Tag Archives: widow

Five years ago today

Dear Nick,

5 years ago today, everything changed.

5 years ago today, my world shattered into a million little pieces.

5 years ago today our daughter lost her father.

5 years ago I lost my husband, my best friend, my advisor, my motivator, my life coach, my everything!

In the time that followed your passing, I never thought I could be truly happy again, that I would ever love again, that I would ever be ‘me’ again.

And I was ok with that.

I had such a beautiful, fulfilling life with you, that I thought I’d filled up my love quota. That the love tank was now on empty, having used it up in the 10 years we were together, and I felt truly lucky that we had experienced that. That you chose me to live your short life with.

5 years ago today
Nick

But, what happened next, no one could have predicted. As I’ve always said, I’m so sure you had a hand in it.

because….

In the 5 years since you’ve been gone I got married again to my high school boyfriend and had a baby girl.

In the 5 years since you’ve been gone I’ve found love again, the type to rival any fairytale.

In the 5 years since you’ve been gone I found myself.

In the 5 years since you’ve been gone, I can say life is really good, I have all I need and more.

I still miss you like crazy, I still walk around the house talking to you, I still talk about you Every. Single. Day. You are more apart of our life than most people would believe.

I hope you see how amazing your parents are with the kids. How much the baby adores your Dad, how lucky we are to have them in our life. How accepting your parents have been, how they treat my husband as their own and call him their son in law.

How much closer I’ve become to all of your family and mine in the 5 years since you’ve been gone.

I still have your surname, I feel like it’s my last connection to you. It’s something you gave me, something we shared. I haven’t bought myself to change it yet. My husband is the most understanding, caring guy there is, it has never bothered him that I didn’t take his name when we married. He gets it. I will eventually change it, but I’m in no hurry, I may even keep it and hypen it instead. The options are there!

I wish I could see you, have a real heart to heart, or even just sit in silence with you. What I would give to know what you are thinking now, you always had an opinion on everything!

I wish you could see our baby girl, no longer a baby, but an intelligent, beautiful, thoughtful young girl. Who loves with all her heart. She just lost her first tooth the other week, and I got a little teary, just realising how fast she’s growing and how much you’ve missed out on her.

But I know you see her, I know you walk beside her everyday. How proud you are of her.

So, on this the 5 year anniversary of your death, I’ll light a candle and go through our photo albums, remembering all the good times, the birthdays, the trips, the family functions, the work events, our wedding and of course, the birth of our daughter.

I’ll shed a tear but ultimately i’m just happy we had those years and times together. That I have something so wonderful to look back on, a life with someone as inspirational as you. Who left such a legacy and lasting impression, it makes it hard for me to be mad at you for leaving us, when you left behind so much to be grateful for.

So, Nick I will forever love you and call you my husband (makes for some strange looks when I say that!) We will never forget you, whether it be 5, 10 or 50 years on. I am the person I am today because of you and I am forever in your debt for the gift of life and love you have shown me.

Forever your wife, Michela xxx

To anyone reading this, sorry for my leave of absence, please let me know if you’d like a life update since my last post so long ago!

I still get so many people reading along, though I haven’t written a word in over a year. I get beautiful and some heart breaking emails every week from widows and people all over the world sharing their stories of loss and love with me. It fills me with such light to know Nick’s story has helped so many in their time of need. That when they search for ‘young widow’, or ‘widow story’ or even ‘help, my husband has cancer’ they find my blog and know they’re not alone.

If you want a refresher or to start reading along, you can begin reading from here or if you want to read what happened 5 years ago today, you can find it here now i’m off to paint my nails in memory of Nick, i’m thinking a bright red would be fitting!

til next time xx

 

 

 

 

Goodbye for now, but first an update.

Hello again to everyone still reading along and welcome back after my 3 week writing hiatus.

It’s mostly been due to the fact I have put off writing this, my last post, but now I feel like the time has finally come.

To everyone who has written me or stopped me in the street (or more accurately shopping centers) to ask me to keep writing, I want to especially say thank you for your support and encouraging words.

You told me to keep writing about my current life, my new husband (are we still newlyweds, if we married in January?), my love of nail polish, just anything you say, you just want to keep reading!

I’m so touched that anyone, apart from my family, would want to know anything more about little ol’ me!

