BW 011: How to Talk to a Widow

tips Dec 13, 2022
 

Watch the video here or on YouTube; listen anywhere podcasts are played (Apple, Spotify, Google…)

The Transcript is below.


This episode is designed with supporters of widows and the grieving in mind! Widows, share this with your family, friends, or support group to help them better understand your mindset, how grief has affected you, and how to best support you.

Learn how being widowed impacts a person, the mindset widows have, sayings (platitudes) to avoid, and what to say instead. Help support widows in a way that means the most to them.

 

Today I share:

  • What really happens when you become a widow
  • The mindset of a widow
  • What to say to a widow (and not to say)
  • Things widows think but will never tell you
  • How “let me know if there’s anything you need” is almost a guarantee widows will never reach out (and what to say instead)
  • The keys to making a widow feel seen, comforted, and safe to be herself (himself)
  • The best things you can do 
  • How widows -really- feel when you “bring up” their person

 

The Brave Widow Community is a place where you can connect with other widows, find hope and healing, and begin to dream again for the future.  Learn more at bravewidow.com.  


Hey guys, I’m Emily Jones

I was widowed at age 37, one month shy of our 20 year wedding anniversary.  Nathan and I have four beautiful children together.  My world was turned completely upside down when I lost him.  With faith, community, and wisdom from others, I’ve been able to find hope, joy, and dream again for the future.  I want to help others do the same, too!

FOLLOW me on SOCIAL:

Twitter @brave_widow

Instagram @brave_widow

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/bravewidow

YouTube @bravewidow


Transcript:

[00:00:00] Emily: Hey guys, Emily here, and today we're gonna do something a little bit different. Today I'm actually recording a podcast for you to share with your family, with your friends, with maybe people in the hospice community, maybe people in the funeral home community just really just an educational piece on how to talk to widows

so today I'm gonna cover three things. One is what really happens to you as a person when you become widowed and you're grieving. The second thing is, what is the typical mindset of a widow? And the third thing, Is how to actually talk to widows. We're gonna walk through some of the general platitudes and sayings that people make in an effort to be helpful, that actually are sometimes frustrating and more harm harmful from the widow perspective.

So my widow friends, this is my gift to you, to be able to share with other people so that they can better understand maybe your mindset, your thought process. What has really changed and been impacted in your life, and how to best have a conversation with you in a way that's mindful. I know a lot of.

People around us, they wanna be supportive, they wanna be helpful, but sometimes they just say things that kind of rub us the wrong way. So this episode was really created as a way to give back to you in the widow community so that you can share with others on how they can best support and help you, hope you enjoy.

Hi, and welcome to episode number 11 of the Brave Widow Show. If you are not a widow or an anticipatory widow, if you are a. A supporter of widows. If you are in the grief community, in the funeral industry, the hospice industry or anywhere grief touches. Thank you for listening. Thank you for coming here to learn.

I am really excited to help share with you some of the things that will help you better understand what happens to someone who's widowed, how to truly help and support someone who's widowed or in grief, what their mindset is and how to best have a supportive conversation with that person. So thank you, especially if this is not something that has personally happened to you for joining and for wanting to be the kind of person who truly understands who wants to help, support, and just to make the grief community an improved place from where it already is.

So thank you in advance for that.

All right, so three main topics that we're gonna cover. Number one is what really happens to you as a widow? There were quite a few things that I expected versus a lot of things I didn't expect. The second one is the mindset of a widow and what their thought process is. And the third one is how to talk to a widow, some phrases to avoid and some things that you can say.

I.

All right. Number one, what really happens to you as a person when you become a widow? There were some things that I expected. I expected that I would miss the person that I loved and I cared about. I would be sad that they're no longer with me. I would have to figure out what my new life looked like and.

The first year or two would be really tough, like that's generally what I thought about being a widow. But there is so much more that changes your identity, changes who you are as a person, and I wanna share those with you just so that you can better understand what the difference is in a mindset of someone who's widowed versus maybe what your preconceived notions.

