Widow Writing in the Raw- (you have to be strong to read this)

*If you are offended by the word *fuck* don’t read this.

I swear by all that’s holy that if I hear ONE more person tell me that Chuck, (or my husband if it’s a stranger talking to me) would want me to be happy and that I need to focus on the good memories, I’m going to go so fucking ballistic that there will be pieces of me scattered over the face of the earth.

So I’ve been cogitating on what my response can be in such situations.  (By the way,I’m also tired of giving people a freaking free pass for saying stupid stuff.)  Wake the fuck up, people!  If you don’t know what to say, then just please don’t say anything!  I beg of you!  Just say It sucks the big one, Alison and be done with it!

What to respond?

Oh did you know my husband?  Is that why you can tell me what he would like for me?

Oh, would you like to give me your recipe so that I can immediately stop grieving his loss from my life?   I mean, yes, immediately as in right now?   Because I’ve tried every goddamn thing I can to tell my brain and my heart to do something else and it’s not fucking working.  I mean, I’m camping, for god’s sake!  I’m not a camper.  But I’m changing my environment to help me push through into new experiences to change my brain patterns.  And towing, for another god’s sake.  Are you kidding me?

Thank you for your opinion.  (My mom taught me to say that in response to ignorant people who offer their opinions freely and….ignorantly).

Fuck off.  This is what I’m feeling right now.

JesusMaryandJoseph, I would give anything to be other than where I am now.  I fucking hate this grief.  I hate my life without him.  Do you hear me?  I’m not asking for pity,  I’m not feeling poor me, and I’m not asking you to fix this for me because you CAN’T fix this unless you’re God Almighty or a genie who can blink her eyes and bring him back.  You CAN’T fix this.  But what you CAN do is be strong enough in your love and friendship to stand with me while I get through this horrible part that is normal and takes time.  Give me time.  I’m recreating my entire fucking life that burned to ashes at 11:25 on April 21, 2013.  And, no, I’m not being dramatic in saying that and if you think I am then, well…fuck off.

For one minute-one fucking minute– imagine your partner, husband or wife, (presuming you love each other and actually like each other) who has been an integral to your life, an intimate part of your life, this person who you built your life with and lived with joyfully, (no, not without arguments because nobody does that), this man (in my case) who was a strong lover, a romantic dancer, a man who swept me off my feet daily (and that’s the truth), who made magic happen for me, whom I loved passionately-all of these things and more.  And then zap!  he’s dead. (and, yes, I’m more than grateful that I had this kind of man in my life and this kind of love because not many have it).

I don’t want pity.  I won’t accept pity.  And I’ll bygod continue building a life for myself without him because I have to.  But you know what?  It takes mucho energy to brace myself against those who want me to just get on with it.

What I’m experiencing is normal grief.  And when you tell me that he would want me to be happy, you’re telling me that I’m somehow doing something wrong in grieving him because I’m not happy on your schedule and to your degree of comfort.

And guess what?   I’m as tired of hearing this from people as I am of this fucking grief.  I miss my husband so much that I can’t breathe.  My current diet consists of Amara Ignatia and Star of Bethlehem and Rescue Remedy, along with way too much diet pepsi (which is, let’s face it, really good tasting aspartame), and I want to lose my mind from the loneliness but I don’t.  And I won’t.   Even though I sometimes wish I could lose my mind and seek refuge in some ward somewhere instead of facing up to daily life and loss and all that entails.

You see all the pink and you think oh how pretty and how cute and what fun she must be having on this lovely little jaunt around the country.  Yeah, this is definitely my idea of fun.  I’ve got my dead husband’s ashes right next to me.  My stomach is in shreds.  My nerves are on top of my skin. I’m slammed everywhere with memories.  Oh, but that’s right-I need to focus on the good memories.   How the fuck do I focus on the good memories, of which there are plenty, without the accompanying thought that oh, that’s right-those times are gone, gone, gone because he’s dead, dead, dead.

