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A Message from a Widower…

A Message from a Widower…

A message from a Widowed.ca user…feel free to share your comments and advice.

Firstly, thank you for this site. I can’t believe I haven’t come across your site in the past but my search today brought me to you.

My name is Garth. I have been a widower now for almost 10 years, hard to believe it’s been that long!!! I lost my wife to two bouts with Breast Cancer in March 2002, Lauire was in her 32nd year and was truly the love of my life. We are also blessed having a son, he was three weeks shy of his third birthday when we lost his Mom.

Anyhow a couple of things. Firstly; I’ve come to lose my job once again, (second time since Laurie passed away) and part of the reasons are due with the committment to our family (children) first and everything else falling into place where it may, career inclusive. My son and our relationship will always come first, well until he is blessed being a husband and father, then I expect I should fall somewhere down the list, hopefully still within the top 3. Do you find similar stories to that of my own? I mean, have you received similar comments to other widows and widowers who might have lost a job in part to the committment to our children? It is quite difficult being a fulltime single parent, even those separated or divorced don’t quite understand……. their are no weekends off and on again (and to be perfectly honest, I couldn’t imagine being away from our son for any period of time).

Second. When my wife passed away, it was certainly a difficult time, as it should be and as one would expect. At the time of her passing and because of the relatively young age, I found it very difficult sharing my thoughts with other men in the same situation, a blessing without question of course, but I found only those I could related to were much older than myself having lost their wives. So where am I going with this?

I want to present myself to you and others who might be experiencing the same thoughts and feelings, fears and unknowns. Young men (and women too) that might be dealing with a pending passing of a spouse, a parent to their children etc… I could have only wished I had someone to talk to that was my age when Laurie passed, the anguish went on for years while still caring for a young child, celebrating Christmas’ and birthdays (which they are still entitled to of course) and trying to maintain a way of life expected within our community.

I have found many avenues that helped me along the way. Like Joe mentioned in his note, I too have come to learn a lot of friends have gone by the wayside simply because they didn’t know what to expect, what to say or how to include me in previous social events my wife and I once shared with friends. I of course don’t have hard feelings to those friends now a distant memory, I came to understand the reasons why, although I am still not an advocate of their decisions, I do understand.

So in closing this long winded note, I was just hoping to inquire whether losing my job for the second time in almost the past 10 years is something of my own doing? (Both dismissals were not of any fault of my own pertaining to any wrong doing on my part. BTW; I am / was and hoping to be again, a quality manager). And second, put myself out there to share with others who might benefit from my own life experiences then and now, with hope, if even for only a few, I can make their journey a little less painful.

Kind Regards,

Garth

Discussion

  1. wendy  December 17, 2011

    Hello, I am recently a widow, I lost my husband 26 days ago, from the time he went into the hospital to be diagnosed with cancer to death was all in 6 weeks. We have twin sons who are 10. Our life is filled with pain, anger and a huge loss to our family. My husband Luis was my best friend, my rock, my everything, he can change the brakes on the car to make a gourmet meal. Luis always had a smile on his face, he was the happiest man on earth.
    I can’t face the world, I can’t smile, no matter how much I kiss his pictures and listen to his videos of him singing, it hurts so bad, no one understands what I’m going through because its never happened to them.
    My husband was 53 im 41 we have been together for 14 years and married for 11.
    Thank you for listening to me,
    wendy

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    • Garth Rowe  January 1, 2012

      Hello Wendy.

      I apologize for not sending you this note earlier, I have only logged on again to the site this afternoon due to work and the Christmas holidays which I know all to well from past experience, would have been very very difficult to celebrate. My condolences to yourself, your boys, family and friends. Sincerely!

      I too know the hurt you are feeling. I cried in the shower every morning for months, wondering not only how I can possibly face the day but how can I also be my sons parent, answering any question he might have and wondering when his Mom is coming home. No one can ever feel your pain, not even myself nor any other widow or widower, our pain is individual, our own pain for we each had separate lives. I didn’t know your husband of course, nor yourself or your children. I can only share with you my experiences, my own love for my wife, the memories, the highs and lows of our marriage, our battle together with her cancer, the mental hurt and physical loss.

      I really don’t like cliches Wendy, I absolutely despised everyone who told me “time heals all wounds” because everyone who shared that thought with me, were still going home to their spouse at the end of the day. I however have the ill fate of also knowing your loss and I can validate, time does heal. You will never forget Wendy, nor should you. Every anniversary and special moment once shared will hurt, the days leading up to will be as painful as the day of, this I can assure you but you can also make good of it too. The good memories far outway the bad, by leaps and bounds. My wife passed away in March 2002 and not one day has passed that I don’t think of her, I Loved her, she was my wife, the Mother of our son, she was everything to me, shared equally with my son. To this day, I still have pictures of Laurie, not too many but placed perfectly thoughout the house to share, to remember and smile when I think of her.