The first thing I would share is that when you become a widowed, you do feel like you truly have lost your other half. You feel like a limb is missing, or two limbs are missing. You feel almost like a hollow shell of the person you were like, you're living in this world that's very gray and food doesn't taste right anymore, and things don't make you laugh anymore.

every little thing changes. What time you go to bed, where you eat, what you eat, when you brush your teeth, how you take your shower how you go and run errands, how you cook and prepare meals, how you do basic tasks around the house. Now all of a sudden, the person that helped do all of those things is gone.

The person who may have looked at you and said, Hey, it's 10 o'clock time to go to bed. , they're gone. Everything. Everything about your life has been impacted and changed, and I wasn't expecting that. I wasn't expecting that my spouse really influenced all of the tiny little things that were happening throughout my day.

The pain that you experience is very raw and overwhelming. I felt like a shattered piece of glass, like. Very frail, very fragile. Like I was just going to be crushed at any moment that I could never laugh again. Never have joy for the future. A lot of people wish that they would've been the one who died, or they wish that they would die because the pain is so raw they can't comprehend.

How am I going to live the rest of my life feeling the way I feel today? The pain and the grief don't fully go away, but the pain is less raw and real over time as we normalize into new patterns and new habits. But those first initial months especially, and even sometimes the first few years, are overwhelming to widows.

Widows also because their brain is trying to protect them from truly feeling all of the pain and the emotions of what they have the capacity for their brain. Our brains protect us, and so you'll often hear people who are widowed or grieving say that they have brain fog and they're just not thinking as clearly and normally as they usually would.

They're not functioning as well. They may experience symptoms of like someone with, you know, attention deficit disorder. They'll walk into another room, forget what they were doing, they'll everything I had to remember, I needed to write down or set a reminder on my phone for even the most simplest of tasks that I would think, oh yeah, I can remember to do this.

You know, it's no problem. I'll do it later. I would forget I even one time. Was cleaning up my filing cabinet and had been trying to organize all of the important papers. For whatever reason, I took all of the titles to the cars that I knew I needed to have updated, and I put them somewhere. I spent hours looking all over my house for what?

In the world I did with those car titles. Everybody assumed I threw 'em away or I put 'em in another folder. I'm talking hours of me sitting down. I'm trying to get the papers ready for the a estate attorney going through piece of paper by piece of paper to triple, quadruple check that I had not misplaced them Somewhere.

I found those car titles a year later where I had placed them in a buffet in our kitchen, in a silverware drawer. Why ? Why in the world would I do that? What? Who puts 'em in their silverware drawer? How did they end up there? I have no idea, but I know that because my brain, my functionality, just my thought process was so cloudy and foggy.

I didn't doubt that I put 'em there. I was sad it took me over a year to find them, but I just. Could understand why those things happened. So especially that those first few months and sometimes even that first year or two, people really struggle with just being able to do basic tasks. Normally when you're widowed, your social circle changes, so now you're the third wheel.

or maybe a lot of relationships, friends, family that you did close things with, were close with you and your spouse, but they're not necessarily just close with you or maybe they feel awkward or uncomfortable being around you, or maybe being around you just makes them. Sad and reminds 'em of the person that was with you, but many widows find that their entire social circle changes.

I mean, think about going to dinner, going to the movies, going to see a show, going to church. The person that was always right by your side is gone, and so now maybe it's just an empty seat next to you. . Now maybe you're kind of put with some other singles and pushed into another group. Maybe, you know, you aren't really that close to people.

Again, the relationship with was with you and your spouse, but your support group, your social group, most of the time those people. Change on the positive side, typically what widows will find is that people, they weren't expecting to step up, to show up, to be there consistently do so. People that maybe you enjoyed and you appreciated before, you're now much closer to, and you do more things with because they know how to show up for you in a very real way when it really.

When you're widowed, you're grieving not just the past, but you're also grieving the present and the future just as much, if not more. It's very painful to watch the kids perform or to see a, a major milestone happen, or to think about the first time I traveled to the UK and think. Nathan will never see those things.

