Grief in GeneralMoving Forward

Sit Down. And Shut Up.

I started this blog and the Better Not Bitter Widower Facebook Page almost one year ago.

I think that anybody who has followed me from the start or takes the time to read my posts from the last year will agree that my blog and FB page are an expression of true love, raw grief and an undying hope for a better tomorrow.

This post is a little different.

This post is being written on February 14th, 2017.  Valentine’s Day.  After I just read another post from a widow friend who is being made to feel like an awful human because she chose to try to live again.


Here is my rant:

Sit down. 

And shut up.

Serious question:  Is your spouse six feet under?  Oh wait, are they a pile of ashes?


They aren’t?




Then, sit down.

And shut up.

My wife’s name was Michelle.  She’s gone.

Once a widow.  Always a widow.

Once a widower.  Always a widower.

No, this isn’t a plea for sympathy.

No, this isn’t even an angry post.

This is an honest post.

This is a passionate post.

This is a real post.

Sit down.

And shut up.

Unless you watched your spouse die.  Unless you buried your spouse. Unless you burned your spouse.

Sit down.

And shut up.

Do not tell a widow or widower how they should be living.

Do not tell a widow or widower how they should be acting.

And please, for the love of all that is right in this world, PLEASE – do NOT tell a widow or widower when they should try to love again.

I am  sick of seeing widows and widowers vilified for trying to pick up the pieces of their lives.

I am sick of seeing widows and widowers vilified for trying to find companionship again.  For trying to find love again.

Hell, for trying to find ANYTHING again!

We are lost souls. On a journey to find our self again.

And YOU want to judge?


Do you know the courage it takes to go back out there after your spouse has died?

After you watched them die of cancer.  Or a massive heart attack.  Or suicide. 

After you watched them fall to sixty pounds.  Having bowel movements on themselves.  Having horrific hallucinations so bad that seeing them like that strangled your soul.

After you watched them fall to their knees.  And clutch their chest. And take their last breath.

After you walked in on their body.  Dead.  Because they took their own life.

You have no idea.

Do you have any idea how badly the loss of a spouse messes with your mind?  With your heart?  With your soul?

No.  You don’t.

So sit down.

And shut up.

You are not allowed to judge.

You are not allowed to pass judgment as you drive home to your spouse.

You are not allowed to pass judgment as you eat dinner with your spouse.

You are not allowed to pass judgment as you cuddle up on the couch with your spouse.

You are not allowed to pass judgment as you have sexy time with your spouse.

You.  Are.  Not.  Allowed.  To. Pass.  Judgment.

Sit down.

And shut up.

Stop judging.

Stop thinking that you know what the hell you are talking about.

Because you do not.

Your life wasn’t ripped from you.

Your future wasn’t destroyed.

Sit down.

And shut up.

This was not our choice.

This was not a breakup.  Stop comparing.

This was not a divorce.  Stop comparing.

This was not the loss of a grandpa. Stop comparing.

This was not the loss of Uncle Thomas.  Stop comparing.

And for Heaven’s sake, this was NOT the loss of your damn CAT. Stop comparing!

This was the loss of a  soul mate.

Our love.

Our other half.

Our life.

Our future.

Sit down.

And shut up.

The next time you see a widow or widower try to pick themselves off, dust themselves off and ‘get back out there’. 

You have 2 choices.

You can either sit down and shut up.


You can give them a standing ovation.

For their heart.  For their courage. For their bravery.

Those are your two options.

And your ONLY two options.

Because. You. Do. Not. Know.

 – Rant.  Over. –

Mic Drop.

 © Copyright 2017 John Polo






119 thoughts on “Sit Down. And Shut Up.

  1. Love it John. Well written, never been in your shoes but much respect.
    Michelle I’m sure is looking down cheering you on. Yay John!!! Or dork (she said it not me)

    1. Thank you for putting into words the devastation and pain that comes at the loss of a soul mate. The depth of grief, the sudden loss of identity, the soul numbing pain of loneliness, the reality of the forever nature of death can only be understood by those who have been there. Thank you.

      1. Thank you! I lost my husband in May 2017. I was married to my high school sweetheart for 30 yrs. On top of that and all at the same time, within 18 months, I lost my job of 28 yrs., my mom, three wks. later my dad all while my husband suffered from cancer and then I lost him. Obviously, I have a ton of emotions but some of your words “depth of grief, sudden loss of identity, and the soul numbing pain of loneliness” truly hit home. I still question who I am, at times. Sometimes, I even feel like an unloved orphan. And then WOW, there’s the loneliness. I woke up to, came home to, heard the same voice, saw the same smile, day in and day out for over 30 yrs. and then poof, one day it’s ALL gone. I no longer had a parent to support the loss of my spouse or a spouse to support the loss of my parents. No one has a clue unless you’ve walked in the shoes. But with that, I remember these people haven’t walked in my shoes therefore it’s impossible for them to begin to understand me, and because of that, I forgive. I just hope that some day, I will feel true love again. Good luck to everyone on their journey…

    2. In your shoes, twice, two wives lost to cancer. The death of my second wife has changed me. I can’t tell anyone how, I cant even explain how, but I know I will forever be changed after losing two wives in the same house, in the same room 7 years apart. I saw a post on Facebook that got my attention-something to the effect of “I’m sorry I hurt you while I was hurting.” I think that sums it up, today anyway. Maybe not tomorrow

      1. Also 2 here David, 11years apart. I’m forever changed and I felt the shift when my last love does 8mo ago. Never will I be the same and I too can’t explain it. It just “is”.

