Thursday, May 2, 2013

Domestic Enemies of the Widow Mom

When I got this post, I was like YES! Fist pump! We need to share this. 

And you guys, the very the last bit of wisdom at the end made me all sniffly. Because I've watched my own siblings grow up without their mom (my beloved step mom) and my amazing cousins have to do the same. And that advice just rang so true to me...

So I present to you, the Domestic Enemies of the Widowed Mom.

Domestic Enemy 1: The ring 
Omg. Wear it or don't? I wore my ring for a year. When someone asked me whether my husband was coming to whatever kid meeting I was in, I would say he wasn't. This was followed by the inevitable "why not?", to which I would have to reply that he was a little dead at the moment. Without fail, I would hear: "Why are you still wearing a ring?" 

I mean... What kind of a question is that? Maybe because I didn't choose to be unmarried, nor was I ready to be without my husband. 

But then after time, I took it off. Holy Schmidt. That got a reaction, too. And lots of questions. Yes, I still missed him, of course I still love him, no I'm not happy now. And most of all, taking off that ring does NOT mean I'm in the market for a new husband, which leads to... 

Domestic Enemy 2: Other married women
Yes, I'm technically single. But no, trust me, I don't want to take away your husband. Remember the awesome guy that up and died? Still love him. Sheesh.

Domestic Enemy 3: Life insurance
Yes, I thank God for it. But no, it is not like winning the lottery. I would rather have my spouse and the father of my kids then the money.

Domestic Enemy 4: My step kid
I helped raised him. I love him. Please share him with me. 
I miss him. 

Domestic Enemy 5: The questions
I know that people weren't out to be insensitive, but if I wanted to tell you about how my husband died, I'd let you know. It's the same with how I'm feeling. Sometimes I don't even know what I'm feeling, I just know that it sucks.

Domestic Enemy 6: Our precious kiddos (they're not the enemy but you know what I mean)
They miss their daddy. They miss him with all their hearts, but they still want to eat, play, go to school and have a life. I'm tired though. No sleep (coffee was my saving grace), the youngest was 3 months old when it happened and still needed everything, and my 3 year old couldn't cook yet! Plus they also missed their other sibling... the one that moved out because daddy wasn't there anymore. Lots of crying and throwing fits... Plus the kids acted out, too.

Domestic Enemy 6: The in laws 
Yes, no, or maybe? Some still want to be family. Some just want you to go away. Some just don't know what to do with you. It is what it is.

Domestic Enemy 7:  Workman's comp
After eight years, they still mess up. Yes, he's still dead (I'm not kidding, they asked if he'd seen a doctor recently).

It wasn't all bad, though. The majority of people I came into contact with had tact and grace. I needed both. I'd like to think they were the kind of person that reads this blog. They'd bring T-boxes, mail bills off, do laundry, make their husband mow the yard or cut firewood, kidnap my children for a few hours, and take me out for 60 minutes of being "OK".

Lydia asked me to tell you what I really needed from my friends when it all happened. So here goes:
  • Instead of asking me how I was, (let's be honest... I was losing my mind), they asked me how they could help. 
  • Sometimes I had a month of meals in the fridge, but getting the baby to his well-baby check up was impossible. 
  • Other times I just needed a few moments to be alone and grieve instead of taking care of what was left of my family. 
  • You'd be surprised but nothing says "I'm here for you" like a mopped floor or Starbucks. And you know, in my humble opinion - it's OK to say "I have no idea how to help you, but I'd like to". 
  • I know losing Fluffy was hard and I get how much we all love our critters. But it's not the same. And those kinds of comparisons are just not what I needed to hear.
  • Being patient and forgiving with me. I forgot your birthday, and to say thank you, etc. I'm sorry, but at that time, I couldn't remember to shower (hey...thanks for reminding me to shower... people stopped sniffing when I walked by).
  • Even almost a decade later, after another (wonderful) marriage and a (perfect) baby, I still have days where I think "He won't walk his daughter down the aisle, or teach his son how to drive a stick," and it makes me so sad. 
  • Thanks for holding my hand in that moment where I'm overwhelmed with those thoughts.. Because it's hard for a lot of people to understand how I can grieve for what will never be.
  • Most of all, thank you for telling my kids about their dad. He was an awesome man and you sharing those stories with his kids will help them to know him a little better.
Thanks for letting me rant.
xoxo, Mrs. Dashwood

PS: I ended up getting guardianship of my stepson, who is a teenager now (and the spitting image of his dad). 

(c)Herding Turtles 2009 - 2013


  1. God, this part slayed me "Domestic Enemy 4: My step kid
    I helped raised him. I love him. Please share him with me. I miss him.

    1. Yes, that was the part that got me too. It reminded me of the Domestic Enemies of the Step Mom's fear that the exact thing she describes would happen in this scenario.

  2. Such a heartfelt post. I'm so sorry for your loss. I can't even wrap my head around how that feels. I imagine there will always be a spot that aches.

    1. You are SO right..there is always a spot that aches. My husband passed away 10 years ago and I still have a difficult time trying not to turn and tell him what our grandchildren 5 were born after his passing) are saying. I keep thinking that he would have so loved to see these bright hilarious kids. I no longer wear my rings but I am not really interested in finding someone else either...28 years of a near-perfect marriage will do that to you.

  3. What a wonderful post! Thank you for sharing!

  4. So glad you got guardianship!

  5. I also lived that, and I say ditto. Thanks.

  6. So sorry for your loss. Thanks for sharing with us! As a full-time stepmom of two boys I am so happy for you that you got guardianship.

