‘Lonely’ Not Powerful Enough Word to Describe Widowhood

Loneliness is not a surprising by-product of widowhood.  I mean, even for the people who have never been through it, it’s a no-brainer.  But frankly, I think that lonely is not a strong enough word.

There is a deep silence that comes with losing your spouse.  And it doesn’t matter if you’re standing in the middle of a crowded room, you will still notice it.  It’s the quiet that comes when you don’t have that familiar voice whispering in your ear at a wedding, “Can you believe she wore that?  I mean, what was she thinking?”  It’s the missing sound of two glasses clinking together on your anniversary.  It’s the absence of someone breathing soundly next to you as you go to sleep at night.

Our friends are so good about trying to make sure that we know that we’re not alone.  And we know we’re not friendless.  We could call up any number of people if we just wanted to hang out.  But we are alone. Our marriages were amputated in the prime of our lives and, for some of us, there is no prosthesis.

A lot of us, since our loss, have found comfort in chat rooms and support websites and that has helped relieve the discomfort of the amputation a little.  It’s like taking two Motrin after extensive surgery.  It eases the throbbing a bit, but when we look down, the limb is still missing.

We’ve found anonymous support from strangers who don’t know us but are as close as we can come to confiding in people who know exactly what we’ve been through.  We tell these strangers some of the most intimate details of our lives, knowing that out of thousands of people, one person might understand us and, out of thousands of people, no one will be heartless to enough say, “You did what?  You’re crazy!”

Because, if nothing else, we all have crazy in common.

It’s an anonymous way to just let our widowed freakiness spread its wings and fly.  We get support from people who understand what REAL retail therapy is.  People who get that a sleepless night with a newborn is one thing while a sleepless night with a dead spouse is a whole other deal.  People who understand how guilt, anger, frustration, and sadness all come in a beautifully wrapped package with our names on it, signed “With Love, Widowhood.”

Finding these groups has buffered the fact that, with our spouses gone, most of us have lost the person we would have leaned on when the worst thing we could have possibly imagine happening…happened.  It’s almost like we need to roll over in bed and say in utter disbelief to our spouses, “Did you hear that you died?  And you were so young!”  This would be followed by a hug from them, a pat on the back, and the murmuring of some comforting words while we cried on their shoulders.

But when we roll over, well, our spouses already know that they died.  It spoils it a little.

I don’t think that most people who haven’t experienced loss truly understand that element of solitude.  And that’s the very foundation of what makes us so lonely.  The person who cared when something really great or really bad happened is missing.  The person who was just as excited and saddened by the milestones of our kids is someplace else (I hope). The person who was just as invested in our lives and the decisions we made is now (again, hopefully) enjoying everlasting comfort while we slug it out down here on our own.

Do you remember the moment that you truly felt the change?  I mean, the time when you realized that this was it?  When you catapulted from married to involuntarily single?

For you, it may not have been a moment.  But it was for me.  I was leaving Wal-Mart (where so many of my breakdown moments occur) when I noticed that “Wild Hogs” was about to come out on DVD  Now, my husband and I had had many failed attempts to go see that movie in the theater, so when I saw that big billboard up at the store, I automatically got excited.  I thought to myself, “I can’t wait to get home and tell him it’s finally out!”

I think there was an audible thud as reality came crashing down on me standing next to the stale cookies that were on sale.

As most of us feel, I would give anything for just one more day, one more conversation with my husband.  I’ve had dreams about it.  We’re just lying in bed and I’m telling him all about what the kids are up to.  We both know that he’s gone, but I’m filling him in anyway.

Those are the mornings I wake up and feel the most alone, the most like I’m missing that appendage.  And even though there are so many people I could call who would commiserate with me, they’re just not in my head and in my heart living my life.

And does it make sense when I say when I’m feeling this way sometimes I just want to be left alone?

Catherine Tidd

More Articles Written by Catherine

Catherine Tidd is a widow and the Founder of www.theWiddahood.com, a free social support network dedicated to anyone who has lost a significant other. She is also a writer, public speaker, and mother to three young entertaining children. She received a degree in English from Rollins College in 1998 and has since worked as a writer, editor, Marketing Manager, and Event Planner. Originally from Louisiana, Ms. Tidd currently lives in Denver, CO. To read more of Catherine's work, visit http://widowchick.blogspot.com


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  • deb sears says:

    Dear Ms. Tidd:

    Thank you soooooooooooooo much for expressing EXACTLY how I feel and at the same time affirming that only “we” know what it is really like.

    I consider myself “new” (just a little over two months), which is why I’m franctically searching for information on how to survive this. I still not know why or how, but thankfully, after reading your article, I certainly feel justified, or better yet, championed, regarding the agony (again, too mild?) I’m in.

    I hope your good days are starting to outnumber the bad.

    • Dear Deb–

      Thank you so much for your comment. I’m so sorry to hear that you are joining our club! With that said…I hope that you’re finding the support you need. There is amazing support out there. The fact that you’re actively looking for information and reading things that will make you feel more understood is a really good start.

      I know right now you are in a very “blurry” stage trying to figure out what to do next. My best advice is to just go as slow as you can. I wish I had done that! And I hope this a comfort to you, but after 3 years my good days definitely outnumber the bad. You WILL get through this. It just takes time.

      If you’re on Facebook and you feel up to it, I have a page under Widow Chick. I can’t tell you how amazingly supportive these strangers have been to one another. It’s a great place to post questions if you have them or just see what other people are doing to get through the day. Some people have VERY helpful ideas.

      Thinking of you…

  • Shelby says:

    Thank you for so beautifully voicing what I have been feeling the last couple of weeks. It will be four months tomorrow. The first two months I was still in shock enough to actually believe that I was gonna do this grief thing with no problem.



    He’s gone and he isn’t coming back.

