Everyone grieves differently. This is true for widows and widowers. Whether married a few years, or for decades, the death of a spouse can be a devastating development, replete with erratic emotions, loneliness, fear, anxiety, heartache, relief (if a bad marriage or a protracted terminal illness) and uncertainty about the future.
Historically, the bereaved spouse is “supposed to wait a year” to show proper respect to the departed loved one. But is that “old hat”? Do you have to wait that long? What if you feel ‘ready’ to move on before a full year has passed? And…wait that long before you do what? And what about your friends, especially her close friends: Are they able to let go and move on, or do they keep the bereaved spouse in “active” bereavement?
Discussion will follow in the next post [this week]; but to the fellows (since men are not always expressive about their journey), I pose some early questions, and your answers and comments would be greatly appreciated. In the first year after your wife’s death:
> How will, or did, you mark the first anniversary of your wife’s death? (Widows, your answers are also welcome regarding your late husband. A good friend of mine had a “Moving” party. It was a hoot! We friends were surprised and yes, relieved that she was “moving on.” It gave us permission to do so. I will share the details).
> After the first year passed, how did you feel: Were you “relieved” that you made it through, completed the societal obligation and can now breathe free? Or were/are there anxieties of okay; now what? Were/Are you really ready to ‘let go” and relax, date, smile, be seen holding hands or having love-fun with another woman; feel “great”?
> How soon after the wife’s death did you clear her personal effects: clothes, shoes, purses, etc? Were they still there at the one-year mark? Two years? Or gone within a few months? What did you do with them? Who folded and packed them…you, children, friends?
> Is it possible to “move on” while her things still hang in your closet, exactly where they were at the time of death? Or is dispensing her things necessary in the ‘moving on’ process? Does removing her clothes feel as if you are ‘pushing her out,” or is giving them away an act of sharing her spirit with others, or just being practical: Someone can wear them.
> What traditions of the late wife have you continued past the first year; which did you no longer feel a need to continue?
> How did, or do, you inform your friends that you have moved on and they need to do the same? That you want them to do the same? Did you feel you needed to exhibit grief longer than you wanted to due to “pressure” from still-actively-grieving friends?
> Has someone helped you emotionally? Have you confided in someone regarding your pain, loneliness, or have you kept a stiff upper lip, appearing strong? Have you confided in a counselor, or any male friends to whom you can (and do) freely talk?
Please provide some insight to these early questions. I will share commentary in a post very soon, as I begin work on a “widower’s project.”
In the meantime, ladies, there are some books out there re: dating a widower (Keogh) and various blogs about grief and journeying with widowers, and help for widowers, including http://www.huffingtonpost.com/author/mark-liebenow.
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