Confessions of a Widow

I’ve found that there’s many aspects of widowhood that people don’t discuss, maybe because they’re too taboo or because people are self-conscious about them. Hey, I’m even uncomfortable with speaking about some of these things. I’m worried what people may think about me, and I know I shouldn’t be worried because how dare someone judge me, having no idea what I’ve gone through. Yet, I am still posting this anonymously…because I don’t want to be judged.

Confession #1: For a while, I wished that I could trade places with my husband.

I always found myself thinking about how unfair it is that my husband had to die. He was such a kind, good man. He was devoted to his career and his faith, and he would consistently give up sleep to make sure he was putting 100% of his energy into projects at work and was still attending church every day. He was the best father to his children: He tucked them into bed every night, and he never missed a single soccer game. He was incredibly loyal to everyone in his life and would do anything for them, even if they were just acquaintances.

I, on the other hand, am not as “perfect”, especially not after my husband passed. I try hard at my job, and I love my children, but I sometimes miss church and I often cancel plans with friends and family. I’m not nearly as reliable as my husband always was, and I don’t possess the same level of dedication to anything (except for my children).

So, why was he cruelly taken away from me? If one of us had to die, why wasn’t I the one who was chosen? For a while, I had a rocky relationship with my faith because I couldn’t understand why my God would take away such a great man. I slowly began understanding that it was simply his time, and maybe he was taken away early due to good behavior— kind of like criminals getting “early release” from prison. Maybe God took him because he wanted him in Heaven sooner, because he earned the right to live in paradise.

These intrusive thoughts about “why couldn’t it have been me instead” are much less frequent than they used to be, and I partially attribute that to strengthening my faith. Religion isn’t for everyone— if you’re religious, great, and if you’re not, also great— just find something that you believe in to ground you.

Confession #2: I feel guilty about starting a new relationship.

It’s been many years since my husband passed. Decades, even. My friends and family are trying to get me to “find a new man”. I’ve gone through many stages. For the first few years, there was absolutely no way that I was going to start dating again. I was too heartbroken and couldn’t even look at another man. After a few years, I began toying with the idea— I was lonely, and wanted someone who I could vent to after a hard day, or laugh with during a funny movie. So at this point, I signed up for an online dating app.

I felt kind of ashamed, because I felt like people looked down upon online dating, but how was I supposed to meet a man? Especially considering the circumstances, I wanted to warn them about my “emotional baggage”, if you will, to give them a chance to escape if they felt like my situation was “too much” for them to handle.

I found a few matches that had similar interests and were very handsome, but I was still disinterested for some reason. Every time I met a new man in person, I found myself making excuses not to pursue a relationship. Even when I found a perfectly suitable match that loved classical music and dancing as much as me, I always found something that I convinced myself I didn’t like about their personality.

I would think to myself: “Oh, he suggested we go to this restaurant instead of asking me first. He must be bossy” or “He doesn’t have any pets or children, so he must not be nurturing” or “He called me the morning after our first date to ask how I slept, so he must be clingy”. The list goes on.

I think I’ve been making excuses because I feel guilty about moving on, and I’m self conscious about what others will think. I mean really, what will people think when they find out that me, a widow, has forgotten about her husband and began dating a new man?! Of course, I would never forget about my late husband. I will always love him, and look fondly at our relationship.

Confession #3: Some people go through a stage of regret.

I began regretting that I dated and married my late husband. I loved him so very much, but I started to think about how my life would be different if I had never dated him. I wouldn’t have become at 42-year-old widow. I would never have gone through that tremendous amount of pain and grief. I could have avoided this terrible event if I had just never gotten married, or if I married my high school sweetheart.

Of course, rationally I don’t feel this way. These are just intrusive thoughts that my brain decided to think. I wouldn’t trade my reality for anything if that meant I would have never gotten the chance to love my husband.

These thoughts only came up in the very beginning. I was wildly depressed and couldn’t process the pain. But I want people to know that they’re not alone, and they’re not horrible people for wanting to avoid the pain.

Confession #4: I enjoy life again.

This isn’t exactly a “confession”, but for the first few years, I would feel guilty whenever I would smile or laugh or feel genuine happiness. Again, I think I was worried about what other people would think. Is it expected of me to always be in a state of depression and lingering sadness? Of course my friends and family want to see me happy again, but what will strangers think?

Now I’m proud to feel happy. I feel empowered and strong because I was able to continue moving in life. I have goals, and I’m conquering them.

Marissa Martin