Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Maybe I need a badge

Funny Confession Ecard: Yes, lovely weather we are having. By the way, did I tell you that I am a widow?

Given the opportunity, I tell everyone I meet that I am a widow.
I'm not exactly sure why.

I've told family members, friends, workmates,  medical professionals, solicitors, ministers and all the obvious people normal people would tell straight away. 

But I've also been compelled to tell complete strangers that the love of my life has died and the light has gone out in my universe.

In the past week, I've felt the need to tell a bloke who had come to repair the front door , a woman who was looking over the hard garbage on our footpath and someone I struck up a conversation with while in the queue at the Woolies checkout.
Maybe I need them to know that I am suffering.
Maybe I want them to know I am suffering, but I am still standing.
Maybe I need them to know that I am incredibly strong, just because I didn't dive into that hole they put his coffin in.
Maybe I just need to tell me story over and over again just in case someone looks at me and says "Yeah - me too.  I thought I was the only one".

So I go on, telling my story to anyone who will listen. 
Hoping (but dreading) that I see that flicker of recognition in the eyes of someone else.
...and I can tell them they are not alone.
...and I can truly know that I am not alone either.


  1. I totally get this. I am also daft - if someone I don't know well comes up and says "hey, I heard you're widowed," I am completely annoyed. But give me a new person, and I have to fight the urge to let.them.know.immediately.

  2. Oh my gosh, this is so me...the day after my husband died, I went to my front yard to pull some weeds or something to have a moment of "normal" when an older couple from my neighborhood went by on bicycles...an older couple, together...the thing I had thought I would have, worked towards and would NEVER have with the beloved of my youth - I wanted badly to yell at them that he husband was dead...I kept myself from doing it but just narrowly.

    I once read a book "An Exact Replica of a Figment of my Imagination" by a woman who suffered a late term stillbirth. In the book she reflected about a time she was approached by a person in a public place who handed her a card that said "I am deaf" then proceeded to try to sell her trinkets...she said at the time that she reflected deeply on the idea of going up to strangers and telling them your tragedy right-off....then she said "this book is my card" .

    I know some people hate the word, widow, I like it because it is a strong word, so strong it crashes into conversations and demands to be heard when other words would just flow along. I want it to crash in, I want people to be jarred .... in my case, I throw in another punch...I was a grandma at 46 and a widow at 47 (although I dont think I look that old) sometimes I say "Im a widowed grandmother...how the hell did all that happen?"

    I wonder how long I will do things like the above picture, probably a long time.

    1. I think we all will do it for a long time. Our love was so deep & our wound so raw.

  3. The photo quote made me laugh out loud bc it is SO true. I am finding that my desire to share my tragedy has lessened some. I don't know why. What hasn't lessened is the anxiety that I feel when I am around others who probably don't know......I am all antsy inside as I rehearse in my mind how I would answer a question about him, or we....actually every question that is asked of me somehow trails back to my beloved....so it really doesn't matter what they ask, the anxiety is always there. Part of that is because of the awkwardness that the other person feels when they hear my answer....they were simply asking a question "Why did you take this gardening class?" Hard not to say "Well my husband used to care for all the plants outside but he died....." There is no easy way around it except to not tell the truth and I refuse to do that; though sometimes I do temper the truth when I can and other times, I just don't feel like it.
    If we are to wear a badge, it should say "I am a widow. This was not my choice, but I am brave and courageous." Because we are.

  4. I've often thought I need a badge that says,
    "Be gentle, I'm a widow and have no idea how I will react!"
    Probably more of a warning than anything but, even after two years, there are days the badge would explain spontaneous tears, anger, frustration, and occasionally a laugh out loud moment. All making me look slightly insane to anyone who doesn't know.
    Maybe I can make up some cute little buttons, a symbol, that will help us see we are not alone but actually surrounded by fellow widows/widowers. Sometimes a knowing smile can be enough to get me through another day.

    1. OMG This is true. Let me knw when the badges are available. It's like I never know how I will react to any situation anymore! Maybe it could have a flasher when we get really goofy!

