Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The F Word

Amanda is closing out the school year in Australia this week, and guest writer Wendy Doyle Diez is filling in for her on WV today...thanks Wendy!


I’m a fat widow. 
Yes I am. 
You don’t need to give me an awkward smile and insist that I’m not a fat widow. 
I am and I own it.

I give other widowed people a bad name. I shatter the image of the grief-ridden widow/widower by eating and actually enjoying it.  And I’ve been doing this for nearly three years now.  I feel guilty not just because I should have better eating habits to begin with but because somewhere in my subconscious, I believe that I should have lost interest in anything food related when I became a widow.  This seems to be the norm for others I know.  And some still have trouble eating even after a couple of years.  Who are these people?!  I know.  They are the ones who insist they are full after eating half an apple.  I apologize if you are one of them but I need a minute to be truly confounded by you.

Don’t all widows drastically lose weight in the beginning of the grief process?  For the love of chocolate peanut butter ice cream, why didn’t I? 

As someone who has struggled with weight issues for a good number of years, I must confess that a small part of me searched for the silver lining when Chris died.  I thought I would for sure lose my appetite and shrink down a few sizes.  Never did I think that my new normal would include 40 extra pounds. 

To be fair to myself, I had just had a baby when Chris died and I knew I needed to eat because I was nursing a newborn.  I don’t recall the pediatrician or any of the baby books suggesting that I eat several meals a day of chocolate products to ensure proper nutrition for Claire.  But I do remember feeling like nothing in the world made me feel better than snuggling up with a candy bar late at night once my kids were in bed.

What this all comes down to is that I’ve realized I have been judging myself and others on this one particular aspect of widowhood.  

Skinny = proper widow/widower for grieving correctly by not being able to eat.
Fat = widow/widower who must not have cared enough about their spouse since they indulge in whatever food is pushed in front of them (and sometimes even aggressively go after it).

Our community is often outraged at the unreasonable judgments that those who’ve never walked in our shoes cast upon us.  And yet, here I am casting those same judgments not only on my peers but upon myself.  I think I need to give our community and myself a break.  Because defining what is an appropriate widow is, um, a weighty issue.  

At this point in my grief journey, I am actively working on being healthier (with some stumbling along the way).  But I’m also working on letting go of the stereotypes that are holding me back.  Now if I could only let go of the chocolate bars too, I’ll really be on my way.


  1. I too am an overweight widow. I did also hope that my silverlining would be to lose weight, but instead food became my companion and a way to feel good. I miss my late husband everyday, but I am also trying to date. So many of the man on there want someone skinny and that is hard to take, because I feel so rejected at times. It just reminds me how special my man was to continue to love me and find me attractive and I must keep looking for someone who sees the inner beauty of a woman- not just the outside.

  2. Cute post. Please don't hate me though for losing 7 pounds since Shaun died.

  3. Wendy .... this is great! And true .... there's no ONE way to handily any part of grief. We just grieve the way we grieve. At some point, most of us will have to deal with the aftermath of our grieving .... whether it's our health, relationships, jobs, etc Not because we chose to grieve a certain way .... but because we could not.
    You're a good writer.

  4. Everyone is different... At first I who also always struggled with my weight lost 12 lbs. Then as 4 years out approached I realized I had gained that back plus 20 lbs more. I was shutting down my griefing with food. I no longer had my husband so after a long day at work food became my companion. I too thought aren'twidows supposed to not eat and get slim...NO No we are all different. When I was ready I joined a gym and just decided to get healthy. A year later I am down 22 lbs and feeling better. I now realize I used food as a crutch. I look at it differently now... let the feelings come. Are they uncomfortable ...yes Oh God yes they are. I now see a light at the end of this tunnel. I wish you luck in your journey. Please do not be so hard on yourself it is not an easy road and we all do it differently.

  5. During Brian's month in the hospital and death I lost a good 15 lbs. BUT since I have struggled with my weight my whole life I of course found myself in September heavier then I had been before the accident. I am working on it now. Hitting the gym but I need to just not look to chips to fill the hole in my heart. It is hard but baby steps. My therapist says I have too much to worry about to worry about that issue just yet.

  6. Thank you Wendy for a very honest post! I lost 30 pounds in 2 years and am now maybe too thin. I hear it all the time and it is getting old!

    This grief journey is so difficult on most days, that it takes great guts just to survive. We eat too much or too little, who cares as long as the feet hit the floor each morning. Not saying that physical health is not important, but I think we need to focus on mental health first and foremost. With that intact, the rest will come.

    As a thin widow who has started to date, I can tell you that rejection comes regardless and it does make me miss my very wonderful husband that much more!

    Hugs to all of us!!!!

  7. This is a wonderful post. You are a fabulous writer and as I recall quite cute.

  8. Love this post. Eating (or not eating) is all about emotions. Grief has a way of churning that crap up! Love you for your honesty!!!

  9. Wow, I feel like you were talking about me. I thought I would lose weight but that has not been the case. Food has become a comfort to me so the scale is going in the wrong direction. I'm hoping that since I'm aware of what I'm doing one day I will be able to rectify the situation but I don't think that day will be coming anytime soon! One hurdle at a time!! Thanks for this post.

  10. Hi everyone. I am not a widow, but my mother is. My brother was murdered in 1994. Then my father grieved himself to death 7 months later. My parents had been married for 42 years. Carl's case is still unsolved and it has taken me many years to fully accept the magnitude of all that has happened. I find joy today in just having known both of these men and thinking gratitude keeps my sadness at bay. I heard about your blog from Alicia King, the author of HEALING: The Essential Guide to Helping Others Overcome Grief and Loss. Alicia is this week's guest on our podcast/online radio show. The episode (#80) will hit iTunes tomorrow or you can find it on our website at www.ConnieandSheilaTalk.com

    I wish you all peace and joy today and in the coming days!
    Connie Williams

  11. I think whatever coping skills we used in the past will continue, if not magnify, in grief. I agree with anon above who said to get your mental health in check first, and worry about the rest later. I am the type that cannot get food down my throat in times of stress, my brain totally shuts down to it. I won't even think about it. I'm past that point now. I don't turn to food, but a couple of beers hit the spot when I want to tune out. I guess we all have our demons. Welcome and thanks for writing.

  12. My husband and I were both overweight for much of our life together, and in January 2010 his weight contributed to his sudden death. I gained about 15 pounds in the 12 months after he died. I didn't care about what I ate, how I looked, how I felt - there was no point.

    This past April I got an email at work that they were looking for participants in a weight loss study, and I joined because I knew that what I was doing to myself wasn't healthy and wasn't good for me in the long run. I learned a lot - more than I thought, and not just about food - and ended up losing 12 pounds during the 10 week study. Since then I've lost another 13 pounds and am at a healthy weight that I haven't seen in a decade.

    Now I fight the guilt of "Why didn't I do this sooner? If I'd done this sooner, would Dan have lost weight as well? Would he still be alive?", which is its own special kind of hell.