I found this post online after I had a chance encounter with someone who identified himself as a widower.
I’m posting this here because I feel as though I could have improved the communication on my side. I feel as though I should have been more supportive and, well, aware. Even with the knowledge I have about grief and loss, I was still hesitant about what to say and how to approach the matter.
I am not sure where the source material originates from, but if anyone identifies it I will give credit to the original poster.
An open note to that individual, as I won’t encounter him again: I am so very sorry for the pain you feel and grieve. There is no possible way for me to even fathom how that must be, day in and day out. I hope you find the support and strength that you need to endure. And you will endure. I do believe that.
7 TIPS TO HELP A WIDOW/WIDOWER
1. Please do stay connected. There is already a huge hole in our universe. Do not assume we need ‘space’ to grieve.
2. Please do say you are sorry for our loss. We would rather you tell us you do not know what to say than tell us your story of loosing your friend or even close relative We may be able to listen to your story later, but not now. Do not tell us you understand.
3. Do call and ask specifically, “Can we go for a walk together? May I run errands for you? Meet you for coffee?” Do not say, “Call me if you need anything.”
4. Do refer to our spouse’s acts or words – serious or humorous. We are so comforted by knowing our spouse has not been forgotten. Do not leave our spouses out of the conversation.
5. Invite us to anything. We may decline but will appreciate being asked. Do not assume we no longer want to participate in couples events.
6. Do accept that we are where we are. Marriages are brief, long, healthy, dysfunctional, intense, remote. Death comes suddenly or in tiny increments over years. Again our experiences are so different, as are we. So is our journey through grief. Do not assume we go through the outlined grief process ‘by the book.’
7. Walk the talk. Do not make ‘conversation only’ offers. “We’ll call you and we’ll go out to dinner.” — and then not follow up. Yes, we are sensitive in our grieving, but we’d rather hear you say, “I’ve been thinking of you,” than make a ‘conversation only’ offer.