grief


You Said What? 10 Things You Should Not Say To A Widow

Reflecting on what the first year of being a widow was like, I have found that some people just will not allow others to grieve in their own time, and they can be, from my experience, insensitive and say the oddest things. I compiled a list of my top 10 things that people should NOT say to a widow. I pray that it can help those that may know someone who lost a spouse to understand that we just need our space and time to heal. While we appreciate the love, attention and seemingly support others say they want to give, sometimes we need time and space to adjust to living our lives dancing to a different beat.

#10- Did you have a final conversation with them or did they make peace? –To ask this question is really delving into a very intimate and private moment between two people that have spent a lifetime together. When they want to share this information they will do so at a time that fits for them in the grieving process. Don’t try to rush it being nosey or you may get your feelings hurt.

#9- Do you miss your spouse? – Are you really asking me this question? YES I miss him! You tend to miss those that you spend every waking moment with and have a strong bond with. This is a silly question to ask a spouse and you should just keep it to yourself.

#8- Can I help you go through his/her belongings? – Are you really asking me can you go through my husband’s things with me? I can understand this coming from a very close family member, but a distant, “I see you twice a year” relative. Stop it! Most often, we are consumed with emotions as we go through our spouse’s belongings. We cry, scream; fall to the floor, etc. In those moments, we often choose to be alone to talk to God and ask the question, “why us and why now?” Please give us that space.

#7- I truly know how you feel. - I feel with my hands darn it! Seriously, I find this truly hard to believe especially if you have not lost a spouse, nor do you know the relationship I had with my spouse. You just cannot know how a person will feel in this instance. You can try to be empathetic but each person is different so don’t assume you know how the grieving person feels. Maybe you can instead say, “I don’t know how you feel, but I am praying for you or thinking about you”.

#6- Call me if you need anything. – I have found this to mean, “Call me for anything except money”. This is not true in all cases but with some folk, there is every excuse given for not providing assistance, when you should not extend the offer if you are not truly willing to help when help is needed. My advice is to say what you can potentially provide assistance with in the beginning and stick to that if the need arises.

#5- Let me just hug/hold you. – Why? Not all people are touchy/feely and it can be a huge mistake to think this and start grabbing folk when they don’t want to be touched. While I do hug people because I am a caring person, some people that want to hug widows try to hug and touch in places that will cause the widow to punch you really hard. STOP it! Keep your “ulterior motive” hugs to yourself, and take that as your only and final warning.

#4 - If you ever need “none-committed” intimacy call me. – Please awake me from this dream. There is really no nice way to tell you where to go, but it’s to a place that is extremely hot with fire and brimstone. Ok you must have some mental issues that need to be addressed if you think that a grieving spouse wants to be touched intimately by someone OTHER THAN their deceased spouse.  Additionally, if they want to be touched, why would they want to be touched by you? Please use better judgment when approaching a grieving spouse with this foolishness, especially the first year.

#3- Did he have a will? Do you have a will? I can truly understand this question coming from maybe a close relative, but even then, tread very soft here especially if the death is very recent. If you didn’t have that type of relationship with them, then why are you even in folk business like that other than to be nosey and see what you can try to get. Lord help.

#2- Did he leave you a hefty insurance policy? - The statement leading up to this question is usually, “I understand your pain but I am sure you are financially set so”…Who can be this insensitive you ask. I cannot tell you the number of people that ASSUMED that because my husband was a veteran and retired police officer that I have money running out of my stilettos. The financial chaos that ensues after the loss of a spouse, when there is NO adequate insurance policy in place prior to a spouse’s death and tons of medical and other bills is TRAGIC.  Please stop asking this question. However, what you can do is encourage spouses to get policies in place prior to a life-changing event happening that could bring financial chaos.

#1- Do you think you will get married again? – How insensitive can you really be? I was asked this question a few days after my husband was BURIED! I just lost my husband, the ground is still warm and you want to know if I will ever get married again. Thank God it was a phone call and I dropped the connection…on purpose. PLEASE stop asking us this question. We may or may not get married again, but allow us to grieve and then start the conversation about life after death on our terms, not yours. I would suggest not asking this question at all within the first year of the death.

This is my list in a nutshell. I am still healing and going through this process daily and thank God for each day I can get through without sobbing for my beloved spouse. Continue to pray for my strength.

I am a motivational speaker, business psychology professional, philanthropist, photojournalist and world changer. Follow me on twitter @Dawgelene

 


REFLECTIONS: My First Year As A Widow

As I reflect on my first year as a widow I recall so many things that we did those final weeks of his life. I realize that I am so much stronger than I initially thought.

