October 2018

Moving Forward After the Death of a Spouse

There are losses that we never get over. People who have never experienced these powerful losses often don't understand. We carry on, we find a new normal, we even learn eventually how to find happiness again in life, but we do not forget or get over the pain. The death of a spouse is often this kind of loss. A loss that changes our world, our outlook, our understanding of life. How can people keep moving forward after losing someone and feeling like half of their soul has been ripped away? Yet, they do keep living. They find a way to survive, to move forward, to heal and to become brave enough to share their love again. This doesn't mean they forget, or that they get over the pain... they just find a way to expand their hearts to allow more love to grow in new places while keeping their old love safely inside them as well.

In the first article this month, Nancy Berns recounts a conversation with a husband who shares how still misses his first wife and thinks about her every day. Even though fifteen years have passed and he is happily remarried, he knows that he will always miss his first wife. He loved her. He loves her still. The second article shares how a woman came to realize that she will someday want to move forward and find new love again. She is devastated by her husband's death, but she knows that her husband wouldn't want to to be alone forever. She's not ready yet, but someday she will be, and she will find someone who will be understanding and will accept that her husband will always be in her heart. We also share some books that can help to support you if you are grieving the death of a spouse. 

We Can Carry Grief and Joy Together

by Nancy Berns

Settling back in the chair, Tim talks about his wife Leah, who died 15 years ago. “There’s not a day that goes by without me thinking about her. You know, ‘What would she look like today? Would she still be working?’ You just kind of think about what our life might have been like. ‘What would she think about this? What would she say about that?’  And a lot of times you just don’t want to think about it because, you know, she’s gone, I’ve got somebody else, let’s just keep going on with life.”

I ask him, “Does it surprise you that you think about her every day?” 

He replies, “No. No. We were just too close for me to not think of her.”

In our conversation, Tim describes a bond he continues to have with Leah, even though she died many years ago.  These examples, plus more that he shares, might be enough for some to echo familiar myths about grief, such as, he has no closure, he is stuck in his grief, or he is suffering from a disorder.

But Tim would tell you that he is doing just fine. He is happily remarried and enjoys grandchildren, friends, and a fulfilling job. Yes, he misses Leah yet, but that makes sense to him. He loved her. He still does.

That does not mean Tim is “stuck” in his grief.  He enjoys his current life, but Leah is still part of his family. The mother of his children. His first love.

We have the capacity to carry complicated emotions. Remembering people who have died is not disrespectful to those still living. And it does not keep us from living a full life and loving others. This may be hard to understand unless you have experienced it.

Before his wife died, Tim assumed people “got over” a death fairly quickly.  Sure, the first year is really hard, he thought, but then it will be in the past. Not until Leah died did he realize how grief lingers.

Tim now has a different understanding of grief. He shares, “Imagine if you basically had your heart ripped out. And it hurts, it really hurts, and then it scabs over. And as it scabs over, you know, the pain is less but any little thing knocks the scab off. As time goes by, it takes more to knock the scab off. But when it gets knocked off, then it hurts just as bad as it did the first time. So it’s been 15 years now and the scab is pretty well on there, but it could still get knocked off. And it hurts.”  Read More...

Death of A Wife

A collection of poignant reflections for a husband mourning the loss of his wife. Each of the thirty-one stories and poems considers a different facet of the grieving process. These insights will touch the heart, heal the soul and bring hopeful direction for the reader. When his wife died, author Robert Vogt came face-to-face with emptiness, loss, anger and sorrow. He pondered questions like, “Why me?” “When will the pain go away?” and “Where do I go from here?” This book is the result of his search for comfort, peace and healing.  Shop Here...

Death of a Husband

Any woman who has lost a beloved husband knows these feelings. Whether he died yesterday, last month, last year or a decade ago, the sense of grief lingers. It may change with the passing time, the help of friends or new life circumstances, but the feeling of loss never ends. The Death of a Husband offers insights that will touch a woman’s heart, heal her soul and point out new and hopeful directions.  Shop Here...

In Her Defense, I Defined My Journey

by MrsTDJ

So, I got dissed a few weeks ago.

Yup, dissed.  Old school 70’s and 80’s babies can appreciate the deepness of a wound that requires me to use a form of the word dis.  After the dis, I allowed my feelings to be hurt for 1.2 seconds before shaking my head from side to side while laughing to myself.  Looking back, there is no sting; just clarity.

Let me tell you what happened.  I’ve been pretty open about my struggles as a widow.  It’s been a challenge to find the right amount of support for myself.  I’ve been of the mindset that a grief support group for those who have lost their spouses was something I needed.   I tried many (ok, just three) groups and I didn’t like the way I felt in any of them.  In all the groups, I was the youngest person by at least 20 years and the only person with a young child. I certainly don’t believe in a distinction amongst those that are grieving; a loss is a loss.  After the loss of someone special, the living must survive.  Of those that survive, only the strongest and luckiest figure out how to craft their lives into some semblance of normalcy. 

