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Newly widowed

(43 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

lovebeigecardigans1955 Fri 27-Aug-21 13:02:41

So sorry Aggi there's no set time scale for grieving as we all cope in our own way. I got two weeks compassionate leave from work but felt like I could have done with another week - then probably still wouldn't have been completely ready.

As for getting rid of stuff, I simply waited for the next charity bag to come and offloaded some items that way but I've still got his best coat, his football shirt, an apron and a scarf - likely a few other things I didn't want to part with and maybe never will.

I had to keep plodding on. I washed and dressed each morning and off to buy a daily newspaper whether I felt like it or not. I was immeasurably sad but still managed to put one foot in front of the other - personal pride would not let me maunder about in a dressing gown all day. That's just me and you'll find your own way. Unless someone's been in your shows they shouldn't judge you. flowers

MawBe Fri 27-Aug-21 13:25:02

Just a thought - it chimed with me .
There is no right or wrong way to deal with bereavement - you must do what feels right to you each day.
Counselling helps some, I personally didn’t try ir as I felt that as a former Samaritan, I knew how the conversations would go. I might have been wrong.
Sincere sympathies, though. flowers
Katherine Whitehorn once compared widowhood to being an “unwilling refugee in a foreign land”

Luckygirl Fri 27-Aug-21 13:59:37

I joined a forum for those who have been widowed - WayUp. Lovely kind people, but I struggled with the fact that they all seem to have had perfect partners and perfect marriages! I don't think so!

Part of the challenge of bereavement is coming to terms with the flaws in your relationship and the times when you wish you had responded or behaved differently; and forgiving yourself (and him) for not being perfect - for, in fact, being merely human. The burden of guilt for imperfections when someone dies can be overwhelming if that forgiveness is not forthcoming.

You will find the challenges which are predominant for you; and you will find your way through them. We all remain bereaved and grieving, even when the world thinks we are "over" it. I do not think you ever get over it - you just find a way of accommodating it within your new reality.

BlueSapphire Fri 27-Aug-21 15:48:26

So much good advice above, I don't think I can add to it.

It's now 3 and a half years since my DH died. It helped me to keep busy, going out shopping and to the cinema and concerts etc. It was what he would have wanted me to do. The year after he died I did two holidays on my own, a river cruise and an ocean cruise, which I really enjoyed and which did me the world of good.

Just do what feels right for you. It took me a couple of years to clear my DH's clothes, and there are still some I can't let go. It helps to know they are there. And I have his photos everywhere. I talk about him a lot as well - I probably bore a lot of people!

Take it easy, and take care of yourself.

Grammaretto Fri 27-Aug-21 16:46:46

Hi Aggy,
I am so sorry you are in the midst of it all.
I guess everyone has to eventually.
DH died from cancer (expected) last November so we went right through Lockdown and shielding with him and had to have a tiny funeral etc. He died at home, by design, and that was a comfort having all the family around.

Friends have been great. One friend suggested a walk with her every day and we I still do, though not every day.
Family are great but they are also grieving.

I had to cope with all kinds of expensive calamities soon after the funeral. A ceiling fell in and rot was found in the roof. A tree fell over and blocked the driveway. There was a gas leak and I still have no cooker. His dad died 2 weeks after him, with covid (caught in hospital) His mum is in her 90s but is getting help. I took her out for a drive today.

I tried a bereavement FB page but it didn't suit me at all. It was full of people who were, to my mind, wallowing in their grief.

I try to have something to do but things I like.
Someone said to Look after yourself and at last I know what that means. It really means do what you want to do, not what you ought and say yes to nice invitations and offers of help but not to anything you'd rather avoid.

I have found the friends on here an enormous help too. My virtual friends. smile

I miss him everyday. We were married for over 50 years and if I think about it, I don't look forward to getting old alone but I am coping and doing better than I ever thought I would and you will too.

As for practical things: the Lockdown has helped there because the tip was closed and the charity shops so only recently I sent a bag of his clothes off with my sister to put into a charity shop far away. His books and things - I shall take my time. Don't make any major decisions for at least a year is good advice.

All the best to you in these difficult days.

Hetty58 Fri 27-Aug-21 17:37:31

Aggy21, I was very kind and understanding - to myself. I realised that I was fragile and shouldn't soldier on as my normal self (a past self) but gently adjust to a new identity.

I didn't clear out his things for years, just left them in his wardrobe and workshop. After all, there's no hurry. It's an individual thing, grief, where you find your own way. There's no right or wrong way.

I studied and found much comfort with fellow students who didn't know the circumstances. I was more on edge with family and friends, who, after all, have expectations. Home was weird, so out and about (anywhere else) felt better.

I did keep busy, didn't feel the need for counselling. His death was expected too, yet still it's a massive shock to the system, so do take care of yourself and don't expect too much of yourself either.

Trishy66 Sat 04-Sep-21 07:41:44

It'll be 8 months next week and I'm still processing. I put some of his things away but mostly they're still hanging up and in drawers. I'm not ready and there's no rush. He used to tease me so much about the photos on the wall being all the grandkids so I did hang up some photos of him. I hope he's happy that I did that. smile It does help me to see his face. No major life decisions is great advice. I was feeling pressured in the beginning from kind-hearted friends but I stood strong and I'm glad I did. Walking, biking, swimming helps. Exercise of any kind will help. I give myself a break if I forget to shower or put on mismatched socks. One day I left the house with my shorts inside out. Another day I wore my shirt backwards. Cut yourself slack cuz you'll have that craziness. I haven't tried counseling yet. Not sure if I will. I like these online groups. Hearing from others is the best medicine for me. Even though I feel so lonely, I'm not alone. Hugs to you, my friend.

