“What Did You Just Say To Me?” – Things You Should and Should NOT Say to a Widow

It has been almost a year now since I was pushed without a parachute into this new life; the life of a young widow. And in that time, a lot of people have said a lot of things to me in their attempts at sympathy or understanding. I am lucky enough to have a lot of people in my life. When you have a lot of people in your life, and you post on Social Media as frequently as I do, you tend to get a lot of people’s opinions. People’s opinions, when combined with the subjects of grief and death, can be a recipe for instant trainwreck.

So, although I do realize there are a lot of lists and articles already out there like this that point out things NOT to do/say to someone who has just lost their spouse, this is my list and it comes solely from actual things people have said to me, or things people have done. Please know that I am aware that most people are only trying to help when they say these  types of things. I get that. However; I think it’s important to show people how the things they say and do effect me and others like me who have lost their spouse; so that they might rethink saying it the next time to someone else. (even though that will most likely never happen, and people will continue to say dumb things until the end of time.) Also; to be fair and helpful; I am posting not only a list of “Please DON’T”, but also a list of “Please DO”, so that people understand that there ARE things they can do and say that actually make quite a difference, and that are forever appreciated. Also, when posting these lists, I’m using the word “Please”, which is pretty damn polite of me, so fuck you if you don’t like it. Now, I have 11 months worth of dumb-ass comments to get off my chest, so let’s get started. Here we go …

Please Don’t Say He Is In A Better Place:

This is just rude. How do you know it’s a better place? Are you dead? No? Then you don’t know. If it’s truly a better place, than why don’t we send your son or daughter, or the love of your life there, and I’ll take my husband back. Better yet; if this place is so damn great, why don’t YOU go there? I’d be more than happy to pack your suitcase and send you on that one-way flight to this wonderful place called “dead.” This phrase might be appropriate if the person who died was 90 years old, or very sick, or in pain. My husband was none of those things. His death was sudden and unexpected and came out of nowhere. There is absolutely nothing “better” about his life being cut short. The only place he wants to be and I want him to be is right here with me – his wife. For you to imply anything else is just hurtful and rude. Just please stop saying this to people unless you KNOW for a fact that they were suffering here on earth. Actually, you know what? Don’t say it then either. Just don’t say it. Ever.

 

Please Don’t Say It Was God’s Plan:

This is another gem of a comment I’ve received countless times from countless people, usually when I didn’t even ask for their opinion on the subject to begin with. Comments like this are very assumptive, as you are assuming I am religious (which I am not), and you are assuming that everyone on earth believes what you believe (which they do not.) If you had asked me what I believe about the subject (not that you did, because normally people who toss out religious-type death cliches don’t really care what you think – they just want you to conform to what they think), I would have told you that I don’t believe in any “plan.” It’s all random, and sometimes life sucks and you collapse on a Petsmart floor and die. If it wasn’t random and unfair, then rapists and murderers and pedophiles would be the ones struck down dead by drunk drivers, or get stricken with horrible cancers. I don’t believe in the type of “God” that would purposely make someone sick or end someone’s life because it’s all part of some big “plan.” That is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard. Not that you asked.

Please Dont Say Time Heals All Wounds:

More meaningless dribble. Time doesn’t heal shit. Time just marches on and happens. Time doesn’t stop. The only thing that will heal me is me, and it’s a lifelong process that doesn’t really ever end. Grief does not ever go away, it only changes form. Time has nothing to do with it.

 

Please Dont Say He Wouldn’t Want You to Cry (or) Be Sad:

This makes me nuts for so many reasons. Please dont tell me what my husband would or wouldn’t want. You don’t know. I’m grieving. Grief is a necessary thing that I MUST go through and experience in order to eventually come out the other side. And you’re telling me I can’t cry? Well, I’m sorry, but I’m going to cry a LOT. I’m going to be sad too. Really really sad. These are called emotions, and I have them. I always will. You telling me not to cry or not to be sad, makes me feel like I’m a failure at grieving. This is the hardest thing in my life I have ever gone through and Im doing the best that I can, so when you tell me or imply that I’m not doing it correctly, that doesn’t feel so good. Guess what else? Just because I cry doesn’t mean I don’t also laugh. I am able to feel moments of joy, AND I’m also incredibly heartbroken. I am forever changed, and everything is darker and different now. I see things from an entirely new perspective. It is not possible to go back to who I was before this happened. My husband would want me to grieve for him in a healthy way, and to feel whatever it is I need to feel. And that includes crying.

 

Please Don’t Say Well … Life Goes On:

Does it? No shit! Thanks for pointing that out.

 

Please Don’t Say God Never Gives Us More than We Can Handle:

Oh really? Is that so? Well then – I’m sure you can handle it when my fist is coming straight at your face. Don’t blame me. It was part of God’s plan.

