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I'm sitting here on Sunday morning thinking about last night's event.

It was a fundraiser for a school I used to work at.  It was great to see people from my past and reconnect with them. 

When I reached the table where I was assigned to sit it was awkward.  The table had already filled up except for one spot. I sat down next to seemingly nice woman who greeted me with "We singles will be sitting together."

Now I didn't ask why she was there alone and she didn't ask why I was either.  We could both have been attending without husbands on purpose.  Mine never liked going to those things anyway.

Her remark still stung.  I wanted to yell at her and say, "I'm not single, I'm a widow."  Thankfully I had enough sense to only say that in my head. 

A couple of people asked me if I was married yet, probably because the last time I saw them I had just started to date an old friend.  That didn't work out, so no I'm not married and it's okay, thanks for asking?  That remark didn't sting so much but it also seemed like such an odd thing to be the first thing to ask me.  

Here are the two things I'm trying to reconcile with myself this morning:  1. Why do I feel like I need to distinguish myself as a widow versus being single or divorced? 2. Is it better to remain silent to avoid unintentionally hurting someone's feelings with an off-handed remark?

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Comment by Grenville25 on July 13, 2015 at 9:58am

what a very interesting thread...i dont know about you but it hit me like a truck when i realized i was ticking 'widowed' on some form...and i looked online and found, our images of widowhood are so antiquated..we need to address this ...but no i am not single! there was a time, when i was single years ago - and I think family/friends say 'its just like that'. NO it is not...you cant wipe out 20+ years of love and memories. I am a widow, and sometimes I think its the right word, if only to wake people up. I"m not newly single. This phase of my life, missing half my heart, is unlke anything ...nothing prepares us for this.

Comment by mixelated on June 9, 2015 at 4:26pm

I see what you mean. Yes, I could do without the pitying thing myself, and yet, it seems like a crucial bit of information... even if what I really mean by telling someone is "don't ask about my husband." I guess I'm trying to keep people at a distance by saying it - wow - there's a revelation. Thanks for posting this topic - helping me process my new role, too. 

Comment by bis4betsy on June 9, 2015 at 4:17pm

mixleated- I think I don't like the reaction people give me when I say I'm a widow.  It's either those sad puppy eyes and the awkward silence or they say something insensitive, ask questions I don't really want to discuss with them, or don't really say anything.  I'm mixed in my feelings about sharing my life with strangers because shortly after he was hospitalized and while he was ill ( he passed away 6 weeks after diagnosis, which was not very long) it seemed like everyone felt they were entitled to all the details & they also wanted to give me advice about the situation, which I was still trying to process myself.  I think I just shut myself down to discussing anything with anyone because it hurt too much.  I suppose I still am.  Thank you for helping me process another slice of this new role I have been given.  

Comment by mixelated on June 8, 2015 at 11:31pm

Do you think it would hurt people's feelings to tell them you're a widow? Or do you mean you might say it in an aggressive tone?

Comment by delaware girl on May 25, 2015 at 12:27pm
While I certainly don't like the label of widow, the label of single totally negates our 39 years of marriage. We didn't choose to not be together any longer, death separated us. Just like I was proud to be the wife of my husband, I am now proud to be his widow because it matters that he existed ... that 'we' existed.
Comment by Mary H on April 26, 2015 at 4:55pm

When I went back to social security with my documents, the man called my name with "Miss" and not "Mrs", and I thought, oh.  But in the end it only matters what we think, I think.  In my heart I am still married.

Comment by laurajay on April 26, 2015 at 4:36pm

I was married 44 yrs. and while I am now alone because my husband died,  I am not single.  I consider the difference something I would comment on but not in anger or to upset someone,  just to state the truth and to honor a long marriage.  Single never- married and divorce are not the same as being widowed and I would never hesitate to say so if I was referred to as single.  It is what it is and I expect no one to understand except another widow or widower.   But you have to do what's comfortable for you  not what someone tells you to do.

Comment by Patience on April 26, 2015 at 4:26pm
I would have answered the people who asked if I was married yet with, "yes, I did marry, but my husband died."
But that's just me. My daughters say I'd tell the street sweeper that my husband died... And I don't mind the title "widow" it means I carry my husband in my heart...
Comment by Callie2 on April 26, 2015 at 3:09pm
Bis4betsy,
Some people prefer not to use widow, some do. Personally, I don't really care unless it is relevant. Single means alone to me, now it very well could be they left their husband at home. I tend to think single might be the most appropriate, who would want to be identified as divoriced unless you're filling out a form of some kind? Unless you chose to mention it, I would not ask someone if they are divoriced or even what their marital status was unless of course it is someone you've known fairly well from the past. Most people can judge these situations and reveal what their comfort level allows. I say this because there seems to be a trend for couples to live together. Maybe they prefer not to make a public announcement.

I would try to hold my tongue on the second question. Sometimes people do say things without thinking them through first, or perhaps, something comes out wrong. I believe most people do not say things to intentionally hurt us, therefore, I think silence is the better choice. That is just my opinion.

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