My husband passed when he was 39, after we had been married for 15 years. He was involved in a tragic accident during a snowy day in February. The roads were icy, and he was going a little too fast in his 2007 Subaru Forester. I was there, in the car with him, when we crashed head-on with a large u-haul truck.
The memory is a blur, yet somehow the details are burned into my memory. I crawled out of the shattered glass, and some woman in a yellow coat ran up to me asking if there was anybody else in the car. I was barely able to whisper out the words “my husband” before I swiftly sank back into unconsciousness.
I woke up in the hospital a few hours later. They had performed surgery on my leg because my femur had basically been pulverized by the impact from the accident. I was expecting to see George sitting at my bedside when I awoke, but he was no where to be seen. I pressed the “call nurse” button and anxiously awaited her arrival.
When she got there, I told her “My husband George was in a car accident with me. Is he here? Is he safe"?” Her expression instantly gave away what I already expected but didn’t want to admit to myself: he had passed in the accident.
I started bawling and screaming in my hospital room. Too many thoughts began running through my head. I didn’t get to tell him that I loved him— what if he was still alive after the impact? I could’ve told him how much he meant to me, or kissed him goodbye. Now I would have to go home to an empty house. How will I ever be the same person? How can I continue sleeping in our bed without him there?
1 month later, and I was feeling numb and emotionless. I was deeply depressed, but I didn’t feel much else other than hopelessness. I would scroll down my Facebook newsfeed and a cute video of puppies would pop-up. I would feel absolutely nothing— not even a hint of a smirk would cross my face. I would read about other tragedies in the news, and I couldn’t even empathize with the people involved because I had already lost the one person who meant the most to me. I was bitter and felt like other people should be forced to suffer just like me.
3 months later, and things are starting to transition towards being normal again. Nothing was the same as before, but things were…stable. I no longer randomly burst into tears throughout the day. I returned to work and got back into a routine.
Something that I didn’t expect was that I would begin to distance myself from my friends. My friends weren’t just my friends, they were our friends. I began dreading going to dinner with them because I would have to sit through fake conversations as they uncomfortable avoided any topic relating to George. They were all couples, too, and I started to feel like I was the odd-one-out.
I stopped going to their get-togethers. Soon after, I began getting invites less and less frequently, until I stopped hearing from them entirely. I started to feel like I was becoming reclusive— I went to work, came home, and went to sleep. I didn’t talk to anyone outside of work, except for when I occasionally spoke with family members on the phone.
The loneliness really began setting in as the holidays rolled around, because everyone was doing seasonal couple-activities. My sister and her family were going on a cruise for Christmas, and this meant I would be alone on the holiday. Without the support system that I used to have, I started to cry more often again.
One day I was browsing Facebook and a widow group popped up. I scrolled through the posts about grief, solitude and learning to love again until I saw an event. The members were planning a Christmas dinner together. I don’t know what led me to message the administrator of the group, but I decided to ask if I could attend.
She quickly messaged back, telling me that they would be glad to have me over. She asked me about my story; where was I from, what was my career, when had I become widowed? We had a long conversation, and this was the first time I had truly opened up. It wasn’t directly face-to-face, but I was finally telling somebody about what was going through my head. I think I felt safe to share everything with her because she understood. She had lost her husband, too, and she knew the feelings of sadness, grief and spite too well.
I attended their Christmas dinner. At the beginning, they asked me about my story and they each briefly mentioned theirs, but for the rest of the dinner, we spoke about other things. Our interests and hobbies, new TV shows, fun festivals and events, and just generally enjoyed each others company.
I left feeling refreshed, like I was given new purpose. My career and family didn’t complete me, and I had always felt like part of me was missing after my husband passed, but meeting with my group made me feel more complete.
I’m writing this to encourage people to make new friends. Other widows and widowers understand your pain, and in my opinion, it’s much easier to open up to them.
Widow Care has monthly support and social events, which can be found on our calendar.