He'll never get to experience that. He'll never see his kids get married or he'll never walk his daughter down the aisle or you know, he's never gonna know what it's like to have to be 60, 70, or 80. And maybe I won't either. Maybe I won't make it that long. But grieving the present and the future are just as real as grieving the past, and I had never really thought about it that.

Nathan and I, I'm a Dreamer and Nathan, he just kind of went along with the dreams and the plans for the most part, and pitched in occasionally. But we had big dreams and plans. We wanted, when we retired to have a ranch with horses and then we wanted to have maybe, go to Florida during the winter where it's a little bit warmer and we wanted to be able to travel.

Do all sorts of things that now I sit back and question, okay, if I'm solo on my own or if I'm with someone new at some point in the future, am I still gonna have those dreams and plans? Are those things that I wanted to do or things that we had dreamed of together? I was married to Nathan at the time for more years of my life

than I was without him. And so in a lot of ways we grew up together. We were bonded, we were best friends through and through. And a lot of what we desired and we wanted to work towards were mutual goals and things that we brainstormed and came up with. And so it's a very strange to sit back and think that I have to reevaluate that or that all of a sudden those dreams and goals don't feel as good or the same way.

you're on your own and you may even have to reevaluate hobbies or interests or things that you like. I've picked up a couple of hobbies that Nathan liked that I didn't really like before, but I like doing them now and I enjoy thinking about him as I'm participating in those things. But I also think about things that maybe we did together that I don't necessarily want to do on my own.

So all of those things change when you lose your person. Events, holidays, birthdays, milestones, all of that is different when you're grieving your person. My 40th birthday is coming up next year and I'd wanted to take just a crazy two week vacation somewhere, just him and I and really travel to someplace, you know, out of our comfort zone.

But I don't know that I wanna do that by myself, and I don't know how I'm going to feel about having that milestone and not having that person that I love so much to celebrate that with. Every good experience with your kids is tinged with a little bit of sadness. So whether it's a milestone they have, whether it's a moment I sit back and think, wow, they're so grown up.

Like think about how they were when they were younger. I, there's grief in those moments. . You know, if I ever do get into a another relationship in the future, I won't have that person I can look at and say, oh, remember, you know, when Natalie was four and she did this, or Ethan when he was one, he was so mature and responsible for a baby.

It was crazy. I won't be able to have those shared moments of endearment of looking at my kids and where they are now and reflecting back on where they were and how far they've.

All right, so what is the typical mindset of a widow? Now, I'll share these things with you, and everyone's different, right? Everyone has their own unique experience. Very much grief is its own experience. There's no timeline that says, Oh, you should be done grieving in a year, five years, 10 years.

Everyone is very different. However, these are the things that I often see trending among widows and what the typical mindset is. . The first thing is that family and friends don't understand or they offer bad advice or platitudes. And we're gonna talk here in a few minutes about platitudes, what those are and how to avoid them.

But they feel very misunderstood and they feel judged. So everyone has an opinion and I find it so interesting that people have opinions. strongly when they've never been through that same experience. It is very easy for us as human beings to sit back, formulate an opinion and say, well, if I was in that situation, I would do X or I would not be doing Y.

And the reality is you don't know if you haven't been there, you can imagine it. You can. Try to think how you would handle a situation. You can think that you feel very strongly about the way that you would do or handle things, but I will tell you I'm someone who thinks about the future often, and so I have thought about what it would be like at some point.

If I was a widow, I thought I would be much older. But I have tried to put myself in those shoes because statistically women outlive men. However, there are many things that I'm doing differently now, actually going through it than what I thought I was. So this is very common among widows, is that. They feel misunderstood.

And even among people who are widowed, let's say the average age of a widow is 59. The community of widows that I work with are typically between 25 to 40, 45, and young widows a lot of times don't resonate with older widows. If you've been married to someone for 60 years and you're now 80, you could understand the pain of losing a person.