    I begin next week with an in-person grief support group but I would not have made it through these first four months without the amazing online group of widows and widowers I have found.

    And I’m sorry for the event that brought you this wisdom of which you’ve written.

  • Dear Shelby,

    Well, I think a few months in was when I first felt that “thud.” Certainly not a fun experience. And I’m with you…I thought I could get through this, no problem. All that talk about “time will heal” was not flying with me. That was a hard lesson…to realize that that’s what it takes.

    It has amazed me the people I have heard from who are so new to the Widowhood who are already reaching out, trying to find resources that will help them. I’m telling you…you are light-years ahead of where I was at that stage. And that will make a BIG difference for you…developing a support group early on that will help you get through this.

    I hope that you find some AMAZING people when you go to your group. I know that once I found that support it helped me so much. Even if you just really connect with one person there…it will make all the difference.

    Thinking of you….

  • Julie says:

    You said it perfectly, but that thud doesnt seem to be a one off…but a rampage of thuds, when i’m trying my best and everyone is asking how i am and im trying to hold it together and just get through the day, to get up, get the kids to school, bide the morning till my youngest comes home…feed them, clothe them, deal with the beaurocracy of no money and yet that realising thud of wanting to ask him what to do continuously dawns. one month in and i dont want to deal with the realisation everyday. I just dont want to.

  • Sandra says:

    I’m new too. My husband passed away 1 month ago. I still can’t believe how my life changed in the blink of an eye. The shock has worned off and I cry daily. Normally I’m a happy person and I feel like the joy has been sucked right out of me. I don’t like the new reality.

  • Mar says:

    It’s been a little over 2 years for me as a widow. I am 56 years old now. My husband died of a heart attack at age 53. I am on disability after I was run over by a car in 2007. I have a leg injury and cannot work. I search constantly for widow support groups, but there are none in my area (the Lehigh Valley in Northeast Pa). My married friends simply do not understand and think that I should have in their words”moved on by now”. I wish I knew what they mean and when I ask them they have no answer. I belong to a bereavement group where everyone is 75 to 87 years old. I attend deep water exercise classes and swim everyday to help my leg. I also do yoga everyday. I have lost 30 lbs. I never sit home and cry. What exactly do they mean by moving on? The loneliness is unbearable. I understand exactly what you mean. It hits me when I go to a grocery store. I hear married people bickering and just want to shake them and say stop it, do you realize you have someone? It hits as I ride alone in a car and think if something happens I have no one to call to help. Most people give up after a while, they don’t know what to say so I find they just don’t stay in touch leaving me feel lonelier than ever. It’s the most painful, hollow feeling. I try different groups but really need a widows group where they truly understand. Thanks for allowing me to vent.

    • Dear Mar–

      I have now declared that you have hit your limit on bad luck! What a crazy couple of years you have had. My heart goes out to you and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that your luck will turn around soon.

      Isn’t it a strange place to be? Where you’re lonely, but you’re not ready to “move on”…as they say. It’s kind of like being hungry but nothing sounds good. I really sympathize with you about being in a group of grievers who are so much older. I don’t think most people understand that there is a huge difference when you’re going through this at different ages. What I’ve experienced at my age is nothing like what you’ve experienced at your’s.

      I wish I had better words of wisdom for you. The truth is, I’m feeling my way myself. I don’t know if you belong to Facebook, but if you do, feel free to look up Widow Chick there. I know that there are some people in their late 40s and 50s and they really are an amazing support group. I just really hope you find the support you need.

      Thinking of you!

    • michele says:

      OMG I feel exactly the same way.., especially when you said if something happened who do you call for help. I was married for 25 yrs. when my husband committed suicide. It has been 2 yrs., but feels like yesterday it happened. The loneliness sometimes is almost unbearable. Pleople say to move on with you like, be happy and start new. Easy for them to say especially when they are sitting at home with their spouses. The weekends are the worst.


  • Lou says:

    July 4th i became a widow. I am 38 and have 2 pre schoolers. No medical condition, no warning I found my husband dead. how do i pick up the pieces of my life for my babies?

    • Dear Lou,

      I am sure you are in so much shock right now. And please believe me…I know what you’re going through. My husband died in an accident on his way to work in 2007 and my kids were 5,3, and 1 at the time. I never saw it coming. To be honest with you, it took me a couple of years before I would stop having those little moments of shock (they became farther apart and less intense, but they still came).

      The good (and bad) thing about having kids that young is that it forces you to get up. You have lots of bad days, but the kids keep you moving. Sometimes I thought it would be nice to be able to just sit in my bed and grieve, but my kids still had to be fed and taken to school and all the every day things that kids need.

      Forgive yourself NOW for not being perfect for awhile…your kids are too young to know the difference. Find help where you can…look for group therapy for your kids…the good thing about that is that you’ll meet other parents in your situation (you can check with local hospices…it doesn’t matter if your husband died suddenly…or with local schools and see what resources are available). Accept help when it’s offered and don’t be afraid to ask for it. You may be surprised who steps up to help support you.

      Take things one second at a time if you need to. What’s going to be hard as a mother is learning you’re going to have to take care of yourself before you can take care of the kids.

      Please know that I’m thinking about you.


  • sanet says:

    I’m 38 years old, no children (1 dog and 1 gold fish), which believe it or not keeps me going cause they must be fed also, like children do. I work fulltime which also helps, but can be very draining at the same time. You all took the words right out of my mouth. It has been nearly 7 months since I lost my husband to lung cancer. He celebrated his 40th birthday in hospital in May and died on 3 July 2010, 3 months after he was diagnosed. We were married almost 18 years. I have been through everything you have described and I am sick of people telling me to “move on”… and cruel jokes or comments people make to “chear me up” really pisses me off and hurts! (excuse the language). Nobody understands, therefore I will definitely check out your website Catherine. Thanx Sanet

  • elma says:

    My husband past away 11 months ago in a car accident. I do have a good support group af friends, but none of them realize what it really means to to go home to an empty house. Chatherine and all the others who wrote here, you put in words exactly how I feel.

