There are numerous articles out there on “what not to say to a widow”, and “what to do for a widow”, and other forms of advice to the general public. Guess what? Here is another one. A widow or widower can go through so many things as a direct result of their spouse’s death including not-so-subtle judgment. The judgment can take place directly or indirectly, but it always gets back to the one left behind. People talk, and that is the bottom line. Due to that fact, I have learned some things that I want to share:
Your Individual Perspective Has No Bearing on A Deceased Person’s Wishes. Too often, I see the fact that the dead are often dismissed post-loss even when they have CLEARLY vocalized their intent, their character, and their beliefs prior to their departure date. We absolutely should not have any right to fluff their lifestyle, dismiss their feelings, or place our unique spin on what we think they would do. Unless you have SOME PROOF of communication about the intent of the deceased, please continue to honor the way they lived and what they felt. Dismissing who they were, and what they believed is extremely offensive to a widow or widower. Even if your rationale for your actions may be valid and with good intent, you do not know how you may have inadvertently shunned the deceased individual’s beliefs. Please try not to impose yourself and your feelings. Especially when it should solely be about THE PERSON WHO IS NOW GONE. This is about who they were and who they were not. Let your legacy reside with the people who know you the best and trust them to act accordingly to who you are. Don’t make their death about you, your time will come trust me.
Most Widows and Widowers Know Their Spouse’s Wishes Even If There Is No Will. We widows and widowers often know more intimate details about our spouses than many others might know. It doesn’t matter if we are in a relationship with our spouses five years or 50 years, it can be intelligently argued that we have talked about many things. We have talked about things like life, feelings, expectations, future goals, why the sky is blue, religion, what we need to spend our money on, our debt, and death. We have fought, and we have made love to one another. We have shared uniqueness that made up our marriage. We were in direct, daily conversation with our deceased husbands (or wives), so we know what they needed up until the last minute of their death. Granted, I know that there are people out there that do not act accordingly. Perhaps they weren’t on good terms with their spouse. Perhaps there is unnecessary vengeance, ego, and deceit in the actions of the living spouse that are intended to hurt others.
However, please understand that much of the spouses that are left behind truly are acting on what they know about their deceased spouse in good faith. Often, we do have proof of the intent from our spouses even if there is no will. We have our conversations, we have things that mean something. We know. If you don’t understand why we are taking some actions, come speak to us. Ask. Inquire about the reasoning behind our decisions, we will gladly share our experiences with you. Alternatively, if you know something and have proof of a way that the deceased person would have wanted things, please share that with the spouse. Please know that the deceased person played a different role with each of us. They have unique experiences with each and every person they have engaged in a relationship with. If you have information that suggests contrarily to what the spouse is doing then share, please. Share your proof and your perspective. If not, please do not judge the spouse for their decisions regarding the post-loss life and responsibilities they have embarked upon. None of these responsibilities were wanted.
Do Not Judge The Grief Process or How The Deceased Is Honored. This should go without saying, here is where YOU CAN inject your unique perception and your own wishes. The way that people choose to honor the deceased is individualistic. Whether you want a shrine in your house or you want to have yearly memorials, that is entirely up to you and the others who had a relationship. This does not have to be agreed upon, but cohesion is great and beneficial to the remaining rememberers. I choose to honor my husband in a variety of ways, from adopting the street he died on to contributing to this blog. It is all done to honor who my husband was. The more I do, the more it eases my soul and gives me something to live for. Feel free to do the same thing. Additionally, the grief process is as unique as the individual and it is based on the relationship that you had with the person who died. No one should ever tell you how to grieve. Or for how long, or how to move forward. No one should stifle your feelings about the deceased. Hey, I do not like what some people choose to do out of guilt, but I can’t judge them. I do not have their relationship with my husband, I have mine. Here is where I acknowledge that it IS about the rememberers, but the advice is the same. DO NOT judge who does what, or who does not do something. People are different, you should accept that very basic notion. Do NOT hate on the person who is doing something though. If you want to honor or grieve, then do it on your own accord. Do not judge someone else who is walking their own path.
These are very basic concepts, but my God, they are often ignored in lieu of opinions and judgment. Thanks for reading!