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We're friends, not doctors, financial or legal professionals, and we're not "grief experts." But we are here, and we've been "there."

I like to talk to people and strike up conversations with just about anybody. Right now, there are days when I’m better at it than others. I really hate telling people I’m a widow. I still wear my wedding ring on my left hand so it appears that I am married. When "the truth" comes out, I feel bad revealing that my husband passed away. Of course, the obligatory "I’m sorry" is said, the deer in the headlights look appears, and suddenly the conversation comes to a screeching halt. I end up having to soothe them. "It’s OK." "I’m alright." "He had cancer." I’m telling them that I am fine—even though I am not. Why do I have to be strong when all I really want to do is cry and tell you how truly awful losing your best friend is?

My husband collapsed and died in my arms in our house. As it filled up with the emergency workers and utter chaos was taking place, I kept repeating "I’m sorry". I’m sorry the light isn’t on. I’m sorry I can’t get off the phone, but his children need to be told now. I’m sorry I don’t know anything about the funeral homes in this town. I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. I still remember that night so vividly, and I’m puzzled by my reaction and my incessant use of "I’m sorry". Was I apologizing for inconveniencing them? Was I sorry for their having to see my husband and me at the absolute lowest point of our existence?

A very good friend of mine passed away last month. When his sister called to tell me, my first words were "I’m so sorry". It wasn’t insincere. Although our grief is different based on the relationship of our loved ones, it was heartfelt. I was sorry for the sadness and pain she was going to face. I was sorry for the void in her life that won’t ever be replaced.

Maybe I am too sensitive about "I’m sorry". Perhaps those people that I think don’t get it really do in a detached, polite kind of way. Maybe they just don’t know what else to say and "I’m sorry" just seems appropriate. I guess I’ll continue to endure the "I’m sorry" responses. I’m sorry I’m a widow.

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Comment by NMWidower on May 24, 2012 at 9:03am

I know this is an older post, but it struck a chord with me!  I find myself still using this phrase 2.5 years later.  I think just knowing the pin of the loss I cant help but feel this is the only thing I can say. Kind of like saying I know I have no words that can reduce this pain, but I truly feel the pain of your loss and feel so bad you have to walk this journey too.   Its not trite either, its really very sincere, just as I am sure your use of this is.

I can also relate to the awkwardness of telling people I'm a widower.  I think even 2.5 years later its a little easier, but I try not to bring it up.  Amazing how I can feel these similar feelings even this far out from the loss.  But at least, I think part of this is some of the "good" I am coming to see and realize is part of the "remembering" that will always be there in a portion of my heart..  thanks for sharing this here...

Comment by Ariana on October 13, 2011 at 12:45pm
At my fiance's wake, I spent more time consoling than getting console. My mentality was that everyone who came to pay their respects all lost a part of him. His brother was amazed at how strong I was, he couldn't believe I was walking around hugging everyone, wiping tears, telling everyone "I'm so sorry". I guess it was my way of taking the attention from me and trying to stay strong.
Comment by Marsha on October 10, 2011 at 6:34pm
Yes for some reason we do console the people who call or visit. May be it's our way of consoling ourselves and convincing ourselves this is really happening. I was told I made it easy for people to talk about my loss. In the beginning we're in shock and really have no comprehension of what is going on around us. Auto piolet. I'm sorry is programmed in all of us. We are told it's all that is needed to say. In some ways it's probably true. There are some who seem to know how to go beyond the I'm sorry and just want to be there for us. I was blessed with some of those angels. I hope I can be an angel to someone else as I get it now.
Comment by bigfatchunkylover57 on October 10, 2011 at 10:30am
I remember my wife and daughter's visitation, and feeling like I had to be the one to console the visitors...not sure if we bring that on ourselves, or if it's something our society, and the age we live in, has trained us to do.
Comment by Susan B on October 10, 2011 at 8:21am
I remember replying "It's OK" through tears, and thinking "they must think I'm nuts" "how could she be okay--she's crying." what I wanted to say was it's ok THAT I'm crying--don't feel bad, it actually helps relieve some stress. You didn't make me cry, it just happens. Some people actually got it, but not many.

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