When you’re grieving, they tell you to take it “one day at a time.” A day seems like forever when you don’t have the energy or motivation to get through the next hour! These suggestions and prayers for grieving widows are from Kathleen, who lost her husband after a long battle with Parkinson’s Disease. She shares how she gets through the long days and finds comfort as a grieving widow.
Kathleen’s husband’s death was more painful and sad than she expected – even though she was prepared. She thought she was ready to say goodbye; she had no idea that simply getting through the day would be so difficult. If you’re a grieving widow who is struggling, you may find hope and healing here. Her experience may help you see you are not alone. Also, if you scroll through the readers’ comments below you’ll learn how other widows are coping with their husband’s death. Learning how other women experience grief and process pain can help you get through today. I also offer a prayer for grieving widows at the end of this article.
I am sorry you lost your husband. My 89 year old father-in law died last month; he and my mother-in-law were married for almost 63 years. The loss and grief is deep. I myself have never been a grieving widow, but I’m beginning to understand that there is no “getting over it.” There is only an entirely different life.
There are certainly no quick or easy tips on how to recover from loss and survive grief. You, like my mother-in-law, may be in the “grieving widow” category but you are an individual. You are on a personal journey that you can will walk alone. You may have friends and family members, and even new companions, but nobody can know exactly how you feel.
But take heart! Other widows may not know exactly how you feel, but they understand what it’s like to lose a husband after decades of marriage. You aren’t grieving through your days alone.
You may find Healing After Loss: Daily Meditations For Working Through Grief helpful. Martha Whitmore Hickman understands the helplessness and hopelessness of thinking of oneself as a grieving widow – especially if you can barely that your husband is dead! Death is surreal sometimes, even impossible to believe. Martha’s daily meditations will help you work through grief and the understand the grieving process.
Grief is exhausting. The grieving process often leaves widows without emotional energy or motivation to read much in one sitting. The daily meditations for working through grief in this book are specifically designed for grieving widows. The one page entries are short, comforting, and heartwarming.
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 most helpful ways to grieve through the day. After the practical tips is Kathleen’s experience with the loss of her husband, and a prayer for grieving widows.
1. Stay involved with people, even just a little
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 about online grief groups
Many people are now using sites like Facebook 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. Relieve and 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 it’s important to feel your feelings. Not experiencing the grief of widowhood will delay the healing process and even make getting through the day more difficult. Express your feelings in creative, active, quiet and personal ways. Emotions hurt…and they’re helping you heal the grief of losing 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.
Writing about your thoughts and feelings can be healing, even therapeutic. If you wrote your husband’s eulogy, you know how painful it is to write about the death of someone you love. Hopefully, writing also untangled difficult emotions and helped you release your grief.
If you’d like to share story of how you lost your husband, I welcome your comments below. Did you have a funeral, memorial service, or a celebration of life? How do you feel about being called a widow? What helps you get through the days and nights?
How Kathleen Rediscovered Her Strength
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 advice 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.
“If you suppress grief too much, it can well redouble.” ~ Moliere.
I hope Kathleen’s advice helps you find your own ways to regain hope, strength and faith despite your grief and loss. May her experience and tips for widows may give you ideas for your own journey. And may you find today’s grief a little lighter and lesser than yesterday’s.
A Prayer for Grieving Widows
Lord, thank you for the time we had with our husbands. We knew love, companionship, intimacy, and pain. We were together long enough to know love, but too short to get enough of being married. 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, for 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 the sadness of being alone. We know You love us and care about our lives, and ask that you fill us with Your peace, freedom, and love. Amen.
I invite you to write your story in the comments section below. You might share how you lost your husband, what you’re experiencing, and how it feels to be a “grieving widow.” What helps you get through the day? You may find it healing and helpful to write and express your feelings of loss and grief.
Are you facing an anniversary, birthday or even a holiday? Read 4 Ways to Cope With Valentine’s Day After Your Husband’s Death.
With love and sympathy,