Today is National Widows Day.
Ten years ago I had never heard of this day. Then my late husband died. And for the last 9 years this has been a day that I know all too well.
Widowhood is a club no one wants to join. Membership comes at a great price.
The future you planned must have vanished in the blink of an eye.
I went to bed one night a wife and the next I was a widow. A widowed mother of a young son. And I had no idea how I was going to survive. Let alone live. I was terrified.
And for two years I only survived. Focused all my energy on keeping my late husband’s memory alive. Woke up each day because my son needed a mom. If you saw me you would have thought she’s doing ok. I laughed. I went on holidays. Had adventures. Celebrated my son’s successes. But I was only going through the motions, i was a shell of myself. I wasn’t living.
In April of year three, I woke up and realized I not only wanted to live but I had to live. Not to keep my late husband’s memory alive. Not for my son. But for myself. I had to find a new normal. A new future. I decided I had to find my joy. Because I deserved to be happy.
It didn’t happen overnight. It took a lot of time, counseling, and prayer but as the nine year angelversary approaches, I am happy again. Yes, I miss my late husband each and every day. I wish he could be here to celebrate our son’s achievements. Kiss me one more time. Be present in our lives. But I am happy. Proud of the this new life I created.
Joy and grief will always be a part of my life. I can miss my late husband and still be happy. I still have bad moments in good days. Days where unexpected grief knocks me to my knees. I smile at the memories now instead of cry. I am grateful for his life. And I understand that because I never known such profound loss, I appreciate the joys in life more.Iit took me many years to realize that. To accept it. And to not feel guilty.it took me years to appreciate that I still get to live. That it is a privilege to still parent my child, That I am blessed to be the memory keeper. The duality of grief will always exist. But nine years later, I choose to see the good in my life.
Today on National Widows Day, I am grateful for my tribe who have stood beside me. Who held my hand as I walked through the darkest part of my life. Who supported and encouraged me. I am not sure where I would be today if they had not been there, cheering me on and pulling me forward.
This is not a national day that anyone wants to celebrate. It’s not a fun day. Instead t’s a day to bring attention to the fact that there are widowed people all across the country who feel alone in a crowded room. Who put on a smile because it’s expected but then go home and cry in the shower. Who go to bed each night not caring if they wake up tomorrow. So today if you know a widowed person, reach out. Tell them it’s OK to not be ok and it’s ok to be happy. Listen. Support them. Let them know they have a tribe supporting them.
On this day do every widow you know a favor. Talk about their dead spouse. As a widow one of the most painful things is to think others have forgotten your late spouse. Remember, that for the widowed person, their lives were forever changed in a single moment. And they want to know their person will never be forgotten. Say their name.
My life as I knew it ended when my late husband died. The future we had planned vanished, never to happen. A part of me died in that moment. Losing my late husband shaped me into who I am now. Someone who has lived in darkness and fought my way back to the light.
Grief will always be a part of my life. But I refuse to let it define me. My late husband taught me to live life to the fullest. And intend to make him proud doing just that.
**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 are now open on National Widows Day, May 3, 2023. For additional questions feel free to email email@example.com **