But someone who's in their twenties and thirties that was maybe married 5, 10, 15 years, that they've lost their person. They've also lost this huge future with that person. They may still have small kids at home. They have their own unique challenges, so very commonly, widows will feel misunderstood. and like no one really gets them, other than other widows that have experienced very similar things.

They've also lost the person who just through daily routine showed them they matter. They're cared about. Someone thinks about them. They love them, they're wanted, they're invited, they're naturally included. All of that evaporate. So think about the daily if, if you're with someone or you're. . Think about the daily conversations that you have with that significant other or your spouse.

Most often you're exchanging texts throughout the day, whether it's, hey, thinking about you, or Hey, got home, made it safely. You're off often coordinating weekend plans together. You're doing things together on major. Events and holidays. You may go out on dates and do fun things together, go to the movies, go to the zoo, just you're just doing life together.

That is the person that cares about all of the mundane, tedious, boring things, in our lives, like they pretty much know everything about us, and that is, so they no longer have that person that's constantly communicating with them, doing things with them, cheering them up, listening to them when they're having a bad day.

All of that is gone. And that creates a deep sense of loss, of not only identity and who I am as a person, but also a loss of importance. Who am I to anyone else, and how am I important? And who knows all the intimate parts of who I am, what makes me tick as a person and just someone to share. Say you go to a a family holiday event and you've got an uncle that went crazy and was doing something that made you laugh or whatever, like who's the person in the car that you're talking to about it on the way home?

That's typically your other person. And that's. Often as a widow as well. The first few weeks people are, there's a lot of noise and a lot of activity around you that happens. So people are asking, what can I do? How can I help you? Bringing you some food, maybe doing things for you around the house. But after the first few weeks, things really die down and widows are really bad, really bad about accepting for help, and it's pretty impossible to get them to ask for help.

So we're gonna start. I'm getting them to accept help. They're really bad about that, and especially in the beginning, they're getting lots of offers for help and often they're just saying no again, not thinking clearly, not wanting to put people out. There's many reasons behind that, but what happens is after those first few weeks, everything's dies down and people go quiet and people forget.

At least That's the, the mindset of a widow is that when my person's gone and now everybody's forgotten and the world just moves on. So what I would say here is, Keep showing up for the widow. If you've invited 'em to go out and do something five times, invite 'em a sixth time, invite 'em a 10th time, a hundredth time.

Just the fact that you are inviting someone shows that you're thinking about them. You want them to go with you and to be around you and that you care about them. You're helping supplement some of those things that their spouse and their significant other did for them. On a normal basis, and I promise you, unless you're just outright harassing someone, they want you to keep asking.

It shows them that you care and you want them around.

All right. Now we're gonna talk about talking with widows, how to talk to them, what to say, what not to say. And the first thing that I wanna start out with is that it is better to listen then to say anything. Listen and validate what they're feeling and let them be in their pain. Let 'em cry. Let 'em be awkward.

Let 'em be angry. Let them go through all the what ifs. Let them share their fears. Let them cry. I did an amazing panel discussion and one of the, the guests on that podcast, Dr. Clark Roush said, your tears know who they can trust. and there are some people we're very comfortable crying around and we don't know necessarily why.

We just feel so comfortable to be open and vulnerable. And I will tell you this is the most precious, priceless thing that you can offer Someone who's grieving, who's hurting, who's missing their person, is to create a safe space for them that they can be open and share really what's on their mind. And I'm, you're gonna, you might feel uncomfortable.

You might feel bad. You might think, well, I don't wanna bring up, you know, the person they lost, it's gonna make 'em cry. I'm gonna make 'em sad. Well, maybe it will, but I promise you they haven't forgot their person. The fact that you asked them about it doesn't trigger a trauma that somehow they've completely forgotten about and that they don't think about probably every single day anyway.

But what it will do is we'll show them that you still think about their person or maybe you didn't know them and you want to know who they are. You want to hear stories and memories and funny things and, and all of. The best thing that you can do in talking with a widow is not to give advice. It's not to say anything that will make 'em feel better.

