Dear Friend of a widow

I am a widow. I am friends with widows and a widower.

The aim of this page is to let me, as a widow, walk you through how best to help your friend. 

This is a guide for you. 

Dear friend of the widow/widower

Here are some ideas that may  just help you to help your friend. Just remember there is no right or wrong answers. None of these are written in stone. Just ideas. It is support for you, so that you can help your friend in the best way. 

  • To help your friend, you need to accept that the situation will be uncomfortable to you. That’s not changing. If you are to help, embrace that discomfort.
  • If you don’t know what to say, it’s better to say exactly that! Tell your friend “I don’t know what to say, but I’m here” You’ll never know the complete sadness she/he is feeling, but your friend knows you have respected he/she enough to admit that.
  • As a friend, you will be grieving too. But please don’t use the line, ‘grieving is not a competition!’ It’s insulting to a widow/widower to be honest, and not what anyone needs to hear.
  • Don’t say to your friend “ring me if you want something” – they won’t. Trust me. They will barely remember you’re there. They won’t remember you offered. Instead, call and say, ‘I’m coming’. Turn up with some meals. Sit on the sofa, let them know you’re there with no obligations. Make your friend a cup of tea, even if they don’t drink it. It’s simply the fact that you’re there. Thats what matters. 
  • Don’t tell your friend ‘Don’t do that yet’; ‘you can clear clothes later’; ‘it’s too early to think about that now’. Newsflash friends!!  It’s never too early. If your friend lost someone that day and needs to clear out the wardrobe, it’s ok. It’s what’s right for them.
  • This one is a big one. Don’t try and fix the grief. It can’t be fixed. You want to see your friend happy again and that is the most normal thing. But as beautiful  a gesture this is, it isn’t going to help. This loss is irreplaceable. It will be something they have to carry forever. There will be good and bad days. 
  • Your friends grief is theirs to own. They are carrying a rucksack of grief that they never have the luxury of putting down, sometimes it feels lighter, that’s their good day. Let them talk it through.

Please don’t tell your friend that it is healthy to “move on”. They will never move on. They’ll move forward, yes but never move on. How can you move on from a person you’ve loved, had kids with or shared life with?

When you socialise with your widowed friend, if there is a group of people that are going to be there, let them know. When you’re newly widowed, there is nothing worse than being blindsided by a group of people that you weren’t expecting. 

Equally with socialising, ask your widowed friend. Let them make the decision whether to attend. Don’t make it for them.

If or when, your widowed friend says no to a night out/in, don’t take it personally. Its not you, it’s the situation.

What your friend is going through is normal for them. There is no rule book for this. Clearing out their loved ones clothes after a week is fine. not wanting to be in their house forever is fine.  Its ok feel wanting to talk about their husband even if others don’t.   

My final thing to say…..remember that being widowed has no ticking clock. Its not over in 6 months, 1 year, 2 years, 10 years. They will always be widowed.  Yes, you lost a friend too, but your life and world continues. Their whole world has changed and it will never be the same again. 

Now, every situation is different of course but the bottom line is to be there for your friend as much as you can. 

Be the person that they don’t realise they need. 

“For me, a day without writing, is like a barista without coffee” 

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