  5. I get this, but I usually only tell people when I need to pull out the widow card. (Like when I'm trying to negotiate a better deal on something - I'll say, "Listen. My husband died and I don't have his income anymore. I need a better deal than this." Dave would not only have approved of this behaviour - he'd be proud of me!)

    Otherwise I try to avoid telling people that I'm widowed - especially repair people. I don't want them coming to my house and then me announce that I live alone.

    Also, after 2 1/2 years now, it can still trigger tears. I'm OK when I first say it, as long as the other person doesn't say anything truly sympathetic back to me.
    And I'm so tired of crying.

  6. This is a great post and I absolutely agree with all the other responders. I do wish I could wear a badge letting everyone know that I am a widow so those that I encounter will be compassionate and non-judgemental. I do want everyone to know that I would still very much be married if my husband wouldn't have been taken from me so suddenly.

    My husband and I always went to vote together. When I hit the polling place, I am sure the tears will come. I especially need that "badge" today!!

    Thanks for making me feel not so alone!

    1. My husband was judge of elections, voting was so important to him, to walk in and see a new judge was almost more then I could take on my lunch break.

  7. I went to vote and ran into a former neighbor who is a serious busy-body...she is in everyones business. For some reason I dont know Im especially annoyed that she was not at the funeral (other people missed it and Im not mad at them) for some reason I feel like not being there somehow PROVED that she never really cared, she was just in my business because it suited her to be.

    and (while Im ranting) she gave me one of those "how ARE you!"s while hugging me then ignored my answer...he husband looked at me like I had the plague and I was so annoyed, all I came up with was "I guess Dave wont be voting, dead people only vote in Chicago". On my way out she said "I just saw someone go by with the same color scrubs you wear!" (as in dont talk to me about Daves death anymore)...the dolt, my hospital has 600 nurses (the city's biggest empolyer) and we all wear the same damn color and have for a number of years now.

    Im banishing her

    1. You made me laugh out loud! And I know what you mean. One thing that has gotten even stronger since widowhood for me is that I LOATHE FAKE - I'd rather have nothing than fake.
      I too find, that people are often uncomfortable when I speak of Marty or make light of the fact that he's dead, let alone say the "word" DEAD. But thats what he is - he's not GONE....if he was gone, I'd have hope that he'll be back, but that is not our reality is it?

    2. Great point! Dead just sounds too final. Because I know we WILL be together again. Maybe he's on vacation (?). In a very beautiful place waiting for me.

  8. I often find myself telling people. I think it's because it is the most important thing in my life, the most salient fact about me, it sums up my life in a simple statement: "my husband was killed in an accident and..." What follows the "and" doesn't really matter. I think I am also still trying to process it; even after two years I still get a thrill of panic when I say, "my husband is dead." But that "graveside humor" is so potent; I love it, although my kids have decreed that there are certain kinds of jokes that we have to keep within the family, so as not to shock and appall the innocent.

    1. I think this is why I do it too. I may have a lot of other titles (Mum, Dr, teacher, friend etc) but "widow" is the one that sums me up most.
      I am often still in that "he's dead - are you SERIOUS?" mode I was right after the accident, even now.
      ...and yeah - the dark humour is in full force here..... Our work Xmas party invitation is a cutesy poem and ends with "don't forget to bring your other half" ... I felt like writing something pithy on the return like "OK - I'll dig him up for the night" but I have always had a warped sense of humour.....

  9. I agree with you as this completely and its how I've I felt up to about a month ago.

    However, I think we are all more than a WIDOW. God made us all amazing, smart, beautiful, talented, creative individuals and we were these qualities before our mates and we still are. It just takes time to realize and gain the strength and recognition of who we are without our mates.

    Everyone you tell is going to be shocked or surprised. This is a hard bag of words for anyone to hear.

    I kept doing the same thing, and then realized that strangers and people stopped talking to me because of it.

    I realized that the more I succumbed to my circumstance, the more I was unwilling to move forward and realize my potential.

    We are widows, and we can't change that, it's a title nobody wants to have. But it's not completely who we are, right?

    By using this challenge as an opportunity to grow, learn and realize how great life is, and that you are still here to make your mate proud, we all can come out of our "widow" hole.

