14 Things You Should (and Should Not) Say to Widows and Widowers

Do you know someone whose spouse has died?


Have you ever wondered what to say to him or her?


If so, you are not alone. We live in a society where death and grief are off limits topics; so most people were never taught what to say to the widowed. Even worse, most people were taught that sad feelings should be avoided at all costs. When they come across someone whose spouse has died they try to find a positive spin, fix them, or offer advice that doesn’t work.

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Did you know that 85% of things people say to the widowed are not helpful?

Recovery from grief involves healing a broken heart, not a broken brain. The more often people attempt to fix widows and widowers with intellectual comments and advice the more isolated they feel. They might even start to think something is wrong with them because they are still grieving.


Here are 11 things not to say to a widow or widower:

1. Be grateful for the time you were married

2. You’re still young. You can always remarry

3. You must stay strong for your children

4. Don’t feel bad, your husband is no longer in pain (if he died of an illness)

5. Your wife wouldn’t want you to be sad. She’d want you to celebrate her life

6. Everything happens for a reason

7. This might be a good time for you to get a new pet or take up a new hobby

8. Make sure you donate all your husbands’ stuff to charity. You don’t need any reminders of him

9. Make sure you don’t throw away any of your wife’s stuff. You will regret it.

10. It just takes time

11. I know what you’re going through (then start talking about your own loss)

 

Although some of these statements might be intellectually true, they are aimed at the head, not the heart, so won’t help someone who lost his or her life partner feel any better.

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Try saying these helpful things to a widow or widower instead:

1. What happened?

  • Ask what happened then actually listen to their reply. Widows and widowers need and want to be listened to. The most loving thing you can do for them is to listen to them without judgment, comparison, or trying to fix them

2. I don’t know what to say

  • It’s okay to tell the truth if you don’t know what to say. Your honesty allows the widowed to know you are a safe person to talk to because they’ll know you aren’t trying to fix them.

3. I can’t image how you feel 

  • No two relationships are the same because they are comprised of two different people. So even if you’ve had a spouse die you could never know exactly how another widow or widower feels. At best you only how you felt when your loss occurred.

 

If you found this article helpful information, we suggest you read these from our Grief Blog:

The Death of a Spouse

Death of a long term spouse; legacy of love or monument to misery

 

Have you experienced some of these comments following the loss of your spouse? Are there any comments that you would like to add that you found to be hurtful or helpful?

 

Comments

I personally do not want to answer the question, "What happened?' What happened is my husband has died from this life. The details are really not necessary to anyone else. I would urge to remove that suggestion from the above.

People can express empathy without prying.

I'm sorry that you're going through this pain though this reply is 3 years after the passing of your spouse. Sometimes people just can't express their needs in grief, and alot of times they can. With that, I've always found that people who can express the answer to the question "what happened?" the way you did, is exactly the right answer for that person or situation at that time. Again, I'm extremely sorry for your loss and hope that life has continued in some sort of viable and emotional arrangement for your needs. xoxo

I want people to ask me what happened when my wife died. It makes me feel like she mattered on earth and is not forgotten.

I completely agree. I feel the same way about my husband.

As a young, childless widow, and caregiver while my husband was ill, one of the very worst statements is when people say, "Well, maybe you're better off that you didn't have children." People, don't say this to widows or widowers. It's very, very painful, and even if intended well, it won't be received as helpful. Have compassion, be gentle, and just sit with someone and let them talk freely, put no expectations on them. Don't interrupt. Just sit, listen, and hug if invited to do so.

Melissa, we agree with you completely. And we are very sorry for your loss.

I lost my husband Jan 30 of this year. He died in his sleep. I woke up and tried to give him CPR but it was too late. We were married 12 years but it felt like a lifetime.Nothing but death could have parted us. We had no children together He was 9 years younger than me.He was only 39 years old. Brilliant funny loved life. I am almost 50 He was my whole life.I hate when people say He's at peace now. He was not in pain he made the best of everything in life. We had peace together. I also hate when they say I must go on with my life. What would they have me do, really? At least, right now I feel as though my life is over I'm a shell of a being. Stuck here without my heart or my soul...

