Our husband heard us and we miss that.
Most widows would agree the death of your husband is a profound moment in the journey of life here on earth. It literally upends the trajectory of life as you knew it and propels you in a completely different direction. No amount of preparation can fully equip us for the tidal wave of change that comes in to rearrange every sense of order and sanity we once enjoyed. The power of being heard is radically changed. He heard us!
I could talk to my husband about anything. We were married nearly 37 years. He was a wonderful listener. When I poured out my heart to him, he was always willing to let me just talk. He would help me sort out the confusion and feel heard. We could even talk without speaking because we grew so close, we usually knew each other’s thoughts and could finish each other’s sentences. Having my hand in his and my head on his shoulder, or his arm around me made me feel acknowledged and loved. It brought a strength I no longer have now that I am alone.
There’s a void in my life words fail to express. A deafening silence that triggers a terrible pain inside. It’s no longer hearing his “I love you” every day. We shared stories, conversations, silly traditions and funny anecdotes—but I no longer have access to them. No one ever told me about the real, fundamental, life-giving substance you lose when someone you love so dearly leaves this earth. The part of me only he knew is gone. It died with him, lingering now only in bittersweet memories.
That’s what I miss the most. Since he went to Heaven, there are very few people willing to stop and really listen. People ask how I’m doing, but they don’t wait for an answer. It’s just a bridge phrase designed to get my attention, so I’ll hear what they want to say. Most people don’t even call anymore unless they want something from me.
Sadly, my experience seems to be the same as most other widows, and I suspect of people in general who experience the close personal loss of a loved one.
Does this mean nobody cares?
I don’t believe it does. I think people care. Some are too uncomfortable to engage in the topic of loss for various reasons. Many are wrapped up in their own cares and the myriad of circumstances and obligations their own life holds, making it hard to see any needs of others. Others have no experience with loss to give them a perspective of its possible impact on someone’s life. Cultural differences and learned behaviors also play a part. Some people simply find it easier to withdraw than to risk facing their own fears surrounding death or they mistakenly believe grievers want to be alone.
I can’t stress the importance for widows feeling heard enough. This is why most resources designed to help people find healing in grief recommend counselors and pastors trained in helping people move forward through grief. Grief groups, online communities and support services are all geared to providing platforms to allow the grievers to freely and safely express their thoughts and feelings. In our brokenness we need viable places to turn where we are protected from judgement and pressure to be over it before we are.
Expressing the feelings and untangling the emotions provide vital salve to sooth the heart wounds so healing can happen. I think finding safe, wholesome and effective tools and resources that allow us to really be heard is one of the areas where widow’s needs are not adequately met. Many resources are cost prohibitive to a large percentage of widows. I’m grateful to the Hope for Widows Foundation for doing their part to find ways to meet the needs of widows.
Widows long to be heard so we can feel valued and appreciated. We are in process of transitioning from a life where we enjoyed that gift in our husbands. As we begin to build this new life, we are looking to be heard as we connect with people. The power of being heard gives us the gift to know and be known, to see and be seen, and to understand and be understood. It’s my prayer we will all find and build a support team around us who are able and willing to fill the gaps so we heal and move forward to a rich and rewarding future.
**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 Widow’s Day, May 3, 2022. For additional questions feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org **