I still hold to the fact, that i’m nothing special, i’m just making the most of the cards i’ve been dealt and keeping up with life moving forward, since Nick’s passing in 2011.

But, onto the main reason why i’ve decided to end these posts, for a while anyway.

I’m Pregnant…23 weeks along!

While being pregnant, with child, up the duff, bearing the fruit of our love (does anyone actually use that term?!?) doesn’t make me brain dead, I have decided to focus my energy instead, on becoming a second time mum and enjoying the precious time with my beautiful daughter and husband, before our family expands once more.

(Oh, and freaking out about making room in our house for this precious cargo i’ve got on board. My daughter has accumulated so much stuff in her 5 years!)

But being pregnant is a bittersweet time for me.

Of course, i’m overjoyed to be able to add to our family, and my husband is equally as excited, it marks a new beginning for us, but, it also reminds me of this time 5 years ago and how excited Nick was to become a Dad and how short lived it was for him.

He came to every obstetrician’s appointment, heck, he even researched which obstetrician we would use! He would write down questions to ask her prior to our appointments and check in with me 20 times a day to see how I was feeling. He hated me catching public transport to work and would drive and pick me up most days, he also insisted I finish up work 10 weeks prior to my due date to get some rest and me time. And then while I was home, he would try and come home for lunch during the day, to sit with me and talk to my tummy.

To say he was excited, would be an understatement.

Anyone who knew Nick, would remember how much he couldn’t wait to be a Dad. But, it was also at this time, his symptoms first flared up so, along with the excitement of having our first child, came the concern for his health and the fact that nothing was making him feel well anymore.

Little did we know then, the severity of what was to come, but it was just the beginning of his health issues.

He already had pancreatic cancer eating away at his cells, slowly dwindling down his days left with us.

Goodbye for now, but first an update
Nick with Claudia (2 days old) Look how happy they both are!
and my not so little baby now
and my not so little baby now..

Nick would have continued to be a great Dad, of that I have no doubt. I’m so grateful he was able to have a taste of Fatherhood, before he passed. I think it added to his contentment before he died.

So you can understand how much I have thought of Nick during this time, but here comes the clincher, my baby is actually due on Nick’s birthday, March 16.

I know, it’s incredible, unbelievable even….I couldn’t have planned it if I had tried!

I think it’s just Nick’s way of telling me he is still around and that he will continue to look after us, and this new little one forever more.

When I tell people my due date, i’m usually met with silence, like they can’t quite believe it. Honestly, it took a while for it to sink in with me too, but I find it comforting.

With every scan i’ve had, the date of March 16 has never changed. I’ve told my husband, that we’ll just circle the hospital that day, because knowing Nick, I bet I actually go into labour on March 16, just so we can keep another reminder of him close.

That’s just Nick for you, always in control, that was just his nature. I have no concerns for myself or my baby, during this pregnancy, because I know Nick is here with us, every step of the way.

You could call it a coincidence, but I know better than that, this has Nick written all over it!

And now onto my goodbye.

I can’t thank you all enough for your ongoing support since I began this blog, back in January this year. While it wasn’t first written for public viewing, it quickly took off once it made its debut on Facebook (thanks to Antoinette and a 7am phone call that caught me off guard!) and it hasn’t slowed down since, clocking up over 63,000 views, which is just crazy!!!

And while, it hasn’t garnered me international fame, a telemovie, a book deal, a place on the blogs to read in 2014 list, or even my own sitcom – I pitch “The Polished Widow” as the show to watch in 2017.

I have achieved so much more than any of that.

In sharing my story, I have connected with so many others in similar situations who have written me to say, how hearing from another young widow has helped them stay sane. I have heard from people who just need a positive boost or kick in the pants to realise how good they really have it.

This blog has changed the lives and behaviours of so many, who write me and tell me about their epiphanies while reading along. It has enabled them to be better friends, parents, and just nicer people in general.

While it may not be the cure for World Peace, just knowing I have touched those individuals reading along, warms my heart and makes me want to do a happy dance, even with my little belly now.

I have re-connected with old friends through my writing and also with Nick’s colleagues, who have shared stories of him with me. That without this blog I may never have been in touch with.

I have also made new friends, from all over the world, who have sent me words of encouragement, support and who actually think i’m inspirational!  Who fill their emails with such nice things to say about me, i’m often blushing as I read them, mostly thinking they must be writing about someone else, it’s all so nice and humbling!

