you.

I will not tell you to focus on the love you and your spouse shared while they were alive.

And I will not remind you of how amazing it is to have the capacity to still be in love with a person you can no longer see or touch.

No. Optimism surrounding Valentine’s Day makes me want to punch a puppy, and I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one.

What I will do today, on the eve of national, “Your Romantic Partner is Alive, and Mine is Dead Day,” is attempt to make you laugh. There is strength in laughter and I know that I will certainly need all the strength I can muster for tomorrow, and I’m assuming if you are reading this, you will too.

I present you now with, “13 Ways that Widows are like Toddlers.” No, this will not “cure” you, and no, this will not bring your spouse back to you, but it’s the very best I can do for all of you today.

I am deeply sorry your romantic partner in life is not here for you to celebrate Valentine’s Day with. It is not okay, it is not fair and it never will be.


13 Ways that Widows are like Toddlers

1.We can’t be trusted to dress ourselves

My son once bit me because I would not let him wear flip flops during a hailstorm. I regret glaring at him behind his back as I dropped him off at Sunday School that day, because I get it now. I get what it is like to have your brain so clouded and busy that appropriate apparel rules become too complicated to adhere to.

After John’s suicide, I often found myself looking down at my feet in the grocery store to be amazed that I had been walking around all day with two different boots on.

Then there was the time I finally did my laundry (after only two and a half weeks of letting it rot in my closet), only to realize that I had not come across one pair of underwear. I checked my underwear drawer to find every piece of underwear I owned still unmoved from the weeks before. Yes, I had not worn underwear for two weeks.

Which brings me to my next point:

2. We are often naked

As toddlers, my children loved to be naked. This would have been fine and healthy behavior had it not always been in public. I don’t know if they were some sort of exhibitionists or just suffering from a hot flash, but it seemed like every time I looked away from them in public, I would turn around to find them stripping and streaking.

I can tell you for me though; the widow nudity had nothing to do with hot flashes or exhibitionism. It had to do with the grief-sex I was having and the return of my self confidence as I spent a few hours naked on a beach. And twice in a car. And a few times in other locations that I am sure will surface on the news via google earth and/or a surveillance video one day (Hi Mom and Dad!).

Who knew that nudity would be a part of my grief process?

3. We Have Nightmares

And they are fucking scary.

4. We are finicky eaters

News Flash: Toddlers don’t like vegetables. Shocking, yes I know. My son though, ate dirt, lint and whatever else he found on the floor with gusto. So one day I just started dropping green beans all over the floor in our house and low and behold, I had a toddler that ate vegetables. Oddly enough though, when I tried this with goldfish crackers he said “Ewww Mommy. Fishy dirty” and refused to eat them.

Much like my son (any my daughter who lived on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for 2 years) after John’s death my eating habits became strange and unpredictable. After his suicide, I didn’t eat for a week. Then the next week and for a month strait, every night I ate a bowl of peanut butter laced with half a bag of chocolate chips and washed it down with Vodka. Six months after his death I went through a phase where I only ate organic beef patties and two avocados a day.

Which leads me to the next one….

5. We have unpredictable bowels

I used to play a game in my head each morning when my kids were toddlers. It was called, “Will their poo be running down their legs and spilling out of their diapers today, or will they be sitting on their potty chairs making the same face I make when I think about my exes for hours on end?” I hated this game almost as much as I hated CandyLand.

So ya. It’s like that with widowhood too, only I was too embarrassed to purchase adult diapers, so I just ruined underwear…unless it happened to be during the aforementioned two week stint I went without underwear.

6. We have no concept of social norms

We will say and do weird shit that will make everyone around us uncomfortable. And then we will laugh about it.

7. We throw fits

In public. And we don’t give a damn about who is watching. My son once threw a fit at the bank because they had a Christmas tree up that had a star at the top and not an angel. I whisper-yelled at him through gritted teeth “you get your little bottom up right now! People are staring at you!” He then looked at me as if I was the crazy one, and proceeded to throw an even louder fit.

