I’ve not found a good way to tell someone that I’m a widow.
A few months after Seth passed away, I went out with some neighbors for a mom’s night out. It was much needed and so good to laugh and forget about my new tragic reality. I was able to have a drink, relax and enjoy the good company of some of my favorite people. While I was having fun and enjoying the night, I met two new neighbors. Two lovely ladies that I didn’t know before Seth died. That didn’t know me or my situation. Everyone was talking about their husbands being home with the kids and I was talking about mine being home with a babysitter. At one point I thought, “well they must think my husband is a jerk for not hanging out with the kids. I don’t want them to think he’s a jerk. He’d be with them if he wasn’t dead.” So, I looked at these two lovely ladies and said, “well my kids are home with a sitter because my husband passed away in June.” Cue uncomfortable silence.
I don’t know why I blurted it out and why I felt I had to tell them. But I did and it was a cringeworthy moment. But they couldn’t have been nicer and more supportive. They gave me their sympathies and the conversation moved on. I kept laughing at the lively conversation around me, while mentally kicking myself for blurting that out. And thought to myself that I’d have to find a better way to talk about this. Or find a way not to.
A few months later I was at my son’s kindergarten Halloween party at school. I met a fellow mom of one of my son’s favorite new friends. I still had my wedding ring on and never made mention of my husband during the conversation. Avoided it any way I could. I couldn’t help but notice (or imagine) her glancing at my ring and wondering why all of my stories were about me and the kids. Not my husband and I and the kids. Or ‘us’ and the kids.
I thought maybe she knows already since my son most likely told hers and she just didn’t want to mention it. So instead of another cringeworthy “my husband just died” moment, I friended her on Facebook and figured she would find out that way.
Just as awkward.
Last year, I started a new job and no one, not even my boss, knew of my personal situation. On my first day, she asked me to introduce myself to the team and tell then something interesting about myself. I panicked a little because I thought to myself, “I’m not that interesting…don’t blurt out I’m a widow…think of something truly interesting.” Of course, the minute my mouth opened I told the group where I lived, that I was a mom of two kids and that I was a widow. Boom. There it was. Cue the sad eyes and awkward silence. I had an immediate out if body experience and tried my hardest not to cry and quickly stopped talking.
So. Freaking. Awkward.
Recently I met some new neighbors, and I did not want to introduce myself as a widow. I was determined to not be awkward and have that uncomfortable silent pause in the conversation. As we started talking about the neighborhood and families, Seth’s name came up and I quickly referred to him as my ‘late husband’ (a term I hate, by the way…why do we refer to them as ‘late’…what is he late for?) and kept telling the funny story that I know he would have told them about. I found the conversation kept moving without the sad eyes and awkward pause and felt relieved I put it out there.
A little less awkward.
So, I guess it will get easier. Or forever stay just as hard and awkward. But one thing I know for sure is that I can’t tell people about myself without also talking about my dear husband. He was a true light that made everything better and is forever worth mentioning. And remembering.
**Have you heard about Hope for Widows Foundation’s annual Restoring Hope & Peace Grant program? It was established by the organization in 2019 to help widowed women offset financial challenges as they navigate their healing journey.
You can find out details, timeline and the history of this grant here: https://hopeforwidows.org/grant/ All widows based in U.S. and Canada are encouraged to apply.
Applications open on National Widows Day, May 3, 2022.
For additional questions feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org **
It never gets easier; and it does stay hard and awkward.
But you will get used to doing it. It will become less painful.
My Bob’s spirit left Earth December 14th, 2018, and I am still floundering: probably because I still consider myself married, and more a wife than a widow. I know – it’s crazy thinking, but that’s how it is. I still don’t know who I am becoming. I just know I do not like my New Title – and I am not ready to give up the old one.
Sharing my life on my Blog helps.
Thank you for sharing the story and your experiences. I relate to them so well. I don’t really know how I think of who I am yet. I still think of myself as married. And with Covid I have had very little occasion to meet new people. The few times I have it has been super awkward to bring up that my young husband suddenly passed away. And even more awkward with the paws that follows. It’s helpful to know I’m not alone so thank you for being brave enough to share in your writing.