In fact, there's probably nothing you can say. You can't take away their pain. You can't take away their fear. You can't say a whole lot without invalidating how they feel. They want to be able to be open and vulnerable and share how they feel and have someone to just listen and acknowledge the feelings and emotions that that person is going through and processing.

Okay. The second point here is to talk about their person. Ask questions, ask them, share a story or a memory or something funny. I love talking about Nathan, like he's still here. I talk about him with my kids. Like, oh, your dad would've really liked that. Or, man, that would've really gotten on his nerves.

And we share stories and memories frequent. One of the biggest fears that someone who's a widow or grieving has is that their person's just gonna be forgotten. Like people just forget that they existed and that their whole legacy is, is gone. And one of the things they love the most is hearing you share something about the person or allowing them to share the space to share things about that person.

Sure. Especially in the beginning. That may cause the person to get teary-eyed and it may cause them to miss that person, but it is a healing experience. It's part of the process and the journey of healing. It's something that they need to be able to do and f and able to be able to move forward in their healing journey.

So you are helping them when you ask kind questions about their.

All right. Now I have several examples of just general statements and platitudes, and I wanna take the time to explain why some of these things don't land very well. The first thing I'll share is, The most general statement, the most commonly accepted among widows that I've spoken with is, I'm sorry for your loss or my condolences to you and your family.

And that's really all that you have to say. And that allows the grieving person to say, thank you, I appreciate that. And it's just done. You're not giving advice. You're not saying that you understand. You're just saying, I'm sorry. I'm sorry that you're having to go through this. pain.

All right. The first platitude that you should avoid saying is, everything happens for a reason. And a lot of people, I think this comes from the Bible verse, Romans 8 28, that says, and we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to his purpose.

But good things can come out of tragedy. Doesn't mean that the tragedy was planned or that it needed to happen in order for anything good to come. From that we live in a very broken world. We were not designed as human beings to die and be separated from God or from each other, and so grief is a very painful thing.

It's wasn't the initial plan or design of how God wanted us to exist. So, , there are good things that can come from something bad. I started Brave Widow. I've met some incredible people and had some awesome conversations and experiences, and that did come from Nathan dying. But Nathan dying at the age and the way that he did was not a good thing.

It was a bad thing. So what you can say is sometimes bad things happen and we don't know

why.

[00:25:36] Emily: And as human beings, it's really hard for us to admit that because we wanna put a reason. We wanna say, oh, this is all God's design. And just cheer up. Just, just don't be sad. Don't worry about it too much because this, everything happens for a reason and we just have to trust in that, not sometimes just bad things.

There's free will here on Earth. There are just sometimes bad things that happen. All right. Number two, they're in a better place. Look . What most widows may not tell you is they don't care unless their person was just truly in pain and suffering, and they see this as some sort of release. Then in general, the grieving person doesn't care that they're off in a better place, and in fact, sometimes this is aggravating, right?

So Nathan's getting to be in heaven. He's getting to be with God and Jesus, and he's probably having a time of his life. He doesn't have. One, fear or worry or care in the world. And so most widows would say, well, good for him. You know, I'm stuck here, grieving without him, I'm here raising the kids, having to pick up all the pieces, having to live life without my person.

I wish I would've been the one that died instead, so that I wouldn't have to have these worries and to just pick up the pieces of my life. .So most widows may not say that to you. They say that in a safe space with other widows in the community because that is generally how they think about things. And yes, it sounds selfish, and yes, it sounds resentful, and that is the emotion that can come along with that.

We may be happy for them that they're in a better place, but the grief that I. Is not because I think Nathan's not in a good place. The grief I have is for me,

I wanna have another conversation with him. I want to be able to go off and and do things with him and I can't. And reassuring me is not saying that he's off in a better place, having the time of his life, he's probably up there doing standup comedy, which is one thing he loved to do. It's great. It's amazing.

