As far as grandmas go, mine was pretty cool. When I was young, there were so many ways I hoped to grow up like her. There was one way I did not – becoming a young widow.
I was 45 when my husband had a heart attack and died unexpectedly at age 48.
Decades earlier – when I was a two – my grandfather had a heart attack and died unexpectedly at age 50. My grandmother was 47.
Many years apart, my grandmother and I were both left single moms of two daughters.
Our situations were almost eerily similar, but there was one difference. My daughters were 10 and 12 when they lost their father. My mom and my aunt were 19 and 23 when they lost theirs.
Growing up, I never thought too much about the fact that my grandmother was a “widow”. Since I never really knew my grandfather, she was just “Grandma”. She was a loving grandmother, and to me, it never felt as if anything was missing.
Looking back, I am sure she did not feel the same way.
Luckily, she lived to know my husband and become a great-grandmother to my daughters before she passed away at 81, a few years before my husband died.
In the early days of my widowhood, it was pointed out to me that my grandmother had lived through an almost identical tragedy. At that time, I believed that the one difference in our situations made her more fortunate than I was. Her daughters were older, one married with a child, and one in college. My mom and my aunt were luckier than my girls; they experienced their entire childhood with their father. My grandmother did not have to raise her girls alone like I did.
It is difficult to raise children truly alone. Ever decision, every problem, every chore is left to you, and only you.
It is now six years since my husband passed away. My girls are growing up; I now have a freshman in college and a junior in high school. I hated seeing them grow up without the father who loved them so much, and I know how much they miss him. I can’t help but wonder what he would think of the job I have been doing with them, and if my decisions would have been different if he was here.
These years have been difficult, but at the same time, I have relationships with my daughters that I cherish. The loss of their father has bonded the three of us in a very special way. For that I am very grateful. My daughters are doing very well considering the horrible loss they have suffered.
Now that they are getting older, and therefore more independent, my empty nest years are fast approaching.
I cannot diminish the difficulty of raising my girls alone, but I also recognize that it has kept me very busy. My house has been constantly full and active. I have sometimes felt very alone in my situation, but I have not felt lonely. There was no time for it – I had too much to do.
Now that my life will be quieting down, I have been thinking about my grandmother and what life may have been like for her when she lost my grandfather. I have developed a new outlook on her situation. She did not have the hectic life I have had for the past six years. My mom went back to her new family, and my aunt went off to college. She was by herself.
I see now that while her life as a widow was different from mine, it was no better. Caring for my children, although challenging, is what kept me going when I lost my husband. They gave me a purpose, a reason to get up in the morning. I don’t know how I would have done it without them.
My grandmother did not have that. There was no house full of teenage girls or carpools to drive. My grandmother must have been very lonely.
Living through a tragic loss has made me more empathetic. I have learned that there is no “better” or “worse” when it comes to losing a spouse. This was my inspiration to start my own blog, The Widow Wears Pink, to share my story with others. Everyone’s journey through loss is their own and we all do what we can to get through it.
I was a widow of 2 years, and so was my mother who is in her 3rd year of widowhood. I can’t explain the feeling I had when I lost my father but was totally devastated when I lost my spouse. Yet all things are not that bad after all. I temporarily forgot the pain of losing my husband. I became a grandparent myself the same year I lost him. The emptiness I felt gradually passed though being alone in grandparenting is tough. The happiness that my grandchild brought me made me stronger and hopeful for a longer life. (I am a breast cancer survivor of 7 years).
I lost my husband 3 weeks ago after he tried everything to beat cancer.
Chemotherapy and surgery where offered but the statistics were not good so we went into trying other holistic and natural ways to heal.
It definitely kept him here longer but not enough to keep him here.
After 18 months at the age of 48 years (leaving three kids 26, 15 & 12 & a grandson) he died peacefully at home from rectal cancer.
We are devastated 😔
I really don’t know what my future holds.
He was my everything.
I know I can forge a new, different life without him but I am still struggling to believe I won’t ever see him again.
I still think he will walk through the door at any moment.
Yes time will heal.
Yes life will become easier as I heal and grieve.
His early departure is devastating but one thing I do know is that he would want me to be happy.
I am 2 1/2 years out and I can relate to your grandmother. My kids were 21 and 18. We had just dropped off the youngest at college the week before my husband died unexpectedly and I had to have him fly home for a funeral, then go back to school in another state. That year the older son had finished college and stayed home for a gap year working odd jobs and applying to law schools. That year is a blur. The 2nd year I was really alone in my house and what a strange time that was and is. I am also writing about my experiences on my blog runawaywidow.com and how I have dealt with some challenges and adventures on this path I never expected to be on.
I’m almost 32 months out. And, when Arlene passed, I started thinking about other family members who lost their spouses, mainly my father. I lost my mom when I was 12. and my memory tells me that he cried on the couch for a month, and then went out to spend the next 30 years as a functioning alcoholic, alienating friends and family and letting our house fall into disrepair as he fell into a bottle. I have used that as a playbook for what NOT to do.
About a year and a half ago, I was thinking. My grandmother, my mom’s mom, lost both her husband and her daughter in a 3 1/2 week period, this on top of her burying a brother a few months earlier. She was retirement age, didn’t have to work as my grandfather left her well off. She stayed the same soft spoken woman she had always been. As a teen and young adult, I took this for weakness. But the woman did not crawl into a shell, she lived her life and traveled. She wasn’t weak at all, she was a warrior, a badass. I now use her as a role model in widowhood. I salute you grandma, thank you for setting such a fine example.
I love that she is your example 🙂
Thank you. It took me a long time to get to that place.