As a widow for five months now, I have researched the topic, gone to some grief recovery meetings, and experienced helpful and marginally helpful approaches to interacting with widows. For me, the kindest approach to help me through the grief is for the other person to ask me, "Do you want to talk about it?" All the other person has to do is quietly listen while I talk. If I come to a stopping point, then the listener can ask, "Is there more you'd like for me to know?" If there is, then continue listening. If not, comment on what the widow said about her deceased husband, such as, "I knew John was a great golfer, but I didn't know he taught golf at the local college," or whatever is fitting for the deceased husband. Hearing validation that the widow's husband was a man of worth is very important to her, unless he was a bum she's glad to be rid of. Of course, it is always fitting to express your condolences to the widow, but it is never helpful to tell her how she should feel. Never. At least, that's my opinion. No one knows the depth of my love for my deceased husband. I called him my self-taught, multi-talented Renaissance man.

He was spectacular! He was a professional writer and musician and provided me with the kind of life I dreamed of. He was my Romeo, a real romantic. I could go on, but you get the idea. Again, if you want to console a widow, ask her if she wants to talk about her husband. Then listen, make appropriate, occasional comments about what she is saying, but do not volunteer any advice, no matter how well intentioned, about her grief, unless you want to refer her to a grief support group she may not know exists. Again, you would first ASK HER A QUESTION. "Would you like to know about grief support groups here in town?" If she says no, don't push her. She may think about it later and decide to give it a try. If not, then she has her reasons. Again, these are just my opinions from my own experience.

Kathy, we are so very for your loss and can't imagine what you are going through. It's okay to feel what you feel, you lost a huge part of your life. Many times, people say very unhelpful things to grievers. We hope that you have someone safe to talk to, someone who will listen without judgment or advice. You can also search for one of our Grief Recovery Specialists in your area who can work with you on your loss, by clicking here: https://www.griefrecoverymethod.com/grief-support-groups.

Patti, we are so very sorry for your loss. Thank you for your kind words and advice. We are in agreement with you, that a very helpful person can just sit and listen and that you should never tell a griever how to feel. Great insight and helpful advice!

Very well articulated and thank you so much for sharing. So sorry for the loss of your prince.

"Stuck here without my heart or my soul.."


Oh so true! So sorry that you are going through this. ... 72 days - 10 weeks. Today has been hard, feel so hopeless and alone.

I want people to ask me what happened, I feel I need to tell the story of how the medical profession let her down. Even though it won't change anything now, I am still upset.
I'm on the other side of things. My wife passed away seven weeks ago. I told close friends and family what happened, but when anyone else asked me, I felt like they were being nosy. My neighbors came over that night and brought food and we sat around talking, and nobody asked - except one neighbor who I haven't had a connection with in three years. Her first question - what happened? I looked her square in the eye and said, "My wife died". She said, "I know, but how?" (Really pushing it). I merely told her that I'm not talking about how, because that's not important.

