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Do you ever feel invisible, like no one notices you now? Well, it’s not your imagination girlfriend. It’s a couples’ world and widows are invisible.
One of the biggest challenges of widowhood is this loss of personal identity. For years, you were a spouse, one part of a socially-approved partnership. Now you’re a widowed, single woman and most folks don’t know where to park that.
Well-meaning people often ask me if the death of a spouse isn’t a lot like a divorce. They always point out that a divorce is “kind of” a death. And I always point out that “kind of” a death isn’t dead and that no, it’s not the same.
For one thing, in a divorce, there’s always that group of friends that helps you feel better by telling you they never liked them anyway, that you’re better off without that old so and so. People don’t do that when your partner dies, do they? They don’t say, “Oh, you’re so much better off without them! There’s lots of fish in the sea.” No. they don’t say that.
Regardless of how they actually might have felt about your spouse, people don’t say that. They don’t say, “You’re better off without him.” No! They’re much more likely to say, “Your poor thing, you’ll never find anyone like them.” Which is true, of course, because he was unique as you are. But it’s not a helpful statement, right?
You see, these kinds of statements are just another reminder that you’re alone and people are happy for you to stay that way. I mean, it is the safest choice. Oh, and just in case this death thing is contagious, your couple friends stay away and don’t invite you to do things anymore, in case death is something their husband could catch too, right? Which is ridiculous, because not one of us will get out of here alive and yet.
That’s painful too, isn’t it? It’s actually one of the hardest aspects of being widowed. This sudden abandonment by friends, especially couple friends. And it’s not about you, by the way, because I’ve worked with hundreds of widows and all of them, all of them, have lost their couple friends. And then when you add invisible to abandoned, well then it’s hard not to just go inside yourself and disappear into a fog of depression and a cobwebby world of memories.
Now, here’s what I want you to know, you’ll actually get a lot of support from your family and society for doing just that. There’s a silent expectation that what you need to do is to give up your life so you can serve as the public mourner for your spouse.
Now, men aren’t encouraged to do that. Men are encouraged to remarry, as soon as possible. In fact, I had a widower tell me that every casserole he got after his wife’s death came with an offer. Now, if that weren’t so sad, it would be funny. Right? But unfortunately it’s reality, and when you argue with reality – you lose.
So, how do you handle this conundrum? You have two choices, right? One is to give up, to live in your memories of what was, and wait to die. Not a good choice in my opinion OR you can put on your big girl panties and get on with your life. Since I don’t think waiting to die is a very good option, I suggest Door #2. Getting on with your life.
And the first thing I suggest that you do to rebuild your life is find a new friend. Because you’re going to need support to rebuild your life. So, I want you to think about the things you like to do and the places where you already go. Maybe it’s church or the library. Maybe you volunteer somewhere and have always felt like you could be friends with someone you’ve met but just didn’t have the time in your life right then to invest in a new friendship.
Well, guess what? Now you do. So I want you to take that seriously. You need support for what you’re trying to do and a new friend is a great first start in that journey.
And if you’re looking for serious support, I want you to check out the Widows Recovery System at A Widows Tale.com.