young widow

This Post originally appeared on the website, Young, Widowed & Dating. YW&D is dedicated to helping the young, widowed community
Almost everyone I know who's tried online dating complains that it's a major time suck. And it takes time to screen all those messages, compose responses and then arrange to meet up. I've wasted so much time on lengthy email exchanges, sending messages to prepare for meetings that never happened.
In 1981, I went to my first fraternity party at UC Berkeley and danced to "Rebel Rebel" by David Bowie. I even had on a red jumpsuit a little like the one he wore in the video. I was a freshman at Mills College in Oakland.
In the two and a half years since my husband died, I thought I'd feel better about my life without him. But I don't. Especially during the holiday season when I feel my loss even more piercingly than usual. And having to say that everything's going great just makes it worse.
Two and a half years after my husband George died of cancer, I am still mired in shame and regret because I was such a poor caregiver to him. Images of me angry, yelling at him, continue to haunt me.
I was with my late husband for 32 years. After he died, I planned to melt into my sofa in a haze of dark chocolate gelato and Nicholas Sparks movies. I'd be the woman in the bourbon-stained bathrobe buying the giant, economy Bombay Sapphire gin and twelve Butterfingers at Bevmo. But I "got out there." Too much.
A good therapist is a wonderful thing: They know that there is nothing about you that's wrong. They know their role is to listen and validate, to come up alongside you and provide support.
Everyone has a picture of their life as they see it. Certain parts of your life are a bigger part of the picture. For me, the biggest parts were my roles as wife, mother, and teacher. I have a definite "before" and "after" in my life.
It's true that unexpected death messes with your world in a way few things can. Adding to this list, or creating a whole new one of your own, might give you just the tiniest roadmap inside a wholly disorienting time.
The stages of grief were not meant to tell you what you feel, what you should feel, and when exactly you should feel it. They were not meant to dictate whether you are doing your grief "correctly" or not. They were meant to normalize a deeply not-normal time.
Companion yourself. Care for yourself. Listen. Reach out where it feels good to reach, curl in when that is what you need. Make this season as much of a comfort to you as you can. And when it is not a comfort, know we're here. All these other grieving introverts: We get you. We understand.
We feel the need to say something, to acknowledge what has happened. Because dealing with death is awkward and uncomfortable, sometimes, people will say some strange things.