Gransnet forums

Bereavement

How are you finding widowhood?

(64 Posts)
trueblue22 Thu 06-Jun-19 13:06:54

I was widowed suddenly 2 years ago and have come a long way since them, in terms of grief and finding myself.

However, I still have regular meltdowns, have tried dating- including a short lived passionate relationship and became a local authority councillor one year in. Also have started art and singing classes.

I'm interested to hear about your journeys.

tanith Thu 06-Jun-19 13:24:59

It’s only been nine months for me and is still overwhelming sometimes, usually when I’m least expecting it.
You seem to be coping and moving on in your life. I think I’m doing ok, found having to make all the decisions with no one to consult very strange but am used to it now.
I couldn’t face suffering the pain of such a loss again so will not be open to new relationships I’m enjoying only having to please myself now. I’m content to spend more time and energy with my lovely growing family who have been so supportive over the last dreadful year.

Bellasnana Thu 06-Jun-19 13:48:16

Firstly, I’m so sorry for your loss, and for all who have lost their partner.

It’s four years for me and it has been a rollercoaster of emotions. My sister, who was always my rock in times of trouble, died just a year after my husband, and then my best friend died a year later, so it has been hard losing so many special people in such a short time.

I also sold our house very shortly after DH died, as I knew I couldn’t cope with all the maintenance, etc without him. It was very, very stressful and I look back and wonder how I did it, but now I’m settled into my much smaller place, I really love it and hope my beloved H would be proud of me.

I am blessed to have wonderful friends and family who have all played a part in helping me get on with life as a widow.

I have absolutely no desire for a new relationship, just couldn’t even contemplate it.

I also took to heart the advice given to me by my goddaughter. She said that if my DH could swap places with me he would, and he would not waste time sitting in a corner feeling sorry for himself!

I try to be cheerful, live one day at a time, try to help others who are having a hard time, and if I do allow myself a bit of a blip when I cry and rage at the unfairness of it all, I soon pull myself together and get on with life. After all, we don’t know how long we’ve got so better make the most of it.😊

Vintagegal13 Thu 06-Jun-19 13:55:43

I lost my husband 17 months ago, and had counselling for 6 weeks afterwards. This really helped untangle lots of different emotions and I feel I have come a long way, but the journey is so lonely. Just having someone to talk things over with, or laugh with - I can't remember when I last had a genuine good laugh. Yes, I do cry, but it will not change anything, so I nail that smile on, and get on with it. What I did find is widowhood certainly shows who your true friends are - most of them melted away when I wasn't part of a couple any more. I do long for male companionship, not in a sexual way, but friendship. I looked into dating sites - very briefly - they frightened the wits out of me! I did not meet anyone, but most of the messages were x-rated, even though these men did not know me.

EllanVannin Thu 06-Jun-19 14:01:03

Because I was already in grieving mode during the time I was looking after my late husband when he'd been diagnosed as terminal, and although it doesn't hit you as hard when the time comes, it's still a blow and knocks you sideways prior to the funeral.
You do learn to gather your thoughts together eventually but it was that conversational contact that took longer with me personally. He was so articulate, intelligent and humerous that I'd resigned myself that I'd never meet his like again so never even bothered looking. Plus I never wanted another loss either if I had found anyone else, given I was nearing my 60's at the time and I wasn't prepared for perhaps another 5/6 years of nursing another sick man.

However, life still goes on and though there's been turbulence within the families over the years, it's kept me focussed on the present and it's surprising where the time's gone since 1994.

Even now there are lots of things I'd like to tell and discuss with him which is what I miss most of all, so it never fully goes away but life itself is easy and there is plenty of family around. I like my own company too which helps a lot.

I certainly don't feel as though I've missed out on anything just because I've never re-married or had a partner. What did shatter me was when my dearest life-long friend died 18 months ago. She and I became inseparable over my years of widowhood. She would have been 100 next week had she lived.

hondagirl Fri 07-Jun-19 09:16:49

I lost my husband quite recently, about 6 weeks ago after a long 2 year battle with cancer. Even though we knew this was inevitable it still was quite a shock. I think I was on auto-pilot and everything seemed surreal for a time, as the final process was quite gruelling, and then there was the funeral and so much to sort out afterwards. My son and daughter stayed with me for about a month and we went on a short holiday, but then jobs and family called and they left. It’s only then that it really hit me. When you get up in the morning and there is no one there, or coming back to an empty house after going out shopping and of course in the evening. My son and daughter live a long way away and we have not lived here that long so don’t really have close friends. I do have some family nearby but they are busy with their own lives. I know it’s early days, but I can’t quite see how I am going to get over the realisation that he is not coming back and the future is not how we envisaged it would be .

trueblue22 Fri 07-Jun-19 09:36:44

hondagirl, so sorry to hear you're so early in your grief journey and I send my condolences.