No pity wanted or accepted and I’m so aware that so many are in worse situations, blah, blah, blah.  But for god fucking sake, stop saying stupid shit.  Instead, how about this?  If you knew him, tell me a memory you have of him.  I’m dying to hear people speak his name to me.  Seriously.  I’m about to make a list of all of his buddies and everyone who knew him, even a little, and call them up and beg them to tell me stories of him.  Or tell me how you coped with your own loss if you’ve been through it.  If you’ve never grieved, then just say wow, that’s some fucking shit to deal with.   Ask me what this is like.  Not just this grief, but what it’s like to not have him.  How does my heart hold this grief and this love all at the same time?  What is it like creating a life without the love of my life in it?  What is it like to have had a passionate love life with a passionate man and then suddenly have nothing?  (no, that isn’t too intimate a question for me).  What is it like to have your heart violently torn out of your chest and hacked to pieces on the ground?  Ask me anything.  Or just fucking stand with me and bear witness.  Just please, please, please, consider what you’re saying.

This isn’t rocket science, folks.

*For all of you who have NOT said stupid stuff, thank you.*

*We will now return to our regularly scheduled prime-time, no swear words, programming*

*Thank you for paying attention*


43 thoughts on “Widow Writing in the Raw- (you have to be strong to read this)

  1. Amen! Preach it Sista! You said something my Momma said after we lost Daddy…she just wanted someone to say his name…it seemed that as time went on his name was spoken less and less. within the family we called him Dad, Daddy, Opa…but my Mom needed to hear his name Paul…and stories too. I absolutely think what you are going thru is normal…not that you need me to confirm it…but sometimes it’s nice to be validated even when you know it. You are such a brave soul…facing your grief head on, boldly, raw and honest, with passion and love. Remember can’t be brave without a certain element of fear being involved..else it wouldnt be brave. keep pressing in and on…and you’ll figure out what to say to people who in their IGNORANCE don’t know better…they are merely exposing that they have not walked the path of grief and loss as you have and are. Blessed travels…may God give His angels charge over you…(((hugs))) Cynthia

  2. You are awesome. Your blog is so honest and I can only imagine how many other women are able to be real about their feelings because of you. It sucks. Thanks for sharing.

    • Marlys,
      Sometimes I write because I know that I speak for others who are unable to speak what they really want to say. Other times I write only for myself because I’ll explode if I don’t.

      Either way it works.

      Thank YOU for taking the time and energy to respond~

  3. Amen! Preach it Sista!! My Momma said much the same thing about a year after we lost my Daddy…family talked about him enough but he was Dad, Daddy, Opa…she wanted to hear his name Paul…and stories too. grief has its own journey and we each must walk it as thoroughly, completely and bravely as we can. Brave requires an element of fear in order for it to be brave. You don’t need my validation or anyone’s but it is good to receive it to fortify your journey. I pray God give His angels charge over you and guide you on your way. Sending (((hugs))) Cynthia

  4. I wish I had had the opportunity to meet Chuck. To know a man that loved so compassionately a truely remarkable women would have been special. Seeing his face in the photos you share shows his gentle and loving personality. If I were with you sitting in a chair I would enjoy hearing your love story. Holding you when you need to cry and together sharing the really stupid things people say to those of us in our grief. Recently I have begun reading some books in hopes to give me some perspective. I am currently reading “happily even after” a guide to getting through and beyond the grief of widowhood. I have to say, since the author has traveled this journey she talks about many things we all experience and through this she says that she finally got fed up with others telling her how and where she should or shouldn’t be in her grief and I really like her response, she says in her book a great response……”the next time “they” offer unwelcome opinion or judgement ask, “what has your widowhood journey been like for you?”. She says trust her it works!

  5. I’m sorry you are hurting so bad! I can relate to the “…just think of the good memories”. nonsense. I went to a dance center in the Berkshires today. I saw someone who, from a distance, reminded me of someone I lost. It was great to watch him perform graceful dance moves on the stage, and I lost myself for a few seconds, practically time traveling back to my youth. But then the light shifted, or perhaps, like you, I am not good at going insane, and I saw clearly it was not him. There would be no running up to and hugging, no excitedly shared conversation. And there never will be. I am a used up old broad with no one. Reality slammed into my 50 yr old, always aching, body, the tears started, and I quickly gathered up my stuff and left before I was “the crazy lady”. I, too, Alison, am always frightened and can’t breathe in public. I felt so vulnerable today, amongst the damn snobs. I was intimidated by their all seeming to run in packs or paired off, as if I was so obviously unworthy because I did not have at least a partner. I am very socially awkward and had no one to protect me. When I had someone special at my side, the world opened up and I could soak in everything. I laughed myself sore on the drive home, reminiscing about the crazy and romantic stuff we used to do. But I flubbed a casual social conversation due to my hearing loss. (“I’m NEVER gonna make new friends”!) And I am going to bed alone, no one to rehash the day’s events with. Final score: D = zero.
    [NOT self-pity. Just observation. I hope it helps. You helped me today. Thanks.]

