Monday, October 4, 2010

Things Every New Widow Should Know

Some really good advice in this article I found online (published September 25, 2009 by Donna Thacker at

Coping with Grief One Step at a Time...

If you are a new widow, the first thing to know is that you will hate that word. It will seem strange and distasteful to you, yet you will encounter it over and over from now on. Every paper, or internet form will ask for your "status" and you will have to choose widow where you have always chosen married. It is okay to hate that word, because fate stuck you with a new designation, when you really still feel that you are married.


You will be hit with so many emotions you really won't know what you are feeling. At first there will be a sense of shock. You will proceed almost as if you are living in a surreal world, where you are just going through the motions. There is a tired numbness, especially if your spouse has been ill for awhile.

Disbelief may be present. You know that you have lost your spouse, yet it doesn't seem real. You may feel like you expect them to walk in and tell you it is all a cruel joke. You may feel anger. The anger may be directed at yourself, those around you, the doctors that cared for your spouse, or even your spouse for leaving you.

It is okay to express those emotions. You will shed countless tears, and then you will apologize to those around you. It is okay to cry without saying you're sorry to those seeing your tears. You need to let your emotions out, however they come. If you need to scream and yell, do that too. Believe me it will help. Never apologize for your grief; you have a right to express it.

Settling Insurance

It is important to know what type of insurances your spouse had. If he spent time in a hospital and you had medical insurance most of the bill will be taken care of. Expect that the hospital will start to call almost immediately asking for payment of any portion you owe. They are just doing their job, but at the time, you will think the person on the phone is the most heartless person you ever met. You will feel angry that they are not even giving you time to grieve before you have to start settling affairs.

Filling out papers for the life insurance will be like proving your very existence, and reliving your husband's death all over again. The company may even call you on the phone and expect you to be able to answer their questions on command. They will want to know all about the illness or reason for death, the dates and addresses for all hospital stays during the illness, and what the exact cause of death was.

If you are not able to handle this discussion yet, it is wise to have a family member or good friend on hand to do it. The sooner you proceed with the paper work, the sooner you will have money to settle the other affairs, such as doctor bills. You may need the insurance money to live on, or to take care of your children. Getting it settled will help to ease your stress.

Knowing What's Right

As you go through the grieving process and start to figure out how to live this new life you didn't want, people may offer advice and or suggestions that they think will make it better. Nothing will make it better, but only you will know when it is the right time to proceed with different stages of this new lonely life.

You may wonder what to do with your spouse's possessions and clothing. Some may advise that it would be easier to get rid of them. This mere suggestion may horrify you and make you feel like you are losing another part of your spouse. All widows have faced this issue and each one has faced it in their own way. If you are comforted with having his clothes hanging in the closet, then let them hang there.

Someone will eventually ask if you are going to continue wearing your wedding rings. The thought probably never even crossed your mind that maybe you were supposed to take them off. You may wonder why you should take them off, because in your heart, you still feel married. The truth is, you may never take them off, or you may take them off tomorrow. That is a decision to be made when you feel the time is right. No one can tell you when or if it is time to remove the wedding rings.

Talk to Those Who Know

There is a measure of comfort in talking to other widows. These women know exactly what you are going through, and they know how you are feeling. The internet is a great source to reach out to other women who have lost their spouses. These widows have been a great source of comfort to me personally. Many of them have written articles similar to this one, and there is usually a way to contact them from their article page.

Internet friends remain a faceless source of comfort; therefore you may find it easier to pour your heart and feelings out to them. I know my internet friends have listened to me, and given me great strength, just by knowing they were a mere email away. They have offered support and encouragement, yet were neither hovering nor intrusive.

Don't be afraid to talk about your feelings, or to ask someone who has been through it how they handled certain things. Of course each situation will be different as we all grieve in our own way. Those of us, who are going through it, know it is not easy. We know about the sorrow and loneliness, and the tears that are shed each night we climb into our empty beds.

Keep Going

This is the most important thing you need to know as a new widow. Keep on living, because you know your spouse would want you to. The best way to do this is to rely on something you do that your spouse was proud of. Maybe he was really proud of your profession. Continue to be the best you can be at your job. Consider it a way of honoring him every time you accomplish something you know he would be proud of.

My husband was always very proud of my writing ability. At first, I had no desire to write, but then something told me to get back to it, because he would have wanted me too. I find myself writing articles that will not only honor his memory, but that may also help someone else that is going through this horrible thing they call being a widow.

Read how other women are coping with being a widow. It may not work exactly that way for you, but then again, you may be able to offer the next piece of advice that will help someone else cope. Above all, even though you may feel terribly alone, you are not. There are many of us just an email away who know exactly how you are feeling.


Roobeedoo said...

I don't want ever to need this information, but I know that my day will come. My husband has had MM for 3 years now. Virtual hugs from the UK - I found your blog via Susie.

Lori Puente said...

HI Dianne, Think about you a lot these days. I know, as you have alluded too, that these days ahead will be fraught with adjustments and transitions with emotions zinging you from every direction with no consideration on time or place! Know you are in my heart and mind daily, offering for you, a continuation of your amazing strength and grace.