And I know that he's up there being my cheerleader and saying all kinds of great things about me because that's the person he was on a daily basis. But that doesn't mean that I'm not sad and that I don't want him here with me.

So instead of saying they're in a better place, what you can say and could say is, I know it must be really hard without them here, and that will speak volumes to a widow. All right, number three, you are young. You'll find someone else and you will move on. Okay, well that may be true, but. Not helpful at all.

They don't want anyone else. They had the person that they loved and that they enjoyed being around for the most part. So they, this isn't like they've been liberated and now they can go find another person. In most cases, they truly loved their best friend, their spouse, their partner, you know, in life.

They don't want anyone else. They want their person. and what most people don't understand about grief is that it's not either or. It's not. Oh, I found a new spouse and so yay, this is now my new life, and I don't really think about my other person over here. No, you love both people at the same time. And that is a really hard concept for a lot of people to get their minds around who haven't been through this.

One of the best analogies that I've heard, and some someone shared it on an earlier podcast, is that loving your next spouse or your next significant other is, your heart. Grows so that you can have the capacity to love that person more. So think about when you have your first child. You think, oh, I love this kid so much.

I, I don't know how I could ever love anyone else as much as I love them. And so maybe I'll have more kids and I'll love them. But really, this one, this is my, my. My amazing first born child and I, I can't even fathom loving anyone else. And then you had the second one and the third one.

Or if you're me, you have the fourth one and you love all of them. , and it's not that you ever love the first one any less. You love them all. Equal amounts is somehow your heart grows. I've also heard it described as adding another room onto a house. You don't change the core structure of the house, it expands.

You allow room for more space, more love to be there, and so finding your next person. after you've had a loss, is very similar. You don't stop loving and missing and thinking about the person that you lost. Your heart adapts and allows space for another person to come in and to be loved, and they have to be able to allow you to have space for that other person.

And for some people that's hard. That's very hard.

So instead of saying you're young, you'll find someone else, you'll move on. You could say something like, you are blessed to have the love that you shared. I'm truly sorry. Again, we're trying to validate. How people feel through our statements and what we say with those who are grieving. We're not trying to make them feel better.

We're not trying to take away the pain. We're saying, I know you're hurting. I see you're in pain and I'm sorry. I wish I could fix it,

But I recognize that I can't take the pain away for you, but I am here for.

number four. I understand how you feel. Okay. Just scratch, just I doesn't matter really what comes after that sentence. Just scratch it. Scratch it off. The list of things that you wanna say. I understand how you feel. I'm divorced. I lost a parent, a child I'm grieving to. I'm widowed. I know exactly how you feel.

You just, you don't, we all have different experiences. Even if your experience is similar, you don't understand. Exactly how that person feels. So again, the point is to validate them not to take away from how they're feeling. So we might say, I can't imagine how you feel, but I'm here for you. Divorce is very different from being widowed, and I had a great conversation about this with a future podcast guest that's coming on, and I just had to explain to her, I, I've never been divorced.

I know that there's a grief associated with it. My dad was divorced, so I understand the concept that there is grief and divorce. I don't know what that is and what that looks like because I haven't personally gone through it. I can try to imagine it, but I don't know personally what that feels like. But to compare a divorce to a marriage that for some reason did not work.

To being widowed, which is a marriage that in most cases was working. And to have that ripped away from you is a very different experience for many reasons. If someone's divorced, the other spouse could still see their children if they wanted to. They could still create memories. They can still experience some of those milestone things.

It's, very different. And so what I had told this guest is, I don't wanna, I'm gonna risk offending you just to say, if there's one thing not to say on the podcast episode, it's that I know how you feel because I've been through divorce. Now there are areas of grief that overlap. Okay? So if you go through divorce, and, and this has come from conversations that I've had with people who were divorced and conversations I had with, this woman.

you grieve your identity like who you are. You grieve the loss of the future that you thought you were gonna have. You now have to figure out what your future's gonna look like If you weren't working before, maybe you have to work now. Maybe you got to be a stay-at-home mom, and now you have to go back into the workforce.

