For the Newly Widowed: Top Ten things People will Say to You and Ten Ways You Can React to Them
by Linda Della Donna
The funeral is over.
You’ve written ten thousand checks, signed your name ten thousand times to ten thousand thank you notes, and ten thousand times you wished you were dead.
The sight of your mailman, FTD, and friendly neighbor reduces you to tears.
You don’t hear water gushing out a faucet.
You can’t see.
So, what’s wrong with you, you wonder.
And it’s time to get out of the house.
However, before you step one bunny slippered foot out your door, beware -- friendly neighbor is waiting.
That’s okay, though, because after reading the top ten tacky things people will say and how you can react to them - like a good scout - you’ll be prepared.
Here they are, starting with the least tacky to the most tacky:
10. How much money did he leave you?
I know what you’re thinking. No one will ask you that.
But they will.
Money questions are paramount on nosey people’s minds -- Soon as news gets out that your husband died.
They’ll also ask, Did he have insurance? Did he leave a will?
Best answer: None of your business.
9. Don’t worry, you’re young. You’ll meet someone else.
On the long list of ugly, this one rockets to the top. A new widow needs desperately to preserve her husband’s memory. Replacing him, even in thought, at this time in her life is her choice.
Best answer: I’m really not up to this conversation at this time.
Then steal yourself. Walk away.
8. Can I list your house?
Everyone believes they know what’s best for you, the newly widowed. Even your next-door realtor.
Selling your home and moving away heads his list.
I’ve often wondered if realtors and funeral directors network.
Best advice: If you find yourself barraged by friendly neighbor realtor, tell him, I’m not interested.
If friendly neighbor realtor persists, take action.
Contact the realty company that holds his license. Request your name be removed from their mailing list. Contact your local police department, file a complaint.
7. Don’t worry, I’ll take care of you.
Run. Fast, faster, fastest!
6. I’m not really married. My wife and I have an understanding.
Meet this with a cold stare.
For effect, ask friendly neighbor to speak louder. Tell him, I’m recording this conversation.
5. Don’t tell my wife, but...
Same response as Number 6, above.
4. I know what you need.
Unless friendly neighbor’s toting a crystal ball, nobody knows what, you, the newly widowed needs. Not even another widow.
Choose answer number 7, 6, or 5.
3. When are you going to go out? C’mon! It’s been one or two years!
Put the burden of a response on friendly neighbor.
Ask: What’s wrong with being alone?
2. OH MY GOD! I CAN’T TAKE IT! Can I have his watch?
I have 8 wristwatches that belonged to Him. They sit in a shoebox on my dresser.
Best answer: No.
1. I’m going to sue you!
This happened to me.
Best advice: Keep your mouth shut. Hire a lawyer.
Coping with the death of a spouse is difficult. You, the newly widowed, may feel overwhelmed, and, unwittingly, you may find yourself volunteering information when you really wish to be private.
Don’t be afraid -- be prepared.
Read the top ten tacky things people will say. Practice ways to react before going out, and before you know it, each new day will be filled with the sound of music and sunlight instead of your friends’ and neighbors’ tacky comments and questions.
Linda Della Donna is a freelance writer who supports widows as they make their way through the
grief process. Della Donna makes her home 20 miles north of where the World Trade Center used to be with her small dog, Izzy and his little cat, Tux. Learn more about Della Donna by visiting her website and reading her blog.