10 Things Newly Widowed People Want You to Know

I compiled this list from my own newly widowed journal entries and conversations I’ve had with other widows and widowers. These ten situations came up over and over.

  1. We know you are hurting over this loss too. But even though we’re grieving the same person, our grief is a lot different. In addition to the pain of loss, we just lost our dreams and vision of our future. We are terrified.
  2. Please don’t stop mentioning our spouse or change the subject if we bring them up. We want to talk about them, it brings us comfort, even if we do cry! And please don’t worry about making us cry by mentioning our spouse. We cry anyway, we are in emotional pain that is often so intense it feels physical.
  3. Please think at least twice about the choice of books, pamphlets, and other materials you send us to read. Particularly if they deal with God and religious points of view. One person’s comfort is another’s ticket off the deep-end. You might think we need to read this material but if we do, we will find it in our own time.
  4. We are not crazy if we tell you we could swear our spouse lay down beside us last night, touched us, or called our name. It happens to way too many people for it to be all in our heads. Even if it is in our heads … if it brings us a moment of comfort … maybe try to be happy for us? Unless we are experiencing a break with reality in other ways (in which case please contact a trained medical professional), try to understand that if we are saying it out loud to you, we are pretty darn sure it actually happened.
  5. Please do not tell us this happened for a reason, that it was God’s will, or that God needed X more than we did. The idea that a loving God would want us to feel this awful feels anything but loving.
  6. Unless you have actually been widowed, please don’t say you know just how we feel. The loss of someone important to our lives is always painful and harsh. We aren’t saying that one type of loss trumps the other. We are saying that the loss of a spouse is a very specific kind of loss. Please see item 1.
  7. Please don’t tell us horror stories about your co-worker’s best friend’s sister and how she lost everything she had after her spouse died and is now penniless and living in her car. Particularly for widows, even those of us who have good jobs and plentiful resources experience moments that can best be described as fiscal panic.
  8. Please do not feed the doubt monster. By this we mean do not play the “I wonder if” game and speculate on things that could have been done another way. It will not change the outcome. And we already beat ourselves up for these things anyway.
  9. Please don’t stop calling, emailing, or texting us a month after the death. You might have gotten used to it and be back to normal but our long trek to establishing a new normal has barely begun. We need your love and support now more than ever. Please don’t make us ask for it because we probably won’t.
  10. Please don’t tell us we are young and will find someone else, even if you are sure it’s true. The very thought of being with someone else at this point seems impossible, improbable and like cheating. That’s a pep talk for farther down the road, if we choose to start dating.

Leave a Comment