A better thing to say would be, "If there's anything you want to talk about, I'll listen". Then if you want to bring it up, feel free.
Hi Kathy,
I also lost my husband on New Years Day of this year. The pain is unbearable at times but I'm trying. I have good days and bad days. My condolences to you
Please help me. My dearest friend, my sister of choice, lost her husband a little over a year ago. He was also my husband's best friend. She doesn't know the grief we suffer or the loss we feel, because hers is so great. They were a true love story, and he was a pillar of the community and one of the most amazing people I have ever known. He was only in his early 60's.
My friend and I talk on the phone every day, and I try to be an active listener. I taught communication skills to children and adults for many years, so I have some clue as to the "listening" part. But she is so hopeless, so tired of living without her best friend, that I now find I have no words to say. What can I say or do to help my friend? My heart aches...for my dearest friend, for her kids, for my husband and frankly, for myself.
I lost my beloved husband in July 2016. I am still an emotional, shattered mess - we were deeply in love, and his death was sudden and unexpected. His had health problems, but according to 2 recent doctor visits prior to his passing - he was told he was holding his own. He was 70 and I am in my 60's. We had no children but 4 dogs & other pets. We were soul mates, and I was also his caregiver. He was so warm & compassionate with a fabulous sense of humor & he treated me like his queen. I think what bothers me a lot is people saying they understand my loss then compare it to losing a parent, or sibling, etc. NO - IT ISN'T THE SAME!!! Yes - those losses are painful, but it is not the same as losing your other half. Unless you have lost a spouse - you have no idea of what this pain is like. Also - they try to throw cold water on my anger & frustration at losing my husband. We were both involved in our church, and Christians, but - sometimes you just hate this new life & plan that God has allowed. I was perfectly happy with our old life and my beloved husband. I know God knows how I feel - I wish my friends would, and stay out of my relationship with God - it's between Him & I, and I don't have to explain myself to them. I already have one God in my life, they don't need to be my mediator. All I appreciate is someone saying that they are so sorry, and let me talk about my husband, and what happened, and how much I miss this wonderful man. I am still stunned, and can't believe he is gone. I will miss him for the rest of my life, and I wish friends will stop looking ahead & determining when my deep grief should be over! It will never be over - as far as I am concerned. I lost the most important part of my life. and this new "life" SUCKS :(
I lost someone I love a great deal to pancreatic cancer. I don't be believe closure to be a real word. There is no closure not ever. I think of her all the time it just kills me that's she is gone for ever even as I type this is am in tears. I have a brain injury and I just can't keep going this way it's exhausting. Some days I would rather just be gone. Why am I still here. I have have suffered so much in my life , and the one person that made my life beatable is now gone forever. All I get are the usual answers which are completely unhelpful.
- forever lost.
Hi Kathy,

I lost my husband on November 8 this year. He died in his sleep. I tried to follow the instructions given to me over the phone by the emergency service and even called neighbours in, but was too late. We were married 10 years, together for 11......... for ever......... He was 2 years younger than me. I am nearly 52. He would have turned 50 a week after my birthday. We had no children, but a stunning cat (who is my reason for surviving the aftermath). My husband and I were never apart from the day we met. We meant when we said "til death do us part" at our ceremony. The same place we got our marriage certificate from 10 years ago, now sent me his death certificate. We had peace and full-on honesty. We created art together. He was the most generous person - both emotionally and materially. Hysterically fantastic humour. I stopped laughing only when he died and I don't want to create art any more. He was positive. I keep living each day because I cannot betray our beautiful cat. I want for me and the cat to go to sleep together and just not wake up, both of us. Just peacefully not wake up. I envy my husband. I haven't got a clue what to say to you, but I feel everything you are saying.
Patty, your friend/sister is very fortunate to have someone like you to listen to her. I too have lost my soulmate. My husband passed away almost 2 years ago now. My advice to you is not to search for any words. She needs a listener. Sometimes the more words that are said, the easier it is to accidentally offend someone you are trying to comfort. Just be there for her. Let her know that she can call you anytime to cry, scream, laugh or talk. She needs that outlet. And also remember that, as you even stated, her loss is different. It will take her a lot longer to journey through her grief than you. Be patient, kind and just listen. And if you want to suggest a grief support group or ministry then the wording should go something like this: Do you think that a grief support group or grief counselor might be of some help to you? If the answer is 'yes' then ask if she would like you to help her find a list of groups or counselors for her to choose from. Don't say: I think a grief support group would help you. Nobody knows what will help any given person going thru grief as it's as unique as their love relationship was with their departed one.
I recently met an amazing woman, who also happens to be a widow. She doesn't know that I know, and I am unsure the best way to handle it.

