Life as a Widower

A young widowed father opening up about living with loss

helping widows

It’s so interesting to observe human behaviour when you lose someone. Those who haven’t experienced close loss often find it impossible to know what to do or say, so they neither do nor say anything. They don’t think it’s their place to express how they feel and they think grief has a kind of hierarchy that they are too low down on, so they hang on the imaginary sidelines too afraid they won’t get it right. They haven’t been taught and they haven’t learnt how to handle the situation.

The honest truth is there is no right or wrong way to approach a person stunned by grief, but if you look hard enough there are some wonderful guidelines that sum up exactly how newly widowed people want their friends and family to behave around them. And thank God there are, because when you’re grieving you just aren’t articulate, brave or strong enough to say any of them yourself.

That’s where the charity Care for the Family came in. They sent me this link, which I in turn sent to some of my nearest and dearest so that they could begin to understand what they could do to help. It means I no longer have to muster the energy to think of jobs for them to do when I can barely decide what socks to wear.

I urge you to read it, save it and share it with anyone who has recently been widowed. It’s helped me enormously.

21 comments on “helping widows

  1. Lucie
    January 10, 2013

    I have been reading every single posts Ben – they are incredibly sincere and touching. I haven’t stopped thinking about you since November and yet it’s been hard to ‘say something’ as you so rightly describe in this post.So I just wanted to tell you this : you and Jackson are always in our thoughts .

    • lifeasawidower
      January 10, 2013

      Funny that they are the words people have used most often but for some reason they just made me cry on the bus x

      • Lucie
        January 10, 2013

        Je pense à toi Et Jackson tout le temps.
        Maybe that way they’ll be a bit more ‘me’ x

      • lifeasawidower
        January 10, 2013

        Merci beaucoup, Lucie xx

  2. Ben, my friend lost her mother before christmas and her Dad and her are still grieving. I have been crap at speaking to her over the last couple of weeks, this post, and reading the link, made me get up and walk out of a meeting and go and call her regardless the 8 hour time difference. Thanks for helping others, when no one could blame you for just wanting to help yourself. You’re an amazing lad, and you’re making everyone a better person x

    • lifeasawidower
      January 13, 2013

      Thanks for sharing that story Chris. I hope you’re doing well over there.

  3. Sally Dutton
    January 12, 2013

    Wow Ben I’ve been following all ur blogs on this and u truly are amazing, I knew u were already cos ur my cuz but I just wanted u to know that I’m always thinking of u and little Jackson xxx love u lots and keep blogging it makes us realise how precious everything in life is xxxx lots of love and hugs SLD. X x

  4. Jason Green
    January 16, 2013

    Just left a message on BBC breakfast fb page
    been a widow since 2002,was married for 7 years. My wife had alot of health issues – sickle cell being the main one which did take her life.
    Thanks for sharing ur heart/pain/experience.
    Feel free to get in touch mate.

  5. Jim
    January 16, 2013

    The WAY Foundation http://www.way has tried for 13 years to provide the support that widowers/widows search for. Unfortunately, men are in the minority 85% are ladies. This is more to do with the sad fact more men die prematurely than women

      January 16, 2013

      I’ve signed up

    • Shelley
      January 20, 2013

      Men are in the minority but not that much of a minority. Its my experience that men are much more business as usual, practical and involved in forming the boys club. Not that there’s any wrong/rights in the grieving process: we all do the best we can at the time. However, if only the men could be as open (if not as eloquent as Ben) everyone would benefit. WAY are great in my experience..and/or Grief

  6. Jennifer
    January 20, 2013

    Hi Ben,

    I’m really sorry for your loss, Desreen sounds like a wonderful person and I’m thinking of you and your son. I found your blog through the Guardian article, I’m 28 and my Dad died suddenly in September. Although our situations are different I just wanted to thank you for what you have shared so far; your words really strike a chord with me and it makes me feel less alone. Thank you again,


  7. Janice Lambert
    January 20, 2013

    Reading this blog reminded me of something said to me about people who are unable to talk about the situation. She called it The Elephant in the Room, everyone knows it’s there but no one speaks about it. We learn a lot about so many things in life, but never about grief or death, so are supremely unprepared for it. You are so thoughtful to share the links.

  8. Sharron Gordon
    January 30, 2013

    Thank you Ben
    I have not experienced close loss so that link was really helpful, at times of untimely deaths even my body language has gone to pieces. because i assumed that I should be behaving a certain way and it has been hard and sometimes I have been guilty of shying away… instead … I wrote…what it helped im unsure. but it helped x

  9. Sharron Gordon
    January 31, 2013

    After reading your blog every day. I now know what the above comment helped…It helps thought and expression… Thank you, x

  10. taz3677
    May 12, 2014

    Thank u for the do’s and don’t has helped me think about what i say and do for my friend. Xx

  11. Sofy Winston
    May 17, 2014

    Thank you for this. It’s been 18 months since my sister died leaving behind a husband and a toddler. I wish I’d found your blog back in January last year so I could have sent it to my friends then, but I’ve found it now and it’s helping although emotional. I’ve avoided trying to imagine what my brother-in-law is going through because my own pain is so raw but coming across this now having heard you on Women’s hour I think I can stop having to ‘avoid it’.

  12. Alistair
    June 20, 2016

    Hi there, the link doesn’t work anymore ?

  13. aminaeva
    April 2, 2017

    Hi there. i have lost my husband very young and was left with a 4y.o. daughter. After several years everybody thinks that all pain should be gone by now and i struggle to even explain that it never ever is even going to be any less than it was on the day he was gone. And love – that feeling lives forever – i gave mine away once and i dont have any other.

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