I agree that the worse time is when everyone goes back to their everyday lives; that's when it really hits. Please just nurture yourself, try to get plenty of rest and if you want to cry, then wail!

I had plenty of indescribable meltdowns at first, but they come much less frequently now. You have to feel your feelings, but try to exercise and find things to do that you enjoy. Do you paint, write, sing, knit, read?

I found watching motivational type videos on YouTube helped, especially those on grief. There's a Scottish/Canadian that posted very helpful videos on there...I think his name was Bill someone.

You are very early in your journey and don't expect too much from yourself. Even if you don't live near your friends, you can phone them. I have one that lives 60 miles away, whose DH is in a home because he is very disabled, and we talk nearly every day to check in on each other.

I wish you strength and a hug during this time.

MawBroonsback Fri 07-Jun-19 09:41:19

I could echo just about everything that has been said - apart from the new partner bit, I have no interest in another man.
But all the rest, yes.
However much the loss may not be unexpected - long term or terminal illness, I have earned that there is no way you can “rehearse” bereavement.Yes you may feel all the things you expected but you also fe el a great deal more.
I was prepared for loss, denial, anger, guilt etc but they haven’t come in any linear pattern. Rather a cycle which swings round and comes back, often when you least expect it. The first months are hell, but at least (most) people take your bereavement into consideration. For me, 18 months on and possibly because I don’t go to pieces in public, I think most people think I am “doing fine”. But there is no such thing other than the ability to get out of bed and put one foot in front of the other.
Being the odd number when kind friends include me in invitations, arriving at family celebrations on my own, when the other grandparents arrive as a couple, wondering if I will just sit on my own on the coach on a day trip (actually that’s fine, I can do the Sudoku or Codewords) but it’s harder when the couples go off to lunch, having to take a deep breath, pin the smile on and initiate a conversation with complete strangers rather than sit there like a Johnny no mates .....the list goes on. But the bottom line is that I can’t turn the clock back, I can’t share things with him and it’s just me now.
Oh and Hattie, but she doesn’t say much.
flowers to you all, and raising a wine to our dear departed partners.

aggie Fri 07-Jun-19 09:58:41

I have found out that most of the callers to my home have been tailing off , they were all his friends , I have only a few acquaintances .
DD1 has appointed herself my friend and she had already arranged her working week to give me a "day off " when I was Care for OH , now uses that day to take me out shopping or visit gardens , my sister takes me out to lunch another day
The Friend that gave me a lift now has an ill OH so no art class
some days I can't even bring myself to walk round the corner to the shop
I spend too much time on here !
but I am 81 , so probably a closing in af my activities would be expected , but some days I see nor speak to no one till DD comes home from work , I dread putting too much onto her , what will she do when I go if we are too interdependent
Reading back that is such a whine , maybe I would write something different another day

lovebeigecardigans1955 Fri 07-Jun-19 10:13:20

I echo so much of what has been written here. I lost my husband after 30 years of marriage, it'll be 9 years this December. He'd been diagnosed with an acute form of motor neurone disease so we knew that he didn't have long but it was still an awful blow. I think we both started mourning what we'd lose at that moment.
I was told, "it's the little things which trip you up because you're looking out for the big things" and that is so true.
Not having someone to talk to and do nothing with is difficult. You learn to live with it and put a smile on. I enjoy my own company and have hobbies which helps. The everyday responsibilities get to me at times - everything is up to me now, not some of it, all of it and that can weigh heavy.
Then there's the disappointment of missing out on what we hoped would be a shared old age together. But still, it's 'chin up, gal' isn't it? My best wishes to all of you.

lizzypopbottle Fri 07-Jun-19 10:16:27

It's eleven years for me and, like Maw, I have no interest in finding another man. My husband's death was very sudden and unexpected. I suppose I've always had an independent spirit and, when you've spent thirty-three years with one man and grown together in that time, it's hard to imagine having that trust with someone else. I went through the various stages of shock and grief when he died, denial, guilt for things said or unsaid, dreams in which he was there, cheerful and smiling, and I knew but couldn't bring myself to tell him he'd died.