 

Please Don’t Say I Know Exactly How You Feel:

Actually, no, you don’t. You have absolutely no idea how I feel. Until you have lost your spouse right smack in the middle of your life and toward the beginning of your marriage, you haven’t got a clue how I feel. People say this for all sorts of reasons. A lot of people will claim to know how I feel because they just lost their grandmother, or their pet, or their cousin, or even their sister or a parent. These are all painful and huge losses, and I am in NO way diminishing that. But it’s not the same. It is simply not the same. Im guessing that you never planned on marrying your dog. I don’t think you ever planned a future or a life with your cousin, or wanted to have a family with your cousin, or slept with your cousin. (unless you’re from Kentucky or Arkansas, maybe.) A lot of people will try to compare their divorce to my husband’s death too. Again, getting divorced is one of the most painful things a person can go through, but it is NOT a death. The person is still breathing. If you have kids together, your children can still have a father or a mother that is alive. Divorce is a choice. This was not a choice. You don’t know how I feel, and I hope you never have to find out.

Please Don’t Say Be Grateful that You HAD Love Like That:

It really annoys me when people tell me to “be grateful” for things, because it implies that I am an ungrateful brat. Telling someone to be grateful also sounds like a lecture to me, and it doesn’t validate the very real pain the person is in. Truthfully, I wouldn’t be in this much pain if I didn’t love him so much, and if I wasn’t sooo aware and so “grateful” that we had the most amazing, wonderful, beautiful relationship. But that relationship is now gone. He’s dead. Excuse me if, at the moment, I’m not feeling very grateful. Why don’t you give me 5 or 10 years, when this isn’t so raw for me, and then I promise to get back to you on the whole “being grateful” crap, okay?

 

Please Don’t Say You’re Young. You’ll Find Someone Else:

Excuse me … um .. what??? First of all, Im not that young. Im 40. And how do you know Ill find someone else? You dont know that. And more importantly … someone else? Someone else? My husband, the person I was supposed to be with for the rest of my life, is no longer here with me. It is not because we got divorced or because he left me. It is because he was breathing one second, and then he wasn’t. I am still in love with him. I still feel like his wife. How can you possibly talk to me about someone else right now? That is the absolute last thing on my mind or in my heart. I am just beginning to put the pieces of what my life is back together again, and you want me to go out and search for a man? Maybe one day, in the distant future, in a land far far away, I will be ready to discuss the idea of “someone else.” Maybe. But its really none of your business, and right now is not the time. Not for me. He was not a puppy. I’m not going to go out and just get another one. He was my husband. I don’t want someone else. I want him.

 

Please Dont Say You Really Need to Move On (or) Get Over This:

About a month after Don died, a family friend said this to me in an email. His exact words were: “It is clear that you need to move on.” It was in response to me writing up a blog like this one, where I was expressing feelings and emotions in print. Apparently, saying how one feels is a terrible thing, and equals that I haven’t “moved on”, whatever the hell that even means. Seriously – what does that mean – move on? I dont even understand what the fuck these people are talking about when they say this. Am I supposed to act as if Don never existed? Is that moving on? Should I never speak of him again? Just put him away on a shelf forever and pretend that he was never a ginormous part of my life that helped make me who I am today? I honestly believe that anyone who would say something like this has probably never experienced real love before. If I was sitting in a corner doing crystal meth in my pajamas for the past year, then it would make sense to tell me I need to move on, if that’s what you mean by it. But that’s not the case. I get up everyday. I shower. I go to work. I see friends. I see family. I perform. I write. I do creative projects. I honor him. I am living my life, and I will continue to do so by moving forward. Don will always, always be a part of my life. He is a part of me now. Get over it? Move on? Never.

 

Please Don’t Say You Are Never Alone / You’re Not Alone:

I beg to differ. Good people of earth, you must understand that If I say “I FEEL ALONE” – I do, in fact, feel alone, and know what I’m talking about. Please take my word for it and believe me. Please don’t tell me that I’m NOT alone, or that I’m never alone. I understand that I have friends and family, and in that sense, I’m never alone. But MY family is gone. Yours isn’t. It’s easy for you to say I’m not alone and then go home to your spouse. Please trust me that when I’m here at 3am and I cant stop crying or cant sleep; and there is nobody lying next to me; I am, in fact, alone. Or when I have to do something by myself that Im used to doing for years and years with my husband; I am alone. Or when I have to pay all the bills that I used to split with my husband. Or when Im sick and feeling like crap and there is nobody here to make me soup or tea or get me a blanket. I have to get my own blanket. Or when the cats puke all over the floor for the hundredth time since Don died; and now its suddenly MY job to clean it all up. Or when Im afraid in the silence of the night; and Im thinking about how fleeting life is; and of all the things I will have to face in the many years of my life; alone; without my husband to get me through it. One day; hopefully in the very far away future; I will have to deal with losing my parents. I will not be able to turn to my husband and go through that with him. I will have to go through that alone, without the support of my husband. When you tell me I am not alone, it feels like you are not hearing me. It makes me feel like I am invisible to you. Please listen to me when I tell you that I feel very alone, because this is the loneliest time in my entire life; and I need to be heard.