So there are a lot of areas where the process and some of the grief do overlap, and I would never take that away from someone and I would never compare it. To compare the pain that people have in being divorced or being widowed or losing a child. I don't know what it's like to lose a child or a parent or someone who's just exceptionally close to me.

I, can't even imagine what that's like. So it's not to say that anyone's pain is less great than the other, the fact that you lost a child and the fact that I lost a spouse doesn't mean that one of us is hurting more or has more challenges or, or more issues. . It's just that the impact is very different.

And again, even if you are widowed, it may be a very different experience for you. Young widows have a really hard time resonating with widows who lost their spouse when they were older. They grieve more about the future and what was to come, and the challenges of raising a small family, whereas older widows typically don't deal with that same sort of grief challenges or.

So the best thing that you can do, again, is not to assume, not to say you can understand. Just say, I can't imagine how you feel. I'm truly sorry. So the best thing that you can do is simply to say, I can't imagine how you feel, but I'm here for you.

All right. The fifth one is, you are strong, you'll be okay. Well, that sounds like a nice one, , but we didn't have a choice. When people say, I don't know how you do it. The first thought is always, well, I don't have a choice, do I? Like, is there, is there a choice to tap out? Is there a choice to say, I don't wanna do this anymore.

Take me out, coach. Like what? What choice do we have? And especially young widows are really challenged with feeling like they have to put on a strong face for their kids, for their extended family, for the people around them. They can't be open and vulnerable on their own. And I remember in the first few weeks I had heard so many times, oh, you're so strong.

You're gonna get through this. You're gonna be fine, you're gonna be fine, you're strong, you've got this. And I thought where is the person that's telling me? . I know you're strong and you're gonna get through this, but you don't have to be strong for five minutes. Just let it out. Just be yourself.

Just let yourself cry. Get it out. Just give yourself grace and patience and rest. Don't feel like you have to put on that strong face. People don't expect that, but unfortunately, not many. I think maybe two or three people said anything even close to. So something that you might say instead of you're strong, you'll be okay, is, I admire your strength.

I hope you know you don't have to be strong. For me, again, it's about creating that safe space, creating that environment of vulnerability and letting the person know, I see you. I hear you. I'm here for you.

All right, number six, time heals all wound. No, it doesn't. and all of the widows that have been widowed for many years that I've spoken with, the way that they've best described it is that you learn to live with your grief. And there are several e illustrations out there that says Your grief doesn't diminish and go away.

Your life and your heart become bigger and you grow around the grief so that it doesn't feel so painful. And. I am just barely a year and a half out from being widowed, and certainly I don't feel as in pain or as sorrowful as I did

those first few months, but that doesn't mean that it went away or that I feel fully healed. I still experience waves of grief. I still have some of those same initial thoughts or feelings that come and hit me, and sometimes they're expected, like at holidays. Other times they just come outta, left field when I had, was not expecting them at all and had no idea that was coming.

Time heals all wounds. Instead, I would say something like, take all the time you need to heal. Let that person know you realize it takes time and they need some healing. All right, number seven. If you need anything, just let me know. Okay. Why is this so wrong? Sounds really nice, doesn't it? If you need help with anything.

Oh, okay. You, you gonna wash my dirty underwear? Like really anything? You gonna watch my kids for a couple weeks so I can have some downtime? No. The challenge with saying if you need anything, is that the widow immediately checks it off. Like, yeah, I'm not asking this person for anything. The the problem is that it puts the burden on the widow.

So you're telling them you need to think of something I could do to help you. You need to think about whether or not it's convenient for me, if it's something I can do, if it's something I wanna do. Maybe I don't wanna mow your lawn, maybe I don't really know how to weed eat. And then you need to step outta your comfort zone and ask me if I'm free and available and willing and able to do those things.

So saying if you need anything, in essence, Burdens the other person that you say it to. And that's very counterintuitive because we typically do wanna help. We do wanna contribute or do something of value. We just don't know what it is. But you do know what it is. You know what it takes to run a house on a day-to-day basis.

