Important Things a Widow Won’t Tell You… but She Wants You to Know

Do you know how a widow really feels?

Do you know how a widow really feels?

Do you know how a widow really feels? Unless you have actually lost your spouse and now have to classify yourself as a widow, there are many thoughts and emotions that are hard to understand. Most widows, no matter what age they became one, or even for how long they have been one, will just smile and say, “Everything is fine.” In reality, things are far from fine, yet they feel like they just can’t tell you these things.

I am Scared

She may put on a brave front and look like she has got it together and handling everything like a champ. A widow won’t tell you that this is the scariest situation she has ever faced in her entire life. She is scared of what lies ahead, she is scared of the next bad thing to happen, she is scared of facing life alone… Basically, every tiny thing fills her with fear, especially at the early stages of her grief.

I am Lonely

Her entire life changed when her spouse died. She was used to having a constant companion, someone to talk with daily, someone to hold her hand, someone to lay beside her at night. A widow won’t tell you that she sometimes stays in her house for days and possibly weeks without seeing or talking to anyone.

Sometimes this is her choice. But most of the time it is because family and friends go right back to their own busy lives after a funeral, while she no longer has the life she was used to. It’s hard to know what to say to comfort her, so some people will just avoid her. She won’t tell you that just being there matters much more than the words you choose.

I am Married

The worst thing you can do is to refer to a widow as being single. In her mind, she is still married and will think of herself that way for a long time, perhaps even the rest of her life. And that is okay. She doesn’t want to be “fixed up” or questioned about her dating status. Dating, for some widows, feels like a form of cheating even though their spouse is no longer with them.

Sometimes a widow will leave her wedding rings on for years, sometimes she will leave them on forever. Then again, sometimes she will take them off immediately because they are too painful to look at. That is her choice – but it doesn’t mean she is ready to date or even has any interest. Questioning her about those rings may cause more hurt, anger or disappointment.

I Still Cry

In the beginning of the loss of a loved one, a widow will shed a lot of tears to express grief. She figures that as time passes, people expect the tears to diminish or even stop. Tears just do not vanish, so she may start to hide the fact that things still bring on tears. It could be a sudden memory, a song, a favorite food or even certain scents. But she will no longer allow people to see those tears, so she cries in silence and alone when she really needs someone to comfort her.

If you wonder how I know so much about this, it’s because I am a widow and have been for over 7 years now. I have experienced these things and still do. I do not tell you these things to gain any sympathy. I tell you these things so that maybe you can understand what a widow truly goes through for many years after the death of her spouse.


Photo: Pixabay


    1. Profile photo of Donna Thacker
      Donna Thacker Post author

      I really think we will always feel this way Joan. So many just don’t understand. Some say “You have changed.” Well of course we have…so has our entire life!

  1. Profile photo of
    Tania K Cowling

    Such a loving and emotional post. I’m not a widow, but often think about how it must feel like. As a woman in her sixties and my husband as well, we often talk about how to deal with our lives if one should pass on. I don’t think it’s that easy and your post tells us why.

    1. Profile photo of Donna Thacker
      Donna Thacker Post author

      And that is very good that you guys talk about it. So many things I wish I had discussed with hubby before it got to late in his illness.

  2. Karen Ingles

    You hit the nail right on the head. I’ve been widowed for just one year now after being with my husband for 31 years. I’ve decided that it will never get any easier, it will just get more manageable.

    1. Profile photo of Donna Thacker
      Donna Thacker Post author

      So sorry for your loss. That first year is really rough. You are right, it doesn’t really get easier, you just get better at managing it.

  3. Holly Gray

    Great job Donna. I’m blessed to have have family and friends getting me threw this rough part. Still feel very lost. I don’t know if that will ever go away.