 

Please Don’t Say So How Are You? (Unless You Really Want to Know):

This is well-intentioned poop. At least most of the time. Its one of those things that most people just ask, simply because they think this is what they SHOULD ask; but most of them do not really want to know. Most people, when asking this question, are expecting a short, general reply. They dont REALLY want to know how you REALLY are doing; and every little problem you are having. Well, when you are talking to someone who has just lost everything and who is feeling incredibly lonely on top of it because the one person that she used to tell EVERYTHING to is no longer around, you should expect a long-winded response. These days, if you ask me how I am, you’d better understand that the real answer to that question is complicated and might take awhile. Many times since my husband’s death, I’ve had people ask me “How are you doing?” – and right in the middle of my reply – I can already tell their eyes are glossing over with regret that they had asked. Unless you truly give a shit, please don’t bother asking. You are just wasting your own time, and mine.

 

Please Don’t Say God Must Have Needed Another Angel:

This one is just insane on many levels. Once again, it is really best to never say this kind of thing to someone, unless you are 100% certain of their religious beliefs, and even then, it’s still pretty stupid. I mean – come on. Is God THIS much of a selfish prick that he would take someone’s life because he’s running low on Angels? It’s Heaven! You’d think they’d have this inventory thing down by now. I refuse to believe in a God that would ever be that cruel. He “needs” another angel, so hey, let’s just grab this guy who is minding his own business and living a perfectly good life; doing good things here on earth. Let me steal him from his wife! What kind of asshole God would do that? And even if he was that cruel and mean, he’s GOD!!! Can’t he just make his OWN angel? Im sure with all his superpowers and everything, he could probably come up with something. They gotta have some oragami or some shit up there to make Angels with. Arts and crafts. People say this statement as if Im supposed to say “Ohhhhh! God needed an Angel? Well why didnt you just say so? It’s totally FINE that my husband is dead! God having another Angel is definitely more important than my happiness!” It is a moronic thing to say. Stop saying it.

Please Don’t Say You Should Move Out of that Apartment. You Should Get a Counselor. You Shouldnt Rely On Your Counselor So Much. You Shouldn’t Put all Your Feelings Out there. You Shouldn’t Post so Many Pictures of Him. You Should Get Rid of his Things. You Should …….

Annoying, huh? These are called “backseat grievers”, and they all want to tell you what you should and shouldn’t do. Please stop. Every person grieves differently, and you cannot possibly know what I am going through or what is best for me. Only I know that, and I’m doing what works for me.

 

Please Dont Say Everything Happens for a Reason:

Does it? Fuck you.

 

Please Don’t Say Are You Better (or) Back to Normal Yet?

Yes. There are actual people who have said this to me directly. Most of them are older folk who seem to think that grief is some sort of disease or flu that you should recover from within a week or two. This question is almost too stupid to react to. I will never be “better”, only changed. And normal? What is normal? I have no idea, but it’s not me.

 

Please Don’t Say You are Looking Much Better:

This one is usually said with a surprised or shocked look on the person’s face as they say it. Really? Im looking much better? Better than what? What the hell did I look like before? Now you have me all paranoid that I have been walking around with poop all over my face or something. I dont know what you mean by this, and you’re just confusing me.

 

Please Dont Say Did You Have a Nice Weekend?:

Why, no, actually. I did not. I spent it completely alone because weekends are for families and couples, and mine is gone. I ate dinner alone, lunch alone, and breakfast alone. (when I remembered or bothered to eat them at all, because cooking alone sucks the big one.) Then I went through some of my dead husband’s things and cried for a few hours. Tried to watch a movie but it reminded me too much of our relationship, so I turned it off. Heard a song that instantly put me back to our wedding day. Turned it off. Tried to sleep but got jarred awake by endless nightmares. Fielded phone calls from credit cards and hospital bills all asking for money from my dead husband. Did I have a nice weekend? What the hell do you think?

 

Please Keep Saying I’m So Sorry. I Don’t Know What to Say:

Yes, it does get annoying for us to hear this over and over and over again, because so many people say it to us, or some version of it. But – it’s not offensive in any way, and it’s true. One of the best things you can do is be you, the person we love. And remember that even though we are changed forever because of this loss, at our core, we are still the person you love. About two weeks after my husband’s funeral, my best friend Sarah and I went for lunch. Suddenly, she started to cry and she said: “I just dont even know what to say to you, or how to help you. This isn’t the dream I had for you when we were kids. This wasn’t what was supposed to happen.” When we feel like everything has fallen apart and we are confused by it all, it is so good and comforting to know that our friends feel that way for us too. Saying that you don’t know what to say is so much more honest and helpful than giving us some cliche meaningless platitude anyday.

