Five Important Lessons from Five Years of Widowhood

Five Important Lessons from Widowhood

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Short and Sweet Summary: Hindsight is always 20/20. Looking back now, I can see important lessons of widowhood that weren’t clear to me in the beginning. Here’s my take on how much I’ve learned since then. Perhaps you can apply these lessons now and learn them far earlier than I did.

It’s been five years since my husband died.


As in 1,825 DAYS.


I don’t know how it’s even possible that he’s been gone so long. It seems like just yesterday we were packing up our kiddos for a ski lesson and sharing hot chocolate by the fire in the lodge.

It also seems like for-freaking-ever.

What a wild ride. I’ve run the gamut of emotions from sad to angry to happy to bewildered. Not happy he died, of course. But you widows already knew that. I don’t have to explain myself. We know we can find slivers of happiness under the dark cloud of grief.

I’ve learned a lot over the past five years. As a result of that hard-fought wisdom, I want to share with you the 5 important lessons I’ve learned from 5 years of widowhood that helped me get through the hardest years of my life.


Intuition is a VERY powerful thing and I’ve learned to trust mine more now that I’ve been on my own for a while.

When my husband died, I was afraid of everything and terrified of making a mistake. Consequently, I ignored the gentle push of my intuition and was so programmed to rationalize why I shouldn’t do something my intuition was telling me to do. My first reaction to almost everything was “No, I can’t do that” or “No, that won’t work.”

Silly, isn’t it?

The funny thing is, when I ignore my intuition, its push becomes less gentle and more urgent. Basically, it won’t shut the hell up. I have a very persuasive intuition. It’s no joke. So I end up doing what I was avoiding in the first place.

I’m getting so much better at listening now. Making so many decisions on my own has forced me to listen and honor my intuition more. I know it’s there to guide me and it’s guided me well so far. The hardest part was trusting myself. Trusting that I could make good, solid decisions on my own. In fact, not everyone agrees with what I do or how I do it, but I know the only thing that matters is what works in my Universe.

Have I made mistakes? Sure. I’m human. However, the majority of my decisions have turned out A-OK.

Thank you persuasive, forceful, spot-on intuition.

If you find yourself repeatedly asking the same questions to arrive at an answer you want vs. the answer you need –  you’re likely ignoring your intuition. If your stomach is in knots and you can’t figure out why – you’re likely ignoring your intuition. Its only job is to offer a gentle push (or in my case a hard shove) and if you pay attention, your intuition will guide you to the right answer for you.

It might not be the right answer for anyone else, but your intuition isn’t guiding anyone else, is it?


After so many years of grief, anxiety, and stress, I’ve started to take better care of myself.

I’ve suffered from adrenal fatigue, digestive problems, body aches, sleeplessness, OFF THE CHARTS anxiety and other maladies. My body and mind have been through the wringer. Yours too, I’m sure.

It’s so hard to take care of yourself when you’re taking care of soooo many other things. I get it. But, one of the 5 important lessons from 5 years of widowhood that I’ve worked really, really hard on is putting myself first instead of last.

I’ve put self-care front and center.

I even had surgery to fix a painful bunion and I’m so glad I finally decided to go through with the surgery. My shoes weren’t fitting correctly. It hurt to walk and the protruding bone became a nuisance. It wasn’t a terribly obvious bunion, yet, but I’m vain enough to admit that I refuse to end up like those old ladies with the wrecked feet whose bony big toe is pointing to the side instead of straight ahead. Ummm…yeah…that’s not gonna be me.

So, I got it fixed.

But I hemmed and hawed for a while. Like, three years. How could I justify a surgery that would require limited mobility (and no driving) for the first three weeks and months of rehabilitation after?

Well, I could justify it by deciding to put myself first. My kids are able to fend for themselves. My friends agreed to drive me where I needed to go. And I deserve to be pain free with shoes that fit properly.

Yay, me!

I’ve also started eating better for my own digestive issues. I get massages when my neck is in knots.  And, I take power-naps when my mind shuts down at 3:00 pm.

Take Good Care of Yourself

I’m taking better care of myself and I like it.

You need to start taking better care of you, too. It’s OK, you know? I believe in you and your ability to take better care of yourself. If you need permission, I hereby wave my magic wand and it’s granted.


