The widow wore a little black dress

Today’s post – The widow wore a little black dress is a continuation from last week’s post, which you may want to read if you haven’t already.

For any new readers, welcome, you might want to catch up by starting here instead.

Nick was gone, his body laying in a funeral home somewhere, I was alone, yet surrounded by people. Cards flooded my mailbox, my phone was full of text messages, sending their condolences and asking about funeral times. The house was filled with flowers arrangements, which are meant to cheer you up, but ironically, don’t.

These were all just reminders that Nick was dead.

The widow wore a little black dress
Nick with our daughter in Italy, 2010

He had passed on Saturday morning, but arrangements were made that the funeral was to be held on the Wednesday with a viewing and prayer service the night before, at the same church.

I had more people visit me after his death, than we ever did when he was sick. It used to annoy Nick, that people stayed away once they heard he had cancer, like it was catchy. We had been such a social couple before his diagnosis.

Truth was, it was hard for many of his family and friends to see him this way, the once fit, confident guy they knew, was replaced by this thin, raspy voiced version instead, who walked with a slight limp.

His cancer transformation was huge and sudden.

Sometimes when we had visitors over, they wouldn’t know what to say, we always talked so openly about Nick’s condition and I guess it freaked them out. Especially when he would talk to them about having adequate life insurance and health checks!

When they’d leave, we’d chat and Nick would say to me, ‘you know what, they are driving home now and they are grateful this is happening to us and not them and that’s ok, because we can handle this.‘ I’d get mad and say ‘it’s not ok to think that way,’ but always so wise, he tell me, ‘it shows them to appreciate life, that no one is invincible and that’s all I want.’ (Hence this blog!)

I knew I had his viewing and funeral coming up, and while I had joked to my family about wearing something bright (read this if you want to know why this was a no!) I knew i’d have to at least wear black to these two occasions.

Funnily enough, 4 weeks before Nick died, we had been shopping after a chemo session, when he was drawn to a black dress in a shop window. Now, Nick hated me in black, but this dress was something he kept trying to convince me I needed.

It was a cute black mini dress and it fit perfectly, but I kept telling him I didn’t want it, I had nowhere to wear it and it was a little pricey!

Nick had a thing for me wearing anything short and tight, (one of his first gifts to me were a tiny pair of shorts, which i’ve never worn!).

He wouldn’t take no for an answer, running (or walking as quick as he could with his limp) to the counter to pay for the dress once I took it off!

He told me i’d wear it to our 6th anniversary wedding dinner and he hinted, ‘you’ll wear it to my funeral and be a hot widow‘.

The widow wore a little black dress
The newspaper announcement

So, the time came for his viewing and funeral, and I knew I had at least one black dress to wear, but I couldn’t wear the same thing to both. So off shopping I went, two days before the funeral.

I remember being in a store with my sister and our kids, looking at dresses, needing something conservative and in black. The shop assistant started to ask questions, ‘was it for an interview?’, ‘no a funeral’, I said, ‘my husband’s.’

Then the obligatory look of part shock, embarrassment and sympathy, as she looked from me, to the baby in the pram and bam, ladies that’s how you get 20% off your purchase!!

On the day of the viewing I tried on Nick’s black dress with some heels, wanting to wear it that night, only to have my mum freak out that, ‘it’s too short, you can’t wear that!’

Apparently, the hot widow look wasn’t in that season.

I was being a little defiant, Nick had bought this for me to wear for this occasion, I didn’t want another dress, I was wearing this one.

We decided to take the hem taken down instead as a compromise, which took away the look of the dress, but I got to wear it. Win for me!

To this day though, I have shoved both black dresses to the back of my cupboards, they are just a reminder of that week, the struggle, the tears and losing Nick forever.

Has anyone else not been able to wear their ‘funeral clothes’ again?

Back to the story, it was the night of the viewing and I didn’t know what to expect. I hadn’t really had time to grieve yet, too busy organising and black dress shopping, plus the enormity of what had happened, hadn’t really hit me yet.

I was too busy making sure everyone else was ok and that my daughter wasn’t effected by what was happening, though at 13 months, I doubt she knew why everyone was crying around her.

I went with my family to the church to farewell Nick for the final time. Many people had called me during the day to say they wouldn’t be coming. They wanted to preserve their memories of Nick instead, couldn’t bear the thought of seeing him laid out in a coffin.

Well, either could I, but apparently, I had to go!

I had collected some of his things to add to his casket including a picture of him and our daughter, Claudia, a letter from me, one of his favourite watches (he collected them), and his g-star man bag, that he went nowhere without, using it to carry all his medication with him, it had became the butt of many jokes.

On a side note, I had emptied out his bag, ready to take to the viewing, when on the way there I noticed a secret compartment I’d missed, in it was $500 and the keys to our shed!

I still laugh that I almost buried him with all that, but, I think it was Nick who made me check it over again!!

His parents also had their own things to add as did mine and a few of his friends too.

I joked at the time, that they’d be no room left for Nick, it’s amazing how much stuff you can cram down the sides of a casket.

But my jokes were not appreciated, I was shushed.

But, making inappropriate comments is my coping mechanism, it’s what I do!

