Although you knew his cancer was terminal, you thought he’d beat the odds. You thought you’d be the couple that got the miracle.
Maybe his death was unexpected. You thought he was coming home for dinner only to get a call that there had been a horrific accident.
Regardless of how you got stuck with the dreaded widow title, it is too much. Whether expected or sudden, your heart, mind, and body isn’t prepared to go it alone. You don’t know how to exist in a world where “we” is now “me”.
“It gets better,” everyone keeps saying. But you don’t find that to be true. Every day stuck in the black hole of grief seems to push you closer and closer to your breaking point. “But what about the children?” they ask. Yes, as a mother they should be your priority but how can you be here for them when you can’t even get out of bed?
You tried a therapist but the pain is still there. The pills…the alcohol…your only temporary escape. But once you sober up, the pain, coupled with the a , is just too unbearable. No one really cares anyway, right? The wrong spouse died. The money from the insurance will give the kids a good life. They are better off without you.
You end it all and now what? You’re back in your husband’s arms…OR SO YOU THINK.
My widow sister, the pain doesn’t end. It’s simply transferred. More than likely onto the children who bravely stood over their father’s gravesite as he was laid to rest. The same children you hugged and reassured that you would get through the storm together. Your children – already mourning the loss of their father – now have to cope with your loss too. Struggle with the questions: Why wasn’t I enough for mom to stay? Did I do something? Was I too much to handle?
We often think that we get to be reunited with our husband and pick up where we left off, but the reality is that we just don’t know if what we envision is accurate. Whether you believe in God or not, none of us knows what those relationships or the depth of those relationships will look like.
There is a difference between grief and depression. Yes, you sought out treatment but the first or even third therapist might not have been the one for you. I know grieving the loss of a spouse is not easy. I know you struggle to neatly tuck away those suicidal thoughts. I don’t think you’re weak. I simply think you’ve lost hope in knowing that you will make it through the darkest, rawest stage of grief.
The friends you think aren’t there..they just don’t know how to be there. You have to admit also that you weren’t always honest with telling them what you needed from them either. The in-laws that you swear hate you – that could have true but they are also stuck in their own grief. Perhaps there could be some healing if only there is more time. That feeling of despair that you face every single day, feel every moment of every day…it becomes every other day. Then once a week. And, if given enough time, with the right therapist, with the right support system and coping tools, you realize (as cliche as it sounds), the storms do begin to lift. It might not be 3 months out or even 1 Year out, but the sun will begin to peek through the dark clouds.
I want you to know that despite the grief, the pain, the sadness, you can and will make it to the other side. You had a bad day today, but tomorrow is another day. Maybe next week will be better. If one therapist didn’t help, try another. Make enough noise to let everyone around you know that you need help. Don’t sit with your pain. I know you don’t see it in the moment but I know deep down you know your children are not better off without you and neither is the world.
Don’t allow death to claim a bonus spouse. Live for the next five minutes, let it roll into 10, roll in 30 minutes, roll into a few hours, roll into a day and on and on. Focus on surviving the best way you can until you find your lifeline – whether it’s your children, a friend, therapist or support group. Allow us to carry you until you can stand on your own.
We need you to survive.