Open Letter From a Widow

The Widow's Club

A widow is a woman who has lost her spouse due to death and has not remarried. Widow is my current title; a title I prefer not to have been bestowed upon me, but shit happens. In an instant I went from being a Mrs. to being a widow. BAM! A new normal began. So many changes. I was not the first wife who suddenly transferred titles and I will sure as heck not be the last wife. A known fact is that women do live longer than men, which means there are more widows than widowers.

I am now an official member of the Widow's Club. I personally know many widows. Some of these women lost their husbands years ago and have never remarried, hence still a widow. I spoke with a neighbor the other day who lost her husband in 1988 to cancer. She still feels the hurt. Wow. They say the heartache never goes away, you just learn to live with it.

Never have I imagined being a widow during my lifetime, then again who does? I have been married twice. If I could go back and change any decision I ever made that would have altered where I am today, I would not. I am here, as a divorced - widow for a reason. Possibly it is to teach y'all a thing or two. But, probably not. I am not the best person to give advice, but I sure am a good talker and listener. How that helps anyone I do not know.

In the meanwhile I will continue talking...

Source

I Am A Widow...

I write this letter to those of you who aren't familiar with widowhood. I hope you never have to experience the pain and heartache of this journey. Chances are sooner or later you might. Chances are you might already know someone who is a widow.

I am fairly new to this journey so I will not come off as an expert. But I have spoken to many widows who I salute due to their bravery. I have learned much from them. I hope you learn from our experiences.

I spent the past seven years at my husband's side helping him battle cancer. That was seven years of living with cancer because when someone you love has cancer the entire family does too. I placed my life on hold, every day was about the fight. Once he passed, I was left in shock and felt useless. I still have so much fight left in me, but it was time for my husband to rest. That is my story in a nutshell.

There is a significant difference when one is widowed suddenly or when death is caused by a terminal prognosis. In cases of sudden deaths, widows take longer to recover. That is one heck of a blow to endure. One minute their spouse is there, then they are gone. Perfect example of how a life can change in an instant. Either way death is death. Widows are widows.

Now I want to express what I have learned since I became a widow. I have learned that people are weird, I refer to them as "the others." Not much has changed over the years since I witnessed my mother who was in the Widow Club twice. She never intended to renew her membership, but shit happens. During her second time in the club she was battling terminal cancer. So she got hit with two major life traumas at once. My mother inspired me to be the strong, stubborn person that I am today.

Back to "the others." This is directed to the people who haven't dealt with the loss of a loved one. You know the lucky ones. The ones who are so darn uncomfortable and they do not know what to say, so they say nothing, which is fine. Or they wait for you to speak first because they are scared. Well, stop that shit! There is nothing to be scared of. Widows do not have a contagious disease! Just because our husbands died doesn't mean that your husband will too. What the heck is wrong with you people?

Do not be intimidated by the strength of a widow. Most of us do not curl up into a fetal position and wither away due to the loss of our mate. Don't judge a widow because she laughs, smiles or carries on with her life. We still need to get shit done! Not all widows have the opportunities of being pampered and doted on. Nope. But that would be dope!

Widows can easily disguise the heavy heart because they are tough. Widows deal with the waves of grief that overpower them because it is their darn wave and just don't want to ride it with anyone else.

You would be surprised at what you could learn from a widow, I just advise to avoid joining the club. Membership dues are free, but they are still costly when your emotions are at stake.

Tranquil moments
Tranquil moments | Source

Letter From a Widow continues...

Do not feel compelled to offer sympathy. While your heartfelt sympathy is appreciated, as far as I am concerned sympathy weakens a person. Feel free to speak to us like you did when we weren't widows. It is OK to ask questions. Just stop being so darn distant. It just makes you look bad.

Do not look at me and expect me to comfort you or make you feel at ease. That is not my damn responsibility. I have enough to tackle. My world has changed and I am now doing the work for two. My other half is gone and if you are expecting me to put on a happy face just so that you are going to feel more comfortable you are wrong. OK, you aren't wrong because that is exactly what I have been doing for the past few months. We walk towards each other, your expression is that of a deer in headlights, I think, "Crap, another one of "the others" are approaching!" I then smile and you smile back, the ice is broken and you feel more relaxed. Really??? When will this end? Please, stop the insanity!