  • Key West Susan says:

    With the exception of having children, I certainly have shared your thoughts and emotions! Thank you so much for sharing your journey and for stating so eloquently something that is so difficult to express. Wishing you strength and peace in the New Year.

  • cyndi says:

    It has been 8 months for me since my husband passed away in April. My youngest brother was killed 9 days later on a 4 wheeler. I am not doing well. I have no energy and am working in a town that I have no friends or support. I do not have the energy to change my location. I am so lost, confused and empty. I do not know where home is. I am lost and want to be found. Help me.

  • Patti says:

    Hi it has been 7 months today. I am working full time and find that it is good for me otherwise i would be in the house 24 / 7 Have friends no family other than grown children that have their own lives and live away from me. I live in a rural community of about 4000 and I am 62 years old. I am trying to get past the feeling he will be coming home any day. STUCK
    Dont really have a best friend that I can speak openly with. He was my best friend. I know I will survive. Glad I found this web site. Makes me feel not so alone.

  • Bobbie says:

    I’m not sure what happened to the comment I posted about a week ago, but hopefully this one will not disappear. Reading the posts on this website has helped me to see that I’m not alone. I attend a group with other people who have had a love one taken from them too soon. It is helping. I also go to private therapy, which helps too. I took my husband to the hospital Monday evening, November 4, 2013. He was having a heart attack. He was taken from me on Thursday evening, November 7, 2013. A few days after, I was contacted by one of the doctors who informed me that he had a rare form of Leukemia that caused blood clots that attacked his heart. It feels like it just happened yesterday. I really miss my best friend and soul mate. Thank you for letting me express my feelings here.

  • Annemarie says:

    Ah the silence. Seven weeks later, I still haven’t figured out what time to go to bed because he isn’t there saying, are you ready for bed? Then there is the grocery store – He would really like this with some wine tonight? My freshly painted nails ready to be Instagrammed only to not have him to send them to. The record time in my daily runs to be shared but with whom? And the worst sting of all – His daughter’s wedding dress hanging in my closet, knowing he won’t be there to walk her down the aisle next year.

  • Oriane says:

    I lost my 32 year old partner about a month ago. He just never woke up… I found him in the morning and emergency doctors could restart the heart with adrenaline, but we had to take him off life support the day after. He was just too far gone…

    One of my ‘moments’ was at the crematorium. He would always pick up half smoked cigarettes from ashtrays in the street and say ‘can you believe someone threw it away? People are nuts!!’ with a huge child-like smile and amazed eyes, like he had found a treasure or something (in our defense, cigarettes are ridiculously expensive in France… and we had a very frugal lifestyle :) )

    While his body was being cremated I went outside for a smoke, and in the ashtray there was this almost entire cigarette. Completely straight, not even crushed a little. When I saw it my heart jumped, I got so excited and thought ‘oooooh, I have to tell…’ then it hit me. I had to tell Mik, but could not because not only had Mik been dead for 5 days, he was currently in the oven.

    I froze and remained in a weird numb shock for a while.

    I found your post googling ‘widowhood loneliness’, though technically I am not even a widow. In France people tend do get married after they have kids. Or never. We had talked before about getting married for tax purposes, but first we were going to buy a house (we had chose the location), have kids… I was never able to use the word boyfriend when talking about him, it seemed like such an understatement. Sometimes I would say my husband. Now I can’t even anymore: too much difference in status both in administration and people’s mind. A widow is a widow. A surviving partner is nothing.

    Fortunately I am very good friend with his family in law: he was the older brother of my best friend’s partner. For 6 years we lived parallel lives around them, always visiting, sometimes hearing about each other, but them but never meeting. We finally met at the 4 year birthday party of their twin kids. Mik would often say ‘It’s funny cos we would have met at some point… If not that time, later… We were just meant to meet!’

    My two friends and I organized his cremation ceremony together. I cannot even imagine the pain of a partner who would have not been so close to the family in law and could not have actively participated in the organization…

    He wasn’t my boyfriend. He was my life mate who I did not get a chance to have a life with. We will never buy a house. We will never give the now 6 year old twins (who used to call me auntie years before I lived with their uncle) cousins. I’ll never be his wife officially. I’m not even a widow. I’m just single.

    It hurts beyond words. So thank you, thank you for putting words on this pain while it’s too new and raw for others to be able to do so.

    • John Doe says:

      I have never told anyone how I felt about losing my wife in a car accident. We had been together since we were kids. When she died I had six children aged 2-15. I had to call her parents from the hospital and tell them that their daughter was dead. Then I had to leave her there and hurry home so that I could tell the kids before someone else did. I remember the next morning when I woke up after a couple hours of of exhausted sleep – laying there and asking myself if it had really happened and then realizing it had. I couldn’t eat for a month. I couldn’t listen to music. It felt like someone kicked me in the stomach and I couldn’t catch my breath. I tried to talk to my parents about it but they were too grief stricken. They just offered me some of the pills they were taking. I declined. I had to “be strong” for the kids too. For seven years after that I used to sit up in my hotel room and sob whenever I was away for work. I still cry sometimes but never when anyone is around. The kids are almost all grown now and soon I will be alone. If you have never been through it you can’t know what those lonely hours are like. Of course I don’t feel sorry for myself. I know that there are lots of people who have suffered as much or more than I have. But I also know how I feel. I realize you probably won’t publish this. But just once I wanted to let it out.

      • Nancy Bradley says:

        OMG, me too – to all the comments! It’s been 7 years and it still hurts sooooo bad. Love and peace to all of you.