  2. Not ready to get anywhere or want to, but you are so right in every case of being a widow. You put into words what I feel when anyone says “I know”!!!

  3. Amen
    When my husband was killed by a drunk driver I wanted to die.
    I had to tell myself just to breath each day.
    I can breath again without telling myself to but I am still trying to find myself after almost 6 years.
    I cried today on a day for couples
    I desire to be part of a couple again
    I want someone to love me and have someone to love.
    I miss the hugs and being told I am loved.
    I feel guilty for wanting that as I lost my soulmate. Do we get another? Do I really want another?
    Crazy, broken, lost. Is that a light at the end of the tunnel, no it is dark again and I am lost.
    Always the odd one out. Penalized for traveling alone, not by choice but because I was forced into this life of aloneness.
    No one can understand unless they walk in the same shoes of loosing part of ones self.
    Hugs to you.

    1. Amen!!!
      It’s been 10 years and just started to think about dating again. It’s lonely, it’s heart wrenching! Reminding yourself that you deserve to be happy. I didn’t ask for them to leave, we weren’t perfect, we weren’t getting along, but I didn’t want them to die!!
      This whole I dug for myself is deep, dark, and painful. Yeah I know it wasn’t my fault, but ince the thought comes up, it’s hard to make it go away, along with the anger that they were gone before we could fix the bad time. I didn’t get the chance to make it right. Thw chance to find out if it was something that could be fixed.
      How can anyine who hasn’t gone through it, and doesn’t know the torment that we go through, not knowing, having our heart, and life ripped away from what was supposed to be our life together. I don’t want to replace him, I don’t want to forget. Who’s to say “you’ve grieved long enough”, “you need to move on”, “your young, you should enjoy your life”??
      None of that matters!
      None of that can change the way you feel!
      None of that will make the sun come out and wash away the pain, until the pain is bearable! It never goes away.
      No one knows until they have been through it……

      1. 15 for me. Guilt is overwhelming, I’m pretty sure most of us (widows/widowers) have it, for one reason or another, don’t let it control your life. As much as you believe you deserve the karma you’re probably putting yourself through, you don’t.

    2. Yes, yes and yes. You’ve summed up everything I’ve felt the last few days, that I didn’t know how to put into words. Thank you.

  4. I am 15 months out from the passing of my beloved husband but OH WOW!! I have moved on but my husband will always be a part of me til the day I die!! I truly felt the conviction and reality of what we all widows and widowers face daily!! Thank you for writing and sharing. You are amazing!!! <3

  5. I wonder if it was my experience you referred to of the comment made to me on the day of my husbands death. A lady I know said she completely understands because her cat died a few days before… or else Im not the only one who knows this crackpot

    1. You’re not alone there, Carolyn. The day I returned to work – just 2 days after my husband’s service – a co-worker entered my office and said she knew “exactly” how I felt because she had to put her dog down the week before. I. was. speechless.

    2. Nope, not alone. Someone told me they knew exactly how I feel. Her husband had a stroke. He is at home recovering, their kids are grown and gone. My husband died and I am left alone to raise our two young boys (ages 6 and 3). I just stared in disbelief.

  6. I lost my wife of 26 years 7 months ago to cancer. As I struggle with my new reality I try to read as much as I can to get perspective or insight. Your blog has been the most helpful. May God bless you and please keep writing.

  7. I lost my husband four years ago to cancer and while I haven’t found the strength to try again – I applaud those who have. It takes true inner strength to start again….Thanks for standing up for those that have the strength!

  8. I love this! Today should of been my 8th wedding anniversary, my husband passed from cancer 21 months ago. I am not ready to move on, but I am tired of judgment, being told ow to act, feel. Especially from people that have NEVER suffered such a loss!

  9. John, the words you write are so true. Only a widow or widower can truly appreciate them. Incredibly raw and honest. I believe your sweet Michele is watching over you… with an enormous amount of love and pride. You are an amazing man!!! God bless you.

  10. I am less than a year out. My husband disappeared on 7/3/16 and was found decreased on 8/24/16. Which day do we (my children and I) use as the day of his death? As the “anniversary” approaches, I’m beginning to realize that the entire summer will be absolutely torturous. I struggle to get out of bed for roughly 2 weeks of every single month. I’m truly shocked that I am still employed. Thank you for your rant.

  11. Thank you, no one understands the pain we go through seeing your soulmate die of cancer! Today marks 2 years my husband died of cancer and I miss him soooo much!

  12. Do you know how mich i love you for this one. Valentines day suuuuuucked more now that the numb is wearing off bit by bit. And honestly seeing happy lovey dovey romance yesterday was a gut check. I hope for a second chance at love, a completion to a happily ever after that was abruptly cut short due to cardiac arryhtmia and yet i dont wish this on anyone at any age.