  7. Thank you so much for posting! A dear friend of mine just passed away from breast cancer at age 36, leaving behind three small kiddos (ages 5, 2, and 1) and an amazing husband. Your post gave me a little insight into how he must be feeling and what my husband and I can do for their family.

  8. My husband died 6 years ago, I totally get your post. I'm remarried now, and that comes with a lot of questions from stupid people too.

  9. Thank you for all of this. Much love and hugs to you and your wonderful kiddos.

  10. I have a friend who lost her husband 10 days before their first was born. I now know that I did the right things at first, but thank you for helping me see I need to step up my game now.

  11. Wow. This made me cry like a baby.

  12. One of the best Domestic Enemy posts. So needed. So true. Thank you for having the courage to share and be honest.

  13. I wish those things had never happened to you so that you never had to write about this, but I know others who are going through the same things are thankful for your words.

    And.... I'm crying at my desk.

  14. I love this post--thank you!

  15. Tears. Between the last bullet and the PS. Thank you for sharing.

  16. My uncle died when I was 10 leaving behind a young widow and 2 teenagers. My aunt remarried 3 years later and gained a wonderful husband and 2 more daughters. They have built a wonderful life together. But, she has never "gotten over" the loss of my uncle and never will. No-one gets over anything ever. Thanks for sharing and I am so glad you don't have to miss your step-son anymore *hugs*

  17. Beautiful and heartfelt. <3 Thank you for sharing with us!

  18. Sobbing. A beautiful post in every way. Off to share everywhere. The last one really got me.-Ashley

  19. I've never had a PS make my day until now. This was beautiful, thank you.

  20. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you! As a young widowed mother of two, I could not agree more! Honoring our late beloved and being in love with them in an earthly sense are two different things and unable to explain.

  21. Thank you for posting this. My dad died when I was a year old, leaving my mom, sister and me. Regarding your last point, let me echo it from the point of the kid: thank you to those who told me stories about my dad. Those stories are my memories of him. They are priceless to me.

    And hugs to you.

  22. thank you for sharing a beautiful heartfelt post that manages to still be funny. we lost a child and a lot of these feelings were/are the same for me. especially - the "i know how you feel because i lost a pet." although i appreciate the sentiment - not. the. same.

  23. Thank you for sharing this post. I'm the kid of a widowed mom, and although my mom's kids were all full-grown (in our 20s) when we lost my dad, so much of this still rings true. He never got to see his daughters get married, or meet his grandkids. But it's my mom who suffers the most, I think. She spent 38 beautiful years with him, building this wonderful life based on family and at the center of it was the two of them. Not her. The two of them. That's tough to piece together any semblance of recovery from. The toughest part for me was watching 99% of her friends drift away, like being a widow was contagious. So I'd add Domestic Enemy #8 - It's not contagious. Remember to just be there. Call, drop by, drag them out to the store, for a walk, to a movie. It doesn't matter what, just include them. They need you more than you will ever know or could ever articulate!

    1. Agree! We lost my dad in 2001 from an accident and the time when friends can help most is about a month after.... everyone else has moved on, but not those who lost the loved one. My mom still loves my dad and misses him just as we do. Sorry crying over here.......

  24. As a widow of 5 years.....AMEN, Amen, Amen!
    I learned who my BEST friends are. They still leave flowers on my porch on Valentine's Day, my birthday, etc. They make sure I have some JUST ME time. They DON'T ask "Do you think you will ever get married again?" They don't get all uncomfortable when I mention my hubby or tell a story about him. They are just there, still my friends, let me cry if I need to. Couldn't have made it through the last 5 years without them!

  25. First...sorry for making you guys cry. Maybe I should have put a warning in the beginning. Second, thanks for being you. Third, for those other widow(er)s, I KNOW it's not the same, I know we are all in different places, but it helps to know that people have had the "same" issues.
    Last...although my life is different then I is still amazing.

  26. Thank you so much for writing this. My dad died when I was 8 and my mom was left with 3 kids (I was the youngest) on her own. She was a SAHM, lost her husband, and had to figure out how to stretch social security checks so she could stay home and be there for her kids as much as possible because we all fell apart in one way or another. She wears her wedding band on her right hand now.

    She went through so much, including losing friends who didn't want a "single woman" around their husbands. I'll pass this on, I know she'll connect with so much.

  27. my husband died 18 months ago...we have a now 4 year old and a 9 year old... I want to thank "Rants" for posting this and for addressing "Widowhood." We're out there. There are so many of us (sadly). We're not a myth.
    Your post is so accurate. It's as good of a guide as I have read yet (and I have read ALOT)... for me, thsi line that you wrote is "it."... this is the center of being a widow..

    "Because it's hard for a lot of people to understand how I can grieve for what will never be.
    I've only seen this post about Widowhood. Are there others?

  28. Thank you for this. It is perfectly written. Touched me in a different way, I lost my mother when I was 13 and it was my dad who was widower with 2 young daughters. But a lot rings true as a surviving child and for my dad. Thank you

  29. I'm the daughter of a widow. Oh man. I was only four when my father died but I know my mother experienced a lot of this.
    She wore get ring for several years. It was probably about 15-20 years before she removed it. She replaced it with another. The ring is in her jewellery box waiting for me.

  30. Wow, that's an awesome post. Thank you for sharing your heart with the world and letting other women know they aren't alone even though their situation is not the exact same as yours they know some of what you are feeling. My friend just lost her husband last week and as a friend it's hard to not know how to help or "fix" what is going on for a person who is usually so strong. I love the part that you wrote that a starbucks or a mopped floor says a lot. Thank you! God bless you and your family!




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