Thursday, March 26, 2009

The hardest part of being a widow for me

Last night I attended a band concert for my oldest and this morning woke up at 4:00 a.m. with a migraine. I dragged myself up out of bed and went downstairs for medicine. It took a bit of time for the migraine to subside but by the time I got up for the day at 6:00 it was thankfully gone. This got me thinking about what I personally find to be the hardest part of living on my own.

1. Attending concerts, school and sporting events by myself.

2. Being ill or under the weather (or even just tired or drained) and not having a partner to lend a hand (run downstairs for the pill bottle and glass of water). Once, soon after I was widowed, I had such a severe migraine that I had to call up my job and have a co-worker run to Walgreen's for me to pickup some medicine!

Going to those endless school events on my own is a very visual reminder to me of the fact that I'm on my own. In my town very few people my age are unmarried, so the bleachers or seats are just filled with couples. I always feel like I stick out like a sore thumb. I can't say I have ever really gotten used to it. I attend so many events because the boys are very active in sports and school functions. Once, last Fall, I found myself crying as I watched a football game thinking of my late husband and how he would have loved seeing his sons play.

Of course, having kids means that I have to get out and see their events. I've never had the luxury of being able to hide from the world and this has been a good thing because I think I may have hidden if I could have. Sometimes I wish people in general knew how difficult it is for people in my position - that there is pain and grief even while watching your child play a solo at the band concert five years after the death of your husband!

21 comments:

  1. I just stumbled across your blog this evening after having googled "middle age widow." I was rewarded with this entry of yours that hits very close to home for me.
    I'm a 41 year old widow in suburban Chicago - my husband died of cancer about 2.5 yrs ago. We had been together for over 17 yrs and married almost 15. I have a five yr old who is the spitting image of him - in so many ways. He was the social one, the funny one, the one who somehow managed to talk to EVERYONE at the party...
    I am the one who manages to feel like a sore thumb in middle of a gymnasium packed full of "nuclear" families.
    I am the one who would prefer to crawl under the rock and pull the blanket over their head, but having a kindergartner doesn't give one much opportunity for that!
    I like your thoughts on love, patience, and kindness. Simple things that shouldn't be so difficult to achieve, but work on every day. I still harbor a certain amount of anger and bitterness over "the hand I was dealt."
    My silver-bullet for my moments of frustration and self-pity; my daughter's chubby cheeks. I now know why the crazy old aunts squeeze the little kid's cheeks (that will be me someday).
    Thanks for posting - I feel a little better - until the next "knife in the heart" moment, because we all know there's another just around the corner!

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  2. I was Anonymous in the previous comment. I felt so good by simply posting a comment, that I just created a Blogspot of my own. Thanks for the showing of "can-do" Now maybe I can too!

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  3. Blogging has been one of the most helpful things I have done to work through my grieving. Just thinking about what I am going to write about and then putting my feelings into words has been healing. But I'd have to also say that the most beneficial part of all this is when I've come across a post by another widow that hits home exactly. Just knowing that there is someone out there knowing exactly what I'm going through has been priceless. Good luck on your blog. It took me awhile to get into the swing of it and I'm still learning - I still have to figure out how to get photos up and add more visuals. I'd love to see how your blog is going and how you are doing too.

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  4. It all comes down to love...indeed. My husband of 27 years died suddenly in February at age 50. He was an amazing guy and the outpouring of love and affection we had come our way made all of us stop and think about what it was in the way this man lead his life that caused so many people to love him. At the end of the day, it came down the fact that he was a kind, funny, lighhearted and loving guy - he adored his kids, was a devoted husband, dedicated most of his spare time to coaching (girls ice hockey) and brought love and laughter everywhere he went. No one could tell a story about him without smiling or laughing. What an amazing gift he gave us and an amazing legacy. There's an enormous hole in our hearts in in our lives (mine and our three daughters) but the memory of this wonderful, loving man will abide with us forever.

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  5. Thank you for your comments. I'm not a widow yet, but it won't be long. My wonderful husband of 27 years will leave this earth in a few weeks, according to the doctors. I can't imagine life without him. In many ways I've already lost him as he is unable to speak or to walk and sleeps most of the time, but as I feed and bathe him there is still some connection and it gives me some purpose. Our only daughter is away at college. I'm glad for her, glad that she doesn't have to watch his daily decline. I appreciated reading the comments because, even though there is so much pain, you make it. It gives me hope that somehow I will, too.

