It’s a shame that you have to be warned about such a thing, but believe me you will need to be prepared to hear many rumors and gossip about what you are doing (or not doing). Some people have nothing better to do, especially in a small town.
Here you are, trying to deal with the grief and loss of your spouse and the next thing you know people will have you either withering away in your home or out playing the “Merry Widow.” I seriously hadn’t left my house in months after losing my husband, but believe it or not, I heard through the grapevine that I was getting remarried!
Yes, people are going to talk and it will unfortunately find its way back to you. You’ll have to learn not to let it bother you, as hard as that sounds, because it seriously doesn’t matter what you do, someone will gossip about it. If you choose to stay by yourself and live a quiet life, you’ll hear, “Oh the poor thing is just withering away.” If you do start going out and maybe even dating, you’ll hear gasps of, “She is dating already?”
YOU know what you are doing and whether it is right for you are not. If you choose to stay single and spend most of your time at home, that’s fine. I stay home most all of the time, but I have plenty of gardening and hobbies that I enjoy. I am certainly not “withering away.” The same goes for if you decide you are ready to go out with friends and possibly even date.
It’s hard to hear rumors and gossip about what you are, or are not, doing but chances are someone is going to offer up their opinion. Remember, it is just an opinion. Your true friends will remain your true friends and support you in however you decide to go forward. Don’t let a few gossipy people add to what you are already going through. Be prepared for it to happen, but also be prepared to brush it off.
Since starting the Widow’s Walk column, I have written mostly about things that dealt with after losing a loved one. I feel like I should step back a bit and tell you about some things that you may unfortunately find yourself having to deal with if your loved one becomes ill.
I wasn’t prepared (how can anyone ever be) for anything that was thrown at my family, nor was I very knowledgeable about anything to do with losing a loved one. When the doctor said it was time to call in Hospice care, I was devastated. My husband wanted to be at home and I figured I could handle it all, with the help of family.
I knew nothing about Hospice or the nurses that I soon began to rely on for my husband’s needs. They truly are much like Angels in disguise. The nurse that was “in charge” of my husband’s case became my friend, my comfort and my support. He wanted to remain at home if at all possible, and our Hospice nurse helped us to achieve that.
The Hospice nurse did regularly scheduled visits, plus I knew she was just a phone call away. Most Hospice nurses will give you their cell phone number so you don’t have to go through the office routine of calling them. I knew if I was concerned about something, I could call her at any time and she would offer advice or reassure me. She would even come to my house if she thought I was extremely concerned, no matter what time it was.
She arranged for someone to come every few days to tend to his grooming care. At first, I was hesitant and insisted that I could, and in fact wanted to, do that myself. She gently told me that while that was fine, it would help ease my stress at allowing someone else to come in and help. The trained attendant would bathe, shampoo and shave him. I got to come back in the room and see him all freshly shaved, his favorite after shave scent lingering in the air.
The whole point of this post is that while you may feel guilty about not doing it all yourself, you shouldn’t. Hospice care not only helps your loved one get the best care possible, it will help you to know that you have this wonderful support system behind you. The Hospice nurses are not only medically trained to deal with such situations, they are also the most compassionate and caring people I have ever met.
When and if it ever comes time for your loved one to be moved to Hospice care in a hospital, the Hospice nurse will know. He or she will handle those arrangements for you as well. It is a great stress reliever not to have to deal with those things and to just be there with your loved one. I know that we all feel like we want to do it all, but truthfully, you just can’t. You will become exhausted both physically and mentally.
I hope that none of you ever have to hear the words, “You need Hospice care’s help” but should your situation ever come to that, accept the help without any guilt or remorse that you aren’t able to do it all yourself. Hospice care will be a great relief and they will take excellent care of your loved one and you.
There is going to be a lot of triggers that will remind you of your lost loved one. Some you may think about and dread, but others can take you quite by surprise. As time goes by, those triggers of memories won’t be quite so painful, but in the beginning they can be quite overwhelming. Some of them may be so random that you will never know when they will pop up.
Some of the small triggers that bring you to tears can be eliminated to help you cope and some of them can be enhanced to make you feel better. For instance, my husband always used Head and Shoulders shampoo. In the beginning, when I grabbed the bottle to wash my hair, the smell overwhelmed me and I remembered how he smelt, fresh from the shower. I got rid of the bottle of shampoo and replaced it with a lavender scented one. Lavender is a very relaxing scent.
When I was really, really lonely I would put a bit of his aftershave on one of his shirts and sleep in it. While it did make me miss him, the scent of the aftershave seemed to comfort me. I was used to smelling that scent on the pillows and bedclothes, so I guess it was a sense of normal. Strange how one scent can really upset you and another seems to comfort, isn’t it? But it does happen.
You might seem to be coping quite well one minute and then something will trigger a memory and the pain and grief will come sweeping back. I found that I couldn’t watch certain TV shows anymore because we had enjoyed them together. PBR bull riding was something we enjoyed watching. We would cheer on our favorite riders and bulls. When I tried to watch it alone, the empty spot beside me on the sofa was just too overwhelming.
These triggers are all part of the process. As time goes on, you will learn certain ones that trigger a warm smile and which ones are still too painful to handle. Some just take you by surprise. You may be in a room full of people and think you are doing fine, when you hear a bit of a song, or someone says something that reminds you of a memory. There is no reason to hide your emotion, because friends and family will understand.
It’s been nearly 4 years for me now and while some of the triggers bring a smile to my face, there are still others that will resort me to tears. Hiding your emotions to put on a “happy face” is not good for you and your friends and family shouldn’t expect you too. Your loved one may be gone, but the memories will last forever and you never know when one might surface. I promise that eventually many of them will make you smile and feel all warm and fuzzy…
My name is Donna and I am just and Everyday Woman trying to figure out this aging thing, I also get to figure out how to do the Widow's Walk through life. I lost my husband to cancer nearly four years ago, after being with him since I was 15-years old. He was always a big fan of my writing ability and I thought, "What better way to honor him, than to keep on writing and maybe be able to help someone else who is going down this same path.