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Newly widowed

(42 Posts)
Aggy21 Fri 27-Aug-21 07:59:05

My husband died three weeks ago. He had cancer and it was expected. We’d been married 40 years, since I was a teenager. What I’m wondering is if anyone here on GN has some practical or emotional advice to help me through these lonely, confusing, heartbreaking first few months? Did you clear out your husband’s things promptly? Did you seek counselling? Did you lie low or keep busy? I know everyone is different but be helpful to hear others’ thoughts and experiences. Thank you

Sar53 Fri 27-Aug-21 08:01:55

Aggy21 my sincere condolences to you.

I'm sure there will be many on here who will answer your questions.

Take care of yourself.

Much love xxx

Nanabanana1 Fri 27-Aug-21 08:13:13

Aggy21 my sincere condolences ?
Take care of yourself and do what you want, not what others want you to do.
Sorry that’s all I can advise as you say we are all different and I have found coping gets easier as time goes on, so don’t rush things and be kind to yourself xx

Elizabeth1 Fri 27-Aug-21 08:15:19

AGY 21 so sorry to hear of your sad loss flowers I know several Gransnet ladies who hopefully will be able to help you with this dreadful situation. I’m sure you’ll do what’s right for you. Take care, sending virtual hugs and lots of love in these coming weeks.

CafeAuLait Fri 27-Aug-21 08:16:33

I'm so sorry for the loss of your husband. What a hole his loss leaves for you. flowers

I've lost a child but never a husband, so can't speak from that experience. What I would like to share is that I found just allowing myself to have no expectations of myself and do whatever I need to do at any moment was the easiest way through. There isn't any right way to do this time.

BlueBelle Fri 27-Aug-21 08:25:57

Really sorry to hear this aggi as a divorcee I ll never know the loss you ve experienced I think you will get help here there are a few ladies in your position with recent bereavements
When my daughter lost her partner to cancer she got help from a group for young bereaved people I think it was called ‘widowed and young’ or something similar I m sure there will be some groups like that for older folks it does help do much to talk
Counselling can help too but all I can advocate is talking about him and your life to anyone willing to listen lean on friends and cry as much as you want it will never heal completely but eventually the rawness will get gentler
Talking about removing his clothes I still have my dads favourite cardi in my wardrobe and his trilby hat on my bedroom wall (and that’s 9 years ago)

Lilypops Fri 27-Aug-21 08:28:00

Aggy21. My deepest sympathy for the loss of your dear husband , there is no set time for grieving or to do the right thing , Take each day slowly and only do what you feel like doing, if you feel like lying on the sofa one day crying then do it, if the next day you want to go for a short walk then do it. , All in your own time , Do you have family that will help you to clear your husbands things when you feel like doing so ,?
Take things slowly , be gentle with yourself , and I hope that things get easier, You don’t get over such a loss , but you learn to live around it ,
Sending love at this sad time , x

Bluebellwould Fri 27-Aug-21 08:44:58

Aggressive, that’s virtually my story too. I was married to my husbands for 40 years and he had been suffering with cancer for 7 years before he died in a hospice. Whilst expected it still cut me off at the knees. That was 3 years ago now and it is only recently that I was able to look at his photos. My advice would be to go with the flow. If you want to put on sad music and cry your eyes out do it. If you want to shout and scream do it. Do not expect your grieving to be a steady decreasing emotion, some days will be better than others. Also do not expect your experience of grief to be the same as other people’s. Do you have family around you? They can be a help and a hindrance. I didn’t want to be a burden to them and didn’t know whether to keep talking about him in the following months but it sorted itself . Just take it hour by hour to start with, then day by day, week by week etc. You have already got through the worst time and it will only get better as you go on all be it slowly. Do not feel guilty if you smile or find something funny or forget about him for a while. I am sure he would want you to go on and be happy, just as you would have felt if you died and he survived you. If you want to pm me then I would be happy to chat with you. Take care.

Bluebellwould Fri 27-Aug-21 08:45:47

Sorry Aggy, blooming autocorrect I hope it didn’t cause offence.

glammanana Fri 27-Aug-21 09:08:09

Aggy21 Sending you my heartfelt sympathy at this sad time.
Its 20mths since my lovely man died suddenly and left me after 45yrs married I'm glad in one respect that he went before the pandemic took hold as I am sure he would not have got through it but he died quickly & pain free the shock was enormous .
The following weeks where hard for me as I shaken to my core but help from my family got me through it,talk about him when you are ready and you will find his name crops up and the pain will ease slowly.
I waited nearly 6mths before sorting his possessions it was a sad week but brought back some happy memories as to where & when he had bought stuff I donated all to his favourite charity (animal charity)

TopsyIrene06 Fri 27-Aug-21 09:35:52

So very sorry Aggy21 It's one day at a time. It is so heartbreaking for you. One day you will be able to talk about him and the pain will ease but not yet.