I expect that I should wait for her to tell me, but then should I pretend that I don't know (so that she can tell me in her own way), or should I acknowledge that I know in case it spares her some pain?
I am a widow who lost my second husband to cancer, I was 40. I survived the loss and 18 months later I met a wonderful and caring man, we dated for 6 months when he found he had terminal cancer and he wanted to marry me so we did, just before he died as well, I was 42. I have found that many people really do not know what to say to the situation, I empathize with losses, but so many people I know who are widows/widowers are much older than I am... I actually had someone tell me that they thought I talk about my losses for attention (a family member)! Others (family members) have expressed disbelief, this was a loss so profound to me that I do not even have relationships with my family anymore. There is just nothing left to say to them anymore.
I have a new relationship, he had to have a complete physical before I could even think about committing to him. We are having a good time enjoying each other's company. I am not yet 50 and I am looking forward to spending the second half of my life with him, it does get better!
Ed,
How are you? Your loved one is gone and it sounds like your support system may not be the best. Are you able to find a support group for widowers or even a therapist?
Do you speak of your loved one, often?
Do you talk to her?
I know that I find it helpful to express myself about my losses, I have also on occasion, yelled at them about how damn unfair the whole situation is. I do this while alone. I do believe that they hear me and I do not care if others think that I am odd.
You must grieve the way you grieve, no time limits and no judgments.
When I was a new widow, I thought that I should be with my husband as well. I truly needed to work through all of that pain and I am not going to lie, it sucked out loud.
There are no easy answers and no real time frame for grief, I found peace at the gym and watching movies we had seen together, a lot of tears too.
In my opinion, closure is a myth made by people who have not lost a loved one. You are correct, there is no closure, the only thing I have found that gives me real peace is honoring the lives lost by living as I feel they would have wanted me to. It is almost impossible some days to even get out of bed, but the best I can do is try. I offer up my pain to my loved ones and hope it will lessen someday.
I am very sorry if this was unhelpful, but grief is so very personal, the only way to work through it is to work through it.
Again, loss of a loved one is just unfair and painful.
I do not wish to answer 'what happened', I really really don't. And I do not wish to hear anyone's take on it either. And it's true, one should never bring up the remarriage. I just lost my husband! You really think I would want to think about spending the rest of my life with someone else rather than the one person I thought I would spend it with? That comment hurts me the most than any other. It feels like people are saying that what I had with my husband was so insignificant that I can let it go without any second thought.
Hello, Mary Ann. You don't know me, but your sorrow hurts me.
There is only one thing I can say to you, and I know this for a fact:
he's fine, and he's waiting for you.
Please ask God directly to see if this is true.

I ⅼike looking thrоugh an article that wilⅼ mɑke people think.
Also, thаnk you for permitting me to comment!

Kathy, I had almost the same occurance. My spouse just passed Jan. 29 2017. I woke to his lifeless body on the bed, I began CPR and called 911 but after the paramedics tried for 45 mins longer, they prenounced him dead. My spouse had medical issues with his spine but nothing that should have caused his death, however there was undiagnosed issues he recently discussed with me we were seeing a neurologist on Feb. 20 for. I still have yet to receive the results of his autopsy which is killing me, although I know it won't bring him back. The worst question for me is what can I do for you? I know they just are trying to identify and help but it feels like you can't do anything you can't bring him back, you can't give us more time, you can't allow me to say goodbye. We have 2 children though 12 n 9 and he has 2 older children 15 n 18. Can you give guidance maybe since a little time has past the situation is similar has anything gotten easier? The hurt change. I know it's still there but does it really deminish with time, it seems to get harder and harder every day. Thank you, and I sympathize with your loss.
I lost my husband in January 2016. That was two months after we got married. We were best friends and we were so much in love. We had big dreams and big plans. It was a sudden death. I was 32 years old.

Two days after loosing my husband my cousin called me to tell me that I shouldn't be that sad, cause there were so many other men out there. I could easily remarry and that I was lucky that I was young.