I enjoy my life in a different way now. I have friends, car, hobbies and interests that get me out and about and my dog, Charlie, is a loving, undemanding companion. I don't like 'labels' and would never define myself as a widow, although if marital status is asked for, I tick the box.

lizzypopbottle Fri 07-Jun-19 10:18:56

I would add that one of the things that still gets to me is the fact that the world is full of couples...

nanny007 Fri 07-Jun-19 10:27:26

19 months since my husband died (18 months after his cancer dx) and like Mawbroon says most people think I'm coping really well...I say the polite 'oh, I'm fine' when asked. But I cry each day...whilst out walking the dog in the woods we used to enjoy together...when I'm in the garage trying to sort out stuff...his tools? Oh boy. I'm a total snottering wreck within minutes! Other random stuff...yep that too brings tears not just for the loss of him...but the loss of our futuresad. Cannot do more than glance at a photo of him without finding my fingers reaching to touch his face in the pic...then I just fall apart. I miss him so muchsad

DotMH1901 Fri 07-Jun-19 10:28:44

I lost my husband 20 years ago. I was 42 and he was 46. The first year was just a blur - I did things on autopilot, including a move of house after my daughter got a job the other end of the country and I went with her. Then I got a full time job as I was too young for a Widow's Pension and didn't qualify for the Widowed Mother's Pension as both my children were over 18. Daughter married and had three children and I was (and am) very involved in their lives, especially since my ex son in law walked out on them. I miss my husband very much, I often feel my daughter would have had a lot less upset with her in laws (who blame her for everything) if her Dad had been here to defend her. I too find it hard to be a 'singleton' when surrounded by couples and things are set on the basis that you should be a couple! Paying extra for hotel accommodation is a pet peeve. I really miss having someone who was interested in how my day had been, who made me laugh, who could open jars and things my poor hands can't manage! Sometimes it seems such a short time since he died and other times it feels like ages.

Cathy21 Fri 07-Jun-19 10:34:22

My husband died of pneumonia 5 months ago. Because I did everything with my husband I don’t have the sort of friends for coffee mornings etc and family aren’t near so I am very alone.

optimist Fri 07-Jun-19 10:34:39

Well, after my husband having lung cancer for four years (no treatment/hardly any symptoms) he died 5 years ago. I was 70, am now 75. We knew he would die so I was prepared. Since then I have felt that I am rediscovering myself, sometimes I feel like the twenty year old I once was (though I dont look in the mirror then). I have taken up singing in a choir, painting and doing lots of exercise but best of all I have made lots of new friends and rediscovered old ones. There are so many divorced/widowed women out there of all ages and getting to make new friends at this stage in my life has been a joy. It also takes the pressure off my children and grandchildren.....they are all busy people and I dont want them to feel responsible for my welfare (until I become incapable of course). I am loving being single again 50 years of a good marriage was lovely but so is my new life.

MadGrandma Fri 07-Jun-19 10:52:30

My DH was diagnosed with bowel cancer in Dec 2016. Apart from a 12 week spell in hospital initially, he was at home and I was his carer in effect. Then in Dec 2017, I was diagnosed with breast cancer and began my own hospital visits! Between the two of us over the last 2 years we had about 300 hospital appointments! The at the beginning of March he went for a routine check up. They decided to keep him in for palliative care, so I knew he didn't have long. But I received a call at 2am the following day advising me that he didn't have long and that I'd better come in to see him. He'd gone before I got there, even though it only took me 20 mins.
Then 4 days later I started my radiotherapy, so for weeks I felt numb. I was unable to concentrate, unable to make a decision, unable to cope with life going on while my DH of 45 years had left me.
But I got through it, with copious meltdowns I have to say. DD had been distant over the previous year. She doesn't drive (although a test booked for August), so we rarely spoke or saw each other. Things are better now - we at least talk on the phone or text each other. We decided that because of my treatment we would opt for an unattended cremation - I just felt that I couldn't cope with a funeral on top of everything I was going through. Friends were wonderful, Macmillan offered support when needed (still attending counselling).
So now three and a half months on - how do I feel? Still washed out from my treatment; still missing my DH; but I'm beginning to realise that I have to move on. His financial affairs are now all sorted and I know that I will be alright in that way. But it's the days when I want to tell him something and realise he's not there - they are hard.
Will I look around for a further relationship - probably no - next week we would have been together for 46 years and it would be difficult to replace the man who meant so much to me. But if friendship came along - who knows?
I have tears rolling down my cheeks as I write this - I have hobbies, friends, and enough money to keep me going, but no-one to share more of life with. Luckily we had both retired early so had the chance to do many of the things we'd wanted to do, so I DO have those memories to look back on.
Next month I'm going to see some friends who moved to Denmark - hopefully it will be the start of my recovery. It is a country we did not travel too, so although it will be hard, I'm quite looking forward to it.
Sorry about the long post folks

Shortlegs Fri 07-Jun-19 11:04:21

Google "grief ball in a box" gives a very apposite (IMO) view of grief and grieving.