Smileless2012 Fri 27-Aug-21 09:40:56

I have no advice to offer Aggy but wanted to say how sorry I am for your lossflowers.

Gelisajams Fri 27-Aug-21 09:43:56

Sincere condolences on the loss of your husband. Keep a few of you husbands shirts from which you can make a memory bear. If you don’t sew, there are people who will do this for you - ask on your local Facebook page or similar.

Blossoming Fri 27-Aug-21 09:49:05

So very sorry for your loss Aggy. I wouldn’t rush into anything right now, allow yourself time to grieve.

mumofmadboys Fri 27-Aug-21 09:57:12

I'm so sorry Aggy. Take one day at a time and if this is too much take an hour at a time x

Peasblossom Fri 27-Aug-21 10:13:09

I so sorry you have to bear this pain.

Looking back now, from a distance of nearly twenty years since my husband died, the advice I would give myself is allow yourself to be needy. Just for a while.
And be explicit about what it is you need. People want to help but because we are all different they don’t know. So tell them.

I couldn’t sleep in an empty house. I wish I had said to my sister Can I sleep at yours for a couple of nights?
Or to a friend ‘I can’t be bothered to cook and eat on my own. Will you come round for a meal’.

But I didn’t because I didn’t want to seem needy and for people to feel burdened with me.

You might not feel this way but you will have your own needs. Don’t be afraid to voice them ?

Silverbridge Fri 27-Aug-21 10:36:41


I am sorry for your loss. I was in the same boat fifteen years ago. Widowed at 51. DH was 55. It’s hard.

I soon gave most of his clothes, books and other personal possessions to charities, those which supported medical research or causes dear to his heart.

I kept his many work shirts in white, blues, greys, stripes, checks and sewed them into a quilt which I gave to him mum - back with me now since her death. I know she found it a comfort. I still have a couple of his favouite sweaters which I wear for pottering in he garden.

I went to one group counselling session but it wasn’t for me. At the time, hearing about other people’s grief was too much to bear on top of my own. We do need a coping strategy though. I found self-help books useful. Not an angry person by nature, some days, I did feel frighteningly and overwhelmingly angry. It was helpful to read that that’s perfectly normal. Also that the grieving process isn’t a linear tunnel that you suddenly emerge from into the light. It’s an uneven and repetitive loop. You may revert back to previous, darker phases more than once.

I did keep busy. I found it hard to be at home at times when he would have been there so I went out a lot, to do anything really. I’d look in the local paper to see what was on and just go. I don’t even recall a lot of what I did as it was only for distraction. We did a lot of country walking together and talked as we walked, discussing all kinds of things. I kept walking but with music playing on an iPod to fill the silence. Indoors, I took to knitting very complex and intricate patterns. I needed something I had to concentrate hard on in the long evenings and it was something to achieve. Normally an avid reader, I found it hard to concentrate on books or other passive pastimes so that was a good substitute.

There have been many discussions here about how those who have not been bereaved react to those who have. Some days you will feel like the rest of the world goes on turning as normal, everyone absorbed with the trials and trivia of their own lives while your world will never be the same and no-one seems to notice or care. Sometimes they do but don't know what to say. That can be hard but you will find the inner strength to deal with that.

Shandy57 Fri 27-Aug-21 11:11:33

So sorry for your loss Aggy21, it's life changing.

I hope someone has told you about the Bereavement Allowance, I think the name of it has now changed. I'm not sure if you are eligible or not but it really helped me whilst I waited for probate to come through.

My first advice would be to remember to be kind to yourself, and take each day as it comes. Whether expected through illness or not, it is still a great shock, and you might feel numb for a long time.

My second advice would be to accept all help and invitations, even if you really don't feel like it.

My husband died five years ago. I came back from a beach dog walk and he was dead on our front lawn. He died instantly from cardiac arrest.

I did have counselling as I felt so much guilt and regret. I tortured myself wondering if I'd been at home, if I'd have been able to save him. Looking at the statistics, it is doubtful but the person that found him hadn't tried CPR at all.

A friend told me about WAY UP, a website for widows, and the support from the people on there helped me through the worst, and continues to help me.

I think the best help I found was this story about grief from Macmillan. It is important to remember our children's grief is completely different to ours.

Just do whatever makes you feel comfortable, and don't feel any pressure to do anything. I would recommend waiting at least a year to make any major decisions.

As for clothes and possessions, I was under pressure as I hosted all of my husband's family for the funeral and had to make space. I made both of my children a memory bear from my husband's favourite shirts, and sent the rest to bless people at the charity shop. My husband had been in the Church Army and would have been glad to know his clothes were helping people.

In the early days I found it comforting to leave a light/radio on when I go out so I didn't come back to a dark empty house. I still have an electric blanket in the bed, I hardly slept in the first few months. I used to have a notepad by the bed to write down my thoughts when I couldn't sleep at all.