As a widow, I have learned that my husband will never be gone as long as I continue to take him along for the ride. When I said that to a friend of mine, she thought I carried an urn of his ashes everywhere. That would be a bit awkward, but we did have a good laugh. My husband would have also enjoyed that conversation.

Instead I choose to carry him in my heart. No matter what I am experiencing, he is there to nudge me, give me support, cheer me on or maybe shut me up because I have a tendency to ramble. Whether it is the good, the bad or the ugly...he is right there.

To my fellow members of the widow club, you are never alone. Sure, you had to pick up the slack, learn how to become a handyman/woman, learn how to console yourself, learn how strong you really are; but you are never truly alone.

The next time you are encountered by one of "the others" maybe you could explain to them, that you aren't contagious and that you will not break into tiny little pieces before their eyes. That when in doubt, by simply sharing a caring smile might be all that you need at the time. In other words, tell them you are stronger than they think. Onward we go.

Signed,
A widow but not in distress

Peaceful Path
Peaceful Path | Source

We are widows hear us roar...

You betcha I got some advice and tips from other widows...

  • Time does heal the wounds. I am not feeling that healing yet. I was hoping that I would be doing better than 2 steps forward and 1 step back. I would much prefer 4 steps forward and I could then deal with the 1 step back.
  • Grief comes in waves. OK, I thought that the waves would lessen as time does heal the pain. I thought I would be at kiddie pool waves by now, but seriously these tsunami waves have to stop.
  • Be patient. I am just not a patient person.
  • They are always with you. There have been many times that I felt his presence and my heart was at peace.
  • There will be signs. And my friends were so correct. So many signs. We could actually create a sign out of the thin air. We could say anything is a sign. But you will know when the signs occur.
  • Life goes on. Yep. Life certainly does go on. Each and every day. Weeks feel like months, months feel like years. Time is different after you lose a spouse. Time has no essence. Hence, the new normal. I carry many loved ones in my heart, every single day.

Wiz Khalifa - See You Again

In addition...

I addressed this letter to "widows" because I am a widow and since I have walked the walk, I have earned the right to talk the talk.

Yet, I know that widowers also feel the pain and heartache and that their new normal takes some getting used to.

So to all that have lost a loved one, I ask that you accept this letter on my behalf and just reverse the wording. This also applies to losing a parent or any loved one.

Thomas Rhett (starring his wife) - Die A Happy Man

Team Cap's Prostate Cancer Journey

Are you a widow?

  • I was a widow at one time, but have since remarried
  • I am one of "the others"
  • Yes, I am a member of the Widow's Club
  • No, but I do know a widow
See results without voting

© 2015 Linda Bilyeu

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Comments 34 comments

fpherj48 profile image

fpherj48 13 months ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

Well, my love, I'm certain it doesn't surprise you to see the Effer. In fact, it looks like I'm one of the first in line.......Yes, "The Widow's Line."

It's not the nicest line we've ever had to deal with & that's an understatement, eh, GF? Nonetheless we're in it.

We widows are a lot of things.....just as we were before we were forced into this line. We also know that a whole lot changes, about us, our lives and even the way we view the world. We deal with it.

Does someone out there have a better idea? It's OK, save it. Unless you've walked this line, all due respect, you can't possibly KNOW.

There's something very real and very powerful about that "unspoken" connection between women who know the grief, the pain and the inexplicable void we carry.....and will forever.

We get a little better at going through the motions as time goes by, but like you say so beautifully, what we carry is deep within. It can't be seen. It can only be felt.

There are things we can share, but so much that we hold as our secret thoughts. They're ours. Some things aren't meant to be shared with just anyone. Those thoughts and feelings come along with us and our precious loved ones who are no longer in sight.

We know that just because we can no longer see him, doesn't mean he's gone away. We hope the "others" can learn to understand. If not, we'll just continue on our way if you don't mind.

You see, we have a long, long road to walk and much to experience about doing it alone now. We'll have our moments....and that's OK, because whether we walk strong as we smile or trip and fall when the waves knock us over, we'll get back up. A little shaky and a lot of tears, but it's something that becomes a genuine part of us....so we just use every moment we can to do something worthwhile.

