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A lovely Lady who re-invented herself

(54 Posts)
Judy54 Thu 17-Sep-20 17:57:43

A family member was married to a controlling man who decided she could not see family and friends without him being present, could not wear make up or nail varnish and chose clothes for her to wear. When her Husband died she started to see family and friends, went on holidays abroad, had her hair highlighted, had manicures and pedicures and delighted in choosing what she wished to wear. She is a totally changed woman enjoying life to the full. I have the greatest admiration for her. Do you know of anyone who did something similar?

vampirequeen Thu 17-Sep-20 19:37:50

I know several older ladies who's lives started when they became widows. I decided not to wait that long and escaped instead of hoping for widowhood. I admire anyone who manages to escape or rebuild their lives. It's not easy to find out who you are when you've not been you for so long.

MissAdventure Thu 17-Sep-20 19:44:01

My aunt, for a short while after her husband died.
She painted every room in bright colours (he only liked magnolia)
She cut her hair short and wore pretty clips in it (he only liked long hair)

Sadly, she got ill and died, all too shortly after regaining a little life.

MawB2 Thu 17-Sep-20 21:19:07

I’m afraid these posts have really upset me and it is possible that I am not alone among those of us who have lost our life’s partner.
For every “Merry Widow” I should think there are hundreds for whom bereavement is like losing a part of themselves.
Good for your friend Judy but she is not me.

Iam64 Thu 17-Sep-20 21:24:11

MawB2, I have two loved one's who were widowed in the past year. Like you bereavement has been like losing a part of themselves. They, like you, were blessed with gentle, kind and loving life partners.

It's a different kind of loss, a husband or life partner who was controlling an lacking in a zest and love of life. So, the response is different xx

MawB2 Thu 17-Sep-20 21:38:33

Of course, I apologise if I sounded crabby.
But don’t anyone believe that the “freedom” to be yourself comes cheap, especially if that “ self” has been part of a loving partnership.
I was told I had to make a “new life” for myself now - but I didn’t want one - I wanted the old life.

Calpurnia Thu 17-Sep-20 21:40:04

My much loved husband died in April (22 weeks today) and I feel as though a huge part of me has been amputated.

I understand the theory that “life goes on” but it is not the life I want or ever thought I would have to cope with.

Through circumstances beyond my control I am having to “move on” - another sentence frequently offered when you lose someone, but it is yet another thing I never thought I would have to do.

I am planning and hoping to make the most of my future life on my own, my husband would never have wanted me to do otherwise.

I’m with Maw2 on this.

Iam64 Thu 17-Sep-20 21:48:03

MawB apologies if you thought I implied you were being crabby. I didn't intend that at all. If god forbid, I was widowed I wouldn't want a new life. I'd somehow keep going, thinking of our children and grandchildren and knowing how fortunate I've been.

farview Thu 17-Sep-20 22:02:20

Good post Iam64...we aren't all lucky enough to be married to good/decent /caring men...and it needs to be Expressed also...thus is life...

fevertree Thu 17-Sep-20 22:31:17

My grandparents were married for 50 years when my Grandad died. Theirs was a great love, they were the epitome of the word sweethearts.

I was 13 and I remember that my Gran was very sad. I also remember being surprised when she cut her hair (he simply liked it long and she liked pleasing him); travelled abroad (he didn't like traveling and she made that compromise); she didn't have a job during the marriage (they had five children) but after he died she became a successful piano teacher.

The point I am trying to make is everyone's situation is unique, and my grandma, whilst far removed from becoming a "merry widow" still "found herself" in her own right after her kind, gentle husband had died after a long and happy marriage.

So sometimes there are elements of both - deep loss whilst at the same time embracing change.

52bright Fri 18-Sep-20 00:42:43

I understand where you are coming from fevertree. I would be devastated if I lost my dh and I know my sil will never totally recover from her great loss.
However not everybody is as fortunate. My own dm, married at 20 with me on the way didn't have the greatest relationship with my dad. They did their best and brought up 3 well adjusted hard working children ...but the rows ...omg ...and the bullying she put up with. She definitely missed him when he died, but she most certainly reinvented herself . 30 years a widow now and nearly 90. Learn't to drive at 60 after he died, had a fantastic social life right up until covis put a stop to it. Still gets me to take her to tidy his grave and see the book of remembrance, but no way is she the nervous, 'keep the peace' person she was when he was alive. We never discuss this. I suppose in a different era she would have reinvented herself through divorce.

52bright Fri 18-Sep-20 00:48:09

I mean fortunate in the relationship they had, not obviously in the loss suffered. My sincere condolences to anyone on gransnet who has suffered the loss of a much loved husband or partner flowers

Hetty58 Fri 18-Sep-20 00:51:41

Judy54, I fail to see how you can admire somebody who was willing to put up with being controlled and dictated to.

If she had left and divorced him - then admiration would be appropriate.

Hetty58 Fri 18-Sep-20 01:15:11

Iam64 'If god forbid, I was widowed I wouldn't want a new life.'

You get a new life, wanted or not, no choice, I'm afraid.

Your whole identity changes. Suddenly, you're not half of a couple, you're a single parent, strangely avoided, not invited, pitied or treated differently (gently, kindly, soppily) by family and old friends. It's quite a shock.

There are new challenges. Random males try to chat you up. People assume you must be poor. Holidays are complicated. You're somehow expected to spend every waking moment with family.