  13. Thank you, from the botom of my shattered heart, John Polo. For every time some divorce’ has said, “I know exactly how you feel!” For every time some chruch lady said, “It’s God’s plan.” For every side glance and side comment. For every person who stood in judgement of me but did not offer a word or a hand in grace…yes, you, there, in your smug perfect little blessed world- sit down. Shut up. Peace out.

  14. I don’t plan to date or remarry – but I still get the judgments just for living my life, trying to find new meaning in this new alone life. Thanks very much for these important words. Will share.

    I mean WOW! You hit it right on point!! I couldn’t believe it when people started saying these things to me and when they started judging me and talking about me behind my back and then coming to me and admitting it or worse yet, walking up on the conversation as they tried to act like they weren’t talking about me. I’ve tried so hard to show grace and love to those people over the last 2 years but I have been so close to dating these very things to people so many times. I wish I had been strong enough and rave enough before now. Now, I am finding my voice a little at a time but I am trying to be more constructive with both their s comments and my responses but it doesn’t excuse them or make the sting of it go away. “High five” for saying the truth and putting it out there in black and white without an apology!! God bless you and your sweet little girl on your journey!

  16. I can not stop tears. Every. Word. True. I lost the love of my love life to cancer more than 3 years. It’s still a struggle picking up the pieces and learning to navigate life without him. One a widow, always a widow.

  17. I lost my Best Friend of 42 years! 18 months ago! I am expected to stop grieving! Whining, as people here call it! He was my everything! My forever! My best friend ever! And cancer took him from me! I was left with a hole in my heart that I don’t think will ever mend.

  18. Well shared. Having experience such a loss before blogs it just doesn’t leave. Life is an expansion and contraction all at the same time. Makes no sense and always healing. Keep the beautiful shares and heart space. Hugs

  19. All well said. I am not a widow or widower, but am a friend of a widow. And I have been there for her since the day her husband took his life across from their house. I have watched the pure hell she has lived, listen and hugged her while she cried. Listened as she told me about insensitive assholes are SO JUDGEMENTAL of her and others. Each person has their own time period so to speak to grieve, date, marry, or just try to get through each minute,hour, day, and should NEVER be judged by anyone

  20. Thank you. I know I will never ever think of trying to find someone to replace my husband, and I know he didn’t pick me as a replacement for his dead first wife. I will also have a hard time understanding how people can find love again, but that’s my problem, if you will, not theirs. Grief sucks. I love him more now than ever. I will never get over, thru, around, whatever, this pain. And I don’t want to ever love again because IF I exist in this world of afterloss much longer, I don’t want to do it again.

    1. I don’t know how fresh this loss is for you, I’m sorry, it’s been almost 15 yrs for me. Many stages to go thru, some go through sooner than others. You would never find someone to replace your husband, but you may find love again, just like your husband did with you. I’m sure you made him as happy, as he made you, he would not want you unhappy. Try to stay busy, keep in touch with friends and family, get out and do things that may interest you. Make “finding” someone your last thought, and it very well may happen, when you least expect it, just please, don’t waste your “light”, share yourself with others, if you can bring some happiness to others, you too will be happy. Life is to be enjoyed, shared enjoyment. You can’t dwell on the thought that if you find love again, you may have to go thru another devastating loss. Why? Because that loving relationship was still worth our loss, or it wouldn’t hurt so bad. Thank god, the mind seems to replace our overwhelming sorrow with wonderful memories, and thankfulness for the time we had, if we let it. Hugs, from one to another.

  21. I applaud EVERY SINGLE PERSON (including my mom) who has lost a spouse, and has found the strength to go on and live life. Kudos to you all!!!!

  22. WOW. Best post I have read in a long time. It’s been 6 months since I lost my husband to cancer, and that was after a heart-wrenching year long battle. We had been together since I was 18, almost 25 years. So much of the person I am is because of our partnership. He lives on every day in our 5 young boys. Thanks for sharing your perspective.

  23. Thank you for this. I have not yet begun dating and am not ready, but have already heard advice from both sides. When (and if) I choose to put myself out there again, I intend to do so with no guilt or shame. And I will do it in my own way.

  24. Thank you, you said what I’ve been wanting to say for years too many different people. I could never had said it better!!!!!
    Even to those that have lost their love one. Maybe they didn’t have the deep love or as close a relationship as some of had

  25. Thanks John I had this happen to me just a few weeks ago when a friend compared me to her. Her husband left her. She said we have it easier because our spouses had died. Couldn’t believe she said that since she knew Greg. I told her she could take her joker back, He only moved in next door, I don’t have that option.

    1. So true, I got a new job a year ago and all the new intakes were expected to move cities. A lady told me it’s easier for me to relocate since my husband is late, I have no worries unlike her that will consider her husband in decision making. After which she said sorry but truly it easier for me.
      I just smiled & thought oh how I wish you knew how tough it is moving with no support from a spouse.