Yes, we can spot the "others" a mile away, my much loved friend, so we brace ourselves and try to cope. It's not their fault...they just don't KNOW. When they reach that fork in the road, they'll find us there to guide them as best we can. But the reality is, when it's their turn, they'll clearly see it's up to them.

I love you and I'm here for you (and the women and men who join the line)...We'll walk together when we must or stop to rest in solitude if that's what our heart tells us to do. Because by listening to our heart, we know it is our dearly departed who speak to us.

From my Soul to Yours........Paula


Sunshine625 profile image

Sunshine625 13 months ago from Orlando, FL Author

Good morning, my Effer. I'm honored to have you first in line. You are my favorite fellow widow. Ugh, I continue to dislike that title, but it is what it is. Thank you for sharing your wonderful words of wisdom with the rest of the Widows Club. You have been my rock for so long and I so appreciate your friendship. XO


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 13 months ago from Taos, NM

Great write, Linda, and from the heart! What to say? You are right about that. Here is what I have noticed about you: strong yet vulnerable, happy but sad, determined but also struggling. As usual, you manage to bring sunshine and light into even the darkest of times. Your depth of honesty astounds me. I look up to you and have admired you over the years for your sunny attitude toward life and for sharing the good times and bad times with us. I wish I could be more like you. I tend to be more reserved and hold my emotions in. Thank you again for sharing your life's struggles with us and showing us how one strong woman faces one of life's sadest sorrows with grace and honest fortitude.


billybuc profile image

billybuc 13 months ago from Olympia, WA

An important write....and a beautiful write.


Venkatachari M profile image

Venkatachari M 13 months ago from Hyderabad, India

A great letter and a great message to "the others" to treat widows as normal humans. I can understand whatever you have stated as I have seen widows in our families whom people consider as bad omens.

And, presently, I myself am a widower. But, I always feel the presence of my wife with me, with whom I shared 38 years since 1974 to 2012.

My blessings to you in your long journey of challenges.


Kristen Howe profile image

Kristen Howe 13 months ago from Northeast Ohio

Linda, I'm not a widow. But this was a beautiful hub, it brought me to tears. And what you say is true, when you lose someone you love, whether it's a pet or a loved one about they're always watching you, etc.. My mother passed away almost two years ago, my grandfather a decade ago next month and my aunt 8 years ago. Angels and big hugs for you, my good friend.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 13 months ago from England

Hi Linda, I also am not a widow, but the way you put this was amazing, and tear jerking too, losing a loved one cracks your heart, but the way you cope is the way forward, big hug, nell


bravewarrior profile image

bravewarrior 13 months ago from Central Florida

Linda, I'm not sure where I fall. I divorced my son's father when he was six. I remarried four years later. During that time, my first husband died of cancer. My son and I were with him at the last moment. We were both devastated. I know you know that pain. It's all-encompassing - physically and emotionally. My son and I flew out to Montana for his dad's memorial. Montana was from Montana and moved to Florida to marry me. I felt so loved by my ex-in-laws. Despite the fact that Montana and I divorced, I'm still considered family. (I've since divorced my second husband, as well - no love lost there, tho).

Today, I carry the love Montana and I had for each other in my heart. In fact, he's a frequent visitor in my dreams. I no longer cling to the reasons I chose to divorce him. I guess death has a way of pushing all the negative feelings aside and bringing forth the love that brought us together in the first place.

Am I a widow? I guess in a sense I am. I feel for my son. He lost his father when he was just 14 years old. Loss is loss, no matter the name of the club.

I love your letter, Linda. One day at a time, right?


mckbirdbks profile image

mckbirdbks 13 months ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

Onward we go. Indeed yes. Glad I stopped by. I learn something new with each visit.