Please Keep Saying You’re Doing Really Well:

There are other versions of this type of statement too, such as you’re amazing, you’re so strong, etc. Some widowed people are annoyed by these kinds of statements, so I can only speak for myself in saying that, for me, they are helpful. I’m trying, and that is all I can do, so it’s nice to hear from people on the outside looking in, that I’m actually doing okay. Most of the time I don’t feel strong at all, or I don’t want to be. Telling someone they HAVE to be strong is not good or helpful, but telling them that they ARE strong is. My good friend Bobby wrote me an email recently that said, among other things, this: “Everyday I look at you and wonder, how, in the midst of all the shit life has thrown at you, you keep going. You keep doing. I know great things will come to you. They just have to. You are incredible.” I gotta say that made me feel good, and it made me want to keep going until tomorrow.

 

Please Keep Saying He Would Be (or) Is So Proud of You:

This is just a nice thing to say, and a really nice thing to hear, because I always hope like hell that it’s true. He was always proud of me here on earth, and I want it to be true that he is somehow still proud of me now.

 

Please Keep Saying Here’s a Great Story About Your Husband:

I want to talk about Don. I want you to talk about Don. This is how we keep him alive – by telling his story. Not only is it okay when you tell me stories about my husband, but I love it. There is nothing I love more. Please don’t be afraid to talk about him whenever you want to. Please call me up out of the blue and tell me something you remembered about him that made you laugh or smile. Do not be scared that you will upset me by talking about him or mentioning him. It is not possible for you to “upset me.” I might cry when you talk about him. I might laugh. I might do both. I do both every single day. My favorite thing is when someone that knew my husband before I knew him tells me a story. I love when his nephew Mark talks about what he was like as un Uncle, or when his friend Carol tells me things about his rebellious and younger days in the Air Force. Or hearing about how kind and gentle he was with patients while on the ambulance from one of his EMS partners Maria. Please keep sharing your stories with me. And please let me talk about my husband around you without making me feel awkward. It’s okay. His life mattered. I want to talk about him.

Please Keep Reaching Out:

This one is hugely important. Grief is so isolating, and when you lose your spouse, in a sense, you lose your world. It feels even worse when all of our friends stop calling us or stop inviting us places. Please do not make assumptions about us based on nothing. Do not just assume I do not want to go somewhere. Let me decide. There are some days when being around people is incredibly painful, and there are other days when I absolutely need to be surrounded by others. Please keep our lines of communication open, and please understand if I dont get back to you right away. Keep trying. Keep calling. Keep reaching out. One of the most unhelpful things to say to a widow is: “You have my number. Call me anytime.” This is vague, non-commital, and puts the pressure on us. Be specific. Call me. Ask me if Id like to talk. Ask me to lunch. Offer something specific. “I’d love to take you to a movie and dinner on Tuesday” is much more helpful than “call me anytime.” Most importantly, keep me in your life and keep reaching out.

 

Please Keep Saying I Miss Him Too (or) I Miss Him So Much:

This is good. I like it when people say this. It lets me know that Im not the only person still thinking about him, and that everyone hasn’t forgotten about him. My friend John often sends me text messages that simply say: “I miss Don” or “I miss him”, and I just think: “Yeah. Me too.” It’s nice to miss someone and not feel completely alone in missing them.

 

Please Keep Your Word:

If you offer to do something, please follow through with it. Please do not say things just to say them. Vague things like “let’s talk sometime and we will go see a play” or “one of these days Ill help you go through some of your husband’s things” arent really helpful if you don’t follow up with them. All of the emotions associated with grieving do tend to make us a bit more sensitive to these kinds of things, so please keep your word if you say you will do something. I would much rather hear a simple and honest: “Im sorry I have been out of touch for awhile, but youve been on my mind a lot”, than a promise of something that is not fulfilled.

 

Please Keep Saying This Sucks!:

Sounds weird, but for some reason, this really helps. Also helpful are: This really sucks, I cant believe this happened to you, Fuck You Life!, this is so unfair, this really fucking sucks!

Please Keep Saying I Wish I Had Met Him (or) I Wish I Knew Him:

So many people that have never met my husband have said this to me, and it makes me feel really good. The fact that they recognize what a great person he was, just from me telling them that, is incredibly powerful and nice. I remember telling my friend Elayne Boosler how upset I was that my husband never got to meet her, because he respected her so much as a comedian and also for her work with animal rescue. She said: “I’m really upset that I never got to meet him. What an incredible soul he was.” Gave me a warm and comforting feeling. It was something I needed to hear.

 

Please Keep Saying I Love You (or) He Will Always Love You:

Hearing that you love me is wonderful. Hearing that my husband will always love me is even more wonderful. I remember early on, Don’s nephew Mark told me that until the end of time, Don’s heart will always belong to me, and only me. Something about the way he worded that – it really worked for me.

