I would like to start this post by saying that I have to believe that people make various comments with nothing but the most sincere intentions.
With all the aspects that are involved with the adjustments we make to the loss of our spouse and the huge amputation of a part of our life, one the things that I found difficult to deal with was the “advice” and comments that people felt so compelled to say to me. These started almost immediately after my husband’s passing. I was still in the room with him after he had passed, numb and in shock, trying to absorb what had just happened, when a women I didn’t know told me that I was now a “widow”! That thought hadn’t even occurred to me yet!
Everyone is trying to say something that might help you. They feel so lost as to what to say to someone that has just had a loss. Society has conditioned us to say certain things that are deemed to be “acceptable” to comfort those in grief. Quite often the comments are not comforting and you want to say so, but it’s just not worth it, and when in grief, we have enough going on to also deal with this ignorance. I remember meeting a couple who were friends of ours, the husband had worked for my husband at one time, and we were meeting for lunch. This was the first they had seen me alone and it was only about 10 days after my husband’s passing. After the greetings and the “I am so sorry for your loss” comments, the husband asks me if I had given any thought yet to what I was going to do the “that” house!!! Really!!! It wasn’t any business of his and the implication was that I, as a woman, now alone, that I couldn’t or wouldn’t want to maintain a house and the property with it without “A Man”!!! I just took a deep breath and very nicely stated that yes I had thought about it and I was going to Live in the house because that is my home. I also got comments from family and friends for about 3 years stating, “That’s an awfully big house for one person” and “Are going to ever sell that house?” There seems to be an obsession with a widow staying in the same house!
I also had people ask me why I hadn’t changed my name back to my maiden name since I wasn’t legally married anymore. Once again, none of their business. I know of some women who have chosen to do this, but this is a very personal and individual decision. It just another example of the ignorance surrounding this kind of grief.
My reason for sharing all of this is to let anyone who is reading this know that you are not alone when you receive these inane comments from people. They can be very hurtful and insensitive, but I don’t believe they are said with malice. They and society are just ignorant to what this type of grief is all about. I am finding that these types of comments are coming less and less. Address them as best you can and keep in mind to guard your own feelings and whether responding in a negative, attacking way will really help You in the long run.
These comments will come from people that you may think would be able to show more compassion to you. Not long ago I had a family member bluntly tell me that she really thought that I wasn’t going to do well after this loss. When I ask her why she would make such a statement to me, her reply was, “Well you were so devastated by it”! Hello…..I lost my husband, the love of my life!! I thanked her for passing judgement on me and making that assumption! I have proved her wrong on this over and over again. She was someone who I totally thought would have nothing but compassion for me. Don’t be surprised by who and what people say to you. It happens and unfortunately is part of this whole process. You will and can evolve and survive this aspect of this journey too!