I lost one pound this week.

My winter diet of donuts and wine was not working out after all. It was fun while it lasted, but it’s time for me to take back control. I’ve had enough to hurt about, and I’m not going to let my weight try to piggyback ride with grief. I can’t carry them both.

Using an app on my phone, I started logging everything I’m eating and drinking, and this week, I made better choices. Also, I’ve intentionally been walking more every day. My daughters gave me a Fitbit for Mother’s Day–they peeked at my Amazon wish list, bless their hearts. I love how it vibrates to remind me to walk X number of steps to reach my daily goal and displays fireworks when I reach it. Todd would have regarded the Fitbit as an overpriced fad, but he would have loved my woo-hoo reaction to the fireworks.

Immediately after Todd died, I lost my appetite and a little weight, maybe 5 pounds. My girls had to remind me to eat. They’d make me oatmeal or whatever I found palatable. Forgetting or not wanting to eat is common for grieving people, but that stage didn’t last long for me.

What has lasted is eating whatever I wanted because most of the time I had no one to cook for at home but myself.  So, if I wanted a giant bowl of cereal for supper, that’s what I’d eat. Donuts, oh yes! The little, waxy chocolate ones pair well with red wine and re-runs on TV. Self-care, schmelf-care.

And, I didn’t care. I ate what gave me pleasure because eating alone is no fun. Losing a spouse means losing commensality (or shared meals–I had to look that one up) and all of the wonderful fellowship that happens around a table of food. Meals no longer bring pleasure. It’s no wonder that some widows lose weight, and others gain.

Overall, in 19 months, I gained about 17 pounds.

Besides eating whatever I wanted or was easy to fix, I’ve been less than active. Arthritic hips prior to two replacement surgeries kept me from exercise the first year after I lost Todd. It’s been another year now since my second surgery, and my hips have been working fine. It’s miraculous, really, to walk without pain. I just haven’t cared enough to use them. I might think about taking a walk, and excuse myself from it because my dogs needed new leashes/it was cold/it looked like rain/whatever. I’d think as I got dressed in the morning or undressed at night: Lord, I hope Todd can’t see me like this.

But, with time and sweet summer sunshine, I’ve been able to pull myself from the dark places grief has dragged me. I want to care about myself again. I want to feel good again. I want to feel confident and fit and energetic, and I know donuts and extra weight won’t get me there.

If I can continue to lose roughly a pound a week, I’ll be back to my old weight by October. I won’t have to buy any new clothes for work.  Maybe I’ll sleep better. October also will mark two years since Todd died, and I still want him to be proud to have called me his wife. I want to be proud of myself.

Mainly, I’ve fought through two years of hell, and I want to be happy.  

Cue the fireworks.


Sue Leathers is an English teacher and mother. She had a huge crush on her husband Todd Kleffman, a journalist, when she was in high school, and she'd save his columns and stories. Decades later, she and Todd found each other through Facebook. He was the love of her life, her high school crush, and she was his biggest fan. She lost Todd in October 2017 to a heart attack. She has found solace in Hope for Widows and in writing of her own journey, and hopes to help other widows by sharing her experiences here.

Sue can be found on Instagram: @susanjanie