I never understood this until a year into widowhood when I found myself yelling at a woman, “Fuck you, you stupid-ass-bitch and your ugly ass car!” while in the child pick-up line at my kids’ elementary school. In front of a row of kindergartners.

I am no longer allowed in the west side pick-up line and I still to this day maintain my innocence.

8. We Just Want to be Held

Seriously, someone pick me up and rock me.

9. We are entitled

Both of my kids as toddlers thought that just by being born they deserved unlimited amounts of TV and assorted sugary pastries. Oh and they also wanted my complete and total undivided attention and my soul. I remember having a talk with both of them once in the car, trying to explain to them that other people in the world had it worse than them and they should learn to start being happy that they lived such a charmed life.

My son then asked me for a cookie.

Neither of them could conceive of a life where they weren’t having all of their needs met all of the time.

Fast forward to “The Widow Card.” It exists and it got me out of chores, traffic tickets, and work in addition to a lot of free drinks, meals, and spa treatments that first year in 2014. Then somewhere around 2015 people became less sympathetic to my widowhood. Apparently I had graduated to veteran widow status after the first year had passed, and I no longer was entitled to free shit. Or so they thought.

I am almost three years in to this shit storm, and I can tell you that I absolutely still need free goodies, a lot of understanding and tons of cocktails every single day for the rest of my life. I pull the Widow Card our frequently and I have no shame about it.

10. We need naps

Like three a day. Minimum.

11. We don’t know the days of the week or months of the year

Even when we sing that damn, “Days of the week” song, we still have no clue what day of the week it is. Widow brain is a thing people!!! I wrote a check two weeks ago with the year 2015 on it and a few months ago I sat at my kids school two hours before pick-up time because I was convinced that it was early-out Wednesday. Turns out, it was actually Thursday.

My daughter once asked me if Friday was purple. Why yes, yes it does appear to be purple now that I am a widow.

My son once insisted that Novebruary was a month and it needed to involve cake. Sounds good to me son!

12. Our living space is a huge mess

And no thank you, we will not be cleaning it up, and we will throw things at you if you suggest that we do.

13. We respond well to positive reinforcement

I once posted to my facebook how proud I was of myself for showering AND shaving my legs. I had an overwhelming amount of widows and widow supporters post gold star emojis in the comments. I felt all warm and fuzzy inside, much like I think my kids felt as toddlers when I would put a sticker on their little sticker charts to reward them for not sending me to the insane asylum that day.

Widowhood sucks. Every widow I talk to expresses to me their profound discouragement within the life they exist in. They worry that they are not grieving the “right” way. They worry that they are grieving too much. Crying too hard. Not crying enough. They judge themselves for the six-month-old pile of laundry. They get judged by others for their inability to just, “get over it.” I want to tell you all that you are doing just fine. Yes, you sitting there reading this with your hairy arm pits, ratted hair, and week-old leggings…you are WINNING. You clicked on a post with a funny title in search of laughter. Do you even understand how heroic it is to seek out laughter after what you’ve been through?!!

Gold stars and so very much love for all of you!

**Image from StuffMomsSay.com

© Copyright 2017 Michelle Miller


Michelle Miller is a grief blogger, has essays featured on TheRumpus.net and OurSideofSuicide.com, and is the author of, Boys, Booze, and Bathroom Floors: Forty-Six Tales about the Collision of Suicide Grief and Dating. Her memoir chronicles the aftermath of her husband’s infidelities and suicide in 2014 at the age of thirty-one, and how she used dating to run from, and simultaneously into her grief.
Prior to her husband’s death, Michelle worked full time with special needs students in a small town while balancing life with two young children and a volatile marriage. Her approach to grief is one of extreme empathy, humor, blunt honesty, and….okay, a few cocktails along the way.
Michelle is currently living with her best friend, and their five children in San Diego, California. She is working on her second book, Ghetto Grief which is a collection of short stories about the unconventional ways in which she grieved and continues to grieve her husband; set to be released in 2017.For links to follow her on social media, view her blog, purchase her book, or read her published essays, visit: MouthyMichellesMusings.com