Monday, March 29, 2010

Owning My Path

"As a widow you will learn that the only choice that ultimately brings peace is walking the path of grief that has your name on it. The only way to walk with grief is to meet it head on and know that those who have walked before you have survived." ~Linda Perrone Rooney

I found this quote over the weekend, and instantly wanted to share it with all the widowed people I know. I used it right away as my facebook status, posted it in my office, and planned to use the quote as the opening of my blog this week....funny thing is I think I would have HATED this quote about four and a half years ago.

When I first realized that the word widow applied to me I wanted to run screaming away from the reality that came with that label. I also was seriously annoyed by the idea that I was not only expected to face the fact that my husband was dead, but somehow own a journey of healing that was horrifying to me. Heal? On purpose? For what reason again? Did you not hear me say that my husband is DEAD?! When a person whose husband was alive and well talked to me about how I was going to overcome this loss and find new joy in my life, I wanted to throw up on them. Or jab their eyes with a pen. Yep, I was willing to own the consequences of those actions.

I guess the trouble I had with taking ownership of my grief journey was the fact that no one asked me if I wanted to embark on this crazy expedition. It is one thing to take ownership of your actions, these are things that you presumably did with intention (or at least acted out due to horrid widowed rage!), but I found it really difficult to accept the idea that healing the wound left by the unexpected loss of my husband was also my responsibility.

Then I began meeting other widowed people, and I could no longer say "You don't understand." Instead I observed where their lives had taken them. I discovered the ways that they honored the love they had for their husbands, and still lived a full and happy life. I witnessed time and time again the courage with which they faced the challenges that life continued to drop on their doorsteps. And then I realized that the only way out of this pain was to walk through it.

Today I still look to my fellow widowed friends when life throws me a grief curve ball. I also have the honor of witnessing hope bloom in the hearts of people who have all lost so much. I no longer resent the fact that my grief journey is my own. In fact, I now welcome the opportunity to leave my mark on the route I must walk, so that the people who come after me on this path will know that hope lies ahead.


  1. This post has touched me so deeply. I felt like you were literally speaking the feelings in my heart, word for word. As a two year, and almost 5 month widow, I've been traveling this journey of grief blindly until I recently found this blog. It's helped me tremendously, and it's one of the very first things I do each morning. Thank you for being here for all of us who struggle on this path of grief for the rest of our lives.

  2. Wow. Powerful and insightful. Thank you. I'm trying to own my grief path and work through the pain instead of ignoring it. Thank you for reminding me how important it is to persevere, even when the going gets very tough.

  3. Beautiful, Michele. Thank you for all you do for the ones who must also walk through the murky waters of grief.

  4. Well said, as always.
    So excited to be coming to Camp this year!

  5. Thank you for this post. I'm at the beginning of this journey, still struggling to get through each day. I HATE the word "widow" and it's a label I do NOT want to own, should not be expected to own at 44.

    And it's exactly like you said, every time someone tells me that time will heal or there's a new life waiting for me when I'm ready or any of that stuff... I want to rage at them.

    At the same time, I know I can't go on this way forever... so it's helpful to hear about people who have made it a little further along the path.

  6. Thank you so much for your thoughts. I just found this website today. My husband died 16 months ago and I have found that I need to face my grief head on too. This is very difficult for other people to understand and it seems that over time people understand less and less. It seems like people expect you to move on after a year and they don't act like they want to hear about your struggles.

  7. A friend told me in the beginning (17 months ago) that the pain never goes away, you just learn to live with it. I think that is probably the truest assessment I have heard so far. I agree that people expect it to be over and done with after one year. Its still very hard though.

  8. Hello everyone, this is my first post and I just found this site through Facebook. I love the quote. It will be two years May 30 since my husband, age 45 died suddenly. The first six months I kept myself busy and never gave myself a chance to grieve. I never let spent time by myself and had a few glasses of wine each night to fall asleep.

    Then I started online dating after about 8 months. I kept myself busy flirting and looking back, trying to find the companionship that I missed so much from my husband. After the first year anniversary I met a guy who I dated for about nine months. We broke up a month ago and for the first time I am starting to really grieve over my husband. I have been a mess.... It is so difficult. I want to push the grief away and jump back to online dating but I know that I need to be with my self for several months and establish my self as a widow/single. It is so hard and I wonder when the pain will subside so that I can be happy again. I am going to cut and paste that quote because it totally describes me right now. Debbi

  9. Michele... I TRULY feel that I would not be where I am today without the 'writings/musings/blogs' of "the widows who've grieved before me"... you (and others) give me such hope, and such inspiration... you'll never know... It's comin' up on a year (May 22nd) since "My Rick" died... and I'm surviving, I'm still here, and I'm just beginning to 'live' my life... I'm gonna be okay. Thank you for sharing your heart, your pain, and your strength...

  10. Much love to all of you who have shared here. YOU are the reason I do what I do, and knowing it matters to you totally makes my day! Hold on and know that the path ahead has been walked AND survived by others. And come to Camp Widow...we'll prove it!!