  • Angela Schlaack says:

    I lost my husband 5 weeks ago. I am 44 and he was 45. We were married 21 years. I could have written this myself. I cannot tell you how emotional this made me feel to read that someone “gets” it.

    Thank you

  • Anne says:

    My “moment” was not too long after my husband died. My kids (2 and 3 months old at the time) and I were in the basement. It was early evening. I was on the couch nursing my infant son and my toddler was probably building a train track. I heard a slight noise upstairs, in retrospect, likely a cat jumping on something. Except that, to me, in that moment, it distinctly sounded like my husband, coming home from work and putting his keys down on the cabinet in the dining room. And I had that familiar feeling, “Good. He’s home.” And then the crash, “No, he’s not and he is never coming home.”
    I am 7 years post-loss and it is still so important to me to read the words and hear the stories of one who understands. Thank you.

  • Melissa Kinnear says:

    This is exactly how I am feeling at present, thanks for writing something that has really helped me feel understood today.

  • Deborah Pearson says:

    That is just how it feels! ! I lost my boyfriend of four and a half years June 2014. He was just 30 years old and I was 35 weeks pregnant. I really feel the loneliness when I hear our son giggle and think how he would have loved that. Or in the morning when I roll over and there is no longer someone there to cuddle, to hold my head and stroke my hair and call me his princess.

    I have good family and friends around me but it doesn’t fill the Scott shape hole in my life now.

  • Sandy says:

    Yes, Yes, YES!!!

  • Bonnie says:

    For me it was sobbing over my husband missing Spider Man 3. I found things he lost on his last few days on Earth, and I want to call and say, “Guess what I found!”

  • Barbara Cardwell says:

    This has touched my heart and soul. For thirteen years I have felt this but could never find the correct words. Thank you for the words and validating our loss. Time does help, the bad days aren’t as often but it is always there, one mundane word, song, thought will sink you once again into the darkness of reality. I realized after a time that this is how the new normal is and just as the young people of today say, Roll with it, the sadness. They mattered, will always matter, so have that cry, tears are cleansing.
    To each and every one of you, I am sorry for the loss. My heart aches for all of who have ben forced to have a membership in this club.

  • Fred Dickey says:

    You describe it pretty accurately. My wife passed away suddenly at age 35 on August 19 2013. She had a very rare and aggressive form of cervix cancer, Large Cell neroendocrine Carcinoma of the Cervix (LCCC).

    The thing is, she had an ultrasound three weeks earlier. They looked right at the tumor, identified it as benign, believing it to be fybrodic cysts and we were planning to see an OBGYN to plan out a hysterectomy. She had regular pap smears too.

    A week after the ultrasound she was in a lot of pain and couldn’t go to the bathroom. We went to the ER. They were going to do an MRI on her that morning, but her urine test came back positive for a pregnancy and had us on a little emotional rollercoaster ride. We knew it was pretty much impossible for her to be pregnant at that moment but I still experienced a little false excitement. They got a blood test back that tested negative for the pregnancy and got her into the MRI that afternoon. They rushed her to Vanderbilt when they saw what they saw on the MRI.

    A week and a half at Vanderbilt later and we had a game plan. Starting the next Monday we would go through agreasove radiation for two weeks followed by months of chemo.

    She died in front of me in the outpatient room before she ever got her first dose of radiation. I was in the room with her as the crash team tried for 20 minutes to bring her back but it simply wasn’t happening. They believe a blood clot originating from the tumor hut her heart or lung.

    We were all prayed up and psyched up to journey through thus great battle with cancer, but the gate at the race track never opened.

    She was survived by myself and my step son, her biological son. I now have full custody and permanent guardianship of him as I am the only dad he really knew. He is 15 now and was 4 when we married.

    I thrived on her encouraging words and her love for me and she just as equally thrived from having me in her life. She had the greatest faith of anyone I have ever known and I know she is in heaven, but that doesn’t change the fact that I am here without her…having silence and an empty place where she was on my life.

    Both me and my step son have had some counseling and we both have a very strong network of church family and friends. I couldn’t imagine taking another step in life without that support network. Its hard enough with it.

    I have also come to terms with the fact that I will always have bad moments where the grief tries to overwhelm me. That will never fully go away as long as I live. I’ve learned that from talking to other widowers who have had over a decade of healing and have remarried and yet I see the same pain in their face that I have when we discuss their late wife.

    Its a one day at a time journey for certain.

    • Vickie Sachau says:

      I feel this way. When I go the church, the same one, we had attended for years. Even though I am surround by lots of people I fell so different and so alone. I spoke with my physican and told her that I thought I needed to talk to a counselor and she told me that I just needed to grow up and get over it I am so glad to know that other people have the same feelings

      • Mike Flynn says:

        If my doctor told me that, I would be searching for a new doctor quickly,

        People just do not get it until it happens to them. The hole that is created when your companion dies is vast. We have to find our own way around or to bridge over this hole. I am convinced that we can not do this by ourselves. For me, group meetings with people who have experienced similar loss have helped by sharing experiences and providing insights.

  • Amy says:

    Thank you for this! I must confess that I am not legally a widow…..but a widow nonetheless. I lost the love of my life to a horrible accident about a year ago. You have managed to dig into my head and heart and say what I’ve been feeling. To this day, I wake up looking for him and reality hits every single day…..he IS really gone. So hard to believe! I’ve had tons of support but the Facebook pages have been a huge help in getting to where I am today. I’m not where I want to be but much further than I was. I will get there! One day at a time because each day is a new day that will bring something different. I have learned to let his love of everything live on through me. There is a reason I am still here. I will never get over this but the good days outweigh the bad days now. Again, thanks for this! You, and those just like you in widowhood, are proof that life goes on and it does get better….and even when it’s better, it’s OK to still miss them!

