Guilt is a widow’s best friend. Every window I know has felt guilty about something along their journey. Things they could control, things they couldn’t control, things that were in no way their responsibility. Yet every widow I know has felt guilty.
Whether it be because they couldn’t save their spouse. Or because their last words to their spouse were angry words. Or because they felt a little bit of relief that their spouse was no longer suffering. Every widow I know feels guilty.
Whether it be because you decided to change something in your home. Redecorate. Rearrange. And now the house isn’t your spouse’s anymore. Or you decide to change a parenting decision Are you made with your spouse before they died. Then you feel like you’re betraying your spouse. If you decide to sell your home and move somewhere new then you feel like you’re leaving them behind. Your first vacation you take without them, you’re living and they’re not. How dare you be happy again? Every widow I know feels guilty.
All these things, and so very many more, cause widows to feel guilty. It’s not a rational feeling. It’s a completely emotional one. An emotional one that every widow deals with. And no matter how much counseling you have, how many friends tell you you’re making the right choice, or how happy you are, ever widow I know still has guilt.
For me one of the biggest things for me was my husband surgery. I was against it. Did not think it was a good idea. But my husband absolutely wanted to have it. And he was dead six weeks later. There will always be a part of me that thinks if I had insisted he not have that surgery,thrown a hissy fit, he might have lived a little longer. And I feel guilty.
One of the hardest moments for me was a few months after my husband died, when my son asked me why I didn’t save his dad. He said, mom you save people every day at work, how come you didn’t save my dad? And that broke my heart. I couldn’t save my husband. He was way too sick. Only God could’ve done that. But to hear my little boy ask me that question broke my heart. Talk about feeling some major guilt.
I let my son have a cell phone when he was 11. My late husband and I had always agreed he wouldn’t get one until he was driving. But our circumstances had changed. And he needed to be able to get hold of me and I needed to be able to get hold of him. Yet I felt so guilty because I was going against a decision my late husband and I had made. I knew, rationally, that Jared would tell me you have to do what’s best for you guys right now. But in my heart I felt guilt because I wasn’t honoring a decision we had made together.
Last year, I sold our home and bought a new one. And I worried that I was leaving Jared behind. What would he say about us moving. Would I still feel him in our new home? Would he be OK with the choices I was making? He had been gone for four years and I still needed and wanted his approval. Because the guilt of thinking I’m going against his wishes is unbearable.
Right after I bought my new home, I got married. And nothing makes widows feel as guilty as finding love again. I had never intended to date much less fall in love and get married. But when my new husband sat down beside me on a cruise ship, I was a goner. I truly feel that he is heaven sent. And yet I feel guilt. Guilt that I can love again. Guilt that I can laugh with someone else. Guilt that I am living when Jared is dead. Guilt that another man warms my heart. Makes my toes curl. Gives me butterflies. Guilt because I am happy. So very happy with my new love.
Unfortunately, I have learned that guilt is a widow’s best friend. No matter what we do, what we say, or how far we travel on our journey every widow I know has experienced guilt and continues to do so. Whether they are a year out, five years out, or 10 years out there is always some guilt. And you know what I say to that? Fuck you guilt. Fuck you.
Losing your spouse, watching your spouse die, is an unimaginable suffering that no one should go through. And that suffering should be enough. We shouldn’t have to suffer the aftereffect of guilt for years to come. People should support widows. Encourage them. Support them when their down. Cheer for them when they’re up. Rejoice when they find happiness again. Honor the fact that they have the courage to get up and live. Know that love after loss is one of the hardest things because you’re taking a huge risk that your new love could die. And no one wants to suffer that twice.
So I’m here to say fuck you guilt. You don’t get to decide my life. I do. I deserve to be happy. I deserve to love. And be loved. I deserve to laugh. My child deserves that. And guilt, you will not stop me. Yes I will have to face you some days but I will also flip you off and keep going.
Widows have suffered enough. And fought hard to survive. Guilt should not get to be the deciding factor in how we move forward. And yet, every widow I know deals with guilt.