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"I'm More than a Widow"

A common thread among surviving spouses, is that they hate the word "widow" because their public identity seemingly becomes "the woman who lost her husband".

Friends, family, strangers and co-workers start tip-toeing around you as if you're a delicate piece of China or a fragile family heirloom that's been passed down for generations, easily broken with the smallest mis-step.

Weekly phone calls go from friends asking "Can you believe what happened on last night's 'Walking Dead' episode?" to the absolute avoidance of the topic, in fear that the show's name will trigger an angry glare or a fountain of tears.

It's true that everything changes drastically when you lose a spouse. You've built a conjoined life together & every aspect of your day, from the moment you wake up to the moment you fall asleep, is intertwined with your partner. When they pass, you really do lose a part of yourself-- but you still have the other pieces.

Your loss might force a new perspective on life and you may develop new interests, hobbies or career goals while you transition into a new life-- but you still have individualized aspects of your persona that define who you are.

My aunt is an animal-lover, a runner, a movie-fanatic and a loving mother. She is fun & free-spirited, loves drinking tea at all times of the day & is notoriously late for all of our family social gatherings. Oh, and she's a widow-- but that's just a small part of her as a whole.

My grandmother loves classical music and opera. She spends her mornings gardening and her afternoons doing light pilates at the gym. She's also the doting mother of 5 wonderful children and 18 grandchildren, and she too, is a widow.

To the well-meaning friends & family-- don't be scared to enjoy your favorite pre-loss activities together or treat your loved one just the same (with a smidge more compassion & empathy). It's important to find some consistency when your whole life has been flipped upside-down, and your relationship with your loved one is one thing that doesn't have to change. Recognize what makes them who they are and encourage them to move forward from loss and find enjoyment in their life.

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