What do you want to do that you’ve been putting off?

Go do that thing.

Go…git…get on it!


Sometimes it takes a tragedy to really hone in on our wants and needs.

I mean, I might have thought I was all self-actualized and shit. But, let’s be real. Before my husband died, I followed a societal script and did what I was “supposed” to do. As a stay-at-home mom, I felt it was my duty, my obligation, to be everything to everyone. I wasn’t earning a paycheck. Therefore, I didn’t contribute financially to the household.

So, shouldn’t I prove my worth in every other way possible?

  • Healthy dinner on the table at 5:00? Check
  • Clean and tidy house? Check
  • Awesome vacation planner? Check
  • Ubiquitous school volunteer? Check
  • Well-rounded kids? Check
  • Always available friend? Check

Ridiculous, I know.

It’s only after five years of reflection that I can look back on the important lessons of widowhood and see how this particular lesson morphed into one of my steadfast life principles today:

Important lessons from widowhood let that shit go

After my husband died and everything went to hell in a handbasket, I had to realign my priorities. I had to let go of whatever preconceived notions I had of the “right” way or the “best” way to do something. Whatever didn’t serve me or my teetering-on-the-precipice sanity had to go. It wasn’t like I took a proper inventory of things that didn’t serve me. It was more like, “oh shit, this isn’t working” and I readjusted as I went along.

Dinner consisted mostly of scrambled eggs or macaroni and cheese. But, I wasn’t concerned about it. While I grabbed handfuls of popcorn and a glass of pinot noir, my boys learned the required life skill of making dinner for themselves. Surely, my future daughters-in-law will thank me.

A clean house consists of everyone pitching in to help. Without exception, my kids must clean their own rooms, do their own laundry and clean their shared bathroom. I have zero intention of cleaning up after smelly, dirty, lazy teenage boys. When their pee stream doesn’t make it into the toilet, I’m sure as hell not going to be the one to clean it up. By all means, have fun scrubbing the yellow tile around the base of the toilet, boys.

We had some epic vacations after my husband died, I’m not gonna lie. But, the all-out, every-second-accounted-for, list-making, advanced reservation mom that I was pre-widowhood has morphed into a more relaxed, leave-some-room-open-for-spontaneity, mom. On our beach vacation last summer, my surly teenager stayed in the condo all day.


I soaked up the sun and read a book while he watched an Impractical Jokers marathon. Without a doubt, it was a win-win for both of us.

I stopped volunteering at my kid’s schools because I took over running my husband’s business. But, I wasn’t that sad about not volunteering anymore. I had my fair share and I was burned out anyway.

I set the moral foundation for my kids. Now that they are teenagers and prone to doing the exact opposite of what I say, I have to step back and let them learn from their own mistakes. It’s not easy watching your kids get in trouble or fail classes or become miserable, complaining, combative humans. But, adolescence is a bitch.  If I make it through the teenage years it will be nothing short of a miracle.

And for the friends? Some have come and gone. I’ve let go of the friendships that no longer serve me because I don’t have to be everything to everyone.

Man, it feels good. Want to let go of what doesn’t serve you, too?

Permission granted, again.

Just DO IT.


Do you use grief to make excuses about why you can’t get things done?

Have you said something similar to:

  • I’m too sad to clean my house
  • I’m too unfocused to pay my bills on time
  • I couldn’t possibly work because I can’t stay on task
  • I can’t make a decent meal because I’m too tired
  • Grief is holding me hostage and I can’t get anything done

You have? Me too. This lesson of widowhood is one of the harder ones to implement.

I’ve used all the excuses. But excuses are like assholes. Everybody has one.

A big, very important lesson of widowhood that I’ve learned is the only way to feel better is to stop making excuses and start doing something.  I’m not talking about setting BHAG’s (Big, Hairy, Audacious Goals). I’m talking about something productive that’s as simple as eating a healthy breakfast. There are plenty of websites dedicated to healthy eating. My favorite, because I’m a lazy cook, is the Minimalist Baker. I can be productive, and healthy, in the kitchen using this amazing lady’s plant-based recipes that require 10 ingredients or less, 1 bowl, or 30 minutes or less to prepare. I’m in!