 

Please Keep Saying Absolutely Nothing:

One of the very best things you can do for me is to simply be there. Don’t disappear from my life. Be around. Be present. Cry with me. Laugh with me. Give me a hug. Banter with me and mock me like old times. Make me believe there will still be moments. Make me see there is still joy. Take me somewhere new. Show me something different. Sit with me in the quiet of a room. Hold my hand. Be my friend. Tell me you have no idea how I feel. Tell me your heart aches for me. Tell me again how much my husband adored me. Or just sit next to me and say nothing.

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50 thoughts on ““What Did You Just Say To Me?” – Things You Should and Should NOT Say to a Widow

  1. Great post Kelley. You ARE strong and amazing, and not just for this. You always have been. Honest with yourself about who you are and what you think. Truly, sharing these kinds of things without censoring yourself for the comfort of others — or to protect yourself FROM them — takes a courage not many have.

  2. This was HILARIOUS. The whole damned thing and especially this part; “Please Dont Say Everything Happens for a Reason: Does it? Fuck you.”
    You should do stand-up with this material!! Thank you, Kelley, this was really funny. Please, make your husband even MORE proud, go to a comedy club and take the stage on Amateur Night and do this bit!

  3. Patrick – thank you! Actually, some of the stuff in this blog has already been performed by me onstage at comedy clubs, and Im still working more of it into my act. Im a comedian, so everything I write has this sarcastic humorous slant to it. If you look at the VIDEO section on this blogsite, youll see some of my comedy videos there, or on my YouTube Channel homepage, there is a video of some of this type of “death” related material I did at a comedy show that was a benefit for my husband back in October. Thanks so much for your comment:)

  4. Thank you for putting into words what I have been thinking for the past 3 years!

    Here’s a personal favorite of mine:
    (My girls were 3 and 5 when Frank died.)

    “You have to be strong for your girls; don’t let them see you cry.”
    AND/OR
    “You have to let your girls see you cry so they know it’s ok to be sad.”

    Really?!?!?! BITE ME! I’m already sad enough that I am no longer a wife. Stop making me question my skills as a Mom!

    Sending you love and hugs,
    Faith

  5. Excellent, excellent writing. You always manage to have me laughing AND crying. Yes, this would be a good addition to your stand up. It would be fantastic therapy and be a great way to let the world know all this. Keep up the great work! Love you!

  6. Hi Kelley,
    You probably don’t remember me but I was a friend of Dianne’s growing up. So her posts helped me find your blog. One of my best friend’s lost her husband 3 weeks’ ago suddenly just like you and it’s been so hard because we are all in such shock. Thanks for such a fantastic article.

  7. Kelley, you’re an amazing writer, and this is definitely going to be one hell of a book when it’s completed. Should be mandatory reading for EVERYone! I’m incredibly proud of how you keep going every day when lesser people would just give up. Much love and hugs.

    Brian

  8. I’ve been following your comedic posts for so long now, thru my husband’s page (he knew you a while ago thru your comedy classes). You’ve always been hilarious and astute. I love your humor. I followed your husband’s tragic demise thru your Facebook page and just felt horribly sad for you. Your writing is a wonderful thing to share just to the comedic world and also now to people who might be grieving. You’re an amazing person and I’m glad to now have you on my FB page so that I could follow and read all of your postings. Hugs to you!

  9. “so fuck you if you don’t like it” BWAHAHAHAHA!

    I think this most is one of the most helpful things you’ve written for others. Western American culture is SO BAD at dealing with death and emotions. We don’t like to see people being sad, and it makes us uncomfortable when people don’t just lie and say they’re fine to spare us the inconvenience of having to sympathize or empathize with another human being. Heaven forbid we make a real and honest emotional connection with another person.

    Even though I never got the honor of meeting him, I think that’s one of the things that made Don amazing, from all the stories I’ve heard from you over the years before and after he died. Don wasn’t afraid to make those emotional connections with people – all over. That’s why he was so loved in his community. He bucked the tradition and just put his heart out there. We are all diminished from his loss. We need MORE people like that in this world, and that’s why his death isn’t just a tragedy for you, but it is for all of us who give a shit about this world. <3

  10. I write a blog too, through google. Lisakramerartlifestyle. For me sharing, like you have here is healing. Non-widowed, well meaning folks need to read articles like yours. I have heard many of the comments you mentioned, echoing still in my mind (5 yrs post now). I’m glad you mentioned your wkend w bill collectors calling, demanding to speak to your husband. I got so frustrated w explaining that they could not speak w the primary person bc he passed, that after they asked again to speak w Mike for the 3rd time, I shouted into the phone, “what about ‘dead’ do you not understand?!” The worst to date that I heard was: “you’re lucky your husband died bc in a divorce, you have to share the kids!”