In the first week a lot of people came to visit me and there was a lady from church who told me that it's a good thing that I was not pregnant. More people asked me if I was pregnant. When I told them that I wasn't, they acted as if they were relieved. Some of them were like 'thank God'. I remember how painful that was. Cause I was not only grieving my husband, but also the fact that we would never have children together. I don't think anybody should ask a lady in general if she is pregnant, cause that's nobodies business. How come people think it's ok to ask a lady who has just lost her husband if she is pregnant.

A few weeks after loosing my husband I was still home.. Not going to work. I was still in my survival mode when a 'friend' called me and asked me if I was getting over it. That was so painful to me, cause I knew that this same 'friend' could not get over her man who had been treating her bad for years. How come I had to get over my best friend who had loved and cherished me for years. I had to get over the person I shared true love with. Just because he was not alive? Her question just reminded me on how ignorance some people can be.

Somebody told me that he knew that it was painful... but he had to tell me that it was not OK for me to still wear my wedding ring. That same person was wearing his wedding ring and he dared to look me in the eyes and to tell me something like that.

I am from an African background and several 'aunties' told me to remove my late husbands picture's from my house.. or to even throw/give away everything what belonged to my husband. According to them that would allow me to find new love sooner.

What hurts a lot is when people tell me that everything happens for a reason. Don't tell me there was a good reason for me to loose my husband after 2 months of marriage. If that's what you think, then keep that for yourself.

What I still can't stand is when people tell me now .. you see I told you that time would heal your pain... Look at you.. you look great! Do they know how I feel in the morning when I wake up to this emptyness..? Do they know why I came late? Maybe I cried in the car and fixed my make up over again... Maybe I just cried in the toilet..! Do they know how I feel after a long day when I am not able to talk to my best friend? Who told them that time is healing my pain? Who told them that I am getting over it? Do they know why I sleep through the weekend? I am exhausted!!! I am still in pain and I am still learning how to handle certain situations. Is it because I smile again..? Because I have not lost my sense of humor? Because I fix my hair and make up? Because I go on vacation's..? Even if I have to go alone? Is it because I take care of my self? The truth is that I will probably never get over it, but I will get trough it. I don't need anybodies approval about how or when.
Hello Kathy, recently I lost a very dear friend that was very special, like a brother, he would even introduce me as such. His wife is a great lady and an awesome woman and friend as well. His death not only is huge loss for his wife and daughter of a previous marriage, but an entire community and extended society. I want to reach out to her, but I don't know how soon or what is appropriate. In the time I spent with them and most recently with her and their families it became very evident how close the three of us were. I never realized it before how I was one of the inner circle. I want to reach out, the funeral was just two days ago, how soon could I reach out to her and we are a considerable distance away, thus I would have to phone her versus just stopping in.
Any advice on what to do or say that might make her happy or provide her any comfort?
Kathy, I just happened in this blog and your comment. I know it's been a year since you made that but I wanted to say I'm so sorry for your loss and I am praying right now. Deb
I've read a few of these sites. One thing comes to me...will I ever date again.No. I'm still numb inside, not sure that will ever change. Two years on. One day at a time. It's all I have.
it is so hard to know. what is comforting to one may seem like prying to another. just let the person know that they and the deceased mattered in life to you and that you are there when they need you. a shoulder to cry on, take them away for the day and do something to get their minds off it, make dinner for those days where getting up for them is a chore etc. I lost my Mom to cancer. I was just 30 and newly married and needed my Mom. but it was not meant to be. I still miss her and that will always be because she is a part of me. but I am at peace knowing that maybe in someway she can guide me from a different plane until hopefully we meet again. hugs to you all who have lost someone. it is not easy. but we all will die someday and life for others must go on. so it is with those left behind. remember the good memories for noone can take them from you.
I totally agree. I feel privacy invasion to this question. I say I do not want to talk about it.
I feel that it is insensitive at best to suggest your religious beliefs offer comfort.
Very true Allison-14 Things You Should (and Should Not) Say to Widows and Widowers

My husband passed away in split seconds... all the 11 points all have been telling me... when I really wanted someone to hear me or speak or to just put my head on lap and hear three little words " I am there"....