And to all those out there, who have said, I have over shared my personal moments with strangers, to that I say, to be able to connect and bring comfort to a young widow across the world through my posts, has made this all worthwhile.

Because I remember what it was like to be a widow with no one in a similar situation, the closest thing I had was my widowed 82 year old grandma!

Nick wanted his story told and I think i’ve done it justice.

Nick will never be forgotten, not just by me, but by so many others. He was an all round good guy, who enjoyed his life up til the end. He changed my life for the better and i’ll be forever grateful that he picked me to spend his short life with.

Nick gave so much of himself to others, he left such a lasting impression on those who knew him, and now through this blog, even strangers he never met.

I do want to give a special thanks to my family and friends (you know who you are!) and most importantly to my husband John, for his continued support in me writing this blog. He is a true gentleman and i’m so lucky to be able to spend the rest of my life with him. Just don’t die on me, I don’t want to start The Polished Widow – part 2! (sorry for the widow humour!)

So, that’s it for now, I can’t say thank you enough. I won’t say this is the last post forever, if the urge strikes, I will write again and of course, there may just be a baby update come March 2015!

Thank you again,

Michela xxx

If for some reason you have just cottoned on to my blog, you may want to start at the beginning here and read your way through, for all this to make any sense!

What Not To Say To A Widow – part 2

Hi again, thank you to everyone who wrote me following last weeks post, it seems to have hit a cord, so here’s the follow up, What Not To Say To A Widow – part 2.

So many widows wrote me with similar comments they received, and I was asked to include a bit more about what you might want to say instead to someone grieving.

I do want to add, i’m no expert in the matter, i’m just going on what I appreciated at the time of my loss.

I also want to acknowledge that I completely understand how awkward it is to hear of someone ‘young’ passing and not knowing what to say.

So please don’t be hard on yourself!

It is out of the natural order of death, to hear of a fit and healthy 32 year old, (as was my situation), dying and leaving behind a young daughter and wife.

We understand dying happens, we expect the elderly or our grandparents to pass away before us. We say, ‘wow, what great innings!’, ‘what a wonderful life they had’, i’d love to get to that age one day’ or ‘at least, they got to see their children and grandchildren grow up’.

We expect our parents will pass away, once we’re adults ourselves and whilst it will always be a sad occasion, it’s not beyond understanding.

They get older, just like we do.

But when a young person dies, who may be similar aged, it makes us question our own mortality.

Suddenly, we’re not invincible anymore, we question our life and what we’d do if in the same situation.

I know quite a few friends of Nick’s who took out life insurance once he passed.

The reality washing over them, that life doesn’t always follow the path you had planned for it.

I believe the same situation applies to parents who lose a child, no matter what age, it’s outside of the ‘norm’. We don’t know what the ‘right’ thing to say is. Those parents will never fully recover from their loss. Nick’s parents will live with their grief forever.

What could you say to make anyone feel better about someone’s life being cut so short in their prime? Well, not much really…

But, firstly, a few more distasteful comments that you should avoid saying, this from a widow close to my heart, who constantly heard, ‘but you look so good’, after the passing of her husband.

Just because you get up, dressed and maybe put on some makeup, doesn’t mean you are not grieving and hurting beyond belief, I heard this comment a lot too.

Society understands widows or those grieving to be disheveled in their pajamas, not well dressed and ready for the day.

We don’t want to be told we look good, we would prefer our husbands back.

The other comments I heard from a few widows were, ‘now you can get out and do things‘ or now you can start your life again‘. Not helpful, we are mourning the loss of our life as we know it, not looking forward to being alone and starting over. See what I mean ?

Now, onto what you might prefer to say in these times, well, none of the above firstly, or go and read last weeks post again and none of them either!

When I say just be there, do just that. As Christine one of my readers wrote to me, ‘I’ve had the wettest shoulders without ever saying a word‘.

Let the bereaved just talk and vent and don’t butt in and try and interject your words of wisdom.

Let them just talk it out, no interruptions.

Side story, one day as I was venting to a friend about my situation and maybe being a little irrational too, (it was about 4 weeks after Nick passed) she stopped me and said, ‘You’re damned if you do, and damned if you don’t with you’. 