Listen, I don’t love to cook. But I can follow a recipe and make a meal. I don’t make meals seven nights a week – that’s just crazy talk. However,  I can bake a batch of chicken thighs that’ll give me plenty of leftovers. I’m tired too. But not eating right makes me even more tired, so I’m prepared to put in a little effort for a whole lotta reward.

Grief will hold you hostage. That’s a fact. It’s up to you to decide for how long. I found that I felt shittier each time I made more excuses about why I couldn’t do something. I know being productive gives me a way out. It gives me a way to feel less shitty.

If you’re looking for ways to feel less shitty too you could:

  • Get a job
  • Take a class
  • Declutter one room
  • Read one book a month
  • Walk outside for 30 minutes
  • Pay your bills
  • Make a doctor appointment

The list goes on. I dare you to do one productive thing for every excuse you make. If you say you can’t clean your house, I say just clean the bathroom. Can’t pay your bills on time? I say pay one bill on time. Don’t feel like cooking? I say cook one meal.

Baby steps.

Just take the step and do something.

Important Lessons from Widowhood Walk Outside


When your person dies you feel as if love is sucked right out of the universe. It’s like no love exists anymore. Your person died and took every last shred of love with him.

Only he didn’t.

We tell ourselves all kinds of crazy, irrational things when we’re grieving. Of course, the biggest lie we tell ourselves is that we’re no longer lovable. No one could possibly love us the way our person did and we’re destined to be alone forever.


I don’t believe for one minute that because the love of your life died you’ll never love again. And, I’m not buying the story that you only get one true love in a lifetime. The one thing I know for sure is that love is all around you. Everywhere.

How do I know?

Because I believe it.

I believe that I’m loveable. Because I believe that I’m worth loving, I know that I have an opportunity to experience love again in all its forms.

Will it be like it was with your person? Nope. Not possible. That particular love is too important to replace. But, a different love? A love you never expected? Love that opens you up to a different way of thinking about the world?

Yes. That’s possible. If you let it.


It’s so easy to get wrapped up in the endless stream of grief when widowhood is new and raw. Even after a few years, grief’s presence can still be front and center. The thing is, it doesn’t have to be the main attraction in your life. You get to be the main attraction and at some point, you need to downgrade grief to a supporting role.

I didn’t come by the lessons I’ve learned over the past five years easily. First, I needed to believe it was OK to make decisions others disagreed with. Then, I had to come to terms with saying no and letting go. Finally, I had to get out of my head and on with the business of living.

With the gift of hindsight, I now see where I needed to put myself first and honor my own personal journey.

I hope you’ll begin or continue to honor your own personal journey, too.

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  1. I just found your posts on Pinterest and I love them. It is almost 5 years since my one true love passed away. Thank you for your insight. I thought I was the only one feeling these feelings!

  2. Hi,
    Thanks for your Pinterest posts!
    It’s only been 5 months for me. I’m still struggling with the disbelief that he’s gone. Diagnosed just 2 days before Christmas with Stage 4 cancer and went to heaven just 40 days later. I’m still asking myself how did we miss that he was sick? How didn’t I know? Why didn’t I know? The blame game I guess.
    I look forward to your daily emails- I really need some positivity and real ness.
    Thanks for being real.

    1. Hi Charlene, welcome to the club no one wants to join 😔. I totally get the blame-game. I did it to. But I know now that it’s not useful, AT ALL, so I’m begging you not to continue blaming yourself. Ok? Please?

  3. I really appreciated your article and can see myself in some of the things you have learned. I lost Larry 2 years and 4 months ago and for my family we are still learning how to live without him. The tears are still so close to falling. Thank you again for your article.

  4. Thank you so much. I just happened on your posts on Pinterest today. Your insight and voice are so helpful and motivating! I’m only 5 months into this journey and really appreciate you!