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  6. 'Hiding from the world' is not a 'luxury'. I do not have children and lost my beloved husband of 26 years very suddenly due to a brain aneurysm, he was aged 45. I am haunted by his screaming last moments and I have consequently lost my business as I am self employed and been too traumatised to work, in spite of the disasterous financial implications. I have scant familial support, but I do get up each day and do something to honour him and his memory. Perhaps yours was a chance remark. To coin a phrase, 'There but for the grace of god go I.' Widow hood, when you really, really love and adore your soul mate, is sans luxury. We have not walked in one anothers shoes and yet we share agonising loss. You do your best and so do I. x

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  7. I miss my husband the most during the times I've been sick, and the times I'd just like to have a wing-man to say, "yeah, that seems good to me" when I make another house-related or financial decision. I am 53 y.o. and I was married for 30 years. My husband passed away from brain cancer in May 2010. My twin 21 y.o. dtrs. are living at home with me, and have been derailed by their loss. They are "treading water", working at a minimum wage job and/or going to community college. As much as I wanted them to stay at university, I realize now what a blessing it is to have these girls in my home. It can get pretty bleak here some days when they're out. My appendix ruptured on Jan 31, 2010 and I was rushed to hospital. I was glad to have the girls here at home when I was discharged, but missed my husband.

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  8. Thank you for posting. I feel so lost and alone. I have been a widow twice. In 2001, my first husband died at the age of 38. He died on our anniversary. I was only 38. He had been sick for 6 years with a rare heart virus. Our boys were only 8, 10 and 12 at the time. It was very difficult but I was very busy with my young sons and it made the grieving process a little easier. They were young and so I knew I had to be strong and brave for them. My parents and my husband’s parents provided tremendous support and made things much easier for me. My children grew very close to my parents and saw them almost everyday.
    Two years later I met a wonderful man and we married in 2005. We both taught at the same high school. Four years later he was diagnosed with cancer. His children were 18, 20 and 23; my children were 16, 18 and 20. It was very difficult for all of us. He tried a bone marrow transplant at a hospital 3 hours away. My 16 year old stayed with friends, the rest of the kids were in college or on their own. He survived only 6 months and died in February of 2010. During that same 6 months, I also lost my mother to a stroke and my father to a heart attack. It seemed like a horrible nightmare that would never end.
    My husband’s kids are now all on their own and I don't see them often. This fall all three of my children will be away in college. I'm dreading being alone. We have a beautiful home, but it will be very empty. I have wonderful friends, but all of them are married. No one understands how difficult it is to attend weddings, school events and other activities by myself. I'm a teacher and I know how important it is to my students that I attend their activities. I taught with my second husband and we made it a point to attend not only our children's events, but other school events. Last winter I walked into the gym to attend a basketball game(my husband was also a basketball coach)and I had to leave. I cried my entire way home. It was so difficult to look at all the families...and the other coaches missing my husband so much.
    Its been 18 months since he died and the pain is still there. There are constant reminder of him, we worked together, ate lunch together, and came home every night together.
    I keep wondering if this will ever get easier.

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  9. I lost my husband, best friend, and business partner almost 4 weeks ago. We have worked together for the last 14 years and rarely spent a day apart. When I wasn't with him I couldn't wait to get back to him.
    On August 3rd we had record breaking heat. He had run every day for decades and got a late start that day. I pleaded with him to skip a day as it was supposed to be 112 and I thought it was certainly at least 100 already. He said "My Darling I just want to get a few miles in and I'll be right back". He was right back and everything seemed fine. We did a few chores around the house and were getting ready to start our work day.
    We were just laughing and talking like always and he sat down next to me to type an email and just fell from the chair, dead. There was no warning, no sign at all. One minute he was with me and the next gone.
    He was 58, I am 48. I can't stop crying and this is so unlike me. I can take a punch but this is too much. I have always thought of myself as independent but I seem frozen and unable to do the simplest of things.
    Every day seems worse than the day before in some ways and I am not sure that this gets better. Are we all kidding ourselves?

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  10. Dearest Women - I am so terribly sorry for your recent losses and pain. I think back to my early days as a widow and wonder if it would be better to have been told the hard facts of reality that it really is hard, even years down the road or to be given an illusion that everything magically becomes better over time. It is what it is, and I do believe for some of us, we bear a harder/longer load. Better to be honest about that and not hide from it.

    The horrible, gut wrenching misery does subside, but the day to day jolts of pain do continue. We learn to cope and to try our best to go on. I wish you both much comfort, peace and hope in your journey and all the best to have more better days than those that are not.

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  11. Even in a room of people I feel alone. You suddenly become the 3rd wheel and people try to include you in things but its awkward. I end up watching friends have fun with their spouses and feeling jealous and resentful. Sometimes I forget for a just a minute that my husbands dead and think "i have to remember to tell mike to make an appt for the car" or some other thing that happened that day. Then I remember I'm alone and this is how it will be the rest of my life. I dread when my 2 young boys grow up and leave. What will I do then? i remember my husband telling me he was going to die. I remember him saying he wanted me to find someone to love again but just to make sure they were good to his kids. After he died I remember realizing that no one in the world would ever love our children like we did. It made me so sad to realize that they would never feel that kind of love again from anyone. its been 15 months and that thought still breaks my heart. i wish my kids didnt have to suffer. i feel so guilty that they have to suffer because he died. i dont think this will ever go away.