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 13 months ago from South Africa

Linda, we hear you roar. You're a queen in the widow- jungle. We learn so much from you - what to do/say, and what not. Keep on roaring! I hope you'll soon reach that 4 steps forward and one step back stage, and the progress after this. Widowhood is a scary jungle, but the brave like you turns it into an adventure. Love you lots!


saddlerider1 profile image

saddlerider1 12 months ago

What a beautiful write, you summed up what I truly believe all widows must go through. I am not a widower, although I feel sometimes like one, Being divorced going on now 15 years, I have truly not been able to find the kind of love I once enjoyed. I recently moved into a 55+ complex, with 147 suites. I occupy the penthouse floor on the 16th. Well shortly after moving in, I received welcome cards, treats hanging on my door knob, even cooked chicken and chocolates. An invitation by ladies to come visit them for tea. I soon found out that 90% of the suites are occupied by widows and only a handful of men in the building,. When I finally got to talking to a few of these ladies, I asked them what was the toughest emotion they had to deal with on a daily basis, ALL of them said loneliness. Now I know why they were so generous with their outreaching to m. However I have not found one lady in the building that my chemistry has overflowed with. I suppose I too have been alone too long, just not that interested. Mind you most of the ladies are 10-15 years my senior:-)) Am I open to falling in love again, of course, I desire the scent of a woman in this cowboy's life much so. But I truly believe that even widow's and widower's can and will marry again if the right person enters their life.


Diana Lee profile image

Diana Lee 12 months ago from Potter County, Pa.

I am a widow. I lost my husband, Bill, December 12, 2014. It has been quite the year, but I'm a survivor and one thing Bill taught me through all this is that I can do it on my own. The year of sickness he endured with COPD and congestive heart failure, pretty much made a prisoner of him, restricting his every move. I had to do most things by myself for him and for me. I've learned to be handyman and bread winner. I've learned many new skills that I never thought I could do. We can do what we have to do.


fpherj48 profile image

fpherj48 12 months ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

Vincent...You always tear at my heartstrings, dear man. I've no doubt you fully understand "Que Sera, sera.".....but more importantly, if we are open to what may be, it WILL be. Until the magic appears, remain who you are and keep believing in yourself.

That "spark" that you recall so well has only dimmed for a while. I can't pretend to know how to say it like the magnificent Poet you are...so I'll say it like Paula. When that spark fires up again, it will knock your damned socks off!!.......Hugs of Hope, Paula


saddlerider1 profile image

saddlerider1 12 months ago

Thank you Paula for your encouraging words. I remain true to myself, if that lady comes along who will knock my socks off, I will buy her a whole new wardrobe, along with warm, fleecy socks for her to wear when her and I cuddle up with a glass of wine, close by to a flickering fireplace. I look forward to my spark being lit up again. Hugs of desire. Vincent


Jodah profile image

Jodah 12 months ago from Queensland Australia

A very honest and informative write Linda. I have never lost a spouse thank God, but did lose both parents within a year of each other and my wife lost her younger sister suddenly so I know what grief and loss is like.

If you find yourself bereaving the "others" do not know what to say. I actually wrote a hub called "Please Don't Say Sorry" after my wife's sister past away. You provide very helpful information for other "new" widow here. Well done.


Sunshine625 profile image

Sunshine625 12 months ago from Orlando, FL Author

Hi Suzette, Wow! You know me too well, don't you!? :)


Sunshine625 profile image

Sunshine625 12 months ago from Orlando, FL Author

Hi Venkatachari M, Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I never imagined being a bad omen, but oh well if that is how people think then they have more issues than I thought. Wishing them well! I am sorry for your loss. Your wife was part of your life for many years, I imagine you miss her very much.


Sunshine625 profile image

Sunshine625 12 months ago from Orlando, FL Author

Thank you ... Bill, Kristen and Nell for sharing your thoughts!


Sunshine625 profile image

Sunshine625 12 months ago from Orlando, FL Author

Hi Sha, I appreciate you sharing your journey with us. You sure do sound like a widow at heart. We won't include the rebound. :)

Yes, one day at a time...it's the only way.


Sunshine625 profile image

Sunshine625 12 months ago from Orlando, FL Author

Thank you, Mike. I continue to teach as I move onward.


Sunshine625 profile image

Sunshine625 12 months ago from Orlando, FL Author

Hi SAA...Widowhood certainly is an adventure, each and every day. The past 8 years have been one heck of a ride. I am roaring!