      Time will heal Wendy, it has too as you like me have to be strong for your children, they depended on you in the past and rightfully so, will continue to depend on you now and all the tomorrows yet to come. I would suggest you find your own special way to cope with your loss, something to help you get through the day and something of benefit to you down the road. I myself visited my wifes gravesite every single day for years. In the warmer months here in Ontario, I would often take a lawnchair and sit along side her place of rest and would talk to her as if she was sitting across from me, sometimes I’d sit silent and not say a word. The one thing I did do Wendy that helped me get through time was writing a journal. I started writing to my wife the night she passed away and continued with entries any time I felt the need to write. I wrote about my day, my sleep the night before and my fear of sleeping the coming night, or lack of sleep. I’d write about my day at the office, those who upset me and those who made me smile. I wrote absoulely anything that came to my mind that I thought would serve me well on paper. In doing so Wendy, I provided myself with the benefit of knowing one day, I’ll pass these journals onto my son, to be read by no one but him and those he chooses to share my written word with.

      To this day, I can go back and read every single entry and remember where I was and where I am. I have to comfort knowing, my son will read my very thought Wendy, how feeling on any given day and it is with my hope, that he will cherish those journals with as much care as I did with passion in writing them. Perhaps it’ll be a wedding present from me to him, perhaps a graduation present, I really haven’t decided yet but when I do hand them over to him, it will be special and it will provide him with a whole new understanding of me, his Mother, the events of the day passed and my devoted Love to my wife that I can only hope, he one day will find himself in Loving his own wife with as much love and intensity as I Loved Laurie.

      Find something of benefit to you Wendy, of benefit today with a purpose seeing you through to tomorrow because surely, tomorrow will come.

      Garth Rowe.

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      • Sylvie  January 9, 2012

        Dear Wendy,

        Thank=you for sharing your pain. My pain started 4 months ago a Thursday evening when I came home and found my husband dead. Although it was a suicide, I am a widow at 50 with a 10 years old son and we are grieving terribly. I know life is unfair and the pain is so unbearable at time, I do not know where I find my strenght to go on. We had it all and nothing prepared me for this. With the help of friends, family and the church, keeping busy, exercise and reading just about every books on grieving I am actually surviving. You need to talk to many people, and me if you need to, we can all help one another. WE have one lfe to live only and we can chose happiness or unhapiness I chose HAPPY

        Sylvia

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  2. Beth  January 16, 2012

    Hi Everyone,

    All of your comments have resonated with me. I am deeply sorry for everyone’s loss. I also know the incredible pain and sense of being completely alone in a vastly populated universe. Despite all those people, the one person I want is no longer here. It is just too unbelievable to really comprehend. The one and only thing we have to grasp on to is hope. Like Sylvie I too read every book I could get my hands on about grief. In the beginning it helped me to read about someone else’s story and somehow removed me for just an instant of time from my own. Like Garth I write to my husband, not as often now, but on occasion. I needed to continue telling him about how our three children were faring, what they were up to, and who they were becoming. And Wendy I cannot imagine how you cope raising your sons without their father. Like so many others before you, they and you will adjust, but no one asked for this or could even imagine having to cope with something so difficult right in the middle of life.
    My husband Ian died in the middle of the night from some genetic heart condition for which he had no symptoms and we were completely unaware that it existed. He was the healthiest person I know. And an amazing father to our three kids. They are suffering. Our eldest is male and was 17. It has been almost three years, and he has not been able to put any amount of effort into his studies. I’m pretty sure it must be due to depression as he was a decent student and took pride in his work all through high school. The other two are girls and were 12 and 13 when their dear dad died. I have some idea of the amount of pain they are in, but it is still too painful to talk about. I know we need to be doing that, but any time I bring it up, I cry and then they are upset. So we just carry on without any formal way of including their dad in our lives. It is not ideal, but I don’t really know how else to get by.
    And Garth I understand the difficulties you have with work related issues. I have been a stay at home parent all these years our kids were growing up. It allowed Ian to focus on his work without worrying about home. You do not have that privilege. You have to do it all now which is no easy feat. I have pursued another degree since Ian’s death in order to reenter the work place. However this is proving to be more difficult than originally planned. Pretty sure some depression and lack of focus just gets in the way of really knowing how to apply myself to a job search and work life.
    Anyway, that’s my story. Glad I happened on this site. It does help to reach out to strangers and write down the thoughts and concerns going through my head, and also to read about what others are going through. So thank you all for your posts. My heart goes out to all of you. Losing a spouse is absolutely heartbreaking. I had no idea. But the collateral damage is no picnic either–loss of confidence, loss of friends, loss of feeling like I am a legitimate person.
    Take care, all
    –Beth