  • peggy Marchanti says:

    Wow, I haven’t read anything yet that describes the loneliness like this does. Cause this is what it is like! You gave words to my pain of loneliness. I had a friend who told me that I am not lonely cause I have so many people around me and that I am busiest person she knows. Thats not true and the loneliness is very present in so many moments of the day. In a crowd, with a friend or alone in bed. This was so nice to read.

  • Jeanne Darrell says:

    I am at 24 weeks and 1 day, 169 days (yes I count each day and every Wednesday is another week) since I became an unwilling member of the “Widow’s Club” My Honey was taken away from me in an instant after 28 years ( we had that unbelievable happy marriage that made our friends and family jealous of us and wishing that they could have what we had) from a blood clot, we were sitting at the kitchen table, eating Pistachio’s, laughing, making fun of a client, which we were so good at and bam….. that quickly, from laughter to indescribable agony, I still think he is going to walk in the door one day and say, Hey babe, I’m home, gotcha, as he walks by me, grabs my butt and heads to the bathroom…… Usually at 48 years old, married to a 52 year with 3 kids ( and 3 extra’s that somehow came into our lives and stayed ) 2 grand babies, you think you have tons of time to build more memories, to experiance more love and laughter, to have more great sex…… There are no words to describe it,( I have even tried to make up words ). I still cry daily and miss him so much it feels like the first day everyday. First’s are the worst and waking up in the morning and having that 2 seconds where you kinda forget, till it hits you full force yet again. I am so thankful for my kids, and friends, family and my million memories, and also thankful for Catherine Tidd, I read her book at my 8 week mark and it was like I was reading myself, with a few changes like dating….. Oh hell no. Of course her kids were younger as was she, but the parallel’s so often would make me laugh and make me cry. It helped me get thru some really rough days….so Ms. Catherine Tidd, I thank you from the bottom of my grieving heart…….

  • Robin Sauls says:

    So well written. I just remember how hard my head hurt after my husband died; the pounding didn’t stop for hours on end. I never knew how many tears one could cry in a minute, an hour, a day, a month…a year. Or how big the hole in my heart was. I missed (and still do), his kindness, his love of animals, how he could make me see things differently. His love for God. Thank you for sharing this poignant piece. There are no words to describe the loneliness…none at all. It is an all consuming feeling for which language is insufficient.

  • Barbara Wallace says:

    On a day when ‘lonely’ was hitting me like constant hammering of my heart I found your article posted on Facebook by a ‘friend’. This ‘friend’ is one of those people I met at a widows conference and we follow each other online. It has been 2 years, 3 months, 26 days since my husband died. It seems no matter how broken one’s heart is it continues to break. And the friends and family who initially stayed in touch have mostly drifted away. I I wonder is it me? Am I such a shadow of my previous self that they no longer want to be around me? Or do they just wish I would move on and stop missing my love. Not that I don’t try. I put on a big smile, try to speak of happy and positive topics, but I cannot help but mention my late husband in almost any conversation because he is still with me in my memories and life experience.
    I always remind myself I am not alone as there are many individuals just like me on this planet, feeling just like me. And you remind us all of that with your shared words. So thank you. Your words helped me today and for that I am grateful.

  • Elaine Marze says:

    In the three years since my husband died I have written a couple books, but one (Widowhood, I Didn’t Ask for This) is being used in several states in grief counseling classes. People say it is the only humorous book they’ve ever read about this terribly painful topic. Maybe that is because he and I shared so much joy over the 40 years we were together than it shined through in this book that I wrote just five months after he died. I tell people that HELLO DARLING is a “sweet” book, but the widowhood book is totally different because there is nothing sweet about the death of a spouse. Widows / widowers constantly tell me that it portrays exactly what they feel and what they want to say to friends and family. During the two and a half years of cancer I never missed a writing deadline, and several magazine articles came out of our trials. It helps to think something good comes from our tragedy, and when I speak to widow’s groups I try to lighten their loads and encourage them to help each other.

  • Bonnie says:

    Thank you for the most truthful accurate account of what I am feeling about widowhood. It’s been 7 years and the loneliness hasn’t gone away. How could it possibly go away when my husband is not here for “the what should have beens” and each of my 3 childrens’ milestones? Only members of “our club” GET IT ! Thank you for putting it in words for us.

  • Ginger Hogan says:

    My husband was a carpenter, a profession where digits were often lost to power tools. They called it the “nub club” I think we widows have our own version of the nub club.

  • Irene Covington says:

    You are a great writer. You are a true wordsmith. Thank you for sharing your story. I will pray for you.

  • Julie Kunkel says:

    Reading this was like I had written it myself. And then I thought “Oh no, someone else is going through the exact same thing. How heartbreaking for them too.” Any time I meet a new widow it is hard because I see me in her eyes and I think “oh she doesn’t know what she is going to have to go through. I wish I could keep her from going through it.” Thank you for this article. We are not alone in this but a large club. A horrible, heartbreaking club that never wants new members. This piece nails being a widow.

  • Joyce says:

    While I have read numerous articles in these eight months of widowhood that have brought comfort, I cannot adequately express my appreciation for the affirmation you have given me in describing what life has become since losing my husband. Bless you!

  • Glenda Logan says:

    I lost my husband December 4, 2013 to suicide. My heart is broken and I truly don’t think it will ever heal. I go through the motions of living everyday for my children and grandchildren. The only true enjoyment I have is my grandchildren. Not much matters to me but them. I’m not usually a negative person but I feel I am now. I don’t want to burden anyone and want everyone to enjoy their lives but don’t want them to expect it from me. I don’t like to go out, not even to food shop. I prefer to be at home and would rather family come to me to visit. I know that seems selfish but it is where I most comfortable. I work and come home, everyone thinks I’m doing fine. But I don’t think I will ever be fine. Sorry so down but it is my truth. Thank you for listening.