    I've been a widow for a year and half. Lost my hubs to an aggressive, 2-year intense battle with cancer. I think of him everyday and its because of him that I live life to its fullest.

    Thank you for sharing your true and relatable moments. This is such a horrible thing we all are going through.

    Many blessings and love to all of you

  10. I love, love, love, love this!! I volunteer as a tour guide for a tourist railroad. I met my husband there and I go back to "feel" him. While I'm tour guiding I'll often mention him or something he taught me. About a month ago a woman came up to me during the trip and asked how long ago I had lost my husband. I was shocked, I do often mention that he passed but I hadn't that time. I must have looked shocked because she patted my arm and said, Honey you have THE look in your eyes when you speak of him, the look only another widow can understand. We then spent a few minutes sharing our stories but it was really nice to be in the presence of someone who really got it, and to not be alone in my pain.

  11. I hope this is not inappropriate to post here, as I have not become a widow,...but I want to tell each of you THANK YOU!!!
    I have several dear friends who have suffered this great loss of one of the most imporant people in their lives. I DO NOT want to be one of the people who choses avoidance over compassionate caring...I am ALWAYS afraid to say the wrong thing and cause any more unnecessary pain...but a very wise friend (TAMMY) has been an inspiration to me for MANY years and she has taught me so much through those years, but especially since her husband, Dave, died.
    Through all of the posts I have read, I hear such strength and honesty from each of you. I want you each to know that I admire each of you and while I wish none of you would have had to go through such a tragedy - I so admire you for reaching out here (and I can pretty much bet in other venues as well). You are teaching those of us who have not felt this deep pain how to help and how to reach out without appearing fake or hurtful.
    I do ask to be patient with us - and know that if we do shy away or say something "wrong" it may be just that we don't know how to maneuver these uncharted waters - and are possibly not as strong as you all to find this wisdom. I'm so not making excuses - but just want you all to know that there are some of us who truly care and may not always know what to say or do - please help us so we don't cause any unnecessary pain.
    God Bless each of you...and keep on posting you help so many others through this - what an incredible opportunity.

  12. Totally get it...I actually have to struggle to remind myself not to tell people when I just meet them...

  13. I cringe when I recall the "friends of friends" at parties, to whom I've told a blow-by-blow account of Keith's illness. I don't know why I do this, it just comes out and I am horrified afterward. WHAT MUST THEY THINK?? I'm amazed I get asked anymore, but my friends keep trying to help me, so I go... Hope things improve this year.

  14. I do the same thing, for the same reasons...I have yet to come across someone who stares back at me and says "Me too," but I still seem driven to do it. Wonderful post!

  15. I felt compelled to do this until shortly after the third anniversary of my husband's death. I remember attending a training class for work about that time. It was a major accomplishment when the group broke into dyads and I did NOT immediately tell my partner that I was a widow. Up till then it was the first thing I told every store clerk and person sitting next to me on an airplane. I was actually getting tired of hearing myself talk about him. It felt like a real step forward in my grief when I no longer felt compelled to blurt out my marital status to everyone.

  16. Good Post - I too have played the widow's card - the saleslady at the tractor parts asked me if i quailified for any discount, and I told her I am a widow trying to run a farm - that got me 30% - not bad! What i really wanted to say was Is there anyone here who would be kind enough to help me with that *#*%( tractor?

  17. I just found your site through a friend and am so there with you. My daughter started kindergarten at a new school this year and the other day I was having a conversation with a grandmother who was asking me about my husband and she so obviously didn't know he died that I didn't want to bring it up and immediately get the "Oh I am so sorry, how, where, when?" questions. I haven't needed to ask anyone for a tractor discount yet but I'm not ruling it out.

  18. Thank you so much for this post. On the 17th will be the one year death anniversary of my beloved husband. I went to the foot doctor the other day and when I told the receptionist about my husband's death she said "Are you Kidding?" I then said "Would I joke about something like this?" Some people just don't know how to behave. I was never a big fan of the holidays but being with my husband changed all that for me - he was such a kid at heart. What do I want for Christmas? The thing I can never have - my husband back again.