Letter to my newly-widowed self

Dear newly-widowed Marlys — I’m now 19 months into widowhood, and while there are quite possibly more things ahead to deal with, for the most part I’m feeling pretty seasoned.

You’re a newbie. And you’re overwhelmed. So for this moment, make a cup of Chai tea—knowing how much you and I love Chai—and put your feet up to read this letter. Remember to breathe.


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Photo credit: Pixabay


From my seasoned perspective, here’s some advice and a lot of hope:

Take one day at a time. In these first days, as you’re planning a service for Hubby, lean on the kids — they’ll all be a tremendous help. Here’s something you don’t know yet, but Gary’s Celebration of Life service will be exactly what you want it to be. Hope-filled and honoring of him. Good stories and remembrances; some tears, but more laughter. Don’t stress over the planning.

Accept help. People will want to help in meaningful ways. Accept all offers of help, all offers of help. And you know the mail that’s just now beginning to overflow your mailbox? Well, enough checks are going to fall out of those beautiful cards to cover funeral home expenses. One less thing for you to concern yourself over.

And while we’re on the topic of finances … don’t worry. The kids are going to strategize behind your back. And they’re going to encourage you to take an early retirement and keep blogging and get back into speaking and write a book. They’ve thought this through, and they love you, and they’re wise. So listen to them. Your early-retirement-fixed-income is going to work out just fine. Miraculously fine. Wait until you see where you get to live, and the new friends you’ll make.

Take all the time you need to grieve. And don’t be worried when you don’t fall into any deep, dark holes. It won’t mean you’re not grieving correctly. Everyone grieves differently, and you and Hubby had a long time to say good-bye to each other.

Stay engaged with life. It will be much easier staying home—believe me, the new husbandless routine will get quite comfortable—but don’t get comfortable. Get off the couch. Climb a mountain with your hiking group. Cheer on your fanatical friends at their extreme sporting events; celebrate afterward over dinner. Visit family. Particularly kids and grandkids and granddogs.



Just returned home from visiting grand-dog Chloe in LA … oh, and Jeremy & Denise, too


Believe you’re wanted. Every time someone invites you to join them — at a concert, for a holiday meal, on an Alaskan cruise — even though you think you might feel like a fifth wheel, tell yourself they really want you along. You’re going to be amazed at how un-fifth-wheel-ish you’ll actually feel.

Don’t be afraid to do things alone. You’ll be genuinely surprised that what you thought you’d dread doing alone isn’t going to be that challenging after all. Like, sitting in church alone; coming home after dark to an empty place; hiking those trails that were your favorites together; eating out alone. In fact — because you tend to be a bit pathetic at times — you’ll end up keeping Friday dates. Alone. And you’ll still call it Friday date night.

The paperwork will end. Just when you think you’ve completed the last of the official business requirements of becoming a widow, something else will pop up. Two of your credit cards from a specific bank, for example, will be canceled — like, immediately right then and there on the phone — when they learn the principal card-holder is deceased. And then a year later (just last week), two sets of credit cards will arrive in the mail from this same bank. Two with Gary’s name on them. Which will mean another long hold on a toll free number to say, You canceled me; I don’t need your cards; Gary is no longer with us; please don’t mail anything to this address. Ever again. Of course, I said it nicer than that. I think. Eventually the widow-business stuff will end. Maybe.

Create adventure. You know how you and Gary had planned to hike in the Swiss Alps? Well, there’s a walking tour of Switzerland you’re gonna want to sign up for—you’ll love the group of fellow trekkers—but don’t forget to pack Gary’s ashes. Also, the kids are going to invite you to join them on adventures — Puerto Rico with Jeremy & Denise; Orlando, Florida, in late fall and North Carolina’s Outer Banks in early spring with Josh & Summer and the grands. And our nieces, Angie and Heidi, will invite you to go with them to Israel next June. Do it all. Go out and create some fabulous adventures.

Give back. You’re going to be asked to volunteer at several different places after you quit punching a clock. Accept those volunteer opportunities that you’re passionate about. You’ll also start getting some speaking engagements. And you’ll be afraid of speaking alone without Gary, your tag-team partner. But do it anyway. It will be a good thing.

You’re not really doing this alone. You’ll have the advantage of the presence and peace of God with you. There won’t be a single day in which you’ll find yourself alone. Wait and see and be amazed.

I’m in a good place, which means you’ll get here. It’s peaceful here. I’m deeply content, doing all the things you and I love doing. Writing. Hiking. Meeting up with friends. Connecting with family via FaceTime and in person. Knitting. Reading. Snow-shoeing. Road trips and train rides and cross-Atlantic flights. You’ll get here.

With all the hope in the world,

Seasoned Marlys


What about you? Whose invitation do you need to accept? What do you need to try, simply for the brave-making aspect of it? What are you worried about now that might never happen; and why are you worrying?

P.S.If you found this post helpful or inspirational, please post, tweet or share!


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  1. Diane Waldbueser

    What a blessing you are to all who know you! Such wisdom! I am blessed!

  2. Sharon

    Great post thanks for sharing your experience, your heart and hope. Even though I’m not a widow your challenge at the end was for me too. ????

  3. Connie Merrill

    Your words were extremely inspiring. Most of things said validated what I have been feeling.Worried Iwas the only one who ever felt this way. Thank you for the encouragement.

    • Connie, I think we widows must all think that from time to time – that we’re maybe the only ones feeling/thinking/worrying about a certain something. I think we’d be surprised at how many other widows are going through the same thing. Blessings to you.

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