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.
Why does that question always seem to be followed by “YET”? Well-meaning family and friends just naturally assume that eventually you will date again. Maybe you will and maybe you won’t, but the question still gets to me, even after four years. What if you just don’t want to? What if you are not ready…YET?
The best thing you can do is tell family and friends how you feel about the subject of dating. If you don’t tell them the question will continue to come up. You may even become annoyed by it and wonder just what they are trying to say. Do they think you need a companion to survive? Are they just curious? Are they hoping to see signs that you are “getting on with life”?
You can get on with life quite nicely as a single person, if that is your choice. If you really are not ready to date or even “meet” a nice gentleman, don’t let yourself be pressured into doing it. Single friends may want to take you out “to find a man.” Simply tell them you are not really looking and are okay just the way you are.
I know some widows who are out there dating and having a good time. I also know some who are content to stay single and enjoy a quiet life. Nobody can, or should, make this decision for you. If you are happy the way you are, then they should be happy for you. You may get, “But aren’t you lonely?” or even “You are too young to be alone.” Worse yet the, “I know just the person you need to meet!”
Who says you need to meet anyone, if you are happy the way you are? You do! When (or if) you are ever ready to think about a companion, you will know. You may even think about it from time to time and not be brave enough to follow through. The truth is you may even feel guilty about dating another man even though you shouldn’t. It is just really hard to realize that you are a single woman now and that dating is okay.
Widows tend to still feel married even after many years. It’s not like we went through a divorce or a bad break up and might have been glad to be rid of our spouse. Actually it is not just widows who are choosing to live a single life these days. I happen to know divorced people who have decided to be alone and just work on making themselves happy. There is no reason to let anyone question your choice of lifestyle. You need to do whatever makes you happy.
I wrote an article on Yahoo Voices awhile back out of exasperation. It turned out as a humorous piece, yet it hit just how I felt. Take a look, I bet it will at least get a smile out of you and you might even nod your head in agreement. It’s called: Dating? Flirting? How do you do that? Click the link and check it out, then come back here and let me know if you agree.
Losing your husband also means losing your best friend, the person you spent the most time with. In the beginning there are plenty of people around, popping in from time to time to check on you. Eventually people get on with their lives and assume you will do the same. How do you “get on” with a life that is now so much different?
If you had been married for a very long time, like I was, you probably don’t really know how to be alone. My days were okay, because I was used to him spending long hours at work. The hardest time of day was that time slot when you are thinking about what to fix for dinner and you realize there is no one to fix dinner for.
If you feel like fixing a full meal and setting the table for dinner, continue doing it. It is a sense of normal that you may need to cling too. The first time my family sat down to a birthday dinner was the hardest. My husband’s empty chair just seemed to scream at everyone. My daughter-in-law quietly got up and got a place setting and glass to fill the empty space at the end of the table where he always sat. It added a sense of normalcy to the table that helped us. There is nothing wrong with doing it, especially if it helps your loneliness.
Evenings by yourself will be the time when you feel the loneliness set in. Those hours between dinner and bedtime seem to stretch on and on. You may even find that you can’t enjoy the same television shows that the two of you used to watch together. Change the channel and find something that you will enjoy. As awful as it sounds, try watching something that perhaps you never watched because your spouse didn’t like it.
The longer you sit around and think about how lonely you are, the lonelier you will get. You may even find yourself sinking into deeper depression and you really want to overcome that feeling. Change your chore list around so that you have something to do in the evenings. Do the laundry, or scrub the floor to keep yourself busy for a short time. The important thing is not to sit and dwell on your loneliness.
Social media sites are great ways to ease the loneliness without actually having to deal with people. If you have never tried facebook, it can be a wonderful way to feel connected to the outside world. There are many groups you can join, and I’ll tell you from personal experience, that the people you meet can quickly become your friend. Besides, it is sometimes easier to type your feelings out to someone across a screen then it is to sit face to face with family or friends.
My facebook friends got me through some really rough evenings and many of them are now true friends, even though we have never met. It is great to know that a friend is just a log in away anytime you need to talk, or can’t sleep. You are welcome to send me a friend request at My Facebook Profile and I will help you overcome the loneliness and spend the evening with you, just like many people did for me.
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.