I recall being in a card shop, looking for an 8th birthday card for my youngest daughter. They all read 'Happy Birthday to our daughter' - no good, you feel 'abnormal' somehow.

You have to build a new identity, a new life on the crumbling remains of the old one!

vampirequeen Fri 18-Sep-20 02:46:30

It's not a case of putting up with being controlled, Hetty. You blecome conditioned to it. If they bullied on day one you'd run for the hills but it's a gradual drip drip effect and an abnormal reality becomes your normal. It's only odd to outsiders or yourself once you escape. For example, my ex complained that he didn't get his fair share of bananas and if he did get one it was always the smallest. So I used to stand in the supermarket measuring bananas against each other so that I could get eight the same size. Then before I put them in the fruit dish I would write our names on them so that we only had two each. Totally ridiculous but was my normal.

Jane10 Fri 18-Sep-20 09:10:24

With all due respect, not all husbands have been admirable. Some women are not so lucky. One lady I knew as a neighbour years ago was always kind to us children but we knew that as soon as her husband came home we needed to scarper. Nothing was said. Just an atmosphere. Oddly, their 4 children left home as soon as they grew up. One day she was found unconscious, battered by her 'DH'.
After that things changed. Neighbours looked out for her. Anyway, once her husband died she absolutely flowered. Unbelievably, she bought a Mercedes and a share in a horse! Everyone was so pleased for her as she was such a nice person. Shaking off 40 years of bonds was wonderful to see. Her DH had been a highly respected professional.

frue Fri 18-Sep-20 09:50:32

My wonderful step mother who took care of a 5, 4 and 14 month old and only realised when their father died that they loved her for herself, not just as his wife. We're putting a bench for her in their village

Joyfulnanna Fri 18-Sep-20 10:14:03

52 bright, your mother sounds wonderful flowers

Aepgirl Fri 18-Sep-20 10:16:35

Yes, I have a friend who we all thought was just a bit ‘dull’ and lacking in enjoyment. However, her husband died about 3 years ago and she has totally changed - more stylish clothes and hairstyle and far more outgoing.
Conversely I also have a friend whose husband was caring and wonderful. When he died she just lost all interest in her appearance and life in general.

Luckygirl Fri 18-Sep-20 10:19:13

In a sense, any widow is forced to reinvent themselves. They have suddenly been plunged into a new life that is not of their choosing.

It may be that, as the OP has said, there are those whose marriage has been torture and for them that reinvention is an opportunity for them to blossom and take new paths. For most, who have had good marriages (or marriages with the normal ups and downs) it is a massive challenge.

The first months are full of regrets, sadness and form-filling; but in the end all widows need to find a new path. Living alone is hard for many; being left out of invitations because you are not part of a couple is hard; finding purpose after being a carer is hard; getting your head (and your body) round the jobs that your OH used to do is hard............and so the list goes on.

Dealing with these throws up a new version of you; one who has to learn a new resilience, one who has to find new purpose for each day.

I am hoping that in time I will branch out and take up new things that I would not have done had I still been in a caring role, or strapped for cash because of care costs, or locked down by Covid. And I will, I know, enjoy these things.

I will be a different person: hopefully stronger in spite of the emotional battering. And I look forward to this progression.

Lock Fri 18-Sep-20 10:35:10

I am very sorry that so many posters on here have completely failed to understand that OPs friend was a victim of domestic abuse. It is incredibly sad that so many people have no understanding of coercive control, let alone how it works. It is no wonder that so many people suffer horribly - die, or are driven to extreme acts - when there is such ignorance and even contempt around domestic abuse.

HannahLoisLuke Fri 18-Sep-20 10:35:33

IT isn't just women who get a new lease of life after becoming widowed.
I have been friends for years with a lovely couple who started out as college sweethearts. Devoted to each other although it was always the wife who organised their life. Holidays, social life and home and garden. Husband always very laid back and happy to go along with her wishes and doing more than his fair share of housework and childcare, even though she was a full time mother.
Then, tragically she died after a long illness and suddenly he came into his own.
First, he cancelled her daily newspaper as he disliked its political stance. Then he started doing things socially that she had never liked, going to the cinema, playing his drums in the attic room, which was soundproofed by the way.
He missed her dreadfully but he became his own man and finally after a few years he has a new lady friend who enjoys doing the same things as him.

jaylucy Fri 18-Sep-20 10:43:12

One of my aunts did something similar.
Not 100% sure my uncle was that controlling, but as the eldest of 10, he did like to be in charge.
For years they used to go on an annual holiday to the same place, at the same B&B and when the landlady retired, they used to visit her for afternoon tea!
Also every year, before that holiday,( this turned into a bit of a family joke) they used to go shopping for new underwear !!!
After my uncle died, my aunt made full use of the community holiday that a couple in the village used to organise for those on their own and visited Wales and Scotland , Devon, and even Blackpool that my uncle would never visit!
From there, along with another aunt that was also widowed, she went on cruises around Europe - what my uncle would have said I dread to think !

pen50 Fri 18-Sep-20 10:43:29


And yes, I agree with vampirequeen - drip, drip, drip...

Hymnbook Fri 18-Sep-20 10:48:21

My middle sister is married to a man like this. He's an alcoholic to. She's thrown him out twice but taken him back. I don't think she will ever get rid of him.