Welcome to the Misadventures of Widowhood blog!

In January of 2012 my soul mate of 42 years passed away after nearly 12 years of living with severe disabilities due to a stroke. I survived the first year after Don’s death doing what most widows do---trying to make sense of my world turned upside down. The pain and heartache of loss, my dark humor, my sweetest memories and, yes, even my pity parties are well documented in this blog.

Now that I’m a "seasoned widow" the focus of my writing has changed. I’m still a widow looking through that lens but I’m also a woman searching for contentment, friends and a voice in my restless world. Some people say I have a quirky sense of humor that shows up from time to time in this blog. Others say I make some keen observations about life and growing older. I say I just write about whatever passes through my days---the good, bad and the ugly. Comments welcome and encouraged. Let's get a dialogue going! Jean

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Widows Write

To succeed in life, you need three things: 
 a wishbone, a backbone and a funny bone.
Reba McEntire 

I bought a book written by a woman slightly older than me, a widow who wrote journal style about the challenges of the first few years without her spouse. Since that’s what I’m trying to do with this blog, I thought it would be interesting to compare our experiences only to find we had very few in common. For example, she had a daughter to lean on. Don and I never had any kids. She struggled with house maintenance issues. I’ve been doing those sorts of things the past twelve years since my husband’s stroke. She had a core group of lady friends to pal around with. I don’t and I am struggling to build new friendships---when you’ve been a caregiver for as long as I was friends fall by the wayside. 

But one thing she said had a solid ring of universal widowhood truth. “Like motherhood,” she wrote, “there are rules for widowhood that you are supposed to grasp instinctively.” Why is that? Why is it that the people around you think that coping with widowhood comes naturally or you can just read a few grief books and get the basics? It doesn’t work that way. You can read all the self-help books on widowhood out there and still not get a clear road map to follow. And I’m guessing that’s because each widowhood experience is as unique as each marriage on the face of the earth is unique. The type of relationship you had with your spouse, your faith, your level of coping skills, your finances and support system all feed into the equation as well as the events that lead up to the death. But the bottom line for all widows is that one day you’re part of a couple, the next day you’re alone and you have to forge a new path all by yourself.

The book’s author also describes the conservations she has with her dead husband---God, I do that, too! How do you stop doing something that had become second nature, in my case, for 42 years? And she describes going to social events where most of the people are paired off in couples. I was recently invited to an event like that where I’d be a lone stranger in a sea of people who’d glide into the place like Drake swans about to board Noah’s Ark and that morning my body said: Hey, you’ve been dreading this for two weeks. How about a little sciatica nerve pain to keep you at home? Coincidence, or are our bodies capable of manufacturing good excuses for things we really don’t want to do? Either way, does anyone know how long I’d have to wait to claim an un-given wedding present for myself? I could use a good set of knives. Darn it! Ms. Manners would probably say I still have to give it the bride and groom.

I did manage to move past one widowhood hurtle last week while my friend was visiting. We went to a restaurant I’d been avoiding. It was my husband’s favorite place and now I think I’m ready to try going to Applebee's alone. Even though people usually eat there in pairs, I can take my Kindle and pretend I’m sharing a meal with the “ghost” who is always sitting across my dinner table.

As I said, the author and I didn’t share a lot of the same experiences and I was somewhat disappointed in her book because I didn’t find the ‘wit’ promised on the cover. However, I admire that she managed to not only write a book but she also got it published. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t want to do that. And I’m jealous that her book has an entire chapter devoted to the fan letters she received in between the first and second printing.. I’m having trouble just getting people to sign my new guest book. Woo is me ---that’s one of my longtime favorite phrases.

The phrase quoted at the top of this blog entry is my newest favorite phrase. As I face each new widowhood challenge maybe what I need to ask myself is: What do I need most to get through this---a wishbone, a backbone or a funny bone? Like tonight, my first Halloween without Don to pass out candy. I should clutch my funny bone and come up with a costume in keeping with the few tears that might fall. ©


  1. Hang in there and your writing is helping people even if they don't sign your guest book or let you know. You would be surprised at how much a well written blog can impact someone. I haven't lost my husband yet and dread that day but do know what it is like to be the caregiver and lose a part of myself. I still mourn the loss of things that will never be the same and although I'm thankful of what he can do I'm still mad as hell at the stroke and how our lives have changed. So keep on writing and conquer all of those "firsts" with your head held high.

  2. Thank you for the encouragement and other comments! I am happy to report I did get through Halloween night with just the threat of a few tears at one point but I was able to keep them at bay and enjoyed seeing the little kids in their costumes. Hang in there yourself! Strokes totally turn your lives upside down. don't they.