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The 5 Things Widows Need to Stop Apologizing For

Widows Need to Stop Apologizing for These 5 Things

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Short and Sweet Summary: We widows need to stop apologizing for things we shouldn’t be sorry for. It’s time to put a moratorium on saying “I’m sorry” if you find yourself apologizing when grief or happiness or love or any other action or emotion makes others uncomfortable.

Do you apologize too much? Say “I’m sorry” when you aren’t really sorry or have nothing to be sorry for?

My 15-year-old asked me several months ago, “Why are you always saying sorry?” Teenage boys barely notice that the sun came up today. But my son noticed how often I apologize.

Yikes.

It doesn’t matter if I feel bad for the way I’m grieving or if a traffic jam messed up my commute, I’ll apologize for it. 

WTF?

I need to stop apologizing.

You need to stop apologizing.

We widows need to stop apologizing and start living an unapologetic life.

You in?

Widows should never apologize for the following 5 things:

NEVER APOLOGIZE FOR HOW YOU GRIEVE

Grief is a personal journey, and no one can tell you the best way to do it. How you grieve is how you grieve. There’s no right way. Or wrong way. No “better” way.

But do you sometimes feel societal pressure to stop crying? Do you ever say, “I’m sorry, I really shouldn’t be crying about this anymore?” or anything remotely related to apologizing for your grief?

I have.

I’ve apologized to my friends for having to listen to my story “again.” I apologize when my tears make others uncomfortable.  That’s the worst. Trying to make others feel better when my heart feels like it’s being twisted in a vice.

But I’m not going to apologize anymore. Widows need to stop apologizing for the days that grief brings us to our knees. Grief doesn’t have a timeline and we don’t get to decide when it pays us a visit. There’s no need to apologize for feeling the feelings as often and for as long as you need.

It’s called being human.

NEVER APOLOGIZE FOR CURSING YOUR DEAD HUSBAND

I curse my dead husband. I do. When I walk past his picture, I sometimes growl.

Is it just me?

When the weight of the world is on my shoulders, I blame him. For everything. For dying. If you’ve ever cursed your dead husband for dying and admit it openly, we are most likely widow twins. 

After I growl I sometimes yell “how dare you leave me here to deal with this crap all by myself!”

I know I’m not bat-shit crazy. I mean, I know he didn’t mean to die. He didn’t tempt fate and ride a motorcycle without a helmet or inject heroin laced with fentanyl.

He got brain cancer. Terminal cancer with zero chance of survival.

And he’s not here. I am. His absence left a gaping hole so wide I sometimes don’t know how to navigate it. I’ve jerry-rigged imaginary bridges and hobbled together make-believe steps to try and close the gap. But more often than not, my poor craftsmanship gives way and sends me spiraling down the grief abyss. Falling and flailing until someone throws me a lifeline and I claw my way back to the top.

I curse my dead husband and then I feel bad. I apologize to the air. And to the Universe. I say I’m sorry for being mad at someone for dying.

Now I’m going to put a moratorium on apologies.

Widows need to stop apologizing for being mad at their dead husbands.

Unless it’s just me. 

I will not apologize anymore for doing whatever it takes to feel better even if that means feeling sad first.

NEVER APOLOGIZE FOR DOING WHAT BRINGS YOU JOY

It seems like everyone has an opinion about what you should do post-widowhood.

You should, “start dating.” Or you shouldn’t date because it’s “too soon.”

It would be a good idea, friends say, to go back to work. Or don’t work. Work from home. Take a sabbatical.

Woman holding sunflower

Move. Don’t move. Change your surroundings. Don’t change your surroundings.

The thing is, opinions are like assholes. Everybody has one. So DO WHAT BRINGS YOU JOY. And don’t ever apologize for whatever “it” is.

It’s so typical for us to go into a somber mode when someone comments on how “well” you’re doing or how “great” you look. Does it ever make you feel like you’re not supposed to be doing well or looking good?

As if doing well or looking good means you’re not grieving enough?

Finding joy in widowhood is a tall order. When you do find things that bring you joy, don’t apologize for it. Don’t undercut your progress by belittling the tremendous fortitude it takes to find joy in the midst of so much pain. Don’t feel like you need to justify one ounce of how you arrived at your current state of contentedness.

Sometimes the joy hangs around for a while. Other times it’s short-lived. I take my joy whenever I can get it these days and I’ve stopped apologizing for being happy on my happy days.

NEVER APOLOGIZE FOR TRUSTING YOUR INSTINCT

I can’t always explain why I do the things I do or make the decisions I make, but much of my decision-making comes directly from my gut.

My brain tries to shut down my instinct and get all stodgy-professor about my decisions. You know, the tsk tsk voice that criticizes and shames you. 