  5. Yesss💪🏼Get in Kim , loving this post !
    Life is for living , I’m on it Now , let’s see what we’ve all got x

  6. Hi, I just came across your blog today on Pinterest…I’m so glad I found you! My husband died 5 years ago and life has really been a challenge! Oh, I remember to pay the bills and clean the house but I’m just so lonely and this pandemic has really done a number on me! The isolation is awful!!! But what it has forced me to nap when I want to; eat when I’m hungry; and take walks with my pup. I’m becoming more content and that’s a good thing😊

    1. Hi Joy, I guess the pandemic has some upsides 😊. It’s interesting how perspective changes things. We can be content when we decide it’s OK to be content ❤.

  7. I just found you on Pinterest. I lost my husband 5 weeks ago. He was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer in January & six months later he was gone. I know I will see him in heaven one day, but until then I am raising our 3 young children alone. Thanks for writing & showing me that I will get through this.


  8. I am so glad to have come across this blog post. I’m 3.5 years into this journey, and everything in this post makes complete sense to me. I’m finding that the pandemic is stirring up a lot of the feelings I had in the early days of grief, when I felt like I was just waiting in line until life would resume some sense of normalcy. Losing your husband is more than just the loss of that one special person, but your entire life is turned upside down. I’m feeling that way now as we hit the 6 month mark of this ongoing pandemic. But as for your last lesson, love IS all around, and I am lucky to be sharing in this strange twilight zone episode with my partner whom I moved in with just a year ago. Life does go on. I’ll be taking your lesson about just being productive to heart. I can’t use this pandemic, or any of the hardships that come down the road, as an excuse not to keep up the fight. Thanks Kim, this was the kick in the ass I needed.

    1. Hi Jen, glad to hear you’ve allowed love into your life again and that you’re living your life instead of just existing. No one gets through life unscathed so, yes, keep up the fight!

  9. In 2 weeks it will be 10 years since I lost my husband. I just found you and glad I did. Even though I reached 5 years, 5 years ago, your messege still resonates today.
    Raising 2 boys as a widowed single mother is hard, but we do it; we do it everyday.
    After the funeral it felt like I hit the ground running; a hamster on a wheel. But, the hardest lesson I have learned is self care, and I still don’t do it enough. 10 years on, I’m still learning.
    Thanks for being out here!

    1. Hi Bonnie, solo parenting is the hardest thing ever! I think focusing on self-care is ultra-important, but so often overlooked. Keep on trying and I will too 😉.

  10. I found your article on Pinterest, I am so grateful and thanking you, I am into my 7 th year, everything you wrote I experienced, thought I was healing at my own pace while putting up a brave front, but it all came crashing again. Every year I tell my self I am ready to let him go and the struggle is so real and it’s not easy while family friends and work environment, people do not understand what I am going through. I don’t allow anyone to get closer to me cause all I ever hear is “ you must move on” kind of tired of hearing that statement over and over. It made me hold on more stronger to his memory.
    So here I am taking that journey to start my process of healing again. My hope and prayers for all “ what’s your superpower I am a widow” to heal in a time of their choosing. And to move forward in pursuit of happiness, it could mean just being content with life after a time of long grief and just being able to breath and not feel sad, upset, cry, scream, or throw tantrums. I have been holding it all in me while being brave and strong.
    After 5 yrs, I ve had no proper support group around. The last 2 yrs had been my toughest. Every wedding anniversary, birthday, holiday seasons, are the most hardest. I hope to find some peace in letting go. And thank you for all your articles, it’s like reading a journal of everything I went through.

    1. Hi Maria, I like how you said, “it could mean just being content with life after a time of long grief.” I think that’s an incredibly powerful statement. We know grief never really goes away, so we get to choose how to bring it along with us. I think being “content with life,” regardless of the circumstances, is an effective path to choose ❤.

  11. I have been reading your Posts on Pinterest, this one hit home. My first husband passed in 2006 and did finally find that second love after 9 years. They were complete opposite in their personality. Both good man. When my first husband passed our son and daughter were grown. He took his life. My children were both in the military so they weren’t able to be home that often. When I meet my second husband he was retired and I just got laid off from my job. He was also widowed and within a year we married. My son and daughter was happy for us but his son and daughter not really. Within two years we found out he had dementia and this passed August went into memory care center. All was okay until December when he tested positive for Covid. My husband did not pass from Covid he was also suffering from an urinary tract infection that was urosepsis. I am now widowed for the second time.

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