When you’re grieving, they tell you to take it “one day at a time.” But how do you get through the next hour? These tips and prayers for grieving widows are from Kathleen, who lost her husband after a long battle with Parkinson’s Disease.
Read Healing After Loss: Daily Meditations For Working Through Grief by Martha Whitmore HickmanIf you feel helpless and hopeless – and can barely believe you’re a widow or widower. She has incredible insight, hope, and understanding about the grieving process. As a grieving widow, you may find yourself unable to read an entire book about healing from grief; the daily one page entries in this book will comfort and support you.
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Here, Kathleen offers tips for widows who are grieving loss, and describes the grieving process and the pain she felt after her husband died. She’s a writer who has found ways to remain strong and happy, despite her grief that she lost her husband. I offer a prayer for grieving widows at the end of this article.
There are no easy tips on how to recover from loss and survive grief. You are on an individual journey that you must walk alone. Nobody can know exactly how you feel. But take heart! Other widows understand what it feels like to lose a husband after years or decades of marriage. So you aren’t fully alone.
We’re all just walking each other home. After I share a few practical tips, Kathleen offers her story of life after losing her husband to Parkinson’s Disease.
4 Ways to Get Through the Day as a Grieving Widow
There’s no “normal” response to death. Everybody is different, which means you’ll grieve differently than a family member or coworker. Accepting yourself and others’ response to death is an important part of the grieving process!
These tips for grieving widows can help you accept other people’s ways of mourning, and identify your own “best ways” to grieve. After the practical tips is Kathleen’s experience with the loss of her husband, and a prayer for grieving widows.
1. Talk to other people – join a grief support group
Being with people who have experienced similar losses can help you cope with your grief. Just knowing you’re not alone can be reassuring; spending time with people who care helps you deal with your painful feelings. If you don’t find the bereavement group to be supportive, don’t be afraid to try a different one.
And, joining a grief support group when you lose your husband will show you how others cope with loss — which will help with your own mourning process.
2. Learn how “cybergrieving” works
Many people are now using sites like MySpace and their own personal blogs to deal with their feelings about the death of a loved one.
To deal with grief, visit the blog or website of your loved one and write to them on it. You can write poetry, letters, songs, or even a one-liner, simply stating how you feel and what you think. This tip for grieving widowers or widowers involves finding different or unusual ways to let go of someone you love.
3. Let go of the past slowly
Feeling your grief, anger, guilt, and all your emotions is important. Let yourself grieve. You may feel like your heart will break or you’ll fall into a black pit and never get out – but you have to feel your feelings before you can heal. Letting go of the past through expression of your feelings is healthy way to grieve when you lose your husband.
4. Remember that time doesn’t erase grief, but it does lighten it
Time does heal when you’re surviving the death of your husband. Whether it completely heals ALL wounds is a different story, but it does dull the pain a little. Your feelings of loss and sadness may never go away, but with time your heavy burden of sadness will lighten.
Sharing your experience with grief is one of the best ways to heal. If you’d like to tell your story of how you lost your spouse, I welcome your comments below.
How Kathleen Rediscovered Her Strength as a Grieving Widow
Guest Post ~ Kathleen Airdrie
My husband bravely, but with sadness, faced the truth of his fading good health and active life. He was a man who loved the outdoors, our canoe journeys on the rivers and lakes, and our gardens. A musician, he entertained at community events that included wedding receptions and charitable functions.
The diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease was frightening because we knew that there was no cure. Throughout the following six years as his condition worsened we cried together often. Deprived of his balance, he couldn’t enjoy the canoe, and with the tremors increasing and his strength lessening, he could not play his fiddle. We faced it together, in our home, until pneumonia ended his life one cold February day.
After his death, a profound sense of loss overwhelmed me. Family members were helpful, but I had the terrible and terrifying feeling of being lost – away from myself. I could hear their voices, understand the actual words, but not really comprehend enough to participate in real conversations.
My meals were merely snacks; enough to sustain me. Sleep was fitful. The loneliness and pervading sense of loss weighed heavily on me. A wonderful friend who truly listened to me and was supportive during my darkest days, shared my first ‘breakthrough’ moment with me. About three months after my husband’s death I told her that a family member reacted angrily to my response that I was just sort of coping. Raising her voice, she told me to ‘get over it’.
I told my friend about how that remark made me sad, but mostly angry, then suddenly realized that the spark of anger was something I’d not felt since my husband’s death. We saw that as a hopeful sign.
While giving all of my attention and energies to the gardens that summer I gradually regained my physical and emotional strengths. I began to eat better meals and sleep through most nights. Sometimes I sat in the garden and cried then continued the work with my renewed sense of purpose. While walking through my gardens a friend commented, “I know how difficult this year has been for you. Your garden is your victory.”
From that day I knew that I would be all right, or as all right as possible under the circumstances. No longer a recluse as I was during those awful months, I became involved in a few community activities again and travelled occasionally to visit family members. Most importantly, I was taking care of myself.
Now, it’s not all sadness, it’s not all loneliness, it’s not all wonderful or humorous. It is a combination of all of those, as are most peoples’ lives.
Kathleen’s tips for grieving widows:
- Tell a family member or close friend what you need, whether it’s a good meal, a good listener or help with daily chores.
- Try to acknowledge the legitimacy of your feelings; be patient with yourself.
- While reminiscing with family members or friends, don’t let feelings of guilt intrude if you hear the sound of laughter from them or yourself.
To connect with other women who are facing a new stage of life, read Starting Over in Your 60s – After Your Husband Dies.
Help Grieving the Loss of Your Husband
In Grieving the Loss of Someone You Love: Daily Meditations to Help You Through the Grieving Process, Raymond R Mitsch and Lynn Brookside share a series of thoughtful daily devotions can help you endure the anguish and uncertainty of facing life as a grieving widow.
Daily mediations are easier to read and digest than a “whole” book on how to survive life as a widow. This book – Grieving the Loss of Someone You Love – will help you understand the cycles of grief, sort through the emotions of anger, guilt, fear, and depression, and face the God who allowed you to lose the one you love.
When you’re mourning, remember: “If you suppress grief too much, it can well redouble,” said Moliere.
Accepting – and maybe even embracing – your painful loss may be one of the healthiest ways to cope with death. This means feeling your pain, sharing it with others, and finding the best ways for you to heal. Expressing how you feel in writing can be especially helpful and healing.
A Prayer for Grieving Widows
Thank you, Father God, for the time we had with our husbands. We knew love, companionship, intimacy, and pain. We were together for long enough to know how much we loved each other, but short enough to be too brief. Father, You know the pain of loss and grief. You know how devastating it is to lose someone you love. We pray for healing from the pain, and Your comfort in this loss. We pray for your presence and love to overcome us. We ask for your help and guidance as we deal with this huge loss in our lives. We know You love us and care about our lives, and ask that you fill us with Your peace, freedom, and love. Amen.
Would you like to share your story of how you lost your husband? You may find it healing and free-ing to write and express your feelings of loss and grief. Please feel free to tell me your story below. I can’t offer advice, but expressing your feelings may help you cope with the grief. I invite you to share your prayers, as well.
You can visit Kathleen Airdrie at Suite101, where she’s a Contributing Writer.