Why on earth would you decide to take your disrespectful teenager on vacation to a nice beach resort where he can be even lazier and more disrespectful than he is at home? Statistics show that unless you show him you mean business and hold him accountable for his actions, the irrepressible behavior will continue.
BRAIN

However, my gut is much nicer and has more common sense:

These family times are more important than either of you realize right now. He will remember the times you loved him enough to include him in all of your family functions even though his eye rolls raised your blood pressure to unnecessary levels. These family moments, when you didn’t turn your back on his moody ass, will remain in his memory forever.  
GUT

Do you see how much kinder my gut is? I know that I make my best decisions from my intuition. Somehow, someway my accumulated beliefs and experiences help to light the way. It’s like an internal GPS. I don’t always know how to get where I’m going, but I have faith that I’ll eventually arrive.

My gut isn’t a pushover. I’ve had plenty of days when I tell my teenager flat out that I don’t want to be in the same room with his scowling face.  I don’t condone disrespectful behavior and undesirable actions have consequences. Always. But teenagers, as a whole, are a miserable, moody bunch.

If your teenager isn’t miserable and moody please contact me ASAP so I can get my hands on some of the fairy dust you sprinkle on your kids to make them nicer.  I need some, stat!

The bottom line is we widows need to stop apologizing for trusting our intuition and making decisions that won’t always make sense to everyone else.

NEVER APOLOGIZE FOR FALLING IN LOVE AGAIN

A bad thing happened.

Your spouse died.

But it didn’t happen to you. Or because of something you did. Or because you’re you.

It just happened.

What part of going through intense, emotional, gut-wrenching grief makes you believe you should apologize for finding love again? This nonsense about I found my one true love and now that he’s gone I’ve resigned myself to be alone forever is just that. Nonsense.

You are worthy of 1,000 great loves if you’re lucky enough to find that many. Love doesn’t have limits. It’s not punitive. It’s doesn’t keep score and decide that you had one so you can’t have any more.

Love wants you to love. In whatever form and however often it shows up.

Don’t apologize for it!

My husband didn’t want me to be alone. I was widowed at 44 and that’s pretty young to spend the rest of my life alone. Yes, I was lucky enough that he specifically told me his wishes so I knew I had his blessing to date after his death. But even if he didn’t spell it out for me, I would know instinctually, from my crazy-good intuition, that he would never want me to be alone and unhappy. Like, ever.

If you’re lucky enough to find a Chapter 2, shout it from the freakin’ rooftops! Please don’t apologize for finding joy or reveling in companionship again. Or being happy.

You are allowed to be happy. And in love.

Please don’t downplay or apologize, EVER, for finding love again.

WIDOW WRAP UP

Let’s put a moratorium on the unnecessary apologies. I know I need to stop apologizing for things that don’t require an apology.

You too?

No more “I’m sorry” for being happy or trusting your gut.  Stop saying “I’m sorry” for being mad at your dead husband. We can only take so much. Some of that anger and frustration has to go somewhere else.

And if you all in love again, hallelujah! Enjoy the hell out of it!

No more I’m sorry’s.

K?

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6 Comments

  1. I’ve just read all of your articles on this site – it was extremely helpful and had a profound effect on me since my husband also died of a brain tumor – 2 months from diagnosis to death. I too went through all the guilt of “what if”. He was always “quirky” so while I did notice some things, I thought it was just more of him being quirky. If only I had paid closer attention. We were married 45 year (1 month shy of 46) and the last 15 years he was retired while I still worked. We argued a lot because I was still working and going to events with friends and he wouldn’t leave the house. I agonized over every one of those arguments after he died. He didn’t become a saint but close enough but through it all I did realize (as did my children) that I love him but he was hard very hard to live with. I wish I had told him I loved him more and spent more time with him. When he was diagnosed I quit my job immediately and was with him 24/7 until his death (through surgery and hospital rehab). He’s been gone almost 2 years. I have more freedom now than I ever did and yet I miss him terribly. Even his bad moods. Thanks for the articles, they helped me realize I’m not alone in my feelings and I deserve to “live”. I need to kick “guilt” out the door.

    1. Ruby, grief is a long, hard road. You are most definitely not alone in your feelings! I’m so glad you’ve decided to get rid of the guilt because it’s the only way to heal 👌.

  2. It’s just over one year, I /We never had time to adjust to the diagnosis . Then he was gone, in his sleep, at home, with us there. Just like he wanted. Without our kids , I wouldn’t be here today. They convinced me not to follow him. Without them holding me, day and night, telling me They loved me. It’s been a tough year and a lot of hard work trying to get back on track, you know, my childhood punishments become my new goals. Early to bed, early to rise, get up, get dressed, eat healthy, clean up after yourself, get outside. Most importantly, stay positive, pray for strength. One foot in front of the other, one day at a time thinking. Sometimes all I can handle is right now. Be grateful, be thankful. Love life, do some good. Don’t forget, YOU CAN Do IT You got this. Yes

  3. It’s actually been 22 1/2 years and grief still rears it’s ugly head from time to time. I did find love again, but there are times when I still get mad that my husband died! He was only 42 and I was 41 so very young still, and I had our kids still. He brought a daughter to the marriage and I brought my kids. His daughter became my daughter too. It’s just all very weird,

    1. Hi Karen, it IS weird. People die, we never forget them, we move forward, but still get angry, our lives change and we can find peace but still long for the way things used to be. We laugh and grieve and rant and rave in the same space. The dichotomy of life!

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