No-one chooses to become a widow. The mantle of widowhood is thrust on us.
The Scottish Widow commercial shows a beautiful young woman with a black cloak looking enigmatic and ethereal with a quiet authority. I’m afraid most of the time after my husband died I was red-eyed and stressed out.
It’s an unwelcome rite of passage that is inevitable at some stage in our lives but no matter how you have discussed or intellectualised about death – nothing can prepare you for the gut wrenching pain of it.
It’s a journey you travel alone – no matter how caring friends and family are. It’s a dark abyss that threatens to engulf you, but you do eventually emerge through the long black tunnel into the light that I didn’t believe was there.
The road to widowhood comes in many guises. For some of us our spouses have died after illness – either, protracted or sudden. For others it’s unexpected. All are devastating.
And being a widow brings all kinds of complication. There is no one size fits all to death or grief. People have different scenarios playing out in their lives. Some women have families close or overseas; some are alone. The death could be in a hospital, hospice or at home. There are so many variables to the situation but there is one conclusion – you are a widow.
Only you are affected. Family and friends will grieve – but there is only one widow. No-one can understand what you are going through because they were not in the relationship you were in with your spouse or partner. No-one else can comprehend the deep black hole inside you. The anger, the disbelief, the denial, and the pain that you feel, that is as much physical as emotional.
People are caring and offer condolences and assistance but within a short period of time they will be back in their day to day routine and you will still be at the new intersection of your life about to take the next step into widowhood.
Initially there seemed so much to deal with. So many people to contact and though my husband and I had discussed so much, I don’t think either of us took into account the potency of grief.
I turned to my source of all things – books and immediately reached for as many I could to try and find out if I was having “normal” reactions. I tried contacting societies that I thought might have branches in my area without success. One that did help me was CRUSE and I will be ever indebted to the young man who sat through my monologues and tears.
They say time heals but it’s actually the wound that changes to a scar that is less painful and visible but you will always be aware of it.
If you know a widow, treat her kindly and if you are a widow, be there for the next woman who needs your ear.