  11. Oh Kelley, I love you. I wish you, somehow, could have been there when some asshole told 10 yr old me that if I cried it meant I wanted my cancer riddled daddy back alive to suffer more. This very well could be a hero blog Kelley. You’re the best!

  12. This is great, Kelley, as always!! I love this part:

    Better yet; if this place is so damn great, why don’t YOU go there? I’d be more than happy to pack your suitcase and send you on that one-way flight to this wonderful place called “dead.”

    You are right, just don’t say it at all, not even if the person was sick, because you are right it’s just stupid. ANd, what would have been better, would be the person NOT get sick in the first place.

    You ‘re also right that people will just keep on saying stupid shit, it’s what people do.

    “fuck you flowers” Awesome photo, Kelley.

    I’m glad you continue sharing, but I wish that it wasn’t because Don was taken from you. How could that be anything other than random, because if everything made sense, well then it never would have happened and he would still be here with you where he belongs.

  13. Kelley,

    I truly enjoyed reading this and both busted out laughing with tears, and broke down crying more than once.

    I have no idea how you feel, and I don’t know what to say – but you are incredibly brave to put this all out there for people to see and learn from.

    I have been doing something similar after losing two pregnancies and learning what works and what does, how to grieve and that there is no “right way” to do it and no “letting go,” “getting over it,” or “moving on.” I blog about it over at my blog and I have one post of really stupid things people have said to me that pissed me off and made me feel like I am somehow getting this wrong, and one post of the most loving and helpful things that people have said or done during this experience.

    I have to say that one particular person who is older did ask me straight out if I was “feeling better” or “back to normal” yet while I was still actually miscarrying my second pregnancy and when I read that in your list I nodded my head, knowing there is no “back to normal” or flu-like symptoms to get over.

    Sending you much love and kudos for sharing! Know that you’re helping one of my friends who is a widow, and that’s how I found you.

  14. Thank You so much for posting this! I did a presentation on Death in Families in a child and family class a few years back and your post hits the nail on the head. As one of the youngest in the class I was shocked on how many people have misconceptions and outdated or very religious views about death in Families and how people should feel towards death. I want to Hug you and share your post with the world.

  15. On July 11, 1994, my husband of 3 yrs,9 months and a few days died of cancer after being diagnosed on April 29, 1994. He was 42 and I was 32. I heard many of the same comments in the years following his death. The worst comment made to me was when a co-worker told me that I was “letting grief take over my life.” The grief took over my life all on its own. She then went on to tell me that everyone at work had bent over backwards to help me. I lost it then. I asked her who had sat with me while I raged at God, cried so hard I couldn’t catch my breath, screamed my anger of my love and life being jerked away from me??? She of course had no reply. I wanted to bitch-slap her. It got uglier and I walked away. I had ONE friend who stood by me! To this day I can’t stand the woman who spoke to me that way. Your blog reminds me of the journals I kept until depression/grief almost took my life. Finally I sought help thru antidepressants. I had been to therapy, grief support groups, etc but I couldn’t move on until my dr. prescribed antidepressants. When he told me I would have to be admitted to mental hospital if I continued on the same path, I gave in. (Don’t know why I was so resistant but in all fairness, he had never mentioned them until I showed up at his office two yrs after David’s death hysterical.) I am happy to tell you that I have been happily married to a wonderful man for 15 yrs now. We had a whirlwind romance and married quickly. I’m sure people thot it wouldn’t last but I KNEW my 1st hubby had sent him to me. (That’s a story in and of itself) My heart goes out to you. I wish social media had been available when I was grief stricken. May God bless and keep you. Unless you have lost a love, you don’t have any idea!!!!!!!!!!!

  16. WOW. A friend pointed me in the direction of this post and boy do I owe both of you HUGE thanks. I’m a bereaved mom, and though our losses are different, people say the same thoughtless, often cruel, things. Your responses are spot-on perfect and hilarious. I’d like to copy each on an index card, have a pack at the ready (hanging on a string around my neck?) and hand it silently to the offender. Three days ago someone compared the loss of my 20-year-old boy to her kitty (her word). You hear about nonsense stories like this, but you don’t imagine they could possibly be true. A bereaved mom told me that at the scene of her daughter’s death a policeman said, “It could have been worse.” A week after my son Danny died a friend phoned, and offered this gem: Give it a month. This may sound like the most heartless awful thing possible to say, but actually it was a gift, because when I got off the phone, I told my 17-year-old and we laughed our heads off. It may be at the top of our Best Worst Advice Ever list. I bet a lot of people reading this post will attribute these stories to once-in-a-million encounters with rare unfeeling dunderheads. Unfortunately, Kelley describes the norm. We are such a death-phobic society. People want to pretend nothing has happened and quickly explain away the loss and pain. Thank you, Kelley.

  17. It sucks that you had to write this and sucks that I’m here at 3am reading this, but I thank you because it means so much to me.