Luckygirl Sat 04-Sep-21 09:47:40

How are you doing Aggie?

One thing that I did was to turn his ties into a patchwork cushion cover. The ties were the one thing I found very hard to pass on to the charity shop - they were personal as I had given him many of them - we were around in the days when men wore ties more. The cushion is on my sofa and is a gentle reminder of times past.

Shropshirelass Sat 04-Sep-21 09:53:52

So sorry, I understand what you are going through. Clear your husbands things when you feel you can, there is no timescale. You will have massive ups and downs as you have been on such an emotional roller coaster ride. It is all consuming, physically and mentally and suddenly it is gone, leaving a huge void. Counselling can help as you can talk about it as much as you like, cry when you need to and you will laugh too. You don’t forget but it does get easier, move along in your own time. Good luck, it is so hard.

Msida Fri 17-Sep-21 19:03:58

What a lovely reply from Bluebellw

Pippa000 Fri 17-Sep-21 19:52:34

My husband died very suddenly three and a half years ago, and tomorrow would have been out golden wedding anniversary, so it is a very hard time for the family as well as myself. Time ticks by, but the grief never goes, it changes, I can now laugh at things I know we would both have found amusing. I can talk to him and about him without tears. On Tuesday I took his dressing gown of the hook in the bedroom, I felt it was time. Unfortunately he never knew this house, I moved back from abroad after he died to be near the children, but there are many memories in things around me. Each day brings challenges, I still ask his advice on matters and feel that helps me make decisions. Take help when it is offered, never feel embarrassed about bringing him into conversations, he is still part of you life. Take care and love yourself.

Msida Fri 17-Sep-21 20:13:43

The posts on here are so amazing

So helpful ?

When your young and living your life and being happy you never would believe that one day you would loose him and be alone and without the person you love so much

It is hard to go on without him and I wish I could have gone too because my life without him is unbareable

Sometimes when I am busy I am OK but at the end of the day when work is over and your all alone in the house the pain is very deep, I find myself getting upset and feeling lost and alone and wondering what will become of me without him

Westcoaster Fri 17-Sep-21 21:02:21

So sorry for your loss flowers

My DH died in February only 3 weeks after being diagnosed with cancer and 2 weeks after being told (alone in the hospital due to the damn Covid)) that it was terminal.
I was in absolute shock for the first few months and spent most of my time sat in a daze, doing nothing.

It's easier now that the Covid restriction have lifted and the groups I went to have restarted. I really appreciate being able to meet up with friends again, and they have been great to me too. No grand inquisitions, but they let me talk if I want to.

7 months later, I still cry every day, but not all day every day as it was in the beginning. Night times are the worst as there's time to think and remember.

Be kind to yourself as every says. Don't be pressurised into doing anything you don't want to. No major decisions until you feel you're back on an even keel.


Aggy21 Sun 24-Oct-21 19:39:10

Thank you everyone for all these varied, wonderful and helpful answers. Only really reading them properly now, 12 weeks or so since my husband passed away. I’ve had very low moments, I’ve had some less sad moments. I’ve had 6 sessions of over the phone counselling from a cancer charity which has helped. I’ve met one or two friends for coffees. Somehow I find spending time with family makes me sadder sometimes, I guess because it reminds me that my husband is missing, whereas he wouldn’t be there when I met friends. I get tired very easily and I’ve turned down many invitations. I’ve learned that, as many of you said, that it’s okay to put yourself first and it’s okay to say no. Also one day at a time, or a part of a day, is the way to go. I’ve started a exercise class where no one knows me and there’s just general chat, so that’s been refreshing. I’m thinking of booking a holiday next spring - that’s a whole other thread I guess! Any recommendations? Or stories, good or bad, of how your first solo holiday went? Thanks everyone, and remember you’re not alone if you’re sitting at home thinking of your dear one.

Kim19 Sun 24-Oct-21 20:03:37

Obviously this experience is different for everyone and much depends on support available. As to clothes, I went with my feelings and parted with whatever I could when I could and privately. I did not use local charity shops lest I saw anybody wearing a recognisable item. For some inexplicable reason I managed to part with all shoes immediately. More difficult were football supporter gear and I think I hung on to the kilt for over a year. Still have the tie! Go at your own pace. Hug the stuff. Remember the occasions. Be kind and gentle with yourself. The high cost of loving I guess.......?

Grammaretto Sun 24-Oct-21 20:26:13

I am glad you have had some help.Aggie
For me it's coming up for a year and sometimes I think I should have done more. I still have most of his possessions and I am in no hurry to part with them.
It goes in fits and starts.
Whatever we do, it won't bring them back .
Friends have been a daily support, real and virtual.

I have been doing more with various groups as they restart and am appreciating people more.

The family are wonderful but the DGC are growing up and I wish I could share my pride in them with him.

One thing I have noticed is how many people live alone. I look at them and am inspired.

All the best to you and all who are grieving.

Kim19 Sun 24-Oct-21 20:41:15

First 'solo' trip I did was with a group based in Paris. I chose not to do the arduous bus trip with pickups en route and arranged to fly to hotel independently. Perfect. I then had the company of very pleasant strangers for meals and outings. When status situation was raised in general conversation, I declared widowhood but never revealed how recently it had been. No siree. That would have been a scenario for either sympathy or advice methinks. I've soldiered along in this second best life for a while now and it's still regularly painful but boy was he worth it. I hope it goes well for you.