Riding Bitch

The daily musings of a writer.

An Open Letter to M, a New Widow


Dear M,

I’m writing here because I want to get my thoughts down in some semblance of order. When we spoke yesterday,  I’m afraid our conversation didn’t live up to your expectations. “How did you get through it?” you asked. I found it hard to answer, shocked as I was by the news that you, more than 10 years younger than I, not even 30 years old, married for less than a year, are about to be a widow too.

I had just seen you and your husband a few months ago on the eve of your move up North to start a new life. When I didn’t hear from you for a while after that, I figured you were in the throes of settling in. And you were – until six weeks ago when the shit hit the fan. You said you found it too late and now he’s on hospice with days to live. I couldn’t wrap my mind around it. How was this possible? I felt silly saying, “I’m so sorry, M… I’m so sorry…” but I didn’t know what else to say. So, here are a few more words.

Contrary to your impression, I am not “the strongest woman ever.” I am the same as you. The difference is I had a little more time to deal with Kaz’s illness, 13 months to be exact, which is a lot longer than your 6 weeks.

I was also in denial most of the time. I didn’t believe Kaz was dying (as quickly as he was) until he had the seizures, ironically six weeks before the end. Then I had to accept the situation and things got a lot calmer. It stopped being a race against time and became more about his comfort and well-being. In a strange way, I think my being in denial helped me get through quite a bit.

When I wasn’t in denial, I had the equivalent of emotional blinders on. I focused on practical matters rather than on the reality that I was losing him. I pushed the reality into the recesses of my brain, consciously choosing to deal with it later. Sure enough, after he was gone, the volcano erupted.

Unfortunately, it sounds like you don’t have time to be in denial or have emotional blinders. Six weeks is a blink of the eye. Yet, some women who lose their husbands instantly would, no doubt, be grateful for six weeks. Every widow’s path is different.

As I told you yesterday (and glad it made you laugh), you can expect to cry A LOT. More than you ever thought possible. So much that it might scare you. You might think you can’t get through it, but you CAN get through it. I can’t tell you how exactly. I just know that you can – and you will.

The most important advice I can give you is to surround yourself with folks who love you, be they family, friends, neighbors, pets. Only good people and good energy. Even if you end up being alone, have these people on standby for the times when you need them. Anybody who gives you any kind of drama, or makes you feel bad about ANYTHING, avoid like the plague and don’t feel one iota of guilt. You don’t owe anybody anything. 

Your creativity might help too. When you’re feeling overwhelmed and unable to deal with the pain, try writing things down – a poem, story, memory, letter, journal entry – or pick up your camera and take pictures. Anything to direct your pain somewhere instead of letting it swirl inside you like a never-ending whirlpool.

To answer your original question, “how did you get through it” – it was a combination of the above, and it was also Kaz. I leaned on the memory of his character and his love. In the darkest moments, I could hear him encouraging me to keep going, to not give up, much the same way I had encouraged him. I knew that he wanted me to go on, that he believed in my strength, and I kept coming back to this over and over.

Keep your beloved S in your heart and mind, and he will help you too. Also, not to get all “new-agey,” but try to be open to feeling his energy around you after he passes, as he might not leave your side right away. It is my personal belief that energy doesn’t just evaporate, especially the powerful energy of Love.

I won’t give you this letter right now, it’s too soon. But I’m thinking of you. I remember how you helped Kaz and I when we were in the thick of things, and now I’m angry that you are suffering. I’ll never understand how unfair life can be sometimes. The pain feels unbearable but somehow we do bear it. As one who is further down this path of fire, I can’t tell you that it won’t hurt, but I can tell you it won’t last forever. You will come out the other side, and you are not alone.

I love you, and I’m here for you always.


[prompted by WordPress]

Author: nivaladiva

Freelance writer and independent filmmaker.

13 thoughts on “An Open Letter to M, a New Widow

  1. Thank you Niva for sharing your letter….I would als share with your friend that if at all possible…talk to each other…it will be those conversations that in the swirling vortex around later that I use for guidance and comfort. I will keep them in my thoughts and meditations.

  2. What a thoughtful, loving letter to your friend. What a heartbreaking situation they’re in, especially so young. While grief is different for each person who experiences it, sharing your own story and how you manage is helpful to those who are navigating their way through. I’m sure she is looking to you with so many questions — so much to deal with, and no idea how — and I’m sure you will be a blessing to her. As others ahead have helped us along, we help those who come behind.
    Thank you for sharing. I am sorry your friend needs your help in this manner, but I am sure you will be there whenever she needs you to be. These are the times that matter most.

    • It is incredibly sad. I hope I can be a help to her. It’s hard to not feel useless when a friend is facing such a mountain of pain. But you’re right, we must try our best to help those who come behind.

  3. 🙂 You are a good friend.

    And your advice about “good people, and good energy”…and “Anybody who gives you any kind of drama, or makes you feel bad about ANYTHING, avoid like the plague and don’t feel one iota of guilt” ….YES.

    • Thanks. We’ve all been there, huh?

      • Oh god yes…I remember thinking that up at the Hospital, after Tim’s surgery to remove the tumour. He was in rough shape, but I met women out in the smoking pit that I swear I admire still this this day…and still think “wow, how can you BE so strong?” Through it all though, you just fricken do. My Grandmother did, my Father did…and and now I am … just getting by. Good or bad…weak or strong…you just do, and you go on…and eventually I know it will be ok. I will…they did …and so will I.

  4. Thank you for this. That’s all I can say now. Hugs

  5. Pingback: An open letter to my nomad children. | 3rdculturechildren

  6. What a wonderful letter, and how lucky your friend is to have you. I had a similar “angel”, a friend whose wife died about a year before my husband. He gave me wise advice as you’ve given your friend. Most important, the offer to just listen and be there is the most important thing. So sad to see another person joining our “club”, but she’s lucky to have you as a mentor.

  7. Pingback: Solidarity Amongst Widows | Riding Bitch

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