Wednesday, March 7, 2012

It's All in The .....

.... Timing.

It seems that I've heard a common theme lately among "newish" widows .... they are wondering about their timing.
This isn't a new question that we ask ourselves.
Nor will it ever be, I suppose.

We ask it a lot during that first year of shock and numbness and trying to blindly find our way.
"Did I _______ too soon?"
"Did I _______ too late?"

You may fill in the blanks as you see fit.
Many things will apply.
Did I clean out his closet too soon?
Did I give away his clothes too late?
Did I take off my ring too soon?
Did I decide to start dating too late?

For every question there is yet another question.
For every answer there are a multitude of answers.

But here's what I think.
In case you care.  :)

There is only one answer that matters.
If you're asking this question after you've already acted ..... you did it when it was time for you to do it.
If you cleaned out his/her closet ..... and then you ask if you did it too soon ..... I'd say that you did it when it was time for you to do it.

If you haven't done it yet .... and you're asking if it's too late ..... you'll do it when it's time for you to do it.

Yes, it really is that simple.
And that difficult.
There is no "right" answer.
There is no one answer.

The timing of these things is not universal.
It's very individual.
It's not up for consent.

You will clean out his clothes when you feel the time is right.
You will take off your rings (or not) when you feel that the time is right for you to take them off.
And truthfully, we widowed people do not make judgments on each other.
We know better.

If you feel pressured from those who are not on "this path" .... are not members of this "club", then please, take a breath ..... and a moment ..... and totally disregard their opinions.
No one can tell you when "the time is right".  And if we widowed people can't tell you that .... then who can?

Only you.
You will wake up one day ..... and feel ready.
For whatever it is.
It's not a date on your calendar.
It's not a "to do" that you can add.

It will come when it comes.
And the timing will be perfect.


  1. Thank you once again Janine for your wise words and thank you to all the Blog team. You guys really are making a huge difference in so many lives.
    From the other side of the world I can feel your caring. Bless you.

  2. Great post, thank you. I sold a possession of my husband's two weeks ago (a beautiful guitar) and although I have no use for it, nor does my child right now, I've second guessed that decision every day the last couple weeks. I'm 9 months out and I thought how I had sold a couple recreational vehicles of his in the Fall and never felt like this over those but I know you are right, I did it at the right time. His clothes will probably stay in the closet a lot longer, his watch where he left it on the nightstand that day, and his toothbrush on his side of the sink in exactly the place he put it down that morning. I guess some things take longer than others but I know you are right, that we do these things at the right time for ourselves and we don't need to second guess ourselves. Thank you for a post many of us need to read to assure ourselves we are all working at our own pace and not to measure ourselves, or anyone else's timing.

  3. Janine - thank you so much for this post. Wow I needed to hear this.
    I had cleaned out my husbands side of our closet about six months after he died. I couldn't bear to look at his empty clothes anymore. But I couldn't empty his drawers in the bathroom of his toiletries. I don't know why, it wasn't rational. I did it this past week. 15 months after he died.
    Recently, I took my rings to a good friend and we designed a new ring that I can wear on my left hand, not on my wedding finger. I took my diamond 25th anniversary ring (when we married we were of little means so I had no engagement ring) and had it restyled. The diamond is set in the middle to represent our love and years together, the circle around it to represent my life that continues on without him, the three small lines of stones radiating from each side for each one of our children. It is beautiful and when I look at it now it represents so much and I can wear it and bring the past into today but not as painfully as before with my wedding ring. I had worn that ring for 36 years. My finger has not adjusted to it being gone but I needed to take it off because people (clerks etc) would add "your husband. . . " I didn't want to keep having to tell strangers my widowed story. It was a gift to me as I didn't want to put my beautiful 25th anniversary ring in my jewelry box. It was so precious to me. Now it is a part of my life, just the way our 36 years together were. Always with me.
    Just to hear - if you did it - it's right and if you didn't yet - it's right. . . is so freeing. Thank you for this post, your words are so powerful.

  4. Amen Janine! As always, your words are inspirational and encouraging. Like Anon above, I have made decisions that I have second guessed especially if a family member or friend challenged me. I am slowly letting go and trying, as you suggested, to forget the calendar. As member of this special "w" club, we should allow ourselves to do things when and if the moment strikes us. Forget the calendar, it just doesn't matter anymore.

  5. I moved my wedding band to my right hand,as I never had an engagement ring, along with a diamond anniversary band that I bought myself with money my Mom gave me before she died. Then I also have my greatgrandparents' wedding band that my grandma wore much of her adult life on the middle finger of my right hand. It is my connection to my Mom and her family. I also wear a band on my left index finger that is inscribed with our wedding anniversary date in Roman numerals. I gave it to myself last year for Valentines Day. We all find a way to keep our memories sacred.

  6. Janine, thanks again for a great posts. I gave away some of my husband's clothe shortly after he died..some were to close friends and children. I still have all of his coats, I don't know why, in time I will figure out what to do with them too. The hardest drawer to do was his underwear..I guess cause that was the closet to him. I have his wedding ring, had it made to fit on my right ring finger, took my wedding rings off at about 6 mths. I just cried and cried every time I looked at them, remembering his proposal, down on one knee while I opened his present (in a cracker jack box) with a card that said would you mary me..I still have the box and card. My rings and his ring are now put away, until I figure out what I want to do with them- I think a special piece of jewelry would be nice, not sure yet so they will stay there till I do. I hate sold many of his tools, he was a general contractor and I sold the motor home. Boy, when that left the driveway a piece of him left with it..he loved his motor home. I still have his truck and take it for a ride, I know he is sitting next me.

  7. Good post to remind us all that you do what you do when it feels right. No matter where we are in this journey. New or not. It's important to do things not when others think its time but in your heart. If you do things your not ready for, you'll hurt and it will be very painful you don't need to add to the pain and grief you already deal with. When it feels right you'll be OK with your decisions, not that you won't sad but it just won't be as painful. I'm 2 yrs out and still can't bare to take my wedding rings off - and decided I don't have to yet or maybe never - I don't know when, but I know I'm OK with that decision - it's my decision and and I tell others when your in my shoes you'll understand my decisions. We make no judgements to each other because we "get it", our hearts don't go by a calendar or clock.

  8. Some of these timings I've got right and some I've got wrong, and some have turned out OK, even though they were wrong, so that means they were right.
    It's very individual and there's no guidebook.