BlueSapphire Fri 07-Jun-19 11:10:35

I am 15 months in, and it's the having no-one there that gets to me. No-one to wake up next to, no-one to pour me a drink, no-one to cook for etc. I could go on..... I had a feeling that DH wouldn't see last year out, but it came much sooner than I ever expected. I'm with tanith and Maw. Shouldering all the responsibility for decision making is hard, but I am learning. I try and make myself do something every day, even if it's just going for a walk. I go to yoga, health walks, book club, and now ballet and have made new friends, including a lady who lost her husband about the same time as me, and my oldest friend is also widowed, and we have regular lunches out. But there is still an empty house at the end of the day. I have been on holiday on my own for the first time and am about to go on a cruise. It's hard when there's no-one to share things with but I put my best face on and say I'm fine. I just miss him so much.

Sprout Fri 07-Jun-19 11:13:19

Wow the post are amazing. I lost my hubby of 53yrs 2yrs ago after a 10yrs battle with the big C however my daughter has been my rock and my best friend who lost her hubby 4 yrs ago. My daughter is divorced so we decided to sell up and get another house together outside the area but not to far. She is currently organising the house renovation. Me I did what people said joined a dating site as well purely for company but only a monthandful some of the men were younger than my son so big no no. But like most of you life goes on and we have to look forward not back. And I wish you all good health and the future is good to youwink

Jenty61 Fri 07-Jun-19 11:15:42

Its been 10 years now and Ive had no contact with any of my late husbands family or family friends. Like others have said the visits / contact dwindled to none existant in a very short time after his death. Even my two daughters and grandchildren distanced themselves, I have no contact with any of them. Oh Ive tried so many times over the years and get rebuffed every time so now I dont bother as theres only so much rejection one can take.
I find it difficult to make friends as Ive been let down so many times in the past both by family and "fair weather" friends.
I have many interests and dont mind my own company, the downside for me is that Im housebound due to illness so I dont see the outside world, my life line is my ipad!

MawBroonsback Fri 07-Jun-19 11:22:15

For those unfamiliar with it

www.indy100.com/article/grief-viral-thread-lauren-herschel-ball-in-box-analogy-death-8792541

Absolutely shortlegs - perfect!
Of course understanding isn’t the same as coping, but it is a step on the way in place of feeling life will never ever be bearable again
Thank you

craftyone Fri 07-Jun-19 11:22:48

I lost my husband very suddenly in 2015, doing a sport he loved, air ambulance, police at my door. Was married for 45 years and he was my one and only, my only partner, ever, and so it will be until I die. I got busy almost straight away, had 2 more awful family bereavements in the following 18 months. I coped by being busy and so did my brother and my brother in law.

I downsized lots of stuff, knowing at the back of my mind that I would eventually move. That was a difficult but necessary decision, I was not going to be a limpet to my 3 AC. I found my new home and moved in a month ago, still busy until this week. The whole busy thing has been cathartic and I am now joining local groups and have booked to go to entertainment evenings, all in walking distance. It is about not being able to change the past, being lucky to have had the past but now looking forward to the future, on my own in my new bright light, maintenance free home. The fluffy feather I saw on my last day in my old home, said it all to me, my husband as always has guided me to my comfy future

Saggi Fri 07-Jun-19 11:44:48

Not a widow yet.... but why oh why when you do become a widow would you embark on s a life so ‘samish’ , and start looking all over again. If my husband pre-deceased me I will definitely NOT want another man telling me what i can do...what I should wear...where I should go... what I should do ( for him usually)... when I should do it.... who my friends should be...where’s my dinner...where my clean shirts...this is where we’re going on holiday... !!! You must be joking! Freedom is the one word that’s crosses my mind ...pure freedom.

Nandee Fri 07-Jun-19 11:47:51

I have been a widow for coming up to 2years. My husband died of Pancreatic Cancer 10 months after his diagnosis that he wouldn't like very a year. In someways I feel lucky that we had that time together to say our goodbyes rather than he disappeared one morning and never came back. I also think I started grieving fir him and our lost future before he died. I joined a group called WAY UP and found the online support and meet ups very helpful. I am now in a relationship with a widower who I knew for a year before we started seeing each other. It I'd all very strange but exciting. I was married at 20 for 43 years. There's never been a moment when I've compared him to my husband. And he feels the same. What we have is new - it's hard to explain and we talk about our partners a lot and both of us have sad days when memories coming flooding back. That won't change but I have found as more grandchildren are born we have a capacity to love a lot of people in different ways. I feel I owe it to my husband to make the best of my life, live for both of us and if that means taking a risk and embracing opportunities then so be it.