That comment stung me like nothing else, it made me feel like I shouldn’t have said anything at all.  She shut me down so quickly, I felt like i’d best keep those thoughts to myself instead, that maybe I was being (god forbid!) difficult.

So, don’t do that!!

Don’t stop them talking, let them get out every irrational, stupid thought in their head, and make them feel safe in your company, no judgement!

Oh and bring around a tray of lasagna and maybe some wine, I promise they’ll appreciate it.

As i’ve said before, Cathryn, thank you for the pizza and wine Wednesday nights, they became my savior, I can never thank you enough for just ‘being there’.

Be normal, and talk about the person who passed, share stories, laugh at the memories, bring around photos you think they may not have seen before.

I loved hearing other aspects of Nick’s life that I wasn’t always privy to, like his work self and all the funny things that happened there or his time growing up.

I spoke about Nick all the time after he passed, it often garnered strange looks from people listening, but it’s how I coped. As much as it made others squirm and sometimes cry, it always made me smile being able to share those memories out loud.

I heard this from other widows too, that although it made their friends and family sometimes uncomfortable talking about those that had passed, it made them appreciate them all the more, and the life they had lived. It allowed them to focus on the positives instead of their new reality.

So, never be scared to mention those that have passed, use their name and acknowledge the life they had.

My favourite past time after Nick died was talking about him, I think this helped me through my grief immensely!!

Just acknowledging that although short, he had a full life and focusing on all the positives, instead of all the negatives once he was gone.

Sure, he’d never get to know our daughter, or have a chance to fulfill all his goals and dreams, but thinking this way was fruitless.

If I spent my time thinking about what he didn’t get to do, I don’t believe I would have been as accepting of his death.

Nick had a career he loved, he was in a loving, trusting marriage, he had a daughter he adored, friends and family he enjoyed spending time with, was well travelled and he was a happy guy who moulded me into the person I am today. See, all positives!

It doesn’t mean that after his passing, I didn’t wish he was around, but i’d think of the positives in his life and i’d know he was ok and it was what was meant to be.

So, don’t talk about the what they didn’t get to do, focus on the life they had instead, it’s what helped me through those early times.

To sum up my thoughts, listen without judgement, don’t interrupt, be there, use their name and bring wine, or chocolates will do too!

I hope you might have found some of this useful, know that nothing you say can ever take away their pain, but an ear to listen can go a long way.

Thanks as always for reading along and sharing, liking and commenting, I really do love hearing from you!

Til next time, Michela xx

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What Not To Say To A Widow

Welcome back to another post, today i’m writing about the comments I received once I was widowed.

I hope this might help others in What Not To Say To A Widow, I wish there was a manual I could have given out at the time!

I’ve already written about my worst comment from the driver to the cemetery on the day of the funeral, who said to me, ‘You mustn’t have loved him that much‘ because I wasn’t a crying mess in his car. You can read about that here.

But moving along to some others that I like to call the ‘At leasts’.. Whenever I heard a comment beginning with this i’d cringe, and while i’m being a bit harsh in adding these to my list…please use them with caution!

1. Being back at work one day early on, I was surrounded by a gaggle of women at my desk (I say gaggle because they really were like geese!) asking me all sorts of questions, when one of them asked where Nick was buried and I replied, ‘Yan Yean Cemetery’, it was then one of the ladies turned and said, ‘At least you know where your husband is!’ 

I was too stung by what she said to reply, but honestly, I would have given anything to have my husband late home from the pub with mates every night, then be buried in a cemetery somewhere! Am I right?

2. At least you’re young enough to remarry  this was uncool because well, my husband had ‘just’ died and I was in no mood to talk about a future relationship yet alone marriage. Give it a rest people!

And it also makes it sound as though, I somehow needed a man in my life to be ‘whole’ again. Heard this many times, hated it, smiled and nodded through gritted teeth always!

3. At least your daughter met him  again being a bit harsh here, but really she met him and lost him within 12 months, how much of that time does she remember – zero.

This goes hand in hand with the other one I heard often At least she’s young enough to not remember him, like somehow we should erase all memories of Nick and just go with the immaculate conception story instead.

On a side comment, my mum’s neighbour upon hearing I was engaged to marry John, came to visit and congratulate us, while instilling her words of wisdom along the same vein, saying, ‘Don’t mention Nick to Claudia and let her think John is her Dad’. My blood boiled, but again I thanked her for the suggestion and said we would continue to talk about Nick ,so she’d know who her Father was and how much he loved her.

