Did you know that widows feel shame? 

Did you know that widowers feel shame?

I just realized this.

As I was driving to hospice bereavement last week it hit me like a ton of bricks.

Sometimes when I speak about Michelle, I feel shame.

And many times I do not speak about Michelle when I want to, because I feel shame.

Yes, even me. 

I know that is shocking to most of you.  After all, I write about Michelle all of the time on my personal page, and on my blog.

It’s true though.  Even me.  The outspoken widower from Illinois.

I feel shame.

And so many others do too.

When the realization of this hit me, I was taken aback. 

I realized that when I post about Michelle on my personal page, I sometimes cringe –  because I know that there are certain people that will see my post and will think things. 

He wants attention.

He still isn’t over her?

Why does he talk about her so much?

He’ll never find someone else if he keeps this up.

His posts make me sad.

I realized that the last time I posted something truly intense about how badly I miss Michelle on my blog page, I felt shame.

The truth is, I am not blaming these people.  Or their thoughts (as ignorant as they may be).

No, I am blaming myself.

And – I am blaming you – for your own shame, my fellow widows and widowers.

Only YOU have the power to Stop the Shame.

The ignorance of others cannot – and should not – prohibit us from loving our spouses.

The ignorance of others cannot – and should not – prohibit us from missing our spouses.

The ignorance of others cannot – and should not – prohibit us from speaking of our spouses.

The ignorance of others cannot – and should not – prohibit us from carrying their memory and love with us for the remainder of our days.

The ignorance of others cannot – and should not – prohibit us from grieving beyond the 365 day marker that has been deemed appropriate by those who know no such pain.

The ignorance of others cannot – and should not – prohibit us from grieving the way that we need to grieve, from living the way that we need to live and from loving the way that we need to love.

Let them think we do it for attention.

Let them snicker.

Let them roll their eyes.

They don’t know.

They have no idea.

Their ignorance shines a bright light on their character, or lack of it.

Let it.

The truth is, while we are a community of people that can generally understand each other – EVERY situation is unique, EVERY grief is different, EVERY pain stamped with its own custom print.

Judgment, even amongst each other, should be checked at the door.

Stop the Shame.

If you want to talk about your deceased spouse – talk about them.

If you don’t want to talk about deceased spouse – don’t talk about them.

If you want to try and date again – date again.

If you don’t want to try and date again – don’t date again.

Stop letting  others shame you into what you do, what you say and how you live.

Do what you feel is right.

Say what you want to say.

Live how you want to live.

Let me be clear, this is NOT a post enabling bad behavior.

No, I am not saying to drink yourself to sleep every night.

No, I am not saying to be mean or cruel to others simply because you are in pain.

No, I am not saying to quit your job and give up on life.

No, I am not saying to let the bitterness of your loss eat away at your soul.

I hope that each and every one of you can take your loss, take the immense pain from your loss and manifest it towards a positive.  Not right away obviously, but in due time.

What this is, is a post to tell you to: Stop the Shame

Stop letting the words, actions and opinions of others dictate how you grieve.

It is your grief!

They were your spouse! 

It was your future!

It is your life!

Our loves were taken from us.

Through cancer, and heart disease.  Through suicide, and drug addiction.  Through war, and accidents.

Our lives were turned upside down.

Our futures were forever altered.

I am done feeling ashamed.

As much as I may type the words, I almost never say this out loud:




I want to go outside right now and I want to shout it.


Over and over again.

Because I have been holding it in for so long.

Out of shame.


I miss her in our youth.  The teenage romance that made a young man fall madly in love with his blonde beauty.  Those memories I will forever cherish.

I miss her in our past.  The reuniting of soul mates after nearly a decade apart. A fairytale romance I will never forget.

I miss her in our future. Fifty beautiful years together. Stolen from us in the most callous of ways.

I no longer care if people think I am weird.

I no longer care if people think my openness is embarrassing.

I no longer care what timetable people think a grieving heart should be subject to.

My shame is over.



I don’t care who judges me.  Anyone who judges is too small minded to matter.

I don’t care what they say. Anything they say is too irrelevant to be taken seriously.

I don’t care if the love I have for my wife makes all potential new love interests run away. Any woman who doesn’t understand a heart large enough for two, lacks the depth that I require.

So, to all of my fellow widows and widowers – and to anyone else who is grieving and sometimes feels the same way, today is the day:

Stop the Shame.

© Copyright 2017 John Polo

*You can follow John Polo at his blog www.betternotbitterwidower.com and on Facebook by searching Better Not Bitter Widower*


John Polo is a widower and step dad to the world's coolest girl. He also is a small business owner, author, blogger and speaker. His beautiful wife passed away at the age of 30 on January 22nd, 2016. They fell in love in high school and separated for eight years before they found their way back to each other. Shortly after, she was diagnosed with an extremely rare and aggressive cancer. Somehow, through the loss and horrific tragedy that was, John found a better him. His goal is to help others through their grief.
His website is as follows: www.BetterNotBitterWidower.com