Practical Help and Advice for a Young Widow

I wrote this in reply to a woman who is really struggling with the first year of  being widowed, and it is also a  lot of what I tell others when we meet and they are caught in the grip of grief in such a way that makes them feel like they are drowning in it.  So I decided it would also make a good blog.

My heart goes out to you and sincere wishes for comfort and love. These feelings of loss – the sheer emptiness you feel right now is a natural part of your situation – how you feel, the anger, and the anxiety – I’m telling you it’s a normal part of widowhood with the hope that you understand that this is part of a process that DOES GET BETTER. It WILL pass, and you will look back on this stage, and many others, with a lot of feelings, both good and bad about what you are currently going through.

So here’s some practical help

1) Every night before you go to bed, plan ONE SMALL THING to look forward to about the next day. It might be ANYthing. From treating yourself to a walk, buying yourself something (a block of chocolate or a movie ticket. Anything) Treat yourself to ONE thing that will make you smile – even if it’s only on the inside for now. that’s how you start to get through one day at a time.
2) Get yourself a journal, or set one up on-line, and write or draw everything you are feeling. If you can’t draw, buy some crayons and just put colours on the page. Write a caption on what you draw. Write about how pissed off you are feeling. Write about something wonderful you remember about him (or her). Write a letter to him. Just let your feelings start to come out through your fingers onto  paper somehow.
3) Talk to another widow – especially someone young – if you can’t find one, you can write some more or talk to me ok.
4) Make a plan now for what you will do and where you will go for Christmas. Maybe you’ll make 100 plans and screw each one up – but make a plan every day. Until you find one that you can live with and look forward to.
5) Remember this – please remember this… What you are feeling now, what you are gonig through, how devastated you feel WILL get better.
I can say that with absolute surety – because someone once said it to me, and we all say it to each other. This is a hell you just have to be prepared to cry your way through. I used to be so surprised that so much water (tears) could physically come out of my body with such regularity.
6) When you manage to get out of bed tomorrow (and every day) set a time that you will make yourself get up and dressed by – every day, no matter what. Don’t break that rule for yourself. Just do it, and when you do, every day take a couple of deep breaths and talk to your lost one for a few minutes. Ask him to help you get through the day. He will, and he will let you know he’s there. HE WILL do this. Whether it’s a feeling, a smell, a song on the radio, or a goosebumps down your back, or an unexpected something related to a dog in a park… somehow he WILL let you know he’s there to support and help you ok.
Your lover’s love for you did not end with his physical death. He will not want you to suffer this way. And you can’t join him yet… ok. If that were the case, you would not still be here – you have to let time work with you to deal with this. Widowhood is not somethign you ‘get over’ you simply allow it to shape you a little. One day you wake up and find you are actually able to count more than days, weeks, months… and you’ll know yourself in a new way.

Please read and reread the above – and remember there are people who care and want to help you. Congratulations on venting today. Do it again tomorrow – and the next day… just do WHAT EVER you need to day by day to get through this.

Big hugs,
Maria