  • Cindy Z says:

    Wow, you nailed it….word for word, exactly how I feel!

  • Cynthia Horacek says:

    Dear Ms. Tidd –
    I lost my husband on Nov. 12, 2010. Sometimes it feels like yesterday; sometimes it feels like forever. We were married 31 years, 8 months and 12 days. He was the love of my life – really. Not my first love, but my last. I thought we’d grow old together; that we share the joy of being grandparents, that we’d take long walks when we retired and hold hands and kiss and still spoon in bed every night. He was 57 when he died. He had Crohn’s Disease, and I think I knew at some point I’d out live him, but then he got cancer, and I just didn’t think it would be so soon.

    I’m so sorry for your loss. You said so well what I struggle with daily, and mostly, nightly. Being alone. Loneliness. I can be as busy as ever during the day; I can be with friends, I can volunteer, I can do my art (finally – it took close to 3 years to get back to that), but at the end of the day, there’s still no one here. I have health issues, too; and my greatest fear is not being able to take care of myself and not having Don here to help me. Well, obviously, he won’t be here… but I can’t and won’t be a burden to my children, and I’m so afraid of being taken care of by strangers. So that fear is a strong one. But more than the fear, it’s being alone. Not being able to talk about what our now-grown children are doing; not having him here to talk about visiting them and when and how soon and seeing our grandchildren together. But I can tell you get all that; I think everyone who shares this same situation does.

    So thank you for saying so well what I feel.

  • Beth Maupin says:

    When people would ask me if I felt lonely, I told them, “No, I feel ALONE!” The first one to try to help me understand what I was saying told me, “Loneliness is an emotion. ALONE is spiritual.” He nailed it. I had other friends try to assure me that there was no difference, that they had been or were still alone. There were a few that got it, and that really meant the world to me. Recently, I told one of those people that I never could quite tell whether that desert wind was hot or cold, and she responded that she saw a desert when I told her about “ALONE.” I’m still not sure about the temperature (Probably other things were in play,), but it was a bitter wind. It still shows up, but it’s seldom as bitter. By the way, we were married 20 days shy of 51 years.

  • Donna Vidmar widdowed 5/22/99 says:

    Thank you… I do feel you know my soul.. I oved him so much. …. so so so much.. no kids.. he pulled me thru cancer and then drug addiction
    . Then….. he was gone.. I’ve been so very alone ever since… you have written the most poiniant and nearest words to how I feel as I have ever had the gratefullness to get to read…. thank you.. I wept.

  • Carolyn Beckwith says:

    Widow hood to me feels like I lost half of me on that day. No one could ever replace him. It will be 7 years on July 28. I know he is with Jesus and that gets me through.

  • Rae says:

    Thank you..

    Simply thank you

  • Jenny Williams says:

    Well said. I lost my partner of 12 years last year, but because we were not married people seem to think my grieving should be less. I too needed & cherished my alone time however I now realise that did not mean shunning everyone & becoming a hermit, which I have done.
    It is 17 months since he passed away & my only description of how I still feel is totally numb. I can still walk in the freezing pouring rain & be so numb I don’t feel it.

  • mary says:

    O how I wish I had found this sooner. My husband left this earth 16 months on the 20th of July. I felt like I was totally loosing my mind. Even though I knew he wasn’t going to be with our family much longer I still didn’t believe he was gone. You see, he had been in and out of a nursing home for over 5 years. I was with him the day he passed for over 12 hours. The Hospice nurse called me at 3am and told me to come and call the family. My son and I left at 3pm to meet with the funeral director. We were gone 15 minutes and our youngest son called. He was gone. We were married 40 years on Feb. 7 and he left us on Feb. 20. He hadn’t shared our bed or our home in quite some time and still the house felt empty and I would hear our black lab snore and I would wake up and think it was him. Finally after all this time I am beginning to feel normal again. So to anyone reading this please don’t let anyone tell you to move on and have fun and to date again. Grieving is a process and you do it in your time. It is the hardest thing I have ever done. I have children and an amazing grandson and friends. All they could do for me was to listen to me sob and hold my hand. My grandson would tell me “its ok grandma, I’m here while he sat on my lap. He was 5. Thankfully, I have a strong faith in God. I pray constantly to get me through another day and He did. I still get mad at God for taking him from me and I get even madder at my husband for not doing what the doc’s told him to do and leaving me way too soon and not being here to watch our grandson start kindergarten and watch the Christmas program at his school and swimming lessons. I’m sorry, I just keep rambling on and on. I just want and ladies reading this to know you aren’t alone in your grief and no, you aren’t crazy. Things will get better. Love to all!

  • Brenda McLean says:

    Widowhood sucks! Almost 2years..9 days before Christmas. God bless!

  • Kelly Combs says:

    I finished your book last week. I’ve never felt more understood. More like someone was in my head and knew my feelings. Thank you for articulating my feelings when I could not. I’ve sent this article to many of my friends and said, “This. This is how I feel.”

    Being understood is a huge gift. Even when it’s by someone who understands you’re crazy. Widow-crazy. Thank you for normalizing the crazy.

    Best wishes to you and your children!

  • Michael Nogrady says:

    I was not the hands on parent when my eife passed away. I had two children in High School. I had to learn to be a parent at 57. I kep watching the door at night, waiting for the Adult to come home.
    it has been 5 years and it does get different. I have had the wonderful opportunity to grow as a patent and a human being. I have gone through years of therapy and have wonderful, considerate friends who never told me to move on.
    Now the memories are brighter and happier. I realize that I have a lot to forgive and be forgiven. It does get better, if you work for it.
    I have found another wonderful person who understands and we are learning to live and trust another person. That had been the hardest part of opening up to another and being vulnerable again.
    God bless those of you beginning your journey.

