WSN: Widower to Widower by Fred Colby
Remember Frankie Valli’s hit song, “Big Girls Don’t Cry?” We can all probably sing a few verses. Well, like you, I learned the hard way that as widowers, big boys do cry! And it is a shock to our system.
Nothing can be more disturbing for sons and daughters than to see their father cry, especially full out sobbing! Friends, family, workmates, and children can often become fearful and at a total loss of how to respond when a widower breaks down in tears.
Those of us in the business of serving those who have lost loved ones may have become too used to this expression of grief, and our responses may become too rote. We may not see how painful and disruptive to relationships this transformation might be for
both the widower and their family or friends.
Most often, these family and friends are grieving too, but they may still have trouble relating to the deep grief the widower feels. This grieving is made all the more traumatic because men are not used to expressing their sorrow, fear, and emotional responses. Now all of a sudden, it is pouring out of them unfettered.
Children are used to seeing their Dad as a strong and stable figure during past family crises’ so to now see them broken down in their grief and unable to help themselves can be very scary and disturbing.
Often this reaction, paired together with pre-existing family issues, can cause destructive changes in relationships that cannot be repaired. Such occurrences are particularly true of merged families where second marriages have brought together two sets of children, siblings, parents, and grandparents. Bonding these two groups together over the years may not have occurred so that these bonds may be easily broken.
Too often, I hear from widowers who have been abandoned by their children and relatives, especially those of merged families. These can often devolve into outright hostilities and attempts to steal what remaining resources the widower has left. Men, in particular, have a hard time with this as they may not used to turning to others to ask for help.
What can we do as widowers when faced with these challenges? Here are some suggestions:
· Be alert to recognizing when issues emerge between family members. Don’t ignore them.
· Find a comforting and safe place to express your fears and concerns (e.g., grief groups, counselor office, church support groups, or that special friend or family member who you trust completely).
· Consider inviting your family members to join you in some therapy sessions to work things out together.
· Research area resources that might help you to survive the grief and challenges ahead, such as area hospices, grief groups, grief counselors, church counseling programs, online support groups (see https://www.fredcolby.com/resourceslinks for a list of resources).
· Alert the authorities if you are being abused or taken advantage of by those around you in any way. Don’t wait until the money, furniture, car, or other items are all gone.
· Read Fred Colby’s Widower to Widower or Herb Knoll’s The Widower’s Journey. (Fred’s autographed book now discounted 20% + $1 shipping). There are helpful ideas in both that can help you through this.
You can also go to the following link to books, blogs, and resources designed to help every widower to find answers and support: https://www.fredcolby.com/
© Copyright 2020 Fred Colby
All rights reserved
Fred Colby is the author of Widower to Widower, which is available on Amazon.com. 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.