In fact I vacated my flat and went away far off... as I learnt hard way my cries only I can hear , my pain only I can sense no one think or not feasible as the depth of pain can't be measured....or erased.... lifelong .... it is not like what they say he was my past.... I should see my tomorrow...

Initially I used to tell or share but in a couple of days they wanted me to come out of it and the dialogue was I have to accept the reality... and live...else I will need to go for treatment!!!

No way easy 25 years lived around him ....was taught from childhood to be dependant...and one fine day...left to face the world alone and to learn live without him... In fact two years but still I get a feel I am a sinner with his passing away I have no life...I am fighting hard within myself and saying that now I have to live for myself, do what I want , explore the beautiful world alone and ignore all the worldly talk.... as no one understood or really was with me even for a single day.... when I cried all alone in the four walls....
Every fall in life has taught me a lesson...and this was biggest blow and fall of my life...I will surely swim across all alone.... it could have been fast if I had someone to hear or understand me..... tough lessons are learnt hard way and I will !!
I find myself lost and not wanting someone to fix me, that's God's job but if God brings you to me then you need to care to listen to me share with you even if I am crying my eyes out.....THE CRYING HELPS, YES IT HELPS, every time I cry people make me feel like they need to cork my tears, stop the flow, I have not allowed myself to fully let go and it will hit me hard soon.... I got close 3 times now but they are scared of my tears.
Amy - One of the biggest problems faced by any griever are those that try to "fix" them. There is certainly no way to fix the situation by turning back time before the loss ever happened, and there is no way to fix it and make the loss go away. In truth, grievers are not broken and don't need to be fixed. They need to be listened to without analysis, criticism or judgment! Being told to put a "cork in it" just keeps those feelings churning inside.