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  12. Anonymous - Thank you for your honest and open comments. It is still very early for you and I hope you find resources in the community and your family that will help provide comfort. I think it is ok to focus on your boys and to be with there for them. It has been what I have done, and now that they are off to college I am ready to refocus on myself. But I don't think only parent moms have that luxury with youngsters at home. Hang in there and know you will make it. And the pride that will come from knowing you gave your all for your sons will be worth it. It has been for me.

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  13. I say I'm okay and people say "no your not." Then I say I'm not okay and people then tell me it's going to be okay. I see his Maypo in the cupboard and I feel sad then I say...well I didn't trip over his boots to get to the cupboard, then I feel guilty. Sad, happy and guilty all in a split second! Some say it's too bad so close to the holidays...I make up a line that tells the people that I don't have to wait a long time to go through the first Christmas and worry about it for months. I go to write out Xmas cards and find it difficult to sign only my name. Go to make out present tags and only sign my name. These are all things that recently becoming a widow at 53 has shown me in the last 6 weeks. Time will heal is what some say but what do we do until this "time" passes? If you are reading this post most likely you've recently become a widow too and you're feeling this pain too. I send my thoughts your way and yes it's not going to be a great Xmas but it is what it is and we have lost our soul mates and just remember others don't know what to say or what to do for us because we don't know what we want at this point. writing a post may or may not help you but I'm at the point that I have to try it and see.

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    1. I am not OK either. My husband died of cancer 15 months ago. When people say "how are you" I am afraid to tell the truth. I just say I'm OK. I smile and pretend and try to be genuinely interested in others. We were together for 50 years and people say you have so many memories but they don't understand that it's the memories that hurt. It's not just the happy memories, it's the memories of the mistakes I made. The memories of the times I let him down. He was a much better person than I and he didn't deserve to suffer so much.

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    2. I write again tonight to update the feelings from a year ago. I didn't realize how "numb" I really was until recently I feel like a butterfly coming out of its cocoon. I wrote Dec 11, 2011 saying that I don't know how to answer people on how I felt. Finally I decided to ask them how I should feel and let them decide. You are right about the memories and I will never tell someone to rely on those memories for it hurt so much to remember anything....good or bad. Again time makes it better

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  14. SO glad I stumbled upon your blog. May 26th will be the 4 year anniversary of "the anniversary none of us wanted". This month is particularly painful as it is bittersweet. My husband and best friend of 18 years passed from liver cancer. We have 3 wonderful children together ( I have another daughter from a previous marriage) and I thank god for that every day. This month alone, one daughter is graduating from college, one from high school and our only son is going to prom as a young man.

    I am SO thankful for the times we had together! What truly gets me through day to day...is KNOWING someday we WILL be together again. We all have hard times and recognize that our lives are NEVER the same, despite others' best efforts to say so.

    Please know.....we are not alone in this BIG world.....others, like ourselves understand us....

    Peace and love to all of you,

    ~Michelle

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  15. I just found your blog - my wife of 21 years (together for 23) - we met when I was 21 and she 20 - passed away from the damn cancer - stage 4 colon cancer - (liver gave out) - on May 30, 2012.

    We've (yes we) have two kids one is 18 other is 13.5 - all I can promise is 8 years until youngest is out of college.

    The loneliness is painful - I need her so much, miss her so much, and will love her forever!!!

    I just remembered lyrics from a show on TV when we met and used to watch "In Living Color" - "grab your girl and tell her that you love her..." Oh God wouldn't I want to that!

    I'm the third wheel - I've no one to confide in...no one to laugh and cry with...until it's finally my turn to get off this existance.

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    1. Oh,I read this and almost cried! i have been a widow for over 5 years now. Orin and I met later in life, and had been married just 7 years when he died. No children together.
      I remember all the raw feelings right after he died.
      I promise you, things do get better, honestly. You learn and re-learn all of the time how to 'go forward' in this new, very unwanted life.
      I just stumbled onto this blog and I'll be writing more later.
      Know that you are not alone.

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  16. I just came across your blog and wish I had seen it eariler. My husband and I were married 38 years until he was diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer at 56 and he died 3 weeks later. It happened on April 21 2010 at 10:00 am. As i held his hand as he was dying, I have never felt such a peace that went through him. I could almost see God taking him. This year is the first time I have been able to put up a Christmas tree but I have a 7 year old granddaughter and I did it Because my husband would have wanted me to go on. I still cry for him and treasure on my memories but I know that I was a very fortunate woman for all those years.

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  17. been a widow for 8 years. you will never get over the loss. you are not suppose to. when I was told this, it actually made me feel ok. some people say, "it's been a year," and you should be moving on. I think one's grief depends on the deepness and joy the relationship gave you and the degree of loss you now encounter will indicate when you will be able to make a new life for yourself. everyone's grief journey is unique. the road will be full of signs, some will indicate, proceed with caution. others will say go slow. some will pop up to indicate construction site ahead. a day will come for you to begin to reconstruct your life. take it one day at a time. life will be exhausting. even after 8 years, i'm exhausted on some days. on these days, I comfort myself. the next day if feel better. I put one foot in front of the other to begin another day in this journey I've been given by the Lord. amen hope this helps someone. anonymous

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