Elaine Williams ©2008

Beginning a life as a widow was not an easy one for me, and whether you want it or not, it is a new life. Strange, alien, different from anything you have ever known. Many days I resisted any type of change, whether it was physical or emotional. I felt too tired dealing with the day-to-day stresses to think about allowing one more thing to change, no matter how small.

Of course, you can only float for so long avoiding the changes. Your life has turned around drastically and maybe even in small ways after the loss of a spouse, but eventually you have to acknowledge the changes as they take root. Once a widow, your life is never the same.

Some of the obvious changes occur as follows:

1. Incomes can be halved, and in some cases, become nonexistent with the death of a spouse.

2. Tax filing status, and the tax implications. I found it best to have an accountant to consult for income tax preparation.

3. Socially. You’re no longer part of a couple. Sometimes other married couples aren’t sure where you fit into the social circle. At times, you’re not sure where you fit in anymore. There is always an adjustment and this may possibly mean letting go of old friends and being open to meeting new friends.

4. Ecomically. The bills are still coming regularly, despite death. If you have children, it can be especially difficult dealing with this part of your life. Young children may need daycare, older children may be in college, and the in between is you’re still buying food, clothing, and the everyday essentials for living. Your children will be eligible for social security until they’re eighteen and in high school, and you may receive social security benefits for yourself until the youngest child is sixteen. Even though I had four years to prepare for the time I would no longer receive that help from social security, it was still a daunting prospect to think of my income dropping again.

My income halved when my husband died, and then it halved again when social security stopped. However, a little creativity and planning can go a long way.

5. Family. The family unit is minus one. As the surviving spouse, we do the best we can, being mother/father combined. I tried to keep things as normal and rational as possible for my children and myself. Some days were easier than others.
6. Physically. Given the economics and almost certain changes to lifestyle, this can be the most taxing challenge. You need to take care of yourself and deal with any stress in your life in the kindest way possible. Otherwise you may have difficulty taking care of anything else.

7. Emotionally. My husband’s death, the extreme feeling of loss, threw me into an emotional tailspin. Some days felt like a virtual roller coaster, and I hate roller coasters. Everyone processes their grief experience in their own way and time. Don’t try to rush into any major decisions, especially in the first 12 months of loss.

8. Support. I found it beneficial to accept help from outside sources; family, friends, grief support groups, therapists. Support, in any form, will ultimately help in the grief process. Keeping your fears, feelings and emotions suppressed can serve to make you ill and perhaps delay the entire grief process. And it is a process.

So move slowly through your life as it is now. I recall times I wanted to rush ahead to get through the terrible feelings, the fears, the tears, the feeling of abandonment. I am four years into this journey, and some days it was excruciating, while other days it felt okay.

In the end, I learned to fully embrace my fears, so I could then kick them to the curb and freely be who I needed to be. A woman newly evolved

Author's Bio: 

Elaine is a writer across various genres, published in women’s fiction, but also enjoys writing children’s books, self-help and screenplays. She is a mother of three boys and when life saw her a widow at 47, she eventually picked herself up and wrote about her experience. The resulting book, A Journey Well Taken: Life After Loss will be available June 2008, www.ajourneywelltaken.com