Hey, you!

The one commenting on the fact that I just posted about my upcoming wedding anniversary despite the fact I lost my spouse two years ago. And, you over there…the person whispering about my tagging my husband in my vacation photo with the kids, even though his ashes sit on the dresser in my bedroom.

Try walking in my shoes!

We continue to be ridiculed for not “letting go” of the love for our spouses. Each time we talk about them, we’re told it’s preventing us from healing. If you see us still wearing our wedding rings, you comment that no man will want us if we don’t “get over” our loss.

Try losing the person you expected to grow old with!

We’re often shamed for honoring our spouses publicly. You “accepted” it the first couple years but now that it’s been four years, it’s viewed as a “cry for attention” or “looking for sympathy”.

You say we’re being “dramatic” when we post about the difficult days – when grief threatens to erase all the progress we’ve made and it feels like we’re at that very moment in time when our world was upended.

Try telling your children that the father they adored isn’t ever coming back home!

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You have no right to dictate the terms of our grief. You didn’t have a say in our marriages and you certainly shouldn’t have a voice in how we choose to honor those marriages now that we’ve lost our spouses.

“…but it’s so weird that you keep holding onto this person’s memory!”

You know what’s truly weird? Kissing your spouse goodbye as you leave for work and returning home to a cold, stiff body. Calling your spouse to tell him to bring home some milk and then have a police car pull up to your house an hour later to deliver the worst news you’ll probably ever receive. Weird is explaining to a 10-year-old how it’s possible that he just played with his father before he went for a bike ride, yet his daddy’s lifeless body is now hanging from the basement ceiling. That’s weird!

“…but it’s crazy that you’re in public celebrating the birthday of a dead man!”

Let’s talk about crazy. Crazy is what happens when your once solid faith is shaken because you’ve been dealt this horrific blow. Crazy is how you feel when you’re forced to pretend that you’re “okay” day after day when inside you’re falling apart. Crazy is having your very best friend in the world abandon you because your grief is “too much” to handle. Crazy is the head space you’re in when you parent the best way you know how and your child resents you for “causing” the death of his father who died by suicide. Crazy is finding out secrets about your spouse…the mistresses, the drugs, the lies…and he’s not there for you to confront him.

There’s a quote that says, “I will not hide my grief, as I did not hide my love”. We will continue to publicly honor the men we loved, WITHOUT shame and WITHOUT your permission. It’s our journey and we have the right and the freedom to tell our stories any way that helps us heal. What works for one widow might not work for the next. But considering you’ve never lost a spouse (and we pray you never do), you’re in no position to tell us when or how to grieve!

Mom to a feisty preschooler, Kerry Phillips became widowed at age 32. She runs an online support group for young widows and widowers venturing back into the world of dating and is a blogger for The Huffington Post.

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