Going it alone

How life can change in a split second! One minute a wife the next, a widow. Sally Curtis gives us to a few suggestions on how to “deal with” the new widow.

Sally on her wedding day

Sally on her wedding day

The death, sudden or otherwise, of a partner is a shock to put it mildly. In my case, although “OH” had heart problems for many years, I didn’t expect that morning just over a year ago to wake up to the sound of him hitting the bathroom floor; by the time I got there he was dead, and from that moment life took on a completely different direction.

For the next few days I was on auto and became extraordinarily high, presumably the result of the shock. Wonderful friends held the fort until the family gradually arrived from far and wide, as did the messages of condolence, phone calls and flowers – hundreds of them – so many that the house resembled a flower shop, all of which was very comforting. Neighbours, friends and family were all so supportive but gradually, as time passes, you have to go it alone and “alone” is not a place I would choose to be.

A few suggestions on how to “deal with” the new widow (from my perspective of course!)

1. Do talk to her – do not cross the road, she won’t bite – if she bursts into tears, that’s normal so don’t be embarrassed. Do not be surprised if she laughs hysterically – it’s all part of the grieving process.

2. Flowers/messages of support/bottles of wine/champagne etc. are more than welcome, but perhaps consider that it may be nice to send some of them a week or so after the funeral once the family have gone, the house is empty and quiet apart from the grieving widow, all the other flowers have died and bottles of wine have been consumed by dipsomaniac daughters.

3. When you suggest a lunch/coffee/dinner party please do go ahead and arrange it. There is nothing worse than an event being suggested which doesn’t materialise. Remember, the widow is suddenly completely and utterly alone and yearns for human contact – especially at weekends.

4. If you offer to cut down the creeper at the front of the house/move a load of logs/fix the broken back gate – please do it; although this widow can manage most things it is lovely to have an offer of help and it can be bit of a let-down if she has to do it anyway.

5. Don’t imagine that she has “got over it” after a few months have gone by. She hasn’t. If you are passing the house, please ring the bell and call in for a chat. Include her in visits to the pub or to the cinema or just for a walk to the park and back.

6. Be patient, understanding and encouraging. It’s almost like reverting to childhood when you need to be told what to do.

The year has now passed and all the “firsts” have been got through – birthdays, anniversary, Christmas, death and I can no longer say “this time last year we were…” Grief is a strange visitor: we all have to face it at some point in our lives and will all cope in our own particular way and have different expectations. The future looks bleak one day and optimistic the next, but life will certainly never ever be the same again.

Sally Curtis

3 thoughts on “Going it alone

  1. How true! I replied to this blog but it said it couldn’t be sent. Don’t know what’s wrong?

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  2. Thank you Sally for such a thought provoking article. Yes, many people are very uncomfortable with dealing with any bereavement so you may have to make the first moves. Can I please put in a plea for people who ‘lose’ a partner due to divorce. They sometimes have the added difficulty of having to give up their home and others making comments such as ‘I never liked him/her anyway’. It’s not the same as a breavement but it still brings unwished for change and with the divorce rate soaring in the over 60s it’s something that more of us may have to face.

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