I am a recent widow. Since my husband’s death I’ve become adept at dodging unpleasant situations caused by folks that want to console me but whose words instead cause me to look for the nearest rooftop from which to jump.
Those of you familiar with my ‘drivel’ know that my words are usually tinged with sarcasm. Please note that I mean no disrespect to other widows or widowers: these feelings may not be shared by others. But, here are my helpful tips to those wishing to say the right words, do the right thing, and gently address the topic without causing more pain to the bereaved:
- Don’t ask, “Is there anything I can do?” unless you’re prepared to hear, “Yes. Bring him back”
- Don’t use the ‘funeral smile’, the smile folks use at a wake. I know I’m pitiful. You don’t have to remind me.
- Don’t tell me horror stories about your relative that died of the same thing. It’s not your turn. It’s my turn.
- Don’t ask if my husband smoked. Any answer I give you will not lessen my pain.
- If I’m laughing don’t remind me that I’m supposed to be sad by talking about the obvious. Once in awhile I like to take a break from grief and pretend I’m like everyone else and not straddling two worlds; what is and what could have been.
- Do call and ask me to attend parties, luncheons, movies, anything that will make me feel whole for a couple of hours.
- Do smile and say hello if you see me with a male friend. It is not your concern whether he is simply a friend or has the potential to become a love interest. I will live my life as I choose and not as others see fit.
When a loved one dies, those remaining have essentially been abandoned by that person. The worst thing you can do to a widow or widower, or anyone touched by death, is to abandon her.
Take the time to care. Remain a friend. Remember holidays. And hope that, if you ever lose a loved one, those close to you will have read this column.
Pictured: The late Dan "Snake" Watson & Skippy