Widower: Experiences All the Same??

WSN-MO: Widower to Widower with Fred Colby 

One thing I have learned since my wife passed over three years ago, is that much in my experience has common elements with that of other widowers, but we each also have some very unique components in our individual journeys.

Discovering our common elements provides comfort and encouragement to us while processing our grief, while the uniqueness of our experiences teaches us to allow for room to adapt and grow in new and even rewarding ways as we move forward.

The following piece by a fellow widower provided me with comfort as I identified with many of his experiences and emotional responses, while also seeing how we each found unique ways to survive the experience.

Submitted by Don B.

Early in 2015, I lost my wife, Carol, after 46 years of marriage. To say I was lost would be a total understatement. We were not only lovers and best friends, but we were also a team that essentially grew up together, as we married while I was still in college.

It was not only losing HER, and everything that she meant to me, it was the loss of the equal partner on the team I had been with for so long. We made every decision together; we enjoyed every experience together, and we faced each of life’s challenges together.

Shifting from the position of being one of “US,” to simply a “party of one” has been difficult; and it still is, even three years later. The grief, the pain, the loneliness… they all live on. And yet, I have arrived at a position where I am thankful. 

Thankful that we shared our lives together as long as we did. Thankful for how she instilled so many characteristics within me, that had not been there before we met. Thankful that we were unified during the challenges of raising children. Thankful we were able to enjoy as much time together with our grandchildren as we did.

Am I sad about all the years that I will be forced to live on my own without her? Of course! But I realized early on in this long journey that any time lost to feeling sorry for myself was time I would be stealing from living a life that celebrates all we had together, and from telling stories about Carol so that memories of her will live on beyond my own time on this earth.

While I will always wish we had more time together, I will never forget that we enjoyed A LOT.

And memories of those times always put a smile on my face…even if they bring a few tears to my eyes. 

# # #

I count Don as a friend, one on the same journey as me and many others in my Men’s Grief Group. I identified with his sense of loss, regrets over becoming a “party of one,” and his discovery of how “gratitude” could help us heal and to re-engage with life again in a meaningful way. Don and I also had many differences in how we processed our grief, which made our experiences unique and yet helpful to others when shared.

So, as you look around you on the Widowers Support Network, don’t try to measure your progress against another’s, but rather, look for elements in their journey that resonate for you. And then you can explore what you can take away from their lessons learned, activities, or steps-taken as you carve out your own unique path.


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