Friday, July 09, 2010

How to be a Gracious Widow

Almost daily I post a question for widows and widowers on Facebook.  Many people respond.  Using social media seems like a  great way to get us to delve into our own feelings and share them.  It helps all of us.

This morning I posted: How can we be a 'good' widow, a gracious widow?" Any thoughts?

Several people responded that it wasn't their place to be anything but who they were and they seemed
annoyed and upset that I would even suggest that they monitor their attitude towards others.  Maybe, I didn't explain myself so here are my feelings:

                                  The 7 Ways to be a Gracious Widow

1. At gatherings with family and friends it’s OUR place to raise a glass and mention our late husband’s 
   name. Other people are afraid it will upset us.

   It’s up to us to let them know we’re comfortable hearing his name and reminiscing about him.

2. Assume that most people mean well. Just because they haven’t been in touch doesn’t mean they’re not
    thinking of us. Haven’t you ever thought about reaching out to someone and you just never did?  It
    didn’t mean you didn’t care. 

3. People who rattle off thoughtless comments usually have no clue how insensitive and moroic they 
   sound. Just shake it off. Don’t call them on it...and maybe don't call them again...just file it away.

4. On our husband’s birthday or the anniversary of his death instead of allowing others to take us out  
   WE should invite those who have been closest and kindest to us throughout the year. We could make 
   dinner at our home or take them out to dinner. When we arrive at the restaurant to insure that no one 
   else picks up the check give your credit card to the maitre de or waiter.

5. Be aware that others miss him too. Simply say, “I know you miss him, too.”

6. Take back a holiday or occasion that you routinely hosted in the past as soon as
    you are able to.

7. Admit that we widows are hard to read. We continually flip flop. If “they” don’t call us
    on our anniversary or Valentine’s Day, we feel slighted. Often when they do, we respond flippantly
   to ensure that we don’t upset them or us.

Now, several years and may talks with other widows I wouldn’t run away from
kind words even though they make me feel uncomfortable.

I’d respond, “Thank you for thinking of me and remembering.”
This is how I've tried to live these past four years since Jimmy died.
It makes me feel better about myself and it feels respectful to my husband and it
puts others at ease.    Win/Win/Win


  1. widowsquared10:30 AM

    Hi Carol,
    I found your blog a few months ago, not long after my husband died. I have really enjoyed your humour. You have made me laugh out loud several times and it is a relief to find humour in this absurd journey.
    I love your list of ways to be a gracious widow. Thanks.

  2. Anonymous7:43 PM

    I remember many people not mentioning Laurie's name after she died so I would. It gave them permission, I guess.



    I'm turning 36 this year and have been a widow for the past four years... I've been as gracious as I can be... But inside I boil with anger that must be covered with grace and strength... At 32 years of age, everything was in place... we had worked hard in the early years of our marriage and finally all our dreams were falling into place... It ended suddenly... and all of those dreams were buried with the love of my life.... And now I watch all those lives of my "lucky" friends go on... while I wade through the memory of the hopes of the past...

  4. Anonymous6:13 PM

    Carol, I think the one thing I have to be gracious about are the people who tell drunk jokes or make comments about alcoholics in my presence. Don't they remember that my Jeff died of complications due to alcoholism? I just smile and let it roll.... I've found in the year since Jeff died there are so few things to really get angry about, and it's even harder to get angry when you're curled in the fetal position from loneliness...