I know… IT SUCKS.
I’m not going to sugarcoat widowhood for you in hopes that it’ll make you feel better. That would just be rude. It sucks. Period.
However, I recently celebrated- well, got through- the third year anniversary of my husband’s death, so I’d like to say I know some things. I’m a more experienced widow than you (I’m seriously not bragging. I hate widowhood just as much as you do), but alas, I have some advice- actually survival tips for you.
First, stop caring about what others think.
This is a big one! And it took me so long to figure it out on my own. Look, you’re a widow. You might as well be the groundhog on Groundhog Day. People are watching you to see what you’ll do, especially if you’re a really young widow like myself. What will she do? Will she lose it? Is she going to move out of her house? Did her husband have any life insurance? Is she going to start dating again? Will she get remarried? The list of questions from bystanders goes on. Whether the bystanders and questioners mean well or not is something you’ll need to figure out by yourself, but nonetheless, there will be people watching you to find out your next move.
Here’s the thing: Stop caring about what they think of you! Unless they’ve walked in your shoes fitted with unbelievable grief, they probably don’t have any idea what it takes to live the life of a widow. Choose your mentors wisely and don’t get too caught up in the opinions of others.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
This one is hard! If you’re anything like me, I hate to ask for help and only really ask for help if I truly, truly need it. For this reason, when I was a new widow, I rarely ever asked anyone to babysit my children, run errands for me, bring me food, do a chore or two- all things I probably really could have used help with! Things I still wish I had someone around to help me with. I’ve gotten so much better at asking for help these days, but the willingness of others to help seems to fade away as time goes by.
As cliché as it sounds: It is okay to ask for help. Text a friend to bring you your favorite dessert even though you haven’t eaten very much substantial food. Have your mom babysit your children for an hour so you can take a shower or a nap in peace. Recruit a guy friend to complete the list of household things your husband had on his to-do list. Heck, send someone to the store for a few months supply of feminine products! My point being this: Don’t be afraid or ashamed or embarrassed to ask someone for any kind of help you need.
Eat something- anything!
Okay, this one may seem like it’s an obvious one, but you need to be reminded. I was recently told that I looked skinny and sickly when my husband died- why? Because I wasn’t eating well- if at all! I can’t tell you one meal that people brought to my house during those first couple of weeks as a new widow, but I can tell you I had some of the Tupperware containers for a very long time. I know I must have eaten something- obviously, I didn’t starve- but I honestly do not remember. And if you’re anything like me, your stomach literally feeds off of your emotions, meaning our appetite fluctuates whenever we’re upset, nervous, depressed, etc.
Anyway, I tell you all that simply to say this: Eat something- anything!
Sing in the car.
This one is a bit silly, but also goes well with number one. Interestingly enough, it’s said that women speak about twice as many words as men do in a day. My husband and I used to joke about it when he was alive. “Did you speak all your words today?” He’d ask me as I’d talk his ear off. As a new widow, coming home to a house without my husband, without another adult to talk to, was so hard. I hated being home and coming back home for a very long time for this very reason. I missed talking to him. Blogging about my grief journey on my blog was definitely a huge help, but you know what else I found helped me use my daily amount of words?
Singing in the car! Worship music, rock ‘n’ roll, music you listened to as a hormonal teenager, the latest love songs- whatever music you’re in to, take a short road trip and just drive with the music blaring in your ears and sing your heart out. I can’t even tell you how much money I spent on gas simply just to drive and listen to music, especially when it was nap time for my kids. It might sound crazy, but hey, stop caring about what others think! You’ll feel better, for just a short while, but in the beginning, a short while feels better than nothing.
Don’t be ashamed for simply surviving.
I get it. You feel like you’re dying. You may even want to die. You just lost the most important piece of your life, your other half. It’s like you’re walking around half dead. Like I said, I’m not here to tell you all about the sunshine and rainbows, although there will one day be sunshine and rainbows again. Right now, I’m just here to tell you that it is okay to simply survive. Remember that when your hard days feel even harder. You have the right to simply survive, whatever that may look like for you right now.
Lastly, find your tribe.
This one isn’t last because it’s less important than the others, but actually most important. As a new widow, it’s totally normal for your social group to go through some changes. Some people won’t be able to handle your grief and you will simply drift apart. Others will be insensitive and impatient and will walk away from you on their own. And some will even piss you off so much that you’ll kick them out of your life as if they were the ones who killed your husband. Either way, with widowhood comes change and transition, and sometimes unfortunately that means new friends.
The great part about that though- the silver lining- is that if you’re reading this, you are already a part of an awesome tribe of widows who feel or have felt the exact same ways you feel. You are in the right place. We will all gladly be your new tribe!
I hate that you’ve had to join the widow club, and as lame and cliché as it sounds: I am truly sorry for your loss. I’m sad you’re here, but at the same time, I am glad you are here.