  26. I am walking in your shoes, and this is well said~sit down and shut up. Some will still not get it though, walking this walk for 2 years and have seen all sorts. Thanks it made me smile

  27. Thank you for putting into words alot of unexpressed feelings. At 32 months I have no desire to try again but that could be because of age 64. Have heard many of the same comments from folks you shared I try to tell myself they just don’t know any better

  28. Dennis is gone

    Dennis is not coming back

    Think what you want to about me

    I don’t care

    God joined Dennis and I together

    God took Dennis home to be with the Lord

    Dennis was my second husband

    God did an outstanding job joining us together

    Each of us have our own journey to walk

    And I choose to let GOD lead me

    I choose to follow where GOD leads me

    If there is another husband in my life

    I choose to let GOD choose my next husband

    GOD chose Dennis and GOD gave us 20 years 6 and 1/2 months together

    GOD knows what is in my future I don’t

    I will follow GOD

    I am also be praying for each of you to find what you are searching for


    1. My husband passed away June 18th 2017. Married 34 years. Said he was going to heaven and I would find a Christian man to walk the tea of my life with. Unbelievable, I did. We are still friends, but very close. I showed this to my friends and family when they judge me

  29. Yeah. Wow. You did hit the nail right on the head! My mom, a widow, used to scream this stuff all the time! I’d say she would shout these words at me almost weekly in the year after my father died. My father died when I was 8yrs old.

    1. I agree. Divorce is not the same is death. Neither the widow/widower nor the divorcee truly understand each other. Neither should judge each other. Some people who have been through both say the death was more painful, others say the divorce was more painful. The bottom line is that both divorcees and widows/widowers can be in great pain. People can also be very close to their grandpas or uncle Thomas, making that death more painful for some than it is for others. Everyone should attempt to applaud other people’s courage and bravery even if the situation is different than their own.

  30. This is another one I wish I had had two years ago. The silence I had was from family….his family. I would love to send this to them then tell them to F$%k off….well I did the last part already. Not only did they remain silent until he died but afterwards informed anyone that would listen that I let him die….because I was tired of taking care of him….or I wanted the money…..or better yet that I killed him with the hospice meds. Then at the service he didn’t want they accused me quite loudly of being a whore because I wore a red dress (a little sexy but not bad) that I bought for me to wear to a special occasion that unfortunately he didn’t make it to. I lost some friends, a lot of family but in return I have gained so much more….better people who like (and love me) the way I am….and support me.

    Thank you so much for the words.

    1. I don’t know why, but I felt like I needed to reach out to you about this, even though we don’t know each other. I haven’t walked in your shoes, so I can’t say that I know how you feel, but I have endured more than my share of heartache and grief. I just want to say a few things….. It’s ok to miss your late spouse, and it’s normal to grieve. There is no set time frame for grief…..that will be unique to you. My best suggestion, if it’s possible, is to find someone you can talk to… really talk to….then talk about thoughts, feelings, and memories of your spouse. Talk until you cry, then cry until you can’t cry any more. It doesn’t change what happened, but it helps to deal with everything at a conscious level. That is something I can say from experience. You are worthy of being loved, and you deserve to be happy. Don’t feel guilty if you eventually develop feelings for someone new, or allow yourself to be loved. It sounds like you have a little bit of survivor’s guilt….I have first hand experience with that. Even if you find someone new, there’s room in your heart to keep your late spouse’s memories alive. Whoever you are with should be secure enough not to feel threatened by your memories of your late spouse. In the meantime, look at pictures, keepsakes, etc. that remind you of special times you shared, and smile, knowing that you were lucky enough to have had someone in your life who gave you that much happiness and love. You can also invite friends over who knew him, and tell funny stories and anecdotes about him…. let each person talk freely about their memories of him, and keep his memory alive. People are awkward about grief. They don’t know what to say or how to act (around you.) If it works out right, you can “build” your own support network. Rather than feel sad and guilty, do things to honor your memories of him, and keep the memories alive. Last, plant a flower or tree in his memory. As you sit by it, talk as if you are talking to him… might be surprised how cathartic that can be. Finally, no one can tell you how you should feel or how long you should grieve….I just wanted to share some possible coping mechanisms to help make things a little less painful. I hope this helps.

  31. This is a wonderful blessing. Was shared to someone else but l happen across it.Beening a widow almost eight years never been able to move on.My husband was only 56 and we had just been married 40years 2 months earlier before he died.l missed him so bad talked and went into depression now have no one to talk to about anything.Guess people worry l would keep talking about him through tears.lf it wasn’t for Jesus Christ l may have joined him in Heaven.l still love miss and cry dayly almost.

  32. As one who doesn’t have to sit down and shut up, I have to say that I LOVE this message so incredibly much. If you haven’t lived the agony, you really can’t begin to fathom any part of the nightmare.

  33. Thanks for putting words to these feelings. It’s been just over 8 months since I lost my husband. Someone asked me over the holidays if I thought I would ever marry again, and I replied that I hoped I would. Did I ever catch hell. But being married was the best time of my life. No, I don’t get to be married to him again, and that is the worst. But who am I to set limits on my own heart? My heart…that was strong enough to lose the love of my life and still get out of bed every day. My heart that aches looking into the eyes of my three year old…she has his eyes. My heart that has kept beating…even when the rest of me didn’t want it to. Being a widow is a curse. Living as one shouldn’t have to be. Thanks for keeping this hope. I needed to read this today.

