Letting Go of the Shame I Feel Sharing About My Spouse as a Widower
Did you know widows and widowers can feel shame?
I just realized this.
As I was driving to hospice bereavement last week it hit me like a ton of bricks — sometimes when I speak about Michelle, I feel shame.
Many times I do not speak about Michelle when I want to, because I feel shame.
Yes, even me. The outspoken widower from Illinois.
I know this could be shocking to some people. After all, I write about Michelle all the time on my personal page and on my blog.
I feel shame, and I know other people do, too.
When the realization of this hit me, I was taken aback.
When I post about Michelle on my personal page, I sometimes cringe because some people see my posts and can react with things like:
He wants attention.
He still isn’t over her?
Why does he talk about her so much?
He’ll never find someone else if he keeps this up.
His posts make me sad.
The last time I posted something truly intense about how badly I miss Michelle on my blog page, I felt that shame.
The ignorance of others cannot — and should not — keep us from loving our spouses.
The ignorance of others cannot — and should not– keep us from missing our spouses.
The ignorance of others cannot — and should not — keep us from speaking of our spouses.
The ignorance of others cannot — and should not — keep us from carrying their memory and love with us for the remainder of our days.
The ignorance of others cannot — and should not — keep us from grieving beyond the 365 day marker that somehow seems to have been deemed appropriate by those who do not know such pain.
The ignorance of others cannot — and should not — keep us from grieving the way we need to grieve, from living the way we need to live and from loving the way we need to love.
Let them think we do it for attention.
Let them snicker.
Let them roll their eyes.
They don’t know.
They have no idea.
The truth is, while we are a community of people who can generally understand each other — every situation is unique, every grief is different, every pain is stamped with its own custom print.
Judgment, even among each other, should be checked at the door.
Let’s stop the shame.
If you want to talk about your deceased spouse — talk about them.
If you don’t want to talk about deceased spouse — don’t talk about them.
If you want to try and date again — date again.
If you don’t want to try and date again — don’t date again.
Don’t let others shame you into what you do, what you say and how you live.
Do what you feel is right.
Say what you want to say.
Live how you want to live.
Let me be clear, this is not about enabling bad behavior.
No, I am not saying to drink yourself to sleep every night.
No, I am not saying to be mean or cruel to others because you are in pain.
No, I am not saying to quit your job and give up on life.
No, I am not saying to let the bitterness of your loss eat away at your soul.
I hope you can take your loss, the immense pain from your loss and manifest it towards a positive. Not right away obviously, but in due time.
Let’s stop letting the words, actions and opinions of others dictate how we grieve.
It is our grief!
They were our spouse!
It was our future!
It is our life!
Our loves are gone from us.
Through cancer or heart disease. Through suicide or drug addiction. Through war or accidents.
Our lives were turned upside down.
Our futures were forever altered.
But I am done feeling ashamed.
As much as I may type the words, I almost never say this out loud:
I MISS MY WIFE!
I MISS MY WIFE!
I MISS MY WIFE!
I want to go outside right now and I want to shout it.
Over and over again.
Because I have been holding it in for so long.
Out of shame.
I MISS MY WIFE!
I miss her in our youth. The teenage romance that made a young man fall madly in love with his blonde beauty. Those memories I will forever cherish.
I miss her in our past. The reuniting of soul-mates after nearly a decade apart. A fairytale romance I will never forget.
I miss her in our future. Fifty beautiful years together. Stolen from us in the most callous of ways.
I no longer care if people think I am weird.
I no longer care if people think my openness is embarrassing.
I no longer care what timetable people think a grieving heart should be subject to.
My shame is over.
I don’t care who judges me.
I don’t care what they say.
I don’t care if the love I have for my wife makes potential love interests run away. Any woman who doesn’t understand a heart large enough for two would lack the depth I need.
So, to all of my fellow widows and widowers — and to anyone else who is grieving and sometimes feels the same way: let go of the shame.
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Thinkstock photo by: Wavebreakmedia Ltd