Sunshine625 profile image

Sunshine625 12 months ago from Orlando, FL Author

Thanks for sharing, Saddle! I haven't endured loneliness yet, I go through my extrovert and introvert moments, I am comfortable hanging out with me, even if I do annoy myself at times. Hey, Paula maybe we should plan a trip to Canada, you are much closer to Vincent than I am...so maybe we could meet there. Don't get the party started without me. OK, maybe you can. :)


Sunshine625 profile image

Sunshine625 12 months ago from Orlando, FL Author

Hi Diana, I am sorry for your loss. Yes, we do what we can do. Thank you for sharing.


Sunshine625 profile image

Sunshine625 12 months ago from Orlando, FL Author

Hi John, When you get a chance if you could share your hub with the group on FB I would appreciate it. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 12 months ago from New York

I recently wrote about things that touch the heart, this dear friend touches my heart. Your courage is moving and inspiring. Widowhood is a tough neighborhood to join, but your road signs will certainly help others along their way. It is so easy to get lost there.

Vince and Paula just added more reality to this already real open letter. There's a lucky lady out there Vince, hold onto your socks.

Love and hugs to all.


marcoujor profile image

marcoujor 12 months ago from Jeffersonville PA

Sunshine,

You are both a friend and an inspiration to me - the epitome of strength and loyalty.

Beautiful thoughts - Love, MM


moonlake profile image

moonlake 12 months ago from America

I am a widow and I hate that word. I'm so sorry for the loss of your beloved husband. I also hate the word cancer it takes over a couple's life and takes away the life a person has known.

After my husband passed it took me months just to get off the sofa. I had to move at times just to get things done, but as soon as I could I was back on the sofa.

People are strange I have family members that no longer talk to me. I have no idea what I have done wrong. A niece passed around that I had the nerve to take back my maiden name. Something I have never done. Some people didn't like the way I did the funeral. I was tired I just wanted a small family funeral.

After three months someone said I needed to get over it. I had a friend who insisted I needed to get back to my quilting. Something my husband always helped me with. I couldn't get off the sofa how could I get back to quilting.

Your right, I am one person trying to keep the house going. One short person so everything I do is hard. All of a sudden I'm in a world I have never known. I was 17 when we married so I lived my life with my parents and with my husband of 52 years.

Some light comes into my life. Yesterday my great-granddaughter was born. They named her after my husband.


Sunshine625 profile image

Sunshine625 12 months ago from Orlando, FL Author

Wow, Moonlake...further proof on how people change in the face of death. Unbelievable. Thank you for sharing your journey. Congratulations on your great-granddaughter and it is nice to hear she was named after her great grandfather. Hugs to you!


Vellur profile image

Vellur 12 months ago from Dubai

A letter that will open hearts and minds to how it is to be a person who has lost a husband. You are brave and strong and your writings give hope and courage for others to carry on and face such a situation. Great write, take care.


FlourishAnyway profile image

FlourishAnyway 12 months ago from USA

You're a strong and resilient lady and in my thoughts, especially this holiday season.


teaches12345 profile image

teaches12345 11 months ago

I am at the age to have several friends who are now widows, a few within the past year. Like you, they are strong women who have wonderful memories of their husband but are quite aware of what it takes to move forward. Thank you for sharing from your personal experience. Sending you much love and hugs, Linda.


vocalcoach profile image

vocalcoach 9 months ago from Nashville Tn.

Dearest Linda

You are timeless inspiration. Your honest, no-nonsense approach high-lites your strength and resilience. I hope this "Open Letter From a Widow" will be on the reading list of every widow on the planet.

And speaking of reading...I've read your first book twice and passed it on to friends who I know will benefit from it. Thank you beautiful sunshine and sending my love and warm hugs.

Audrey


Sunshine625 profile image

Sunshine625 9 months ago from Orlando, FL Author

Hello Audrey,

You are very much appreciated. Shine on my sweet friend.


Charito1962 profile image

Charito1962 5 months ago from Manila, Philippines

I’m a widow, too, Linda. I lost my husband to lung cancer in 2005. It’s been a challenge for me to raise my son without his dad. But God has been good to me. As I’ve been told by many, “God takes care of widows.”

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