    All my love AK

  34. I lost my husband 7 months ago my children dont want me to have anyone after rheir dad we had been together for 45 years we were high school sweethearts were married 42 years wonderful years never will be able to fill his shoes I am lonely and very depressed he was my whole world maybe when time passes more i will be able to move on with life he would nota want me to be alone God will see me through this and send me someone who will help me through these lonely days and nights

  35. I wish the best for you. What you decide to do….remarry or not. That is your decision alone. Just fobwhat your heart tiells. I didn’t remarry as I’m passed the she of that and would have lose my late husband’s retirement which according to others is better than must. But my year that I had with Bob was short but I was happy. Until his kids ruined it all. Like I said I only had him for a year, but it was a happy year. At least until his kids ruined it all 😢Was not even allowed to him funeral. I was in bad shape for quite awhile, but doing better now. Thanks be to my family and friends. I wish the best for you and you do need more happiness. It helps you get through it all. God bless you

  36. Just found you via Ginny at Marshmallow Ranch. Today is 18 weeks since My husband died of a heart attack at work….thank you for articulating so what so many of us are feeling…

  37. Wow! Could not say how many times I have wanted to SCREAM that! Today Feb 17 marks 9 years and I have never been so horrible judged in my life. My Love spent Valentines in a Hospital bed at the VA Hospital as I watched them slowly kill for Former Navy SEAL! Strongest Man I have ever known and he Fought to stay alive for me…but in the end it was too much. Thank you for the Rant…I needed that today. Never dreamed I would have tears running down my face 9 years later and most of it is because of Other people.

  38. It’s been almost 11 yrs now
    For the past 11 yrs I sat home on weekends
    Stopped going out to dinner cause I felt like everyone looking at me
    Now I finally met someone
    But my problem is my 1 daughter doesn’t want to know anything about what’s going on in my life
    And I get the crap from people give her time. Time for what?
    I’m not getting any younger

  39. Thank you so much! This is a club none of us chose to be a part of and we are just trying to figure out what our new life looks like. Loving support is what I need– not advise from people who have never walked in my shoes.

  40. Loss forever changes us. Loss of a spouce should never fall under judgment from others, especially family and friends….each circumstance is as unique and individual as we are…..
    Rebuilding your life after loss is a dark and lonely journey…it took seven years for me to only begin to take baby steps……this is my life, my loss and know one owns this but me! Peace to all…..

  41. I lost him 16 years ago after 29 years, 7 months of marriage. My world tilted on its Axis and has never been right since. Only someone walking in these shoes knows of the emotional toll, the inner conflict, the self doubts and soul searing heartache you experience when you lose half of yourself. Thank you. It’s past time someone put it into words.

  42. This should be broadcast at funerals or passed out in pamphlet form. Most people just don’t get it!! It’s hard enough in our shoes and makes me angry and saddens my heart. Thank you for this!

  43. Yep, in the funeral parlor at his wake, a realtor was going through the line. When she reached me she says ‘what are you going to do with the house?’ WHAT??!! Today??!! You’re an a**hole!!
    It’s been 6 1/2 yrs for me and although I had found another person to be with for a while, it’s not the same. We were together 34 yrs and married 31 of them. I still feel guilty for not being a better wife. For not being there when he left this earth from a massive heart attack. I miss him terribly. His voice, hugs, kisses, music, guitar playing, laughter…ALL of him. He was my best friend, partner, lover. He can never be replaced. I’m trying to move on, but it seems like 2 steps forward 1 step back. Nothing seems right anymore. Sometimes it doesn’t even feel that it ever will be ‘normal ‘ again. Lonely doesn’t even begin to describe it…I wish this on no one, ever. And NO, you DON’T KNOW what it’s like until it happens to you…you can’t even imagine it!!

  44. lost my husband to cancer year and a half ago , 42 years just gone .the heartache is never ending. my love will live on in my heart for him til the day i die. I feel bad for just talking to another man , i feel like i am cheating on my husband. but after reading this i no, i am not the only one who feels like that . Reading this made me feel not so much alone ,you all feel the same way i am not alone, god bless this page .

  45. Thank you . That was raw and very true emotions unfortunately I know all to well the feelings of loosing my soulmate he passed October 2nd 2014 from Cancer and the fight we fought together for 2 1/2 years . Well just ty for that it said all I wanted to . My heart goes out to you and everyone else who has or is going through this .

  46. In the same position as you. Wrote this on the 14th also. My wife died at 35…

    What do you do, where do you go where do you hide on Valentines day when you lost the love of your life? Huh? What do you do? The world doesn’t slow down for you no one hides the cards, the stuffed bears, the candy or the dinner specials for lovers. Hell, I even get a valentine’s day card from my deceased wife’s cousin (like a Christmas card) of the two of them and their two child b ren smiling at me! Mocking me. My six and eight year old have a PTO sponsored Valentine’s day dance at a school that only goes to 4th grade, really? K-4 Valentines day dance? What PTO genius thought that one up? No mercy is the rule for the grieving heart. Move on. We all can’t stop for you. We have happiness to celebrate. Come to dinner with us two it will be fun. You have to be kidding me. The funny thing is that my wife and I never really celebrated Valentine,s day. We both thought it was a joke. We practiced our love everyday whether it was talking, working together, working apart, unsuspecting delivery of flowers(yes even i got flowers from my wife), surprise gifts or just plain s*x or the real passion a knock down dragged out fight. The s*x is always best after a good drag em’ through the mud fight! We used to laugh about Hallmark raking In the dough when men all over the world had to buy cards the for first time of the year just about doubling revenue. Not unlike mother’s day. Anyway, have a great Valentine’s day. I will be home thinking about all the fun moments my wife and I had while not celebrating this special day

  47. Thank you. Bery well expressed and said. The twp years I took care of my husband was a bonus time for both of us. He did not want to leave me alone But our Creator had called him. There is not a day that I don’t think of him. Missed him everyday and he lives in my heart.

