Before you speak your mind, do this
Since my husband died 10 months ago, I have received a myriad of advice and counsel. Unfortunately I have also been criticized and judged, because I am not grieving the way some people think I should be grieving. So, on behalf of all the widows and widowers out there, I have only two requests:
First, make a list of all of your advice, counsel, recommendations, criticisms you would like to offer me "in love" and because you had a friend go through that, because you read books and articles, because you lost your dog and know how it feels. Write it all down. Play around with it, you can title it "what to do when you lose your spouse" A step by step guide on how to grieve and please others at the same time. Looks good huh? Who knew you were an author.
Next. Before you speak a word of advice or feedback on our situation, I am requesting that you look at your husband or wife, if they aren't home, look at a picture, maybe send them a quick "i love you" text. Now take a piece of paper and write down everything you feel about your spouse, now write down everything you and your love do together big or small, have coffee together, read together, talk, watch TV together, go on dates, play with kids, fight, make love, cuddle, take care of each other when your sick, etc. Done? Good! Now write down in what ways you depend on your spouse, he or she goes to store for you or with you, he does the repairs, she makes the meals or vice versa, your spouse takes care of you when you are sick, hugs you when your sad, makes you laugh, ministers by your side, kills the bugs, cleans the house, does laundry, takes care of children when you're tired, etc. Now write down some core memories you have, your wedding, honeymoon, date nights, vacations, laughing with kids, tragedies endured together, or just sitting outside and talking. Done? Great! Now write down the future plans you have made with your spouse, have more kids? take a big vacation? renew your vows? remodel the house? buy a house? retire and rest together? Serve God together? Etc. Now think about everything you do for your spouse big or small. It could be special meals, pick out something nice to wear, build something, send a cute message or text, make coffee in the mornings, put gas in car, etc. Now think about difficult situations that become easier the moment you call on your spouse for help, a broken down car, a conflict in the family, a false accusation, just a bad day, Write those situations down. Ok....
Now take those lists and burn them, because when a spouse dies all of that is GONE! NO MORE! POOF! NADA! The only list that will survive are the memories, but no more will be added to that list.
Now take a moment and close your eyes and feel that pain as best as you can, imagine all of that...gone! An empty chair in the dining room, you are now the sole driver of the car, you get sick? you haul your own behind to rite aid for cough syrup, that empty side of the bed, not at all fun is it... but wait, now read your book of advice and recommendations to yourself. Does it work? Does it make sense? Is it helpful? Probably not.
This exercise is a very weak way to help you understand what I go through, as well as, all of the other widows and widowers out there. You will never truly understand what it is like to lose a spouse until you lose your spouse. So enough with the "advice and recommendations". Give us a hug, give us some space, listen to us, be patient, lower your expectations and pray for us. That's it...