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  3. Terina  October 23, 2012

    Thank you all for sharing,

    I haven’t had time to cry, it’s been one month and a day since my husband passed. I’m just starting to cry….. I’m afraid it won’t turn off. He was 39, I’m 38 and we have three gorgeous boys aged seven, six and four. He had cancer, stage four and we thought he would beat it. He didn’t. I appreciate your stories……I am in a subburb and feel like I’m stuck between two groups….. Singles and widowers…….where do I fit in? I cried when someone called me widower…….between planning the memorial, meeting with lawyers and accountants, where is the time to grieve…..my mother in law is in deep mourning …..I think that I am focusing on boys and having healthy conversations, we have joined the local hospice society……I wish I could tell if this ‘strength’ will continue or am I going to fall? It just seems logical but not practical.

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  4. Gail  March 12, 2013

    Hearing all of your stories of loss makes me so very sad and my heart goes out to each and every one of you dealing with the pain, emptiness, loneliness, anger and a zillion other emotions that accompany it all. Early last summer my big, strong and as healthy seeming as a horse fell very ill one day and within that wkend was diagnosed with an incurable hereditary kidney disease called PKD and after falling so weak and ill and losing a massive amount of weight in hospital he developed a bloodclot in his leg which moved to his lungs and my 2 tiny children and I had to stand over him as he died a slow horrid death fighting so hard to continue to breath. He lost his battle for that breath and from the day he was diagnosed with the PKD to the date of his death was only 3 weeks. It happened so rapidly and it has devastated my 6 yr old son and I. My daughter was only 16 mths when we lost him so has no memory of him. We were a fairytale couple who fell madly in love the 1st day we met when I was just 15 and he 19. We married just 2 yrs later and after 22 of the most deep love and we being the most closest of best friends and spending every waking moment together outside work I am now dropped into this cold hard world alone without him forever. We tried for 16 yrs to have our 1st born which by miracle he appeared after 16 yrs and then blessed 4 yrs later with our wee baby girl. We had it all finally. A house, good job, a full family of our own that was so happy and in love. Life seemed almost perfect. My husband was adopted and grew up being made to feel every inch of it being neglected in the areas of love and attention so finally he had all he ever wanted….deep love and blood relations. He had a sad childhood and I was so greatful that life had finally blessed him with all he craved and needed. The fact that we have been robbed from the most kind, genuine and loving human, father and husband and the fact that he has been robbed of EVERYTHING makes me so furious and so deeply sad and hurt. We moved 45 min north of the city we lived in for a fresh start and went after the country life we had always wanted but not had due to job location and as much as we so adore our new location life is just so horribly lonely with just the 3 of us and that special 4th not here to share it all with. We feel such emptiness and loneliness it threatens to suck me into a black hole of dispare every day of my life but I fight for my babies and try so hard to keep things as light hearted and normal as possible for them but I ache so badly inside and he never leaves me any day or night. It has such a grasp on me every second. I am not handling this “new single alone life” well at all. And now after 8 mths has passed I am so craving finding a good friend that can start and remain a good friend and if life has it to turn to more in the future then that would be such a blessing but I just so desperately feel the need to have a couple close girlfriends and a good male friend I can just get out of the walls with and try and find some joy in life again and all our leisure interests but now all I stumble upon is the unreal cold hard people with ulterior motives and I am growing so weary of it. Where are the real people with real genuine hearts and kindness??? Guessing my hubby was maybe all I may ever find with those qualities 🙁
    Anyhow I am fighting the biggest battle now without my sweet angel man and I feel so terribly for anyone feeling such loss and pain. Its unbelievable and mind blowingly hard.
    Hugs to all of you from our family to yours.

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  5. Gail  March 12, 2013

    I forgot to mention my husband was only 41 and I 37 last yr when he passed on.

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  6. James  August 17, 2017

    Hello Garth,
    I’m not sure if your’e still out there or around anymore, as there’s no date of when this article was posted.

    I can say that it’s currently Aug. 17/2017, and I’m hoping to reach out to you and benefit from your welcoming tone in your post.
    There are similarities in our stories or should I say our involuntary journeys of tragedy and tremendous losses.

    I’m terribly sorry to read about your wife being just 32 years old and your son being just 3 at the time.
    I can’t imagine how hard that must have been for you all.

    My wife’s name is Kindness.
    Currently, she is 34 and not expected to make it to her 35th birthday on Nov. 25. She has been struggling with ovarian cancer and was doing really quite well from May to July – and then all of a sudden trouble – much trouble with her otherwise very healthy body.
    She had handled 4 rounds of a scheduled 6 chemos pretty well, even going for long walks after some of her chemo days – even later those same days.