I also have no problem with Claudia calling John by his first name and not Dad, because in her eyes, while he is a father to her, she has only ever know him as John and we are both comfortable with that. If she chooses later to call him Dad, then it will be solely up to her, no pressure from us or anybody else.

4. Continuing with the At leasts….I heard many times over, ‘At least you have your health.’ This is not a helpful comment, while I may not have a terminal illness, the emotional scars from losing a spouse or partner take years to overcome.

Insomnia, over thinking, anxiety and general sadness, make you not feel like yourself. And it is not healthy to be eating cheesy toasted sandwiches and popcorn every night, which may or may not have been my diet of choice!

I would have given anything to be the ‘sick’ one and take away his pain, I felt guilty many times during his illness that I was the ‘healthy’ one.

I add these At least comments to the list, because although they are said mostly with sincerity, using At least as your beginning, is a way of making light of what’s happened.

I understand it’s a way of looking on the bright side, but at that time, it might not be something you are capable of doing in the early stages of widowhood. They feel like a direct hit and a way of downplaying the situation.

5. Good on you for being in a new relationship, I couldn’t do that I love my husband too much’  This is a completely true comment from a family friend. Somehow insinuating, that I didn’t love Nick as much as she must love her husband, because if he died she could never be with anyone else! How very noble of her!

I heard this a few times when John and I started dating, the well done to me, like i’d won some award for moving forward, but the back handed comment, of it’s not something i’d do, if I was in your situation.

To this I say, us widows give ourselves a hard enough time moving forward without anyone else weighing in unannounced, making us feel worse.

I definitely had what I called ‘relationship guilt’ when John and I first started out, it seems unnatural to date again when your heart is still with your late husband, but you learn to work through those emotions.

If you’re lucky enough like I am, to have such a supportive husband, who’s patient and understanding, then that’s what will get you through, and not worrying about what other people are thinking of you and how soon, quickly, suddenly you find love again.

Because we all deserve a chance to find our round 2 of love and be happy.

6. I don’t know how you’re coping, I would have fallen to pieces comment, I know this comes from a good place and is all about making you feel good about the way you’re ‘handling’ things, but it didnt work that way on me.

It only made me feel inadequate, like I wasn’t grieving properly, that being calm and in control wasn’t the norm, why was I doing this so differently??

Besides, it was never a conscious effort for me to ‘be’  that way, so I never took this comment as a compliment, to me it sounded like, ‘you’re being weird, why aren’t you all emotional like I would be?’

7. Call me if you need your lawn mowed/you need food/ want to chat? I will not call you to get things done, if you want to mow a widow’s lawn, just rock up and do it, if you want to assist with meals, drop some at the door, if you want to me to chat about my feelings, just call and act normal.

I always hated these comments, I was far too independent to call anyone for help and it was a weird concept for me to ask anyone for food favours either. (Thanks though to my mum, sis and mum in law for feeding us most days!)

I think it makes you feel better that you’ve offered to help, but it means more if you just do it.

8. I know how you feel I lost my grandfather/neighbour’s mum/third cousin to cancer This didn’t make me feel any better, at the time, I was the only young widow I knew, it doesn’t compare to most other deaths. While every death hurts and leaves a void, losing your spouse/partner at 32 is a little out of the norm, especially being that I also had a young daughter.

Comparing that to your 80 year old grandfather dying, is like comparing my favourite classic red nail polish to one of my bright new neon colours, they’re completely different!

I’ll leave it for there for now, and will add this, one of the nicest, most sincere comments I ever received, was when someone would say, ‘i’m sorry, this sucks, I don’t know what to say.’ It’s honest and real and what connected with me the most, because there is nothing anyone can say at that time, that can make the situation any better.  It’s just sucks.

For anyone wondering what the ‘right’ thing to do is, just be there, hang around, be normal, let them rant and cry, listen, just do things without asking, bring meals, fill their fridge, be present. Don’t leave them alone to give them space to grieve, they will most likely prefer your company!

I hope I haven’t been too harsh with my list, I would love to hear your thoughts and if you’re a widow what crazy comments you heard!

Thanks for reading along,

Michela xx

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