Monday, April 15, 2013


What widowhood has taught me so far…

Waterproof mascara not only withstands a little crying, but it thickens, holds curl and doesn’t flake/smear like regular mascara does. Okay, now for the real ones...

It is okay to ask for and accept help. You are not a burden because something terrible happened to you and you need help to get through it. If anything, the people who really matter are just hoping you’ll give them something to do to help. It’s just your turn to be helped.

There’s no right time. Timelines don’t exist. Don’t listen to someone else tell you that you should or shouldn’t. Don’t make any big decisions in the first year is bullshit. Most of us will HAVE to make big decisions. Some of us will want to. Do what you feel in your gut is going to help you in the long run. Then kindly (maybe silently, maybe not) tell anyone who disagrees to fuck off.

Exercise is medicine. Grieving is incredibly hard on your body. Exercise will help you sleep, eat and relax. It will also boost your immune system. You don’t need to have poor health on top of all the other problems. Also, I found that a strenuous workout was one of the few times when my brain would settle down. Physically challenging myself makes my emotional brain shut off temporarily and it’s almost the only thing that does.

Whatever it is you love to do, be it knitting, hanging out with animals, hiking, singing, walking in the woods, painting…do it. Do what used to make your heart sing. It might not feel the same at first, but you will eventually feel it again.

Don’t agree to do stuff you truly don’t want to do. Life is too short to do stuff you don’t want to do.

It’s okay if it feels like there’s nothing you want anymore. I think that will come back eventually. It’ll be scary when it does come back because it’ll feel like you have something to lose again and that’s terrifying. But that fear means you are alive and feeling. That’s good. And scary.

Humor is medicine. Don’t try to read or watch sad, dramatic or traumatizing stuff unless you really want to. Read David Sedaris or Tina Fey or Mindy Kaling, or watch SNL, 30 Rock or Arrested Development. Even if you’re too sad to laugh, at least your brain will get a break from the darkness for a few moments.

Seek out others who “get” you and support you. They will sustain you and vice versa. You need each other.

Disclaimer: Most of these are in my “easier said than done” category and I struggle with them daily, but I still believe them.


  1. Cassie.
    Waterproof mascara. Hahaha! Love it. (It's true! I use it too.)

    Exercise IS medicine. No matter how much I curse my dog, (Dave's dog), I'm thankful he's been around. He absolutely HAS to be walked EVERY day and I'm sure it helped me get through the first 6 months. I was a walking zombie, but at least I was walking.
    (I actually love that darn dog.)

    "Seek out others who “get” you and support you. They will sustain you and vice versa. You need each other. "
    I'm so thankful for this blog. I live in a city with a population of about 400,000, but have yet to come across a widow that's my age. How do you find them? Put out an ad? 'Young widow seeks same?' (HaHaha! Well THAT came out wrong.) Seriously though. I just started reading "Saturday Night Widows", and am thinking it would be really great to have a few widows my age to connect with monthly. In the interim, this blog does a great job!

    1. I found "my" widows via a young widows meetup group, Camp Widow, and a few random finds. I'm so grateful for them.

  2. Cassie,
    Your list is a good one. I have observed:

    Asking for help is tough, but once you do, you will see that others really DO want to help, they just don't know what you need.

    You are so correct about timelines, your grief will last as long as YOU need it to, no one else is dealing with it like you are. I recently had a very close friend, whom I thought understood, say "Aren't you tired of being sad?". Duh...

    I was encouraged to go to weddings, I have since declined going to others. I don't want to put myself in those situations, I am happy for the couple but feel such a fake smiling that I will not put myself into those situations until I am ready. Even family do not understand this, but they have not experienced what I have. I am sticking up for me.

    Valerie, I have found other widows/widowers through Hospice grief groups. Perhaps that could be a start.

    1. Thank you Cathy.
      I actually did a type of widow support group thru hospice already. I was thankful for it but all the participants were much older than me. Didn't really connect with anyone.
      I also found a support group thru
      Also a much older group...
      Thanks for the suggestion though!

