What hurts worse is when we are left out of casual conversations. The type of conversations that include laughter, jokes, what is happening in the world around us, and even though you are married and we are not, many of us do care and understand relationships are important! We were married remember? Just because the one we loved is not physically with us, does not mean we are not happy for your accomplishments.
Sure, sometimes we may feel sad and jealous. But doesn't everyone go through these emotions? Its normal. Do you not have a casual conversation even with those who tell you, "I'm so jealous, my husband never buys me flowers?"
I had an unusual incident the other day. A friend of my husbands, who honestly really never could remember my name, came up to me, while I was in the midst of a few single male friends and said..."Hey, you are Rob's wife. I am so sorry. We were good friends." The person with him had a sudden reaction of "Oh God are you OUT of your mind" and his eyes were the size of saucers. Not to mention the deathly silence amongst everyone else.
I smiled and said, "yes you are right. Its okay to say this. I was his wife, and I don't mind that you still think of me this way. He passed away, we did not divorce. It keeps his memory alive for you and reminds me also how much he was loved. Its okay because to some of you, I will always be his wife."
Absolutely no harm was intended. He hadn't been in town for a few years, but at least he knew my husband passed away, and he was kind enough to acknowledge it also makes him feel bad too. He really just wanted to acknowledge he knew and feels bad.
So we are really not that hard to approach. Here's some simple tips:
- Most of us don't mind you talking about your husband. We used to have a husband we spoke about too. When we converse back, we will probably use our husband's name. Remember, we had a relationship too. This is not to make you feel bad, it actually makes us feel a part of your world and not so isolate. Why can't we talk about our husbands too?
- Please don't gossip or give us news updates of other widows and their personal private lives comparing us. We're glad that they are doing well, and updates are good, but how about leave the salt out of the equation.
Gee, it wasn't that hard was it!
- You feel weird around us...well how do you think we feel? Its just as odd for us as it is for you. So maybe be honest. Tell us you feel strange and don't want to hurt us but want to continue the friendship and spend some time with us. We'll let you know we're interested and we feel odd too. But a workable solution to this exists, it is called communication.
As for being scared you'll say something stupid, to be honest, we have all said stupid things in our life. If you do say something stupid, we'll let you know. Most of us will anyway. What hurts is the silence. The avoidance we feel when we do try to reach out. Please remember, we are frightened, and will be this way for awhile.
Sometimes we hide out and avoid you. We don't want to tell you about our rotten hands in life. We would like this ability, as it's nice to have someone to talk to, but we understand no one appreciates a depressing conversation. It is very hard to keep a happy face and tell you we're doing great, couldn't be better, when in reality it isn't that way. We're just pleased someone stopped to speak to us. So when its not going so well, we'll probably hide out. Don't force the issue and don't be offended never speaking to us again.
Please keep in mind, many individuals have gone through a family loss. However, losing a spouse, it is a whole different ball game. Words cannot begin to describe what we are going through. Just because you lost a family member doesn't mean you understand how we are feeling. Empathize with us, but don't take away our right to our pain. To us, it is worse than an uncle, aunt, sister, father or mother. I've suffered loss also. In fact I lost my mother to cancer just a couple years before my husband. I will tell you now, it really hurt to lose my mom, but gawd I can't begin to say how much pain I felt when my husband passed on.
It is the end of the world to us. Realize this.
Do you really want to say something beautiful to us to make us feel better? How about, "I've been thinking about you." Isn't that easy? If you really mean it, give us time to think on how to respond.