  6. Alison,
    I’m glad you wrote this, but not glad that you had to. I hope that everyone gets what they need to from reading it. I hope the act of expressing somehow releases or lifts a burden, a weight, even the tiniest bit, for you.

  7. I’m glad you wrote this, but not that you had to. I hope that all who read this get what they need to from it. I hope that you have somehow been able to release what you needed to -a burden or load, even the tiniest bit. Hopefully more. I hope you are able to do what you need to do, change what you need to change, keep what you need to keep, and put yourself first when and how you need to. Peace to you.

  8. I didn’t Know Chuck well, but I will always have that memory of him coming home when you had a whole house filled with Tapestries women and he smiled that HUGE radiant smile of his as he darted up the stairs to get away from us all in your shabby chic living room. . I thought he was wonderfully tolerant of ALL the “pink” and the ladies’ group you created together. he was such a keeper!!

    • DR,
      Thank you, thank you, thank you for taking the time to share a memory of Chuck with me! I do so well remember how he’d come in or go out of the house, pausing to say hi and smile at all the angels. He loved that I did what I did with TOH and supported me 100% in every way with it.

      He was truly a keeper~

  9. Dear Alison, fucking bravo to you! Everything you have said is exactly right! We are all different and we all have to grieve in our own way and time. May 5th, it was six years since I watched Jerry take his last breath from lung cancer. I still think, love, miss everything about him. I miss his voice, his touch, his arguing with me. He always had my back, he took care of me when I got sick and was in bed. I had to go to the ER last year with a bad stomach virus. I was home alone when I called 911, I went without him, and for me, that was the worst feeling, I wanted to die and go be with him. I want to fucking call him, I want to just pick up the phone and call him. For me, I can’t just fucking wipe away 30 years. So many have said over the past 4 to 5 years, “don’t you think Jerry would want to see you happy, you should find someone else, find his replacement?” Are you kidding me? For me Alison, maybe I am grieving too long, or just maybe it will be my decision not to replace my husband. We loved one another forever, only nothing is forever. Girlfriends tell me how much I have changed, well lose your husband and see how it affects you. Don’t fucking judge me! A friend lost her husband and in two years, another man was laying beside her………she’s happy, somewhat, she was lonely and that is how she handled her grief. Now she will say it was too soon. Even though it has been six years, no matter who I talk to or see, Jerry’s name will come up. It got worse for me after the second year, I don’t know if it finally set in my brain that he was not coming back, or if for many of us, it is normal. In time Alison, and no one knows how much time, it will get easier to deal with the loss of Handsome Hubby. You will always have him in your heart, forever. And for those all knowing people out there who say stupid, idiotic things to you, tell them what I do…….”until you watch your husband take his last breath, please don’t tell me how I should feel or what I should be fucking doing! Reading your blog tonight broke my heart for you. I don’t pity you Alison, I am right there with you. Love you girl, you take care of yourself.

  10. Honey… I don’t know you but what I DO know is how you feel. My only child died 17 years ago and it took me oh maybe 7 years to even want to stay on the planet. I had two grandchildren so that gave me a reason. It never gets any better… but some how we get better. I always say, life does not go on (like they ALL keep saying)… that is bullshit. You get a new life… a life you don’t want… a life your loved one is not in….and at some level we are here to live that new fucking life the best we can… because for some damn reason we are supposed to. For every person who is judging you… there are many more who you are changing their lives….

    I thank you for your blog and for your honesty… shay knorr bend oregon

  11. I hear you! I grieved for a long time when my mom passed, I missed her horribly but the worst pain for me was watching her due in front of me as I stood by helpless. I think the two comments that still sting my soul even now are, “you’re grieving because you want to, you can let it go.” REALLY??? And the second one was ” you’re mom wasn’t the first one to die, we’ve all experienced that.”

