In sharing and supporting some of my fellow widows and widowers, it came to my attention some things that were a common thread that we were all going through besides that one horrible thing in common that made us all widows and widowers to begin with. These are things that we want or need, but hardly ever have the guts to say. I compiled a list which goes in no particular order. I am sure others have their own version of this list, so feel free to add things in the comments below!
1) We don't want or need space. There is a huge gaping hole in our lives and we sure as hell don't want it to get any bigger.
2) If we start canceling all of the plans we make with you, this is a good sign we have gotten wrapped up in our own heads. Please don't take it personally. Call us out on it and check in often. We will greatly appreciate you for it.
3) Please talk about our spouse with us. Especially if you were friends with them too. We love to hear stories that we may not know. Everyone has their good, bad and ugly moments. Share, laugh, and cry with us. Remembrance is good, silence is not.
4) Understand that many of us are on a learning curve with this new life and there are a lot of things that we now have to do that we have never done before. If we ask for help, please teach us, don't do it for us.
5) Conversation only offers suck. We will not "call if we need anything". We don't want to feel like a burden, so if you do offer to do lunch, dinner, drinks, coffee, whatever....please follow through so we don't have to chase. It is exhausting and it makes us feel needy and worthless.
6) If we have children, realize we are grieving for them and ourselves. We are worried about how we are now going to pay for their upbringing, college, activities that they would like to be involved in, how they are dealing with the loss of their parent, how they are going to deal with their own coming of age without that parent to turn to. Listen to their worries and do what you can to help...anything from having a play date to babysitting to organizing a community fundraiser. Remember the old adage "It takes a village"? In times like this the widow(er) could use all the help the village can provide.
7) Listen. This may be the umpteen millionth time you have heard a particular gripe from us, or the thousandth time you heard a story, or the hundredth time you have seen us cry, but please, be patient. To you, time has gone on as usual. To us, our lives are in a sort of suspended animation and it bothers us. Sometimes we don't need or want advice, just a friendly hug.