  18. Wonderful honest post. I didn’t lose my husband but I did lose my 27 year old child to cancer. People have said the same stupid painful things to me in their efforts to comfort me. This post should be handed to every mourner who comes to pay respects at the funerals of spouses and children.

  19. A fellow wid posted this on the ywbb board, and i wanted to tell you that what you wrote is amazing and awesome. Thank you for speaking for all us widows out there.

  20. Kelly
    The talent that you have…and don is proud of you. This should be printed and mailed to ever widow to give out to this f..c…g world. All thoses things were said to me everyone last one. My fav is god needed an angel. Yea why? Kenny was my angel. I didn’t want to share him. I’m not happy that I met you. Because by meeting u it meant we lost two very big loves in our lives….but it happened so I met you…gods plan? But thru the bad I am happy I met you, you always bring a laugh to my heart and no one has been able to do that since Kenny died. Thank you Kelly, your one special women and I love you

  21. so true. My partner died 8 weeks ago today. If anyone else says to me ” at least you have some wonderful memories” I may possibly punch them in the face. Because memories do not make up for him not being here, and I am only 40 so we should have had another 30 years of making memories together and, you know what, he didn’t have to die for me to remember what we had done. It is so unfair and I miss him so much.

  22. Hi Kelly! I want to write nicely put but seeing the emotional humor in the post i have no words. With the social situations I live within I could have never said all the above. But when I decided to write these in my blog I found your article. So I linked your article in my blog. If you have any objections please let me know.

    You can find it here: http://perfectwingshomelife.blogspot.in/2014/02/wondered-what-to-say-to-someone-who-is.html

    Thank you so much for writing this. Loved it thoroughly.

  23. This is a great article. My husband died suddenly of a massive heart attack Jan 15, 2014, while we were in our yard and he was gone before the ambulance could get there.He was 62 and had just retired and we had gotten an RV and boat to enjoy the retirement we had worked so hard for. Yes we were married longer than you, 40 years but I still have the shock and the anger, hurt and just plain loneliness. I have heard all of these things and more. Keep up the good writing. You usually say just what is in my heart and on my mind!!

  24. I love this article and man oh man can I relate to it. I’ve heard so many of these things. The one that bothered me the most is ” I know exactly how you feel because my Grandmother ( or other relative ) passed away. I’ve lost both parents, Grandparents, two stepchildren, a brother, many friends and I could go on and it wasn’t easy but it didn’t compare to losing my healthy husband in an unexpected car accident. Don’t people realize that it’s your spouse that’s the one there with you every single day to count on for everything?? They don’t know how I feel, They don’t have a dam clue! I will never get over it. Time doesn’t heal all wounds, Time just makes it more real.
    Thank you for writing this.

  25. Thank you Kelly so very much for this. My husband died 21 months ago and it still feels like yesterday. I am so very miserable and it just seems to be getting worse. For the first 6 months I got tremendous support and then “POOF!” People disappeared as if being transported to another planet. A minister asked me what helped me most after Frank died and I said just having people be there to listen. Also, let’s not forget that there are those people who fear it’s contagious – what happened to my Frank and me could happen to them (oh gosh, and it will!) – so can’t get too close to that feeling. I can’t believe this pain. I can’t believe my tear ducts still work. I can’t believe he won’t walk through the door. You are so amazing for saying exactly how I feel and many others also. I don’t know you or your husband but from what you’ve written the two of you must have been something else.

    With love and deep understanding
    Janet

  26. thank you.. tha k you so much!!! i lost my husband too…i almost wish i could walj around witb this hanging off me….

  27. This came to me 2 weeks after my baby brother was buried. The loneliness is palpable. The dumb ass who ran a stop sign not as an error but driving her 2 children in a car known to not have brakes is probably drinking a beer somewhere as she is free. Not in jail not hurt. But back to the subject at hand is how bad people make you feel. How lonely most let you be. My tears make THEM uncomfortable, how dare me. He was 42 he had 3 daughters 18, 14 and 10. They have an idiot for a mother. He was their normal. He was their rock. He was such a huge presence in my life, but how dare I cry. Thanks for the opportunity to vent. As a former hospice nurse maybe I get the need for support, maybe it should be a required subject in school since parents aren’t teaching it. If I followed the example I had I would say all those wrong things. Thank the good Lord I’m a rebel.

  28. It’s the reaction by hospital staff I cannot get over and move past. I had not asked for a chaplain nor did I wanted one – nobody asked, but there he was. On the worst day of my life he planted himself, cornered me and asked:”Do you believe in God?” he pressured me to reply. He asked my religious affiliation, he looked appalled (I am secular) He was a devout catholic who could not understand how anyone could be of another background faith. He and the remaining physician implied that I had not taken care of my husband and that my husband had not taken care of himself. Nothing was further from the truth. It was a C.Y.A. ploy. Despite being hooked up and monitored by machines and nurse my husband somehow had gotten out of bed, fallen to the floor and could not be revived. This happened after nurse and other staff insisted that we leave my husband’s hospital room like “Right NOW” It’s been a few years and I am standing still.