    I should have had you to speak for me during those two stupid remarks. Lol!! I I Love your truth.

  12. Hello I read your entire post & I identify with your feelings. My young (44) husband Rick died in 2000. We had traveled in our campers/trailers all over the country. We lived in southern Oregon & north central Iowa the 10 years we had together. I can tell that even now 14 years later, there are moments I am struck down by overwhelming grief. That’s when I play all our favorite songs we used to dance to or make passionate love to. I’ll drink my 2 glasses of pinot grigio and just bawl my eyes out. I’ll remember how it feels to have his arms around me as we sway to the music. And in those scattered hours of remembering intensly, we ARE back together. After I give myself over completely to my emotions until I’ve poured out my grief yet again, then I can turn off the music, put my wine glass in the sink, & go to bed where I dream of our lovemaking. Then I’ll live my life for 5 or 6 months as usual until the wave of grief comes back.And then the wave & I repeat our dance once again until my emotions are spent. My day to day life is good & I have a grown son with whom I have a similar relationship as you & your daughter have. I’m preparing him now for my eventual passing. Dotting all the i’s , crossing all the t’s etc. Having the deep necessary conversations. I wish you well & gradual healing at your own pace, in your own time. Friend me on FB if you like : Kathleen Murdock Lowr

    • Kathleen,
      Friend request sent on fb, and thank you! I like the way you write, I like the way you think. You ride the wave, and I can learn from you in that. I’ve spoken to my daughter and my sons very honestly about end of life issues, and with Rae specifically if something happens to me on the road, so that she has it in her mind for responding to an emergency. Which is what Chuck and I did-its important, isn’t it?

      Thank you, thank you, Kathleen, for reaching out to me here and writing what you did. I need to know how others do this thing called grief~

  13. You tell ‘em!

    Ah, I remember someone giving me Rescue Remedy. Yeah, that worked……….NOT!

    Keep doing what you can…….


  14. I talk freely about my husband everyday. I know it upsets/disturbs people around me, but, I really don’t give a damn. I figure if I have to live through losing him, then, they can deal with a little discomfort. Sometimes I’m raw. It sucks. Absolutely it sucks. It especially sucks when the rest of the world seams to just “go on” as if the entire universe doesn’t notice the absence of the most beautiful soul I ever knew. I don’t really show my emotions all that easily, so I appear to cope decently. I probably dump more emotion on my blog than I have shared in “real life” since my husband died.
    You brought to mind a memory for me, and selfishly, I’m going to share it with you, because then there is one other person who knows. I don’t dance. I never have really, but maybe three times (not counting school dances, because really…). My husband and I liked to go to Texas Roadhouse on Thursday nights, and from the outside you can hear the jukebox. He would take me in his arms, and, out in public, and with no one else dancing, dance with me in the foyer of the restaurant while we waited for our table. I don’t dance, and I don’t like to be “noticed” in public, but for some reason, he could get me to dance.
    It’s hard to go on. I do it because it’s what I’d have wanted him to do, not out of any real desire of my own. (My “desires” run mostly towards sitting on a beach somewhere, drinking Cuba Libre’s and waiting to die and join him.)
    I don’t think I’m depressed, despite how I sound. I’m just missing him. Grief takes as long as it takes. As I just passed (2 days ago) the 4 year anniversary of his diagnosis, I’m starting to be able to remember without being completely immersed in the pain of missing him. In a little over a month it’ll be 3 years he’s been dead, and in 10 days, it’s our 4th Wedding Anniversary. In 16 days, it’ll be 10 years since we met.
    The numbers give me something to hold on to. I still wear his ring, and I keep his ashes close.
    I’m about to start reading a few of the books he read, I’m hoping it will help me feel him more.
    Wishing could give you a big ol hug and cry with you.

    • I have one of Chuck’s AA books, with lots of his notes in it, and I’m going to read it at some point, if only to try to read from his mind-set.