Please look to see if there is a Griever Recovery Method support Group in your area (https://www.griefrecoverymethod.com/grief-support). What makes these groups different is that they do not "support you" in living with the emotional pain forever, but rather offer step by step assistance in dealing with that pain, and all of the "unfinished business" in your relationship. It is the unfinished "stuff" to gets in the way of you enjoying your fond memories. This work is in no way designed to supplant the value of your faith. This programs deals with grief as an emotion, which is exactly what it is! These groups provide a safe place to shed your tears while offering actions that you can take to better move through your grief. My thoughts are with you!
I am finding that 10 + months after my husband's death in July '16, people for the most part, think that I am "over it" and have figured I am "OK now". No - I am not, and probably never will be. When asked "how are you doing?" I tell them honestly "I am still devastated, and miss him terribly".. Not going to sugar coat my grief to make them feel better. The subject of death is a difficult one to be sure. Women who still have their husbands probably feel like I'm a pariah, and look at me - like "this will be me sooner or later" Yes - it will be - because one of you will go first, and because most women outlive men, they can count on the accuracy of the statistics. Of course it still hurts to see happy couples enjoying each other - like my husband & I used to. Our spouses were taken away - either abruptly like mine, or by inches & months & days , battling an incurable disease, and still you are not prepared. Half of yourself has been cut away, the two hearts that were merged into 1 heart, is still expected to beat when it was severed in half again. So many things left undone, no more dreams fulfilled, nothing to look forward to when your world is grey & colorless. No more hand clasp in bed before you fall asleep, no more sharing the laughter of the private jokes, and intimate times. Still being able to remember that mole on his back, or the tiny scar from cutting his finger while building me that table, his beautiful steel grey hair, his crooked smile, eye corners crinkling up while laughing, his look of a little kid when he made me a romantic card on the computer, just waiting to see my reaction....Those tortoiseshell eyeglass frames he picked out - he just loved those glasses - only wore them for a few weeks. Now they are in that plastic bag along with his wedding ring that the ICU nurse handed me while he was still hooked up to the machines. All those vivid memories swirling around in my head, all his stuff still here - yet the hard truth keeps thudding on my heart that his beloved body is now ashes in a military cemetery. All snatched away forever, and yet we're still supposed to pick ourselves up & go on without the most important person ever, in our lives. We will never be the same, nor could we ever be. I appreciate friends who just listen, and let me talk about him, and don't try & change the subject, or indicate "enough - MOVE ON already". Yes - I have to move on - move away from the life I cherished with my soul mate & husband, but it will not be easy, or quickly over.
When I lost my husband in July 2016, it took a while to get back to get back to normal activities, and over a month to go back to church. I just couldn't handle "people". No - I guess it was more like seeing happy couples. Will never forget my first Sunday back, and after service, I bit the bullet & walked up to several of our couple friends from our home Bible study group. I'm sure we all know "the looks" - the different expressions people wear as "the widow" approaches. It's very uncomfortable on so many levels. Anyway - one lady was all smiles, and she said "Oh - he's having a blast up there - hahahaha!!!" several others jumped on that bandwagon, saying he was having a grand old time. I couldn't believe it - but I guess it was easy for her to say that, with her husband standing beside her. And most of the group was all smiles as well. Almost like "Oh - nice to see you - where've ya been?" I just wanted to turn around & run away & hide. I wanted to say - 'yeah but what me down here with my broken bloody roadkill heart?" Of course you want to believe the dearly departed is "Up there" & no longer in pain, etc., but - a little compassion for the griever would have been nice. When I think of that - I just cringe - but - have to realize - they'd all be feeling a lot different, if it was their spouse "Having a ball up there", and they were still 'down here'...
I beg you, please take that horrible question, "What happened?" off your list. Widows and widowers will share on their own if we want to, and I NEVER want people prying into my personal life with my husband. If you don't know already, you are not close enough with me to EVER ask that question. I hate when people ask this, and instantly it makes me feel horrible, and upset.
Hi Ian, I'm in exactly the same scenario. My friend died a couple of weeks ago (from cancer) and the funeral was last Friday. My friend was very popular, but I've been a close friend for almost 50 years since we were kids and neighbours. I really feel for his wife and teenage and older kids, and i want to support them at this time, but I know that it's essential that if I give support that it's the right kind of support at the right time. I'm happily married to a wonderful woman. If you've been provided any answers to your predicament, please pass them on to me.
I 100% agree. When people ask me how my husband died, it makes me relive it over and over again and I don't like discussing it as it is personal. Otherwise, great article. Thank you :)
Lynette - I really understand what you are talking about. When my father died, I had any number of people who said similar things to me. They were talking to my head, rather than addressing the pain in my heart. Most people never really learn how to help someone with that kind of pain. It makes them uncomfortable, so they tend to make light of it instead of just sitting down with you and listening to the depth of the impact it has had on you. They mean well, but that really doesn't help. I found that the first few chapters of "The Grief Recovery Handbook" really addressed this and made a difference for me. I just wanted to let you know that you are not alone in this!