Just do whatever comforts you, grief is very personal. I don't know if you are having a cremation or burial, but some people I know have had beautiful jewellery made with their loved one's ashes.

Take care and keep posting xx

greenlady102 Fri 27-Aug-21 11:37:34

Its almost 10 years for me now. I would say 2 things. there is no right way to grieve and don't let people tell you there is. The seven stages of bereavement thing is not linear. people think that you move from stage to stage but you don't. you skip around, feel some things many times or never stop feeling them, never feel others, feel more than one at once.
My advice is to feel what you feel and do what you feel is right for you EXCEPT when it comes to making the big life changing decisions...or letting others make them for you. In those cases, give yourself time and beware of scammers and cheats when you are vulnerable. Last thing is this book. Its not a comfortable or easy read but it got me through some bad days and nights. I have still got it on my kindle. I don't read it now but its like having a talisman. I know its there if things get bad again.
may your husband's memory become a blessing.

Luckygirl Fri 27-Aug-21 12:15:54

It is so hard isn't it? I send huge hugs and commiserations.

My OH died in February last year, and, like another poster, I am glad he did not have to go through the lockdowns - just missed them. He would have been heartbroken not to see and hug his DDs and DGC.

But you Aggy21 have had to cope with your husband's illness and death as well as covid. It must have been a huge challenge.

I was devastated to begin with, and still am - but it bubbles along underneath my life rather than dominating it. Sometimes it breaks through, as many kind folk here will know.

I took the route of sorting my OH's belongings early on - for me it felt macabre to have clothes, hobby equipment etc around unworn and unused. The fact that I was in the process of moving house (to pay for nursing home fees) precipitated more of a clear out. It is different for everyone, as others have said - we all do this differently.

You must be kind to yourself and take it moment by moment. We are all aware of bereavement, but it is only when it hits so close to home, and to your heart, that you are forced to face these fundamentals. That in itself is a shattering experience, never mind the loneliness.

I had wonderful help from the local branch of CRUSE ( A lovely man rang me each week (this during lockdown) and he propped me up so well. I could pour out my feelings without being worried that I was upsetting friends or family.

I also rang the Samaritans on more than one occasion - not because I wanted to end it all, but because I felt at rock bottom and just needed a human being to talk to - they were wonderful - I cannot fault them in any way.

I hope you will find your own sources of help - but please do not ask too much of yourself. People encourage you to get out and about and do stuff to take your mind of it (as if anything could) but if you do not feel you can face doing something, then do not regard it as a failure if you cry off. Take it at your own

sodapop Fri 27-Aug-21 12:26:42

So sorry Aggy21 you must have so many memories of all those years together. I can't really add any more to all the good advice on here. Take things slowly and be kind to yourself thanks

Shandy57 Fri 27-Aug-21 12:34:43

I'd forgotten I used to phone the Samaritans Luckygirl, they were wonderful.

Anyone can phone them when they are feeling distressed for any reason, you don't have to be contemplating suicide. It's a free call on 116 123, 24/7.

grandtanteJE65 Fri 27-Aug-21 12:38:06

I too am sorry to hear of your loss.

I am still married, so haven't experienced your sad loss, but judging from my father's reactions when my mother died, I sould say, please do what you feel comfortable with.

If it upsets you to see his clothes in the bedroom and hall cupboard, dispose of them.

If you feel it is too soon to do so, wait.

There is no set time for doing these things any more.

My sister and I found it easier to dispose of our parents'personal effects just after their funerals when we felt like crying anyhow. If you prefer to wait, then please do so.

Sometimes a manual task you don't have to really think about is a good way to get through the day.

I am sure there are plenty of tasks that cannot wait, so those that can should perhaps be left for a while.

Come back when you feel like it, and let us know how you are. We will be many thinking of you.

Deedaa Fri 27-Aug-21 12:46:16

It's just two years since my husband died. I haven't kept much of his at all, although I do thank him for putting in the french doors every time I open them and continue to enjoy the new floor he put down in the dining room, which must have been one of the last things he did. All his clothes were packed off to a clothing bank apart from a suit that may be useful for our son. It's funny how the mind works, I'd known he was going to die for a week but when the consultant sat holding my hand on the final morning and asked me if I was sleeping I told him I told him I'd been up at 4 that morning stripping my husband's bed. It had taken till then to sink in that he wouldn't be needing it again. The main problem I've had has been the television programmes I don't watch now because we used to watch them together and it's not the same on my own. And after two years there are still some internet passwords I haven't been able to track down because he didn't tell me where he'd written them down. I've got an old friend in a very similar situation so we telephone and meet up a lot.

timetogo2016 Fri 27-Aug-21 12:57:10

So sorry for your loss Aggy21.
My uncle died yesterday and i am doing my best to support my aunt so i can`t offer advice,but you will get great support and advice from gransnetters.
Remember all of those wonderfull years with pride and happiness.