      No, none of this, for me, is depression. How can anyone of us possibly be the same after suffering the death of one we loved so deeply? Grief takes its’ own sweet time. We can look at the numbers and they mean everything and nothing because they reflect both reality and disbelief at the same time. Yeah, I know Chuck wanted me to find a road for myself, a life again, but its one that will forever be distinguished by his death.

      It would help, I suppose, if I could even believe that any of this has happened.

      Let’s keep each other company along the way, Katethefierce. Which I will always call you because it has such a ring to it~
      alison FWG

  15. I lost my husband & best friend of 15 years 1 mth & 4 days ago. Reading your words really hit home w/ me & I want to thank you for your honesty. I’ve been on auto-pilot & trying to keep it together since he died when I really just want to break down & show my natural born ass because I didn’t ask for this shit. I don’t want to accept this sorry ass life I’ve been left with. I want my old life back w/ my husband in it & before the damn cancer. I’m so lost without him yet everyone else can just move on. I don’t even know if you will read this but thank you for saying what I have been unable to say.

    God Bless,
    Amber Keeler

    • Oh, Amber, words fail me. I see exactly where you are and I’m there with you. No, we didn’t ask for this shit in any way and it’s un-nerving having a life that is so bizarrely different from what we had.

      I read every one of the responses I get and I apologize for taking some time to write in return but I know you understand. Trying to align time, energy, wifi availability, and though patterns is oftentimes an impossible feat.

      My cell phone number is 609-351-5641. I’m on PST but would love to talk with you if you’d feel comfortable. If you do call and I don’t answer it’s more than likely because I’m driving, so leave a message and I promise I’ll call you back.

      Standing with you, Amber~

  16. I think I get you. That’s why I feel so connected to you. I’m grieving for my husband and he hasn’t even died yet. That’s why I want to take my camper and travel when he passes. He has stage four lung cancer. I don’t want to be around people telling me things that they have told you. I don’t want anyone to try and fix me. Just let me put one foot in front of the other one and try to make it through.
    My heart breaks for you. But I know that no one can fix this for you. So carry on and please post your feelings. I will be here reading and praying for you.

    • Linda,
      What you’re likely experiencing is anticipatory grief. Living each day with the knowing of what is in your future. It’s so hard, isn’t it?

      Grab each day with your husband, love and hug him and, when you can, take a breath and do whatever you can for yourself to help you through.

      Whatever I can do to support you in this time, give me a holler. My cell phone is 609-351-5641.

      Walking with you through it, Linda~

  17. Alison, it does suck the big one.  Really.  Everyone grieves in their own time.  I quite frankly know what you are saying here and yes, you are the only one to create/recreate the life you want or need and when.  It will be time, when it is time on your own time.  I hear your sadness, frustration, and pain.  I still too grieve my husband after 13 years (we were married for 20 years).  It just doesn’t go away because other people feel you should be moving on.   You don’t know me from Adam, but I am here for you and will be the person that walks/sits by you and not even talk and just be there for I have walked in similar shoes. 

    Because of you, I have been doing the community acupuncture, which has been going very well.   Because of you, I have had a good experience with this acupuncture that I never thought I would have.  In my last session, (as you had spoken about your husband dancing with you in your heart/mind), there happened to be a gentleman sitting across the room who looked quite similar to my husband, Ron.  Same type of clothing (jeans, T-shirt, tall, skinny, glasses).  This man had white hair, in which Ron might have had by now, as he would have been 65 (I am 55).  He probably wondered why I might have been staring at him.  I gave a gentle smile as I walked by him when I left, as this short interaction spoke to my heart.  I wanted to share this story, as you helped me through your story and journey.  I won’t pitty you, as you do not need it.  I will be strong for you when you need an ear or support if you care to. 

    I am a member of a group on Facebook called the Brave Girl’s Club and it has been so helpful for me. 

    Take care, and I will continue to follow your journey.

    Wendy Nixon

    • Wendy,
      Firstly, I’m so glad the acupuncture is working well for you-anything such as that adds to our life in general, doesn’t it?

      I’m so touched that you reached out to me, for your words of support and encouragement. It is because of you, my community of support, that I’ll make it through this.

      Thank you, thank you, thank you, dear Wendy~

  18. Alison,

    I have read your blog from the beginning. From putting your emotions into words, I can stand from afar not knowing the extent of your grief. I wish there were some way for someone, anyone, to place their hand over your heart to heal it.