    She had arrived for her 5th round on July 20, but too many concerns were happening for the oncologist, who then sent her for some CT scans instead.

    Fast forward to July 28-30 and she has been put in the Palliative Care Ward on July 31 and has been there ever since.
    A discussion and an agreement (both of which I was not privy to) have resulted in her remaining chemo being cancelled – permanently, I do believe.

    Shes apparently been given only 2-3 months to live now. I only know this because one of her sisters is nice enough to keep me informed (- sort of) – or may have been asked to.

    The last time I went into visit her, I was turned away at the door by the nurse on Aug. 7.

    Kindness had sent me an email earlier that day that I had not yet seen

    She said she loved seeing me and missed me when I wasn’t there, but mildly said in it that it was too much for her to see me, and that she felt that I was ‘draining on her’ and that she felt that ‘I was not happy with what was happening and didn’t like what was going on’, even though I was not showing any negative emotions, nor talking about it with her – not stressing her out, nor crying etc.
    She said it was ‘like a cloud was hanging over her’ or me – (can’t remember now).

    I was just there, sitting, smiling at her often, always ready to help her – to the washroom, and or anything she wanted or needed and just concerned and naturally worried as any husband would be.
    She tends to worry about and shoulder others feelings even when they have made no implications that she should or even needs to.

    In that same email, she asked, “So how do we fix this?”

    In a short reply, I mentioned that there was ‘nothing that she needed to do or fix’, and that it was all up to me to fix it – not her. And that what she was going through and handling was enough already.
    I was just naturally very concerned and worried about her and also tired from not getting much sleep, and sore form sitting on those hard chairs for 10-12 hours a day.

    I have no idea if she ever read that email reply.

    But I also made the mistake of saying in that email that “I just can’t act all happy and cheerful around you when I know you’re there struggling and in pain’.

    I have a feeling that was a huge mistake to add that in, despite it’s simple honesty!

    I should have thought more about it, but again, very tired, sore, worried, etc. etc. etc.

    I had been in the palliative care room each day with her and her Mother for 10-12 hours, from July 30- Aug 6, going home late each night to try and sleep, living just 2 minutes away where I had recently moved her and her Mother in with us, to be by the hospital .
    But then when they moved her to the next ward, I was stopped from visiting her. I know not what ward, nor even what room she’s in now.

    So I, her husband of 8 years, have been excluded form seeing or visiting her, and I may have seen her for the last time on Aug. 6, yet knowing she’s still alive and may have 2-3 months – or even more – who knows.

    I was told it should just be for a few days.

    Well now, it’s been 11 days – and counting. Her mother is living with her full time in the room, and has not left since July 30. Her and I were working well together, and she even called us a ‘good team’, (despite her wishy- washy feelings about me in the past, and her admitted occasional ‘man-hating’ episodes).

    I may never see my wife again. She may die there just 2 minutes away while I stay here and respect her wishes, (if indeed they are her wishes).

    I get no more texts, emails or calls from my wife and haven’t for 11-12 days now. Everyone is allowed to visit her but me.

    * I feel like I need to state for the record, in case anyone is now wondering – no I have never been violent nor had any aggression nor acts of any type of violence in my past, and certainly not any whatsoever within my 8 year history with this very sweet loving woman. *

    So, I’m having a real tough time being here just 2 minutes away from my dying wife, and yet facing the possible facts that:
    A) She is probably is indeed dying – don’t know – hospital and Mother are not communicating with me; (but her sister is a bit)
    B) If she does indeed pass, there’s a very good chance that I will not hear about it nor be invited to her funeral, until a few days or even weeks after the fact.
    C) Knowing that she’s there suffering and struggling, and yet I can’t go and be with her. I always used to fix anything she needed and did anything she ever wanted, but I can’t fix this!
    And I can’t be there to go through it with her either.
    D) Seeing all these things around in and out of home – bringing back memories being triggered by emails, cards, songs, TV shows, little trinkets, stuffed toys she loves, meals I used to cook for her, photos, her clothes, her books, her artwork, etc. etc. etc.

    Memories of even just earlier this year.

    One that came to me today was when she said about 4 weeks ago, “I wish we could make love”.

    Another was, “I miss us”. I said, I know honey, “I miss us too”.

    I’ll never forget when I tucked her in (which she really loved me doing) for one of the last times about 2 months ago.
    She said, “I’m dying”.
    I said, “What was that honey? I didn’t hear you.”
    She said again, “I’m dying”.
    I kissed her on the forehead. I don’t remember what I said. I don’t think I said anything. I didn’t know what to say – I think.

    Ok that’s enough – the hurt’s coming back now.

    I’m in a real rough spot here.

    Thank you all for reading this.

    James

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