  48. I was and had been miserable and depressed for years. His alcohol use took a toll on all of us but I never left him. I just decided that was my fate. I made the decision to marry him so I had to lie in my own bed. I prayed to God that He would take away the alcohol and that we’d live the happy life I’d thought about years ago. I just didn’t realize that when God took away the alcohol He would take away the man too. Neck and throat cancer and never smoked a day in his life. But alcohol is also a throat irritant we found out later. Almost survived a year from the time he was diagnosed at stage 4. Chemo after chemo and seven weeks of radiation. That last year of taking care of him full time was a blessing, we grew close again and we could just sit and talk, or not. Most of the time not because of the trach in his neck. Numerous hospitalizations. Feeding tube in the stomach. Infections. I took care of it all and each time he rallied through to get better. I was clueless at the last hospitalization as to how sick he was so it was a shock when the doctor recommended hospice. I asked in home? He said in patient. I already knew the time limit for that was 3 weeks. I still wanted antibiotics coming in bc I didn’t want him drowning in his own fluids. One morning I noticed the sheets were still tucked in as nice and neat as made the previous night. This man ALWAYS trashed his sheets. I began questioning as to when would I know when to call in our daughters? Nurse said I should contact the one in VA now. I learned about the marbling of the skin and other small signs that life was slipping away soon. My husband’s sister and brother drove all night. They each spent time with him and then I requested pain meds and removal of oxygen. Our daughters, myself, and his sister stayed bedside and witnessed the rollercoaster of him taking, what we thought, was his last breath for awhile only to have him gasp out of no where, and grab another gulp of air….until he didn’t. Oh how my heart hurt. It felt like the sword in the stone. It was so deep and painful. That first night my grown daughters and I all lay together in my king size bed, me sandwiched between them. They didn’t want to leave me alone nor did they want to be alone. We were now a family of three, such a dynamic change in just a split second. We needed time to process and feel each other. We talked and laughed and cried and laughed until we fell asleep. After the memorial I packed up the dogs and took off for awhile in his big truck. A couple of weeks later and nearly a thousand miles I turned the corner onto my road and saw an empty driveway. Worse was walking into that empty house. No kids, no grandkids, and no husband. I started working later and later just to avoid coming home to an empty house. The next couple of months were hazy. I remember the grief bursts, not being able to focus, anxiety, not wanting to get out of bed on the weekends, and then, only to see about the dogs. I had no appetite. About 25lbs vanished quickly. I felt guilty alot because I thought it was my fault for praying for the alcohol to go. I’d pick up something at the store for him until I realized he wouldn’t be needing it. I broke down in the store with a buggy full of groceries when I heard a certain song and had to leave the buggy just sitting in the aisle. Each time I went some place I kept thinking I needed to hurry up and get home or call to check in. The stress and guilt were over powering, several times I just didn’t know if I could or wanted to go on. My nearest relative was almost three hours away. I was extremely lonely. I just couldn’t sit at home fixated on my pain all the time. I went to group grief counseling. I had to get out. I was in my early 50s and not ready for a rocking chair. I still wanted to see and do, but not by myself. At not quite 6 months after my husband passed, I signed up on a dating site….just looking. After 31 years of marriage to an alcoholic I wasn’t really sure of what I wanted or was looking for. I was afraid of being alone, of dating, of other men, of possibly putting my heart out there and having it broken again. But too, at my age I could find a friend and have a good 25 years together and not suffering alone. Three weeks later I began an email correspondence with a guy that lived almost 1.5 hours away from me. Soon he asked me on a first date and asked to see me again before we parted that night. My daughters were fine with the idea. My mother in law, not at all. To this day she has not contacted me to check up on me after the memorial. I was the one to always call and stay in contact. But in her mind she believes I knew this new man prior to or when my husband was sick. Not true. That assumption hurt for awhile but my daughters knew the whole truth and that’s all that matters to me. I knew this new man was a keeper when he even went to one on one grief counseling with me. We’ve been together now for 5.5 years and almost 3 of them married. It’s tough. I still have PTSD from my verbal abuse as an alcoholic’s wife. There is not a day that goes by that my late husband doesn’t cross my mind or I make a reference to him. It took me over 4 years to finally decide where to finally lay his ashes to rest. I can get melancholy in remembrance sometimes but I don’t grieve anymore. My candle is once again glowing brightly. I am happily married but I will always be his widow. The actual pain in the heart has stopped hurting but the scar is still there. The thoughts of our marriage and family are still there. It’s an experience that is branded into your soul, there’s more depth to me now, and it changes you forever.

