I’ve gone back and forth on dedicating an entire blog post to this, but I decided that my tolerance level for the following misconception is now non-existent, so a post was valid. Not to mention, the number of widows that have said the same things below have exceeded my expectations…and not in a good way. Therefore, the record must be set straight.
My husband died on May 9, 2019 at 11:51pm. We were briefly, but very happily married. There was no separation, no breaks, no days or weeks without talking. We didn’t get divorced, and we didn’t break up. He died. He is dead. He won’t be coming back. I cannot go back to him, even though every part of me has dreamt of that. He poses no threat to anyone, and I will never not be “hung up” on him.
It is incredible the amount of times that people, both loved ones and strangers, have referred to my late husband as my “ex.” People assume that term can be used loosely for any relationship that isn’t occurring right this very second. People are wrong. People don’t understand that when someone dies, and they leave their spouse here on this earth… they didn’t leave the relationship. The relationship will always be there because the love never stops just because his heart did. There is no ex anything in regards to my late husband. His love is eternally present for me. You will never catch me saying, “I loved him” because there is nothing past-tense about my love for Luke. I will always love him. Then, now, and forever.
Sounds easy enough to understand, right? Let’s dive deeper.
When a widow hears her late husband referred to as her ex, what this does is send the message to her that you think the relationship is no longer relevant in her life. You unintentionally are diminishing her grief and pain that she still feels every single day. You assume she doesn’t miss and think about her late husband all. the. time.
At an elementary level, what the widow hears when you say this is that you do not care that she is still grieving, and even more so, that her grief is making you uncomfortable. Repeat after me: it is not the griever’s responsibility to tone down their grief for your comfort. Now, say it again. Repeat, as necessary. This mantra should apply for any situation when someone has lost their person. If you are uncomfortable listening to the person talk about how much they miss their dead person, this is a reflection of your own insecurity, and is in no way, shape, or form a fault of the person grieving.
Now, at this point, I know you might be saying, “But Jayme…I don’t mean it to be hurtful. It’s just a natural thing to say when people aren’t physically together anymore.” I understand, but here is where the opportunity to grow comes into play. We, as widows, know that the vast majority of people do not mean to intentionally say hurtful things to us. Most people just don’t know what to say in the first place. We get it! But ask any widow, and she will tell you, the things that people have said when trying to “comfort” her have made her question her entire grieving process and are words that still haunt her to this day. Words have power.
I’ll end my rant here, but I will leave you with this: Just because a widow still talks about how much she loves and misses her person doesn’t mean that she doesn’t have the same capacity to love another with equal passion. When a parent has more than one child, they don’t assume that eventually they will run out of love for additional children. Love is infinite. Our hearts have the capacity to love as much or as little as we’d like, and regardless if you are a widow or not, you must know this to be true.
But for the love of all thing’s sacred… please don’t refer to my dead husband as my ex.