  4. Pam Banks Vado

    Donna: I have been trying in several different ways to explain to people in various subtle ways to tell them how I feel. With my kids I’ve tried to explain exactly everything you’ve written like yes I would appreciate you calling me on their Dad & mine’s anniversary and on other milestones they know we shared together.
    I am lucky that 2 daughters-in-law and 2 sons call me about mine and Louis’ special times but unfortunately our 2 daughters DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCE acknowledge most of the time that I even exist.
    Whenever I speak, talk, or write about how they basically ignore me even when we’re in the same room it doesn’t faze them in the least.
    Thank you for writing what I feel every second of time since December 17, 2009

    Do I have your permission to download what you wrote so I can make it into my own Commandments?

    1. Profile photo of Donna Thacker
      Donna Thacker Post author

      I lost my husband in 2009 too. It’s a hard road that few understand. You may download a copy for your own personal use and to keep but please do not do anything else with it as I own the copyright. You can also share on Facebook by copying the link and pasting it on your wall.

  5. Profile photo of Sandy KS
    Sandy KS

    I often wonder how to do things with a widow. Like the death of a spouse, do I acknowledge it or act like I don’t know? Same as for the dead spouses birthday, do not say anything? if so, what do I say? Questions that seem simple to know. Yet, hard to know what to say or do as I have not been in that situation. I don’t want to make a mistake and say the wrong thing.

    1. Profile photo of Donna Thacker
      Donna Thacker Post author

      Talk! Talk! Talk! We love to know that others remember our spouse too. We also love to have people call or send a card to acknowledge special days. It may make us cry, but at the same time we are happy someone remembered.

    1. Profile photo of Donna Thacker
      Donna Thacker Post author

      I have had so many wonderful comments, both her and in a forum I posted it in. I promised my husband I would continue to write, and what better tribute to him than to help others going through this with my writing.

    2. Profile photo of Kyla Matton Osborne
      Kyla Matton Osborne

      How wonderful, Donna! It warmed my heart to read that you promised your husband you would keep writing. I love hearing about spouses supporting a partner who writes, and it’s all the more special to learn that your husband continues to be your inspiration even though he’s passed away. You must have had a beautiful marriage.

    1. Profile photo of Donna Thacker
      Donna Thacker Post author

      I got to the point of wanting to scream when someone said, ” I can imagine how you feel.” No, unless you have been through it, you can’t.

  6. Profile photo of Barbara Radisavljevic
    Barbara Radisavljevic

    I watched my mother go through much of this after Dad died, and you have really covered the bases. I plan to share this widely. I am not a widow — yet, but even knowing that we are approaching the end of life and that I could become one any day is very scary. I know neither of us will live forever, and my husband is almost eighty now. I know it will be very hard to handle losing him after 52+ years of marriage.

  7. Profile photo of Jo Pin
    Jo Pin

    My mother went through the same stage of widowhood and though she often fake her smile that she’s happy but I could see from the look on her face, she was not. She used to say, as long we as we ( her children and grandchildren) were around, she’ll be okay. Well, at least now, she’s reunited with my dad in heaven.

  8. Profile photo of Irene Nevins
    Irene Nevins

    Lost my Dave the end of January. Life is difficult. Emotionally. It is hard cooking for one. Where is my hug? Where is my kiss? Where is my reason for living?

    1. Profile photo of Donna Thacker
      Donna Thacker Post author

      I am so sorry Irene. The first year is so hard, I know. I have said every one of those things. My reason for living is because I know he would want me to, I actually promised him I would be ok. It’s a hard promise to keep, but I am trying. I hope you find peace again.

  9. LS Marie Pomeroy

    Thank you so very much for this insightful realistic post. My father-in-law died in February, and my husband and I have done our best to listen and acknowledge Hal’s life and loss when we are with Aurora. I believe when we intend love, our words come out softer and kinder. I just read a new book about grieving, which I recommend. It is not specifically about losing a spouse. It is entitled, “Putting Out the Fire: Nurturing Mind, Body & Spirit in the First Week of Loss and Beyond,” and is written by Clair M. Schwartz.

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