  49. John,
    Thank you for speaking truth. I am five years from seeing my wife take her last breath. I am just beginning to find my brains, my heart, and my soul. I thank God I have some who get it, and still others who, unfortunately, are in it like the rest of us. Take care of yourself

  50. 👏👏👏👏👏👏 Kudos!!! Thank you for saying all of those things for each of us, standing here on the “outside” in our widowhood! My daughter’s have even threatened to “warn off” any man I may be interested in. (In the future) no real interest at this time. But, I was startled to hear them say this to me? I have been part of a couple for around 40 years, and I do sort of miss that companionship. We will see what the future holds, I guess.

  51. I lost my husband very suddenly on 2/22/13. I was always so afraid of what people would think when I started dating again. But, you are so right when you say they have no right to voice their negative opinions because they have not been through what we have. I’m getting married next year and it will have been just over 5 years since my husband passed.

  52. Amen! You said it, better than I ever could have. I too have lost my soul mate, my wife, the one love of my life. We had seven years together, and it’s been seven years now without her. And I tried again, “too soon” according to so many.

  53. So much standing ovation for this. Widow here. 25 years and counting. I have been with my current love for the last 18 of those years, but I still miss him. I didn’t forget, but I still had a lot of days to get through. Even after 7 yrs, I fielded snarky comments about “moving on,” as if being permanently paralyzed by grief is the only acceptable course for a widow/er. Who the hell ARE these people? Who gave them the right to tell us when we are allowed to feel again, move again, love again? You’re so right. Sit down. And shut up!

  54. What a great article. I watched my husband die from pancreatic cancer. I wouldn’t wish the experience on anyone!
    Bravo on writing what many of us are feeling and thinking. If you haven’t “been in our shoes”-sit down, and shut up!
    Thanks for sharing your words with us.

  55. I wish I could send this blog to my ‘in-laws’. My husband died suddenly 5 years ago and I’m still trying to figure out trust and estate issues regarding my 2 children.

  56. My husband passed 2 years ago. I rarely leave the house and my friends are dropping off. One told me that she just couldn’t watch me “this ” way. even after I went through a horrible accident, recovery and subsequent divorce because of the situation and I went through some horrific times with her. She just couldn’t bear to see me so sad so I lost a “friend” even after 2 years I still can’t bring myself to get rid of his things. I applaud all of you that can move forward-I’m just not there yet, and get chastised for it from many. I guess we all have our own timelines-I will get there, just not today. Wish me lubk

  57. Spot on perfect. I met my current husband 2 1/2 years after losing my husband. After watching him for months struggle to breathe, walk, shower, eat, speak, articulate his thoughts. After watching him collapse and die on our bedroom floor. Unless a person has been in a position to know that kind of anguish, that feeling of displacement in the universe, you are correct, they should sit down and shut up. Thank you for sharing what so many of us are feeling.

  58. Wow! Thank you, thank you, thank you for writing the words that have made the most sense to me since my husband passed away 4 years ago. Bless you.

  59. Thank you for your post, John. Well said. The other side of “recovery” also applies: I am 4+ years after my wife (30+ years) passed away. I have no plans to remarry. But it is tiring to repeatedly receive “suggestions” that it is time to “move forward” and that doing so somehow necessarily involves finding a new emotional relationship with another. Please give us widowers the room to begin a new relationship–or not, as we wish!

  60. I lost my wife to cancer late last year, and my neighbor lost his wife to the same cancer one week later, and spent their last weeks in the same Hospice. (Across the street, and across the hall, how wild is that?) We were having a drink on my deck recently, and he mentioned that he is dating again. Our mutual friends and I are all very happy for him, even though I personally cannot even imagine myself dating at all. It was easy for anyone to see how much he loved his wife. There is no golden rule, there is no “correct” time frame. We all heal differently, and I find his keeping on with life admirable (and I know she would too).

  61. Thanks, Bro. I lost my wonderful hubby nearly two years ago. Our kids, grand kids and friends have been very supportive. But, I’m in my early 60’s and, being older, so many of my piers have already been through this. It must really be hard on you. You are much younger and your piers are unfamiliar with death. I’ve noticed that many people judge because in their minds they think that if they do or think this or that… it won’t happen to them. Ignorance is bliss. They can’t even “go” there. We, on the other hand, didn’t have a choice. We ARE “there.” I really appreciate your honesty. I don’t know if you are a praying man, but I am a praying grandma and I will pray for you. Again, thank you so much for your honesty!

  62. My soulmate, my husband, father of my 3 children, died 12 years ago from cancer. We don’t get over it. We evolve if we are to survive at all. Greif and mourning have their day. If we don’t allow it they attack with a vengeance. Thank you for your post. It is something many of us need to read. All of us deal with well-meaning friends and relatives who “know exactly how we feel,” or have “been through it” but haven’t really. The fact that we aren’t in prison is testimony to our incredible patience. They mean well, I tell myself, and it is their way of dealing with my loss, though it does nothing to help me, of course. Only another human who has experienced the loss of a partner/soul-mate can even begin to comprehend this level of loss. I have also lost children, and I am here to tell you both are hell, but the loss of my husband was like an amputation–having my heart ripped from my chest by ragged claws from the angel of death. Not fun, as we all know. I have a support group on Facebook that helps me get by. I highly recommend everybody find a group of others who have experienced a similar loss. Don’t let relatives or friends tell you to move on before you’re ready. That will bite you when you least expect it. You’ll know when it’s time…. Treat yourself with kindness and patience. Be gentle and happy, as best you can.