I figured that in a room full of other widows/widowers, I’d be able to share, acknowledge, commiserate, seek solace, give encouragement, etc.  I thought I’d find a “tribe” with these folks.  Sadly, I did not.  Our general issue (loss of spouse) was the same, but nothing else was.  Those facing retirement, grandchildren the age of my son, and people who intentionally choose to never have another love had nothing in common with me.

After the local/in person attempts, I figured, let me try these here interwebs.  A few keystrokes, a little help from Mr. Google and ta da – online grief support.  One specific group on the book of faces seemed promising.  Let’s call the group something generic like “Young Widows” (not the real name).  I was intrigued by the word “young” in the title, hoping that it would mean there would be folks between 20 and 50.   Boom! I found them.  People in their 20s and 30s, pushing forward at work and home, young children like LittleTDJ, etc.  For about a year, I hung on the periphery of this group, finally diving in a few months ago. It felt good to seek specific support and offer direct encouragement to those who were in the early days of grief.  I made a couple of buddies in the group and I was generally pleased with my interactions there.  From time to time I noticed overly negative messages and tones, but I tried to ignore them.

Things reached a fever pitch when a young widow from the Midwest, let’s call her Katie, announced that she had just gotten engaged. She seemed like a super sweet woman and her new fiancée sounded like a good guy, who had been very respectful and understanding about honoring her first husband.  I was the first to post a message of congratulations along with a prayer for love, peaceful times ahead and space to forever grieve her first love while allowing her new love to soar.  Folks!!  You’d have thought I called somebody’s mother a female dog! Within minutes, the thread had over 30 responses with the same consensus – Katie was a dishonest, evil heifer who never loved her husband and I was scum of the earth for wishing her well in a new marriage.  Folks started saying that we were bad wives and bad mothers for not wishing we had died instead of our husbands and for not wanting to remain single forever and die soon to join them

Huh?????  Say what now????   What????  

Widow to Widow

In this remarkably useful guide, widow, author, and therapist Genevieve Davis Ginsburg offers fellow widows-as well as their family and friends-sage advice for coping with the loss of a husband. From learning to travel and eat alone to creating new routines to surviving the holidays and anniversaries that reopen emotional wounds, Widow to Widow walks readers through the challenges of widowhood and encourages them on their path to building a new life.   Shop Here...

The Heart and the Bottle

What happens when someone special who encourages us to see beauty in the world is no longer around? We can hide, we can place our heart in a bottle and withdraw... or we can find another special someone who understands the magic. We can learn to share our joy and laughter with someone new.  This book for children shares an important lesson for all who grieve.   Shop Here...

Learning To Live Again

by Garth Brooks

I burned my hand, I cut my face 
Heaven knows how long it's been 
Since I've felt so out of place 
I'm wonderin' if I'll fit in 

Debbie and Charley said they'd be here by nine 
And Deb said she might bring a friend 
Just my luck, they're right on time 
So here I go again 

I'm gonna smile my best smile 
And I'm gonna laugh like it's going out of style 
Look into her eyes and pray that she don't see 
That learning to live again is killing me 

Little cafe, table for four 
But there's just conversation for three 
I like the way she let me get the door 
I wonder what she thinks of me 

Debbie just whispered, "You're doin' fine" 
And I wish that I felt the same 
She's asked me to dance, now her hand's in mine 
Oh, my god, I've forgotten her name 

But I'm gonna smile my best smile 
And I'm gonna laugh like it's going out of style 
Look into her eyes and pray that she don't see 
That learning to live again is killing me 

Singing Ornaments

You hold your loved ones who have died close to your heart, and these ornaments are the perfect acknowledgement of that feeling. A small heart or star is suspended in the center of the ornament, illustrating how you carry your loved ones with you, wherever you are. They make a beautiful chiming sound, and can be used as a holiday ornament, a wind-chime, or as a remembering gift to loved ones. Personalize your ornament by adding a birthstone to it's center.   Shop Here...

Quote of the Month

Where you used to be, there is a hole in the world, which I find myself constantly walking around in the daytime, and falling in at night. I miss you like hell.  Edna St. Vincent Millay

When someone you love dies, and you’re not expecting it, you don’t lose her all at once; you lose her in pieces over a long time — the way the mail stops coming, and her scent fades from the pillows and even from the clothes in her closet and drawers. Gradually, you accumulate the parts of her that are gone. Just when the day comes — when there’s a particular missing part that overwhelms you with the feeling that she’s gone, forever — there comes another day, and another specifically missing part.   John Irving, A Prayer for Owen Meany 

Mission Statement

MISSION: The Grief Watch mission is to offer spiritual, emotional and other support to persons who are grieving and the professional caregivers who assist them.  For more information about us please visit our info page.

GW Facebook
GW Twitter
Email Us
GW Website
Copyright © 2018 Grief Watch, All rights reserved.

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list