  • Laurel Azaria says:

    Thank you for writing this, I am still waiting for my “aha ” moment. I am a widow (I hated that word or title ” in my mind I am still a wife, without a husband. He’s been gone for 3 1/2 months now, but some days it feels like forever other days like he’s just out on a errand. GOD I miss him so much, this month (on my birthday) would have been 25 years.
    Thanks to others for helping get through another day.

  • You have captured so eloquently just what I’ve been feeling; going through. I lost my best friend, the man I was married to for 43 years 2 months ago. Sometimes it doesn’t feel real and at other times there is such a heaviness in me that I become immobile. What I wouldn’t give to hear him call me “Babe” one more time. I don’t know if I’ll ever get used to this single thing. Friends mean well, but I’m tired of answering the question “How are you doing?” Should I tell them the truth, that this reality just sucks. That logically I look well, but emotionally it’s been a roller coaster. That I want to turn the clock back 6 months; even 3 months back just to relive every moment with him. Thank you, thank you.

    • Marian says:

      Your article made my day. My husband of 45 years died 3 weeks ago of a massive heart attack. He died at home and I found him on the shower floor. I was his living kidney donor. I am struggling to return to some semblance of a normal life. The article expressed how I feel. My husband was my world. I wanted to say goodbye and I love you but never got the chance. I wish more people could understand how widows feel especially when death is unexpected. Thank you for putting into words my feelings.

  • Cheryl Johnston says:


  • KatR says:

    Normally, I am very calm, rational and logical. But let someone try to tell me it’s time I moved on…..then all those barely handled emotions crash to surface. My rage is visceral…..and I don’t hold it back. How dare anyone presume?

  • Marian says:

    Her comments express exactly how I feel. I loss my husband the day after our 45 wedding anniversary June 22 of 2015. He was my world.I gave him my kidney to save his life. He had a massive heart attack and died if front of me. Each day is a constant struggle to return to a normal life .Therapy is helping but I wonder if I will ever become my former self. Her article comforted me and made me realize that I am normal and have a right to feel like I do.She is truly compassionate and understanding which us what I so desperately need now.

  • Laurel says:

    Catherine, this is such a beautiful – straight from the heart and authenic piece. I, too, lost my husband in 2009 after being married for 42 years. I completely get what you wrote about. My life has evolved from that horrible word “widow” to other new titles. And yes, I have been blessed with a new marriage which was completely surprising to me.

    I have a dear friend who just passed this weekend. She made the decision to remarry (after not death but divorce) after a long reflective time. She went in for heart surgery the Monday following her wedding, and died this past Saturday. I have forwarded your beautiful piece on to her shattered husband, with the hope that he will read it when he is able.

    What is amazing to me as that the veneer which covers my loss and grief, was and is so easily ripped away during times like this. Yes, we heal – and do move forward, but underneath that newly formed skin which covers our “being”, it will always be tender and easily cracked when death shows its face once again.

    I wish for you peace and comfort. Keep on writing – you now have a purpose, which is to use your words to help others. Thank you again for the beauty of your words, Laurel

  • Sarah Alam says:

    So beautifully put. And makes me feel I am not the only one going through this, and that someone understands. Reading this was like someone telling me my own story.It’s been over a year and the pain is as deep and permanent as day one. It just becomes a little easier to assimilate. A ‘Thank you’ is all I can say through the tears. May you have the peace and contentment you need. Love and hugs!

  • Yvonne says:

    Your article touched my heart and my soul.
    You state PERFECTLY what we all feel and make it easily understood by the “unwidowed”. I sent this article to my siblings and friends to help them understand how I feel. Each one thanked me for sending the article as they now “get it”. For this alone, I am indebted to you.
    Many times i feel like I am speaking Chinese in a world where everyone speaks English! Finally i give up and begin to speak English too, but how relaxed and free I feel when i can speak to someone else who speaks Chinese. YOU speak Chinese with me!
    My dear husband died 9 months ago after a 2 month illness of mini strokes and then a full stroke, taking away his ability to speak for his last 2 months of life. Lung cancer caused his strokes. We were married 37 years and he was 61; have 3 kids- all at home.
    As i read on your blog- I still struggle with making decisions alone, no one to discuss the kids with, our past memories with or what i did that day with…..and still the empty bed is dreadful…
    THANK YOU for your beautiful clear writing- and for making me feel connected to others who speak my language.

  • Engela Fortuin says:

    Hi.My husband passed away on 8 Feb 2015 right in front of me after suffering a massive stroke.And I died inside as well.I’m so,so lost.I’ll never be at home anywhere on this planet,because he was my home.I’m angry with God for taking him and I’m even angry with my husband for dying.I’m 48 and too young to be a widow.I need my husband desperately.We were married for 12 years but were together 18 and a half years.

  • Agnes Gichogo says:

    Hi. am 18 weeks since i joined this involuntary club of window hood.
    I feel lonely with pockets of guilt, anger,sadness and frustration.
    It was on a Sunday morning 28th June 2015 when my husband suddenly collapsed and died in front of our second born son and I.
    Things have never been the same again. Sometimes feeling strong enough to keep going and other times i feel frail.
    Am reaching out for those who’ve walked the journey for support

  • Lee Pierce says:

    My wife passed from an early onset of Lewy Body Dementia, a cruel illness. She had not been diagnosed until she became catatonic one evening and was taken by ambulance to the wrong hospital. Since they had no records they did tests that the other doctors never did and came up with the diagnosis. They said it was terminal and thought she should go to hospice. She went to hospice and improved, but not to what she had been and was sent home. Exactly three months later she died literally in my arms. The was no time for good bye. In a blink of an eye she just stopped breathing. She had a DNR order making it harder since I had to just sit with her until she was picked up. We were married for 31 years, and together for 34. It has been a little less than two months since she died and I feel like I died that day as well. I quit my job and started a new one hoping that it would tie me up and help me cope. It is fine when I am at work but once I get home it is awful. I am moving out of the house because it is to hard to look at the spot where I know she drew her last breath. I sometimes just sit in that spot and try to talk to her and cry. Now that that day is coming to move I am sad because now I cannot sit in that spot but feel I have to go. Some may say “well you knew she was terminal” but with that disease it can be months or many years. I had convinced myself that she was going to be one of the ones that live long. A few days before she died she had said she kept seeing a man in the bedroom for the last couple of days. When I would walk with her around the room she would say he left. The last night she said she thought it was Death waiting to take her. There are so many things that I can never forget. The blank look on her face at the moment of her death…did she realize she was dying? did she feel comfort or pain? All I remember is the look of almost nothingness on her face with her eyes slightly open looking to the left. A look that I cannot ever get out of my mind. It haunts me. If I had known that it was going to be our last three months I would have taken more time off from work. I had a caregiver who she got along with but my wife would often say that she wished I could be her caregiver, but financially I felt like I could not do it. Now it is to late and I blame myself for not just taking the time off and not worrying about the money end of it. Every time I see something that she liked it that “moment” for me. She loved owls and recently the grocery store had big signs up for Halloween with owls and I found myself walking the aisles with tears streaming down my face. I wish I had the faith that some have so I could believe that she is indeed in a better place, as I am told so often. I am now facing Thanksgiving alone for the first time in over 34 years, and then Christmas, and then in February, her Birthday. Our anniversary was on October 26th. I had started my new job that day, so it helped out while I was working, but once home…. to painful to describe… When my Dad died it was hard but nothing like this. I now understand what my mother may have felt.
    How I will cope in this upcoming year is hard to say, but I know I will be lonely the rest of my life without Linda, the love of my life.

  • Monique Smith says:

    Thank you for the article.its been 1 year, 5 months and 10 days. I have never been so empty or lonely. I feel as if I am crazy or if I should be over the guilt, sadness and pain. How do you get over someone how I used to want to kill, someone who I loved more than myself. I love the times when I’m in my dreams and he’s there with me, oh how do I hate the mornings after.

    I’m happy to know I’m not alone. I don’t think the pain will ever fade. I too feel justified as well, I am not alone.

  • Laurel Van Horn says:

    This so perfectly describes what I have just been going through today. My wonderful, courageous husband died two weeks ago after becoming sicker and sicker over the past year. I just returned from being with our son and his family for the Thanksgiving holiday, so last evening and today were the first time I’ve been alone in our home since his death. I’ve never experienced such a crushing loneliness; it is exactly as you have described. We had been married for almost 42 years and were rarely apart for lengthy periods of time. The hole left in my life is huge. I know he is at peace and is no longer suffering, and for that I am relieved, but oh my, losing him is just so, so incredibly hard. Thank you for your words.

  • heart broken says:

    Thank you for such an insightful article. Your article expresses the depth of desolation I often felt since my wife died and articulates the hurt and pain that came with the ‘thud’ that I have not been able to find amongst other books, websites and articles on grief and bereavement

    Two years ago I lost my wife at the age of 41 suddenly to an aggressive cancer. We were together for almost 20 years and parents to 4 young children.

    I felt the ‘thud’ you felt at Wal Mart about a month after she died. I received a call from preschool to offer the last 2 places for our twin. I was immediately looking for her so ‘we can decide whether to accept the offer’. That was the first time I realised there will be no more ‘we’, just ‘me’

  • Maryann Noah says:

    My husband died in 2006. In 2008 I became reacquainted with a male friend I had known for some years who had recently been divorced. We had a 5 year relationship and created a life together even though we lived separately. Then in 2013 he didn’t come over for his morning coffee as usual. I went to his house and found him dead.
    This last spring I had a close brush with death myself, but here I am recovering well, but alone. Now I feel really alone, more than I ever have before. I can so relate to your essay. I have a lot of friends, some married couples and other widows. But there is no soul mate, no one with whom I can really share life. I find myself thinking ‘is this all there is?’ It’s kind of creepy really in a perverse sort of way. And yes, I keep busy, yadayadayada.

  • Sheree Fenwick says:

    Have been without my darling man for two years and 3mths now.Just spent my third Xmas without him.We were together for 36 years. Three kids, three grandchildren! It broke my heart yesterday to overhear my daughter tell someone that her three year old was glad she has a grandad (my daughter’s father in law, who isn’t the best of characters!And he’s in Australia, not New Zealand! )And my husband would have been such a loving, hands-on Grandpa! I am so alone with being a grandparent!

  • Mara says:

    I’m only six weeks into this awful journey and always sad … but always relieved to hear that so much of what I’m feeling isn’t necessarily normal but also not wrong. Not sure there is any right or wrong anymore. I’m very much stuck in limbo, not only between life and loss and real and surreal, but between young and old … I’m only 46, which is too young to be a widow and too old to be single, or at least to behave like either. So I’m limping along and as much as I’d like to follow the unwritten rule of not making big changes for at least a year, my financial situation will force me to move in the next six months. I’m not ready to go through his things or leave or home behind or take the next step, but I have no choice. I’ve had many “thumps” but I think the real “thuds” are still ahead, and am grateful to have your voice and the advice of others before me to follow …

    • sharon says:

      I’m eight weeks today into the loss of my husband who passed after a long battle with colon cancer. Though I’m relieved that his suffering has ended I relate to the hole in my heart that cannot be filled. Nothing prepared me for the degree of sadness and loneliness I have come to experience. I find that my tears won’t dry up and my heart won’t stop breaking but I am grateful to be able to share my hurt with those who can identify. I am so looking forward to some sort of normalcy.