  63. Thank you John, How you said all this without screaming it out the window amazes me. Unless you have suffered the loss of a spouse, folks will never know the pain associated with it. It does not matter young or old you have lost your life and have to rebuild a new life to the best of your abilities. I lost my husband 2/17/17 and miss him everyday. Although hard to lose a parent, grand parent, cat or dog. A spouse is in your life every minute of every day. IT IS NOT THE SAME.

  64. You made me laugh and cry at the same time. Thanks for saying outloud what we feel inside. Love this post.

  65. Wow! That was so strong and so how I feel.

    I’m 65 and was married for 35 years but I’m not in a quivering mess after DH died suddenly 3 months ago. I’m venturing out, putting on a brave face, trying new things BEING POSITIVE.

    Bloody hell, my dearest friend has untreatable cancer, another died recently 3 weeks after hearing she had aggressive cancer. We’re left here with the rest of our lives to LIVE not waste our energies mourning but remembering fondly.

  66. Yes no one who has not lived while their spouse died can know the pain of loss People need to be supportive of the loss and not judgmental I was criticized for no funeral in a funeral home I had a memorial by a river and his closest and dearest friends were there along with family The people who never came to visit while he was ill had no right to be there His ashes were sprinkled and loving words were uttered That was my idea of a farewell I took the remaining ashes with me on trips through out the world and dropped him off in places he would have wanted to go with me and said my good byes many many times in the last 6 years It was a memorable experience for me and I know that he would have been happy for me to be doing this I still have a little bit of him left for a final big trip to some where hopefully Hawaii which we both wanted to see when we were together As for finding a new partner I have met many nice people in my journey since his death but no one I would want to share the rest of my life with If I had died before my husband I know that in 5 months he would have found someone as he could not stand being alone and I would not have faulted him for it. We are all different and we grieve in our own way People who have never experienced a loss have no right to an opinion Their time will come and hope they can find a way to cope as the rest of us have done

  67. I understand where you’re coming from, but I think it is a little unfair in some ways. I have never experienced loss but I can genuinely feel your pain. Humans are empathetic creatures, and we don’t have to experience the same things to be able to relate to them. It’s why we cry when we read stories like yours, or watch movies with tragic endings, or see horrible things in the news. We all have people we love, and we see them in every sad story and can relate to your feelings. Yes, I don’t know EXACTLY how you feel, but that applies to everything in life, as we all experience everything differently and react differently. I don’t know what exactly what someone else’s love feels like, or anger, or sadness, or depression, but through our own experiences, we can relate. We may be different, but we’re all the same in the end, and one day, we will all experience the same losses. Death is inevitable and instead of nitpicking our different experiences, we should support and comfort each other. A spouse’s death may not be the same as an uncle’s death, but that doesn’t make it any less painful. In a way, you yourself are doing what you hate in this post. Telling other people that their loss isn’t as important as yours, because yours was a spouse, whilst theirs was just a sister, or parent, or uncle, or yes, pet. Who are any of you to rank the pain of others? A loss is a loss, regardless of who died.

    1. The difference is that I am not judging someone on how they grieve. This post was made directly to those who judge widowed individuals. It happens each and every day. And not in a kind or caring way. On this journey I have seen the best of humanity, and the worst of it. I don’t judge people on how they grieve, whether it was a cat, an uncle, a child or a spouse. To those who do – I will continue to call them out. That being said, as someone who has been to over twenty funerals in my life – I can tell you that loss of a spouse is more profound loss than that of an uncle. I speak from a lifetime of experience.

  68. So very well put I have wanted to scream those words many times just sit down and shut up so poiniant to how I have felt and how hard it is to get through every day without your sole mate thank you

  69. My wife died 6 years ago from lung cancer. Yea those other people on the other side of the fence. Sit down or stand. Just shut Up. If your not on this side of the fence you can’t understand.

  70. I lost my husband of 40 years to bladder cancer in 2015 after a hellish year of caring for him at home. He lost 75 pounds. (I lost 20 and have not regained them, and I was thin to begin with. Caring for someone with bladder cancer tends to do that to you.) Ever since, I have been putting one foot in front of the other, only because my two children still need me.

    After my husband died, I’d long for sleep to escape living. When I awoke, the nightmare of living continued. These past two years, I’ve searched the Internet and library for books on widowhood. There’s a dearth of information on what it’s really like — the internal pain that is always there, the loneliness, the feeling that life is pointless.

    I put on a public face every day to be able to cope, and for those who don’t want to hear or know or acknowledge my new status (or lack thereof). I can tell they fear they might “catch” it if they give it even a passing glance. I know I did when I was happily married. Often, I’ll get in my car and the tears will fall and I’ll drive home in a blurry daze. Or I make it through the door and crumple into a chair and sob.

    I’m amazed I haven’t died of grief. I honestly long for death so I can be with my beloved again. (It’s the one thought that always puts a smile on my face.)

    In the meantime, I do the best I can for my children who still live with me and are the only source of pleasure I have. I’m 64. I’ve had the best. I won’t find it again. But bravo to anyone who does!

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