When I reflect now on the feelings that went through me when he first died (abandonment, isolation, neglect, loneliness, frustration, hurt, anger, confusion), I chuckle at how hard I worked at trying to convince myself that I should not have felt any of those feelings at that time. I felt like I had to be strong for everyone around me that loved him as well, that I didn’t have a right to experience my own level of grief. I kept trying to put my feelings on the back burner and pretend they didn’t exist, so I could be a pillar of strength for others.

Don’t get me wrong; I love being a voice of empowerment for others in encouraging them on their journey. However, I do know that we must learn to be rejuvenated within our own spirits so that we can be effective in serving others, if that is our chosen path. I compiled a list of 10 realities that we should embrace when we lose our spouse, in hopes that it will encourage other widows/widowers.

#1- It is OK to cry and feel emotions –I used to think that I shouldn’t cry or express how I was really feeling about the loss of my spouse. You can cry, scream, kick, or whatever allows you to express your feelings on the loss of your spouse. You built a lifetime together that didn’t last forever as you expected, so you have earned your right to grieve the way YOU see fit.

 

#2- You will miss your spouse – It is really unfair to think that after losing a spouse you immediately get over it. You don’t! I tried really hard to keep busy and not think about my loss, but because of the time we spent together daily, I eventually could not shake the feeling of emptiness I felt without him. It gets easier to get through the days now, but he is still missed. Take one day at a time.

 

#3- There is no replacement for your spouse – I was told that I would get married again and find love and happiness. I don’t doubt that it may happen for me at some point in the future. However, I had to embrace the reality that no one can replace him and I don’t expect that. What we built was meant for the two of us and us alone. If love comes along again, what you build will be with that person and should not cross into the life that you shared with the spouse you loss.

 

#4- He/She is not coming back- My husband was on hospice at home because I wanted to spend every final moment I could with him. There was a special spot in the house that he would peek around and scare me almost daily. When he died, I found myself waiting/hoping that he would peek around the corner and scare me. I also waited for him to pull in the driveway many nights after his death. I had to realize that he wasn’t coming back and nothing I could do would change that. However, we can cherish the sweet memories that we created with our spouses that will always keep a special place for them in our hearts.

 

#5- There will be tomorrows but…– You must get through today first. I used to tell myself that I just want tomorrow to get here so I did not have to deal with the daily pain of my loss. I had to realize that each day came for a reason and an opportunity for me to get stronger in my spirit and emotions in the loss of my spouse. Tomorrow will come for you but embrace the pain, laughter, loss and joy of today first.

 

#6- You CAN make it – In the beginning, I just knew I could not make it without my spouse. He was such a major player in the game of my life more than anyone really knew. He was my king! The nights were the longest for me but at the dawn of each new day, I felt a renewed sense of accomplishment and strength. I did make it through my yesterdays and so can you. If you ever think you can’t, refer to #5.

 

#7 – You are not alone – When we lose our life partners, we often think that we are alone in the healing journey. We are NOT alone. From a spiritual perspective, Jesus will never leave you or forsake you. From a human perspective, there are friends, family and so many people that truly want to see you move past your pain and embrace your life again. While you may take time to be alone and reflect on the beautiful life you shared with your spouse, remember that there are others that love you and are there for you if you need them.

 

#8- Life happens – It took me a short while to realize that the loss of my spouse was a sinkhole in the streets of my life. The thing about sinkholes is that while we can get sucked in quickly and become damaged, they eventually, over time can be fixed and the streets will become drivable again. Life will happen and things will come that will seemingly suck the life out of you and damage you emotionally/spiritually. However, over time you will become repaired/healed and will take the wheel once again to drive down the streets of your amazing life.

 

#9- Its fair that you are still here- I said once that it wasn’t fair that I remained while my husband had to leave me. I then remembered a final conversation we had with him telling me he had lived his life with no regrets and I had a chance to live life differently, but without him. While it was difficult to embrace that conversation at that time, I realized afterwards that it is fair for me to live, and to live a more purposeful and determined life of love, happiness and joy with no regrets…by choice.

 

#10-There is life after death– One of the final pictures my husband took was that of two flowers, one living and one dead. After reflecting on that photo and my conversations with him before he died, I realized that there is life for me after his death. I must move forward by choice because the world is waiting for me to embark upon it. You must move forward no matter how slow the steps are, how painful the days get or how overwhelmed you feel in the moment of your grief. You are here for a purpose so embrace it.

Embrace you…Embrace change.

Dawgelene “Dr Dawj” Sangster

I am a motivational speaker, business psychology professional, philanthropist, photojournalist and world changer. Follow me on twitter @Dawgelene

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