    I have been married (my 2nd) to my wife for 5 years. In all the time we have been together (9 years), we have never fought. We are best friends and love spending every moment with each other going through life….good and bad. I used to think that when one of us were to die, I had hoped it would be me that goes first and my wife would outlive me by many years. This may sound stupid but now, after reading your blog, I wouldn’t want her to go through the grief you are experiencing. I don’t want her to feel that pain. If that kind of pain will come, I would rather endure that than her.

    For me, you have cast some light on the meaning of grief. I would never claim to know how deep or the amount of pain you feel. I can only read the words you write and see the pictures you attach and place a meaning to them in my own life.

    As long as you continue writing, I will continue reading. I hope that soon all the pain and emotions you feel from the all encompassing word called “grief” will leave you. I hope that one day, after the grief has gone, you will be able to also write about the healing and to reflect on your life before, during and after grief. I am sure you could help so many others with their loss of a loved one just as you are now.

    I wish you all the best! Travel safe!

    • Rich,
      How lovely of you to take the time to write me in response, and I’m touched that you’ve been reading all along.

      It was all done in teasing, but I used to tell Chuck that we needed to do a murder/suicide thing so that we each didn’t have to live without the other. We could just never figure out which one would do which.

      Before he died he told me how much he’d miss “us”. I’m missing the us terribly, in addition to the him. It’s all a process and not one that I would wish on anyone.

      May you and your wife have many years of joyous togetherness.

      Stay in touch~

  19. While recreating your whole entire fucking life many friends will be left by the wayside because you have changed. You are not smiley and fun any more. Your heart is broken and you’re a bit of a drag. Until the end of time people won’t know what to say and will say the wrong things. Eventually, it won’t get to you. Until then, say Fuck off as much as you want.

    • SusanB,
      It’s so true that something like this reveals friends and reveals true support. I am fortunate, thankfully, that I rarely hear the negative stuff and very often, it’s from strangers. With friends/relatives, I have no problem at all in educating them about grief. It’s never been about anyone bowing down to me-only about supporting me where I am.

      And thank YOU for taking the time and energy to offer support~

  20. Thank you for saying what you said. Do I know what you are going through, no, but read your every word and know if something happened to my loved one would be going through what you are going through. My love is so deep for my love. We have chosen a full time rv lifestyle and are with each other 24/7 and to be without him, well…. Take care and once again thank you. Maybe we will meet on the road. Safe travels

  21. Dear husband and I hit the road coming on three years now and never looked back. We were lucky enough to meet and fall so much love coming up thirteen years ago. Twenty plus years of both being in bad marriages, one year after we met we were married. It was tough for awhile,, blending families, aging parents and life in general etc. When kids got settled and on their own, aging parents passed, we sold everything and hit the road. We are Canadian and starting to head south the end of October…..so who knows?!? For sure we won’t be able to miss you. Safe travels and hugs to both you and your beautiful daughter

    • Blended families…an entire library all on its’ own, isn’t it? When second marriages can sustain a blended family, you know something amazing has happened! Chuck and I felt the same way-we got through the blended family thing-not necessarily successfully, and then it was the two of us out on the road, reveling in our time together. We never took one second for granted…

      Yes, you’ll be able to see me and my daughter! We’re in Connecticut for September, Jersey for October, then headed south along the Atlantic coast to Key West before turning west to AZ again.

      Make sure you honk if you see us and meanwhile, happy trails to you~

      (I’d love to hear about your travels once you get on the road)

  22. Wow. This is great. My husband died April 4th, 2013. I feel your pain. I actually stumbled upon your post by googling “widowhood in the raw” wondering if there was anyone brave enough to share just a little bit of what we all feel at different times in this journey. Carry on, my fellow sufferer.

    • It can leave us feeling raw and bloodied, can’t it? There is nothing gentle about my writing, as there is nothing gentle about this grief. I’m glad you found me and I’m touched you took the time to write to me. My heart goes out to you in recognition. What is your husband’s name?

      • Hmm… I got here by entering ” widows dealing with the loss of their whole fucking life”, I lost my hubby of 30 years last year and you are so very correct…. it does suck a big one. I love your post, jackie

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