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widowed friend visiting

(28 Posts)
TriciaF Tue 09-Jun-15 14:02:59

On Thursday a friend is coming for lunch who was widowed not long ago. Her husband died after a fairly long painful illness (cancer.)
We haven't seen her since he died, and we were very fond of them both.
She's coming with her brother.
Obviously we'll be asking what's new since we last saw her, but I was wondering about whether to ask about her husband, how much to mention him etc. She's a very practical person and I've been told that she's coping well, but I don't want to re-open old wounds.
Any advice?

Charleygirl Tue 09-Jun-15 14:09:14

I personally would stay clear of mentioning her husband and let her speak about him if she feels able. It may feel too soon for her, you will not know until you meet again. I agree, you do not want to be opening old wounds

Bellanonna Tue 09-Jun-15 14:18:11

I think you have to mention him and then just be guided by her. It would be very difficult to avoid mentioning him. If she wants to she can open up and talk, or not as the case may be.

soontobe Tue 09-Jun-15 14:19:53

I would mention him, and see how the first question or comment goes.

Teetime Tue 09-Jun-15 14:45:01

Best to let this happen naturally and importantly, so I've been told, don't be embarrassed if you do mention him accidentally or indeed she does. She may well want to talk about him and be relived if you let her. good luck with the visit.

loopylou Tue 09-Jun-15 15:00:20

I agree Teetime; if you try to avoid the subject you can bet your bottom dollar that you'll let it slip at some point.

Just be yourself, that's why they're coming to see you and I'm sure it'll go well smile

sunseeker Tue 09-Jun-15 15:15:43

When I was first widowed I was upset and the number of people who didn't want to talk about my DH. I would just ask how she is doing and then if she wants to talk about her DH to let her, you know her best so if she appears to not want to talk about him, then just change the subject.

As you knew them both, you must have some happy memories so you could say something along the lines of "I remember when......."

Anne58 Tue 09-Jun-15 15:38:08

In my limited experience, people love to remember and talk about all the good stuff. To not say anything at all, well, it's a bit "elephant in the room"

TriciaF Tue 09-Jun-15 15:47:45

Thanks for the replies. My instinct is to bring his name up in conversation eg he was a very good cook and when we went to them for meals he made some tasty dishes.
I suppose the old wound is always there but hopefully in time you remember the good things rather than the suffering.
I did talk to them both a lot when he was having his treatments, he was very stoic too.

kittylester Tue 09-Jun-15 15:48:44

I agree with mentioning it!

Anne58 Tue 09-Jun-15 16:11:52

I think it would look a bit odd if you didn't mention him! When DS2 died, I hated the way some people would physically avoid me in the street. I remember cornering one person in the supermarket and saying to hear "I won't break you know, you can talk to me!"

janeainsworth Tue 09-Jun-15 16:31:08

Sheryl Sandberg whose husband Dave Goldberg died six weeks ago wrote a very moving piece which someone reposted on Facebook.

One of the things she asked was that people didn't ask her how she was. It made her feel like shouting that she had just lost her husband, how did they think she was.
It's better to ask how are you today, recognising that each day is different for a grieving person, and some days will be a bit better, and other days the grief comes pouring back.

It made me realise that rich and famous people have just the same thoughts and feelings as the rest of us.

Tricia It may well be that seeing you for the first time since her husband's death produces a rush of emotion in your friend, as you had so many happy times together.
But it will be a comfort to her I'm sure, to relive the memories you share. You sound very caring - just play it by ear.

HildaW Tue 09-Jun-15 16:52:09

Its all about asking how she's feeling. If the conversation steers towards her husband then go with it. I know some people who are recently bereaved do not like everyone avoiding all mention, as if their life partner never existed, so be guided by her. If she says she's missing him....remember all his good points....when someone knows you have fond memories of the one they have lost it is, I believe a comfort.

durhamjen Tue 09-Jun-15 17:35:50

The first time I went to stay with friends after my husband died, they tried to steer me clear of places where we had been together. My husband was an architect and we went somewhere he had designed. They wanted to go in a different direction, so I said I would go one way and they went the other. When we met up again I was in tears, but it was good. I needed to go there and I needed to talk about the things we had in common.
Do not be frightened of upsetting her. We need to talk about our husbands.

Marmight Tue 09-Jun-15 18:14:30

I would definitely want to talk about my husband. In fact someone I had just met at a party on Sunday asked about him and it reduced me to tears, even after 3 years. It happens, it sucks, but better to have it all out in the open rather than tippy toe round the subject. Be ready with the tissues and don't be embarrassed or worried about the tears; it's all part of the grieving process.

Coolgran65 Tue 09-Jun-15 18:24:01

I think it would be very odd not to mention him. Just take out as it comes.

BiNtHeReDuNiT14 Tue 09-Jun-15 19:41:16

I have a friend who lost her husband just before Christmas and I was a little apprehensive at first meeting after the funeral whether to mention him or try and avoid any reference. My gut feeling was to mention him, she is a long term friend as was he. I am glad I went with my gut as we both laughed and cried together remembering past experiences. She said later it was so good to be able to talk about him albeit still painful it was better than acting as though he had never exsisted.

AshTree Tue 09-Jun-15 21:12:51

I remember when my father died, my mother said to us all, to everyone, "please talk about him to me, I don't want him to become the past, a memory." When I meet anyone who has lost a dear one, my mother's words always come back to me.
So yes, I think you should talk about him, but in a natural way - you know, if his name crops up in conversation just let the conversation go that way, naturally. If your friend becomes upset, cries, that's normal and all part of the grieving process. It can take a long time, and even longer if everyone tries to be unnaturally 'bright' and keeps steering the conversation away from him.

Jomarie Tue 09-Jun-15 22:32:30

I agree with all those who advocate talking about him as in my experience people do want to talk about their loved ones even if it is painful and there are tears. If they find it too awful they will let you know. Just don't put on that awful pained expression (you know the one I mean - head on one side, eyebrows together,leaning forward) whilst asking them "how do you feel?". That really sticks in my craw - might just be me being awkward!! smile

Mishap Tue 09-Jun-15 22:33:23

Take your lead from her - and don't feel that you have got it wrong if she gets upset - that's fine. If that happens, you will not have made her cry but just given her a safe place to grieve among friends.

Leticia Tue 09-Jun-15 22:53:08

When I was a widow it seemed very odd if my husband wasn't talked about. Just be yourself.

downtoearth Wed 10-Jun-15 09:45:36

Have lost 2 daughters.My middle daughter's was a very public ,in the papers situation.People did not now how to respond to either.I personally love to talk and remember,they existed,where part of our lives,If faced with another bereaved person will ask as janeainsworth how are you today leaving room for them to continue if they want to..x.I don't feel uncomfortable with a hug or hand contact if the persons body language shows they are receptive...I deal with a lot of recently bereaved people in my role as Information and Advice for Age uk.

HildaW Wed 10-Jun-15 11:27:33

Downtoearth, so sorry to read your story. flowers

TwiceAsNice Wed 10-Jun-15 12:15:15

I would just hug her and say you are glad to see her and ask her how she is today. Let her know in some way you are happy to talk/ not talk about her husband, whatever she needs. You had a relationship of friendship with her husband as well as her so in some ways you are acknowledging that. Most bereaved people I find just prefer others to be as natural as possible and go with the flow of what' s happening now

TriciaF Wed 10-Jun-15 18:38:49

Thanks for all the replies, I don't want to upset her at all.
I've heard so many stories about people saying tactless things to someone recently bereaved.