Hard to believe it has been five months since my husband Phil, passed away of a staph infection post back surgery.  Phil loved Open to Hope and all the wonderful people we have spent time with since the death of our son, Scott in 1983.

As I like to say I have talked the talk of helping the bereaved find hope and now I am again walking the walk.  You may wonder if being a part of the grief world has helped me during my loss and I would say a definite “yes”.  I have learned a lot from our current and past guests on Open to Hope podcasts and our Open to Hope writers including the fact that I am not alone.

Finding Hope After Spouse Loss

There are around 13.6 million widows in the United States leaving four widows to every widower.  That means that 80% of women will be the last person standing as my husband and I use to say. That doesn’t even count the number of women who have never married but are in partnerships.  Being an older widow does have its advantages as I don’t have children at home so I can really focus on my path forward and myself.  Below are some of my thoughts on being a widow.

I am sure you can add greatly to the list as I hope you will.

Finding hope after Spouse loss observations after four months:

  • You can and will compare your own losses with yourself. Comparing with others losses is useless
  • Losing a child for me was like climbing Mt. Everest without oxygen
  • Losing Phil is like climbing Mt. Everest with oxygen. Some trips are more painful than others but you will take the trip
  • Spouse loss is misplacing your cell phone and not having another phone to call you
  • Spouse loss is being in free fall never knowing when you will hit a ledge
  • Spouse loss is for the first time not having a curfew
  • Not having someone to hold the kite string at the bottom of the hill
  • Not having someone to play games with and share the news
  • Being able to sleep in the middle of the bed
  • Not having someone to comment of how great you look
  • Not having someone to laugh at ironic or irreverent things
  • Spouse loss is managing things that you don’t want to manage. Taking out your own garbage
  • Spouse loss is wishing that the plane that just flew over would crash into the house and take you out.
  • There are a lot of widows around. People identify with spouse loss.
  • People of a certain age know spouse loss is coming for them
  • No one wants to be the last person standing
  • Long-term spouse caregivers often envy the freedom of widowhood
  • Spouse loss is a fact of life
  • Life goes from being overwhelmed to boredom
  • No one to rub lotion on your back
  • No one who fully shares and understands those pivotal moments
  • No one to say, “I don’t want to go out” or “isn’t it is time to go home”
  • No one to say, “You go on up. I will turn out the lights”.
  • No one to check that the door is locked
  • No one to help you find those missing keys
  • No one to plan a trip with
  • Sometimes I feel like half my brain is gone/No one to finish my sentences or remember my grandchildren’s birthdays
  • The death of a spouse and a divorce have a lot in common. A person we loved is Missing In Action (MIA)
  • No one to daily listen to my ideas and edit this article

I hope you have found this article helpful and “yes” I am getting support for myself.   I am taking part in two on-line spouse loss bereavement programs through Kara a wonderful grief organization in Palo Alto, California run by my good friend Jim Santucci and from Soaring Spirits Foundation a spouse/partner loss non-profit run by Michelle Neff Hernandez and let me not forget Herb Knoll, although his organization Widowers Journey is “for men only” he has taught me a lot about courage and faith.

I dedicate this article to my pal and partner Phil.  We had a great 60 years.  I will stay open to hope as he and Scott are always with me in my heart and I know if I’m not happy their not happy.

God Bless,

Dr. Gloria

Gloria Horsley

Dr. Gloria Horsley is an internationally known grief expert, psychotherapist, and bereaved parent. She started "Open to Hope" to help the millions in the world with grief. She is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Clinical Nurse Specialist, and has worked in the field of family therapy for over 20 years. Dr. Horsley hosts the syndicated internet radio show, The Grief Blog which is one of the top ranked shows on Health Voice America. She serves the Compassionate Friends in a number of roles including as a Board of Directors, chapter leader, workshop facilitator, and frequently serves as media spokesperson. Dr. Horsley is often called on to present seminars throughout the country. She has made appearances on numerous television and radio programs including "The Today Show," "Montel Williams," and "Sallie Jessie Raphael." In addition, she has authored a number of articles and written several books including Teen Grief Relief with Dr. Heidi Horlsey, and The In-Law Survival Guide.

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