You’re the Boss Now?

WSN-MO: Widower to Widower with Fred Colby

Remember when you were young, married, and full of misperceptions about your life and marriage? Previously, in our more male-dominated society, you might have believed that as the husband, you were the “boss” in the family!

Ha! Many of us eventually found what a joke that belief was! We often learned that making solo decisions without consulting the wife came at one’s own risk. Foolishly, we may even continue to make such decisions only to find out later what a big mistake it was. So, we gradually learned to work together with our wives as a team and to concede certain areas to her leadership. This could include how best to raise the kids, planning vacations, designing the back yard, household budgeting, maintaining friendships and familial relationships, taking care of holiday arrangements, preparing meals, choosing a new home, and sometimes being the primary breadwinner. For each of us, the areas of concession might differ, but in most cases yielding control in at least some of these areas was critical to making our lives and families work.

So, now fast forward to when you lost your wife. Now what? Suddenly we are the only boss over all matters, and we may be unprepared for assuming the responsibilities that she handled so well. It is overwhelming enough dealing with her death and its many personal ramifications, but now you must fill in these gaps left by her absence.

Over 50% of us may experience a severe health challenge during the first year after losing our spouse. Is this just because of the added stress due to her loss? Or is it also because we don’t have our “boss” around to nag us into going to the doctor when we first exhibit symptoms? Being responsible for our health is often one of the areas we urgently need to assume ownership.

You may also have to learn how to manage a checkbook, take care of your household, do the shopping, maintain relationships with your family and friends, learn how to cook again, take care of legal matters, and more.

Many widowers will find themselves overwhelmed by it all, and just throw in the towel, allowing dirty dishes, laundry, weeds, stale food, bills, and broken relationships to pile up to a point where it will appear impossible to clean it all up. The level of a widower’s ability to handle such tasks may lead to isolation, discouragement, lack of self-confidence, diminished quality of life, and even depression. The worse it gets, the harder it is to pull out of it.

How do you fix it? Literally by cleaning one dish at a time, pulling one weed at a time, paying one bill at a time, and repairing one broken relationship at a time. In other words, like any major challenge you have faced in your life, you have to make the decision that you will confront this problem by starting with the first step, followed by another and another. 

In most cases, this often should include asking others for help! You might be surprised by how willing others are to help if allowed to do so and how good you will feel after they help you. This might include family, friends, therapists, grief groups, church friends, and neighbors.

Once you commit to accepting your new role as “the boss” in all things, you may find that your healing will progress, along with your newfound self-identity and feeling of self-worth. Eventually, this healing process will allow you to move forward and to find a new purpose in life.

© Copyright 2020 Fred Colby

All rights reserved


Fred Colby is the author of Widower to Widower, which is available on You can find Fred’s column appearing here on WSN-MO every other Tuesday. Widower to Widower is available through your local bookstore, my website, and Amazon. Buy Widower to Widower through Amazon. (If living in Canada go to Widower to Widower – Amazon-Canada) See Testimonies and Reviews of Widower to Widower. Website: Fred Colby, Author

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