  29. My husband died 3weeks ago. I’m trying to find someone I can relate to. He didn’t “pass”. He is not in gods arms. He is dead and I miss him every moment. Thank you for posting what I feel. I am happy I found you. I will keep reading and hoping there is an answer someday. Until then I am confused and lost

  30. Fantastic, amazing & thank you for saying what most of us think and feel. You are a star and made me laugh with your comments.

  31. The things said to me repeatedly were “it’s your karma” and ” at least you weren’t married very long” also my “strong support system” blew away in the wind as ashes… But after a while I got happy again enough to be in the lives of my fair weathered friends. Oh people also said I was bitter all the time, well duh, my husband just died, should I be turning cartwheels? It’s been ten years this year and I wish I had someone to talk to about it but I don’t because people won’t let me bring it back up. Americans are stupid arses about grief.

  32. I’m sure at one time I was guilty of one if not all of them. But then it happened to me and my husband passed away shortly after our 14th wedding anniversary. He was diagnosed with a rare form of kidney cancer and passed 5 months almost to the day of the diagnosis. We were told upfront what it was and resistant to treatment. How do you tell your kids this? We waited till He decided not to have treatment to tell them. I was criticized for being so open with our children, but as a teacher and a mother, I think the worst thing you could do is lie to them (ages 13 and 11 at the time). We didn’t hide anything from them. It was hard – still is – and I still hear all those “comments” and u especially love the judgie comments from “family”

  33. You are right on target with this. I’m a young widow. I lost my husband summer of 2014 from a freak accident. I get annoyed with what people say. I’m not trying to be mean but some people say some stupid stuff. I even shared this on my Facebook. Thank you so much for this and it made me laugh because it’s exactly how I feel and you expressed it very well!

  34. Hi,

    You are so right. I couldn’t help but share this on Facebook. I lost my Mr back in July 2015. I was only 23. It’s so fucking shit. Especially with the whole ‘you will find someone else’ crap. I don’t want someone else. He was my soulmate. Who else am I going to have lively debates about geopolitics with at 4am, punctuated by soul eating orgasms? Who else will …? I’m sure you know what I mean.

    I’m so sorry for your loss. I don’t know you and didn’t know him, but he sounds like he was an amazing person and would be proud of the way your blog has helped other people. Your blog has helped me realise though I am now alone, I’m not alone in the pain and discombobulation this experience brings. THANK YOU!

    All the best,
    Kate

  35. Dear Kelley, your post is a 100% true, honest, sad, and hilarious at the same time. I usually cry when I read widows’ posts or my own writings about my loss and grief, but the way you narrowed it all down made me laugh out loud. You are a beautiful person and I am sure your husband is very proud of you.

  36. Hi Kelley. This actually has given me much encouragement. Last year in February I lost my fiance (or as I call him my husband). We had a great future planned but when he died, it felt that he took it with him. I’ve had to adjust to being alone and I still to this day talk about him and celebrate our anniversaries. I’ve had people tell me that I need to move on, and that has made me feel like I’m failing with living my life. But after reading this and being able to relate, I now feel that I’m actually doing what I need to do for me and my grief. Thank you for this. I am defiantly going to be sharing this.
    Deanne

  37. I. Love. This. I love it. I wish I wrote it. It is so beyond perfect I wish I could love it more. Thank you for writing it. My amazing soulmate and husband, Howie, died November 7, 2012…and everything you’ve written here is so true. I hope you are in a wonderful place now, or at the least, a place where you can remember the color of your husband’s eyes and the way he made you laugh and your favorite things to do at Christmas and the way his hand felt in yours, before you remember any part of his death and the days that followed. Sometimes this is the greatest wish we can have for ourselves. Thank you, thank you again for this post.

  38. I am a widow and I thank you so much for this message. You put my feelings into words! By the way, I am Christian, but I understand and have felt the same anger and pain as you have. And, my beloved church family, especially the pastors and their wives, are as clueless about the loss of a spouse as anyone! During a recent conversation, when I was asked a lot of pointed and naive questions by married women I gave them very honest answers and I said that each of them as a couple will have to face what I am facing someday. Their visual fear was depressing and frustrating and more isolating. One even hugged me afterward and she was seeking comfort for herself, not me!

  39. I really enjoyed your article. I honestly don’t have much of a clue how you feel. We lost a 7 month old baby but this does not compare at all. 5 years ago but I suppose the feeling never goes away.

      • Thanks. Our baby died about 35 ears ago. I was referring to your loss 5 years ago. At our babies viewing I picked out All the people who had lost a baby before they met us. Strange. I couldn’t do it now. Again I wish you the best!

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