Changing the Conversation: Talking is Healthy

Is it healthy for a widow/widower to talk about their late spouse – months or years after their death?

Most people would agree that it is healthy and expected that a widow/widower will talk about their late spouse. At the same time, such talk seems to make hearers uncomfortable. Friends and family will even assume that the widow/widower is stuck, not “moving on”, and still actively grieving.

Hmm. Well, I suppose all that could be true. Or, it could be that our late spouse was a significant part of our life and so many memories and experiences are wrapped up in our life together. Of course we share – it’s part of who we are. It does not, however, mean we are not continuing to journey forward – growing, learning, experiencing new things, and even excited and looking forward to new things.

I find a bit of a double standard when it comes to how others view grief. For the loss of a parent, sibling, child, friend, or other family member, when someone sharing gets choked up and emotional over their loss, regardless of time, people are understanding – it’s just par for the course. That kind of grief is acceptable. However, when a widow/widower gets emotional when sharing, the atmosphere suddenly goes stale and feels stifled. Listeners shift their feet, looking and acting rather uncomfortable, and they speak in a patronizing manner. The overriding thought is that the widow/widower is stuck in their grief and hasn’t “gotten over it”, yet.

In case no one has said this enough – WE DO NOT GET OVER THE DEATH OF OUR SPOUSE and WE DON’T MOVE ON! We do move forward. We do grow and learn and heal and live life. Yes, some get stuck. But most heal and journey forward; the grief forever a part of us, but not crippling us forever.

Unfortunately, most of us have also learned that most people don’t want to hear our stories anymore because it makes them uncomfortable talking about a dead person, and they don’t know what to say or do. Oh, for the love of support, care, and integrity – GET OVER IT! Grow through your discomfort and start embracing the fact that death is an everyday occurrence; talking about it won’t jinx you. Widowhood is not contagious. Wouldn’t you want your spouse or children to feel comfortable talking about you, sharing stories like everyone else, and still feel embraced and accepted and loved; not patronized? Then do that for the widow/widower, and their children, in your life.

Be a part of Changing the Conversation by embracing and participating in conversations about your friends and family who have died. Let widows/widowers talk and share without being shoved in the “stuck” mindset. Let them share their life. If you keep walking away or patronizing them, they’ll make the decision to journey forward without you. Check the double standard and #loveonpurpose.

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