When I started this book project (click the ” a mile in her shoes” tab for details) I imagined spending time in a Hijab, talking about schooling choices, testing the crunchy granola waters and finding out whether all tattooed people have been to prison and ride Harley’s. (Not so much. Many are art collectors… who knew?)
I had no idea that I’d end up a single widowed mom of a teenager. These are shoes I didn’t choose. I never thought this would be my life. But, it is. So I thought I’d share a few things I’ve learned from these first few miles I’ve been walking.
- Mommas like to introduce themselves with the holy trio- “how long have you been Married? Kids names and ages. ? ” I never noticed how many times I’ve answered or asked those questions. Until it became hard. I mean, do I say I’m not married? Widowed? Do I say how long I WAS married? I don’t want to want to be a downer… everyone’s answering and then I say: “I was married almost 28 years. He recently died.” What do you say to that? It’s just not a great icebreaker. It’s more of a bomb dropped. I wonder how it feels to be the never married or divorced mom? I’m guessing about as awkward.
- If you are under 80 (made that number up.) people will go into shock if you tell them you’re widowed. I’m thinking about carrying smelling salts. It takes time for people to process this. Give them a few minutes. They’ll come around.
- Being a widow means only shaving your legs if you feel like it. So there’s that.
- Church people know the Bible says to care for widows and orphans but mostly think it means to feed them. Nice. But take me out for a break. Wash my car and vacuum it. Let’s go to a movie so I don’t have to go alone. Get my stinky dog groomed…. plant some flowers for me. Surprise me by just fixing something that needs fixing. Or ask what needs to get done… that’s usually a good idea;)
- Widows wear all kinds of shoes. Some days I wear pumps and do public speaking, others I wear slippers and pray no one knocks on the door. Some days are for dancing shoes and sone days I can’t even put my slippers on. Give us space to be fully who we are. Whether it’s a slipper day or platform pumps. We may be widowed, but we’re still US.
- Widows don’t always cry. We also: cry unpredictability. Please don’t judge us for either. Every once in a while I feel like I let someone down when they say something or share something and I don’t respond with huge tears and beating my chest in agony. It’s hard enough to have all these feels… please don’t add guilt to the list. (It’s already covered.)
- Widows are all different. Some think this list is full of crap. Give us space to be different. Some need to work. Some need to sleep. Some need a grief group, some don’t. Offer ideas of things that might help- because you care, but don’t put pressure on us to grieve the way you expect or want us too.
- Widows have families. (Mostly.) remember to pray for and ask about them too. Loss hits whole families. Sometimes widows need to know someone else cares about the extended fam. We worry. We can be like that.
- Widows get sick of being widows. But that doesn’t mean we want to date. Probably let us bring that one up, if and when we’re ready we will. (Seriously? He’s been dead 3 months. Do not ask about dating.)
- Widows have no clue what we’re doing. Most have never been here before, nor do we want to be here now. We can be: moody, cranky, sad, happy, weepy, giggle over sick things, worry about dumb things, avoid important things, and get angry over small things. We can also be normal. (Ish in my case. It’s all relevant to pre- widowhood normalcy levels.) widows aren’t strong. We’re surviving. We don’t have much choice. Being in awe of our “strength” can make it hard when we have strengthless days. We need to not have to perform. Let us simply be.
As a shoe girl, I’ve always searched for the holy grail of shoes: adorable, sassy and comfy. Let’s just say, a widows Shoes? Not the holy grail. But sometimes you gotta rock what you got. So I’m choosing to take the very next steps… in whatever widows shoes I’m wearing today.
Dear lord – I’m not a fan of the miles I’m now walking. I never planned to be, or wanted to be a widow – especially not now. Help me to honor you with every step, regardless of the days footwear. And lord? Some dancing days would be good. I’m looking forward to them. Amen
Are you a widow? Know one? What have you learned walking in those shoes or walking with a friend? Comment. This is how we learn!
Maybe- you’ve stepped into other shoes you didn’t pick… full time work shoes? SAHM shoes? Divorcee’ shoes? Homeschool shoes? Public school? What have you learned????