Things have to be vacuumed, lawns have to be mowed, groceries have to be picked. kids need to be taken to events. The dog needs to go to the groomer. Think of all those mundane tasks that people have to do every single day and give yourself a job. So instead of saying if you need anything, instead say, here are a couple things I'd love to be able to do for you.

Is this day convenient? I was thinking next Tuesday or Thursday, but if another day's better, let me know. And what that does. is, it takes the burden off of the widow. They already know you've thought about what you are able and willing to do, you've thought about when you would be available to do it, and you're being assertive and putting it out there into the universe.

And so now they don't feel uncomfortable like, oh, I have to ask this person, and what if they say no or what if they can't do it? And then they're gonna feel bad and I feel bad and I'm gonna feel vulnerable. Like, oh, I had to ask for help. And what are they gonna think about that? Again, when you're grieving, your brain isn't functioning the way it normally would, and so we want to do as much as we can to help that person that's grieving.

So instead of saying, if you need anything, give yourself a job or list a few things that you're willing to do. , assign a date or a time, give 'em a couple of time options and then put it out there to say, I'm happy to do this. Here's when I thought I could do it. Let me know if that works for you and just see what they say.

All right, number eight. This is the last one. And fortunately I have not heard this one, but in some of my unofficial online research, I found this, I think on young and widowed that this was something that people often say, at least you got some life insurance money.

I don't even, I really struggled with. How bold people would be in saying that, first of all, assuming it, maybe they didn't, especially if you're a young widow.

most young people don't really think about life insurance, and so there may not have been any money, so maybe they did or maybe they didn't. But what I can tell you is there's no amount of money that they would take to lose their spouse. Millions, billions of dollars. The pain, the loss that you feel of losing your person causes so many areas of your life to be gray.

The days are not as vivid and bright as they used to be. You don't know who you are anymore as an individual. You feel like you're drifting through life and sure, it sounds great to have some life insurance money. Maybe you could pay off the house, maybe you could pay off your cars. Maybe you could not have to go back to work for a while.

And that sounds fantastic, but it's not worth not having your person. So I don't even have a suggestion for this one other than don't. , just don't say it. Don't assume. Why are you even making those comments? I, I don't know. So for those of you out there that are doing that, just stop

All right. Quick recap. In talking with widows and helping support people who are grieving, remember, it's better to listen and to validate how they feel. Rather than to try to speak and offer words of wisdom, words of comfort, to make them feel better, it's not going to happen. Be there for the person who's grieving, not in the first few days, but months, weeks, years later.

Be there for them. Show up. Keep showing up. Do little things that remind them that they matter. Send text sends messages. Note cards. Send 'em flowers for Valentine's Day. Guess what? They lost the person who did that take their kids shopping to buy them something for Mother's Day. Guess what? Their person probably used to do that.

What are the little things that show the person who's grieving? They matter. They're wanted, they're invited. They're loved, they're cared for, and it matters that they're still here. The world would've missed them if they were no longer here.

All right guys. That's it for episode number 11. I hope this was helpful to you. Whether you're a widow or someone who helped support widows or the grief community, I would love to hear your feedback in response. So please comment on the video or shoot me a message. If you're listening to the podcast and let me know if you want to hear more episodes like this.

[00:44:53] Emily Jones: Hey guys. Thank you so much for listening to the Brave Widow Podcast. I would love to help you take your next step, whether that's healing your heart, binding hope, or achieving your dreams for the future.

Do you need a safe space to connect with other like-minded widows? Do you wish you had how-tos for getting through the next steps in your journey, organizing your life or moving through grief? What about live calls where you get answers to your burning questions? The Brave Widow Membership Community is just what you need.

Inside you'll find courses to help guide you, a community of other widows to connect with, live coaching and q and a calls, and small group coaching where you can work on what matters most to you. Learn how to heal your heart, find hope, reclaim joy, and dream again for the future. It is possible. Head on over to bravewidow.com to learn more.

 

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