  3. I actually laughed as I read these sentences...Do what you feel in your gut is going to help you in the long run. Then kindly (maybe silently, maybe not) tell anyone who disagrees to fuck off.

    I don't know how many times I've wanted to tell people (especially my sister-in-law) to to this!

    I realized a few months after my husband died suddenly in May that I had to list my priorities (1) my health/and our two daughters (then ages 19 & 15); (2) my job; and (3) my finances. Everything else went to number 4 unless it made me happy and then it moved up to number 1.

    I've found that watching Glee episodes make me happy, so I do it. I also realized recently that I have not had time to heal, mourn or grieve because I've had to deal with so many financial items in the last 11 months.

    I just found a Grieve Share group and it has really helped me. I'm dreading the upcoming "one year" anniversary of the death of my husband, but I'm also looking forward to moving on with my life.

    1. Leslie, your post rang a bell with me, as I am sure it did with a lot of others. I have to confess here that I DID tell my sister-in-law to you know what. I had just had it with her trying to manipulate me through HER grief. I came to realize she was not concerned about me at all. It was all about her and her needs. I decided I would not and could not deal with her personality any more. I have not had a regret since. Boy, that feels good to say that. You just keep breathing and putting one foot in front of the other and you will survive. The journey is just now beginning for you. This blogger and the others are worth their weight in gold! Always post what you are truly feeling and I promise it will help. I wish you strength and courage today.

    2. I love your list of priorities and I'm glad you found a grief group, Leslie.

  4. Cassie - I am going to print this.
    So freakin true.
    Thank you for reminding us again.

    I watch all the "singing shows" - especially the one (can't remember the name) where the guy from Britain goes into these little communities and develops a choir. So sweet and heartfelt.

    I feel exercise ( I got a dog the year after my husband died) I swear he saved my life. I had to get out of bed in the morning< He needed feeding and walking and love. I am so grateful to have him. People said don't tie yourself down. He was what I needed. I had never lived without a dog - the first time was the year and a half my husband was sick. When he was in the hospital he told my daughter "get your mom a dog" - he knew,
    This is a great list Thankyou.

  5. A show about a guy who goes into little communities and develops choirs?! I need to see this!

  6. All excellent ideas. And prioritizing yourself and your kids first was super important for me, too that first year, Leslie. There are family members and friends who fell out of our lives because they couldn't understand, and I have to say as ugly as that was at the time, I don't have any regrets for making that decision. It's been three years this week and my children and I are thriving in a way I don't think we would have been if I'd let the priorities of others direct our lives in those first 12 months—it needed to be about our health and survival and redefining our family as a family of three not four.

    As for community, it's been incredible to me how many young widows I've encountered in all kinds of places. Obviously, a lot of them I've found through social media (twitter, tumblr, facebook), but others have been through Camp Erin, which my kids attended, classmates of my children who lost their father not long after my husband passed, a close friend who was widowed before me (we had all gone to college together), my brother-in-law's wife was widowed before they met, my sister-in-law was widowed 4 months before me. Just so many of us out there. And since I've been vocal online about my grieving process and loss, people call me when a friend loses a spouse. They want to know what to do, what to say, how to help. So, we're around. Maybe we need a special sign to give each other. ;)

  7. I just got back online to this blog this morning and read all your kind comments. Thanks so much! I especially like this one -

    "I came to realize she was not concerned about me at all. It was all about her and her needs. I decided I would not and could not deal with her personality any more."

    It's taken 10 months and a letter from my attorney for my sister-in-law to finally admit that my husband had a trust with her and they owned farmland that she is going to sell some acres and there will be money put in the trust for my daughters education.

    I still have to work out the details and she is in charge, but I'll have my lawyer find out everything for me.

    Thanks again for your help and good luck with your grieving process.


  8. I'm touched in the article because I have some friends in early aged are widowed. My only advice is you are not alone, you have your friends and if you need help ask them. Not really original but worth sharing. ;)