Rachel - The reason that we suggest asking this question, especially in those first few days after a loss, is based on a study that we conducted. We found that 98% of grievers want to tell people what happened and how it impacted them. That also means that 2% of people did not feel this way, which is exactly your situation. Sometimes it is how they ask the question that can be the problem. If they ask it in a caring and compassionate way, it is a very different question than if they ask it in a way that just seems nosey. The problem for those who wish to retell their story is that the vast majority of people never ask them, which is why we suggest this question. I am very sorry that our suggestion of asking this upset you. Please know we recommend asking this simply to encourage grievers to be able to be heard in want they wish to share, and for no other reason.
Graham - I know you addressed your question to Ian, but as someone who has spent over 30 years working with grievers, I wanted to reach out and offer you some thoughts. During the first week or two after a death, a widow is generally surrounded by a lot of people offering support. After that, those numbers dwindle quickly. Being there to support both her and the children as time continues to pass is where you can really make a difference. Do not be afraid to share fond stories and memories with them about your friend. People often think that it is painful for the family to hear the name of their loved one mentioned, but it is actually far more painful when they think that their loved one has been forgotten! Let them know that you are available to just listen, without analysis, criticism or judgment. All to often, when a griever wants to share a memory and it becomes emotional, people offer suggestions on why that person should not feel sad. No matter what is said, it does not "fix" the problem, but rather often just makes the griever stuff their feelings inside, rather than sharing them. You might purchase a copy of "When Children Grieve," read it and then share it with your friend's widow. It might prove very helpful for her in helping the teenage children through this process. I hope these suggestions help.
Lost My Lucy to Pancreatic Cancer Married 25 Years.
Rusty - My heart goes out to you! I cannot begin to imagine what you are going through. Please check to see if there is a Grief Recovery Specialist in your area to help you in dealing with your emotional pain.
Lynette, I am very sorry for your loss. While there is no way for me to know how you feel, i believe you are right about those who say they know how you feel. While they may be well meaning, I find them to be rude. I have always just said thanks, and found some reason to immediately walk away from them. I have also felt that people expected grief to end after certain periods of time. At best it is annoying. My only thoughts to share are really just like relationships are very unique and different, so is grief. What helps me may not help you, and vise versa. For me it's been over a year. That time period, just like my feelings are only relevant to me. And your time period and feelings are only known truly by you. I would just like to offer encouragement. Encouragement for the next hour and next day, and then the next week. The future has not been written yet. I pray God guides me with his peace, and I pray the same for you.
I am sorry for the loss that was experienced by everyone who has posted to this site! I too loss my husband - last month (7/17). It has been extremely difficult - but I am pushing through. We had no children together- but our kids are all grown, he was retired and his illness was sudden and he was gone in a week. His family was very estranged and my family live across the county so I am alone with my grief. We were married 7 years together 8. What bothers me the most is our "friends". Death will bring out the worst and best of people. About four month's before my husband passed away, one of his closest of new friend's he met about three years ago in our new town gave him a riding tractor he was planning to junk because it didn't work. My husband took it , put a little money into it and re-built it. We cancelled our landscaping services and used the tractor. It was about about three days YES 3 days after my husband died and his "friend" asked for the tractor back- adding he would buy it! The subject came up because they were at the house shortly after he had passed and I mentioned I needed to have the landscaper cut our lawn before the funeral. I wasn't going to cut grass during this time. I was so disgusted and pissed by this offer to buy that he made that I told him to come and get it the following day- that my late husband wouldn't charge him for it back. -and he did. Another friend who is also a neighbor stopped by our house and as we walked around our property he commented about how he remembered how the previous deceased homeowner -who was one of the neighbors best friends -used to clean fish in our backyard's cleaning station when the previous owner owned the home. I told him "Well my late husband cleaned fish here! "I was offended that he made that comment - especially since I have never known hime to even mention his late friend to us the whole six years he has been our neighbor. Then one of my closest and dearest friends doesn't realize I am aware she no longer speaks to me because I would not accompany her to a performance two days after my husband's funeral - at a hall that he and I always went to. And lastly, a person who I called a friend took pictures of my husband's service without my permission and had the NERVE to text me the pics! I don't know if I am just hypersensitive or if these people are just insensitive? And I have been made to feel so uncomfortable to talk about my husband that they all "adored" so much, that I make an effort not to even bring up his name in conversation. This is hard because we did almost everything together - from grocery shopping to sharing house work. I miss him and love him and he lives through my memory. I am tired of hearing, oh you will get over it in time or you will move on..yada yada. I really don't care to hear what I assume will eventually happen. I just get to the point when people call I just say Oh! I am doing great or pretty good- when I feel like I am dying inside.
My husband was 50, never sick and his parents lived till nineties. He did not drink smoke or do drugs. In January 2008 he thought he was having an appendix attack turned out to be pancreatic cancer. Died nine months later. So here so am nine years later. What purpose is there to life when everything you do is alone? Zero

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