I remember being ushered up to see Nick laid out in his coffin at the alter. I carried my daughter with me. I looked at him, but it wasn’t him, it didn’t look like Nick at all. I felt very disconnected with this body in the casket.

Everyone was watching me, I stood there for what felt like forever, looking down at this shrunken version of Nick, not knowing what to do. I couldn’t cry, the tears weren’t there, I took his hand in mine, but he was so cold and stiff. I bent down and gave him a kiss on his forehead, whispered I love you and took my place back again with my family.

They asked if I wanted to go up again to see him, I shook my head, no I was done. I couldn’t look at him like that anymore.

Nick’s family were clawing at him, screaming incoherently, I wondered what people thought of me, not reacting the same.

Staying calm, feigning a smile, making inappropriate jokes. I didn’t know how else to be, it all felt like it was happening to someone else and I was on the outside looking in.

I felt like Nick was sitting up in the church rafters looking down at everyone carrying on, telling them ‘you’re nowhere’, one of his sayings.

I looked up often that night, perhaps hoping to catch a glimpse of him. All I wanted was for Nick to be there, sitting besides me, joking about everyone going up to see him in the casket, making me laugh.

But, he wasn’t there, it was just me, sitting on a church pew, feeling so heart broken.

I’ll leave it for there today, thanks for reading along and sharing my posts, means so much that people are reading our story.

Thanks also for all your comments, I love hearing from you.

Finally, please subscribe in the box below, if you want an email when a new post is published!

Til next week, Michela xx

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21 thoughts on “The widow wore a little black dress

  1. My husband chose a black cocktail dress for me a few weeks before he was killed in an accident (unusual, since he hated shopping). I wore it to his funeral, but compromised by belting a cardigan over it. It made me feel a bit better to be wearing something he liked that day. I made a ton of inappropriate jokes, and didn’t cry in public. Not all of us grieve the way “they” want us too, but it doesn’t mean we aren’t heartbroken.

  2. Chel,
    You were & still are the hottest widow ever! And I love your inappropriate comments! I love that for as long as I can remember yours, mine & Nicks inappropriateness was the basis of our friendship & what made the dynamic so awesome! I remember going home after the rosary and painting my toe nails fluro yellow and fingernails black to make sure I pissed Nick off one last time, with the utmost love of course. X

    1. Hey love,
      So funny, yes, we did have very inappropriate jokes among the three of us, ok, really just you and Nick and I tried to tag along.
      You know he’d be blaming you for my nail polish obsession now, little does he know, it’s now me, egging you on!! Xxxx

  3. Dear Michela, Your writing not only makes sense it haunts me as the reader with it’s blatant truth and raw emotion. Not a lot of people can write like that as they are too self censored. Keep writing… there will always be readers! Your writings have actually helped me remember and relive the crazy period of time just before and just after I lost my brother. Thank you for that because looking back retrospectively is a healing in itself. Melissa xxx

    1. Thank you so much Melissa, your words mean more to me than I could ever tell you.
      It’s messages like this, that tell me i’m on the right path and that people are really connecting with this story. I hope it helps you to heal a little more with your grief, we’re all in this together.
      Thank you for your support xxx

  4. I love the story about the little black dress. I used to wear black t-shirts and black shorts all the time here in Kona – it was kind of my uniform. I didn’t think much about dressing up or my wardrobe or anything, our lifestyle was so casual I just threw on the next available black t-shirt and off I went. I wore the same for his memorial – which was on the beach here. But, since then, I’ve stopped wanted to wear that. I no longer want to be frumpy and uncaring. Now, I only ever wear those black t-shirts to the gym. I try to wear bright colors, and look nice. I’m not sure. I think it’s a way I’m finding to travel down this new road. And I don’t want to feel like I’m in funeral wear all the time anymore. So, while there was no little black dress, I’m finally in a place where being the ‘hot widow’ resonates. Thanks again as ever Michela for baring your soul and sharing all these memories. I know it helps so many of us.

    1. Hi Stephanie,
      I love hearing other widow’s stories about their times. I like how you wear the bright colours now, I agree, it’s like finding your new path, almost requires a new outlook on your clothing too. I found after Nick’s passing, I didn’t want to wear anything he had ever bought me or that I had worn to occasions with him either. I went on a shopping spree buying all new things, weird, right?
      Thank you so much for sharing with me and for reading along, I enjoy hearing from you.
      Michela x

  5. Hi michela

    How brave you are to relive your journey, it truly is inspirational to hear your story and how life can be so cruel yet also so beautiful. I often think about how things can change in your life in an instant and your story makes me realise that so I try to cherish my girls and my husband. Take care Julia

    1. Hi Julia,
      Yes, life can be beautiful and cruel, sometimes all at the one time. I love knowing that by sharing our story, it puts life into perspective for so many. Life is so precious and no one is invincible to its twist and turns, we just carry on as best we can.
      Thank you so much for reading and commenting too.
      Michela xx

  6. It ticks me off when people say they don’t want to see a friend/family member after they get sick or at the funeral because they “want to remember him/her how they were.” It’s cowardly and selfish, in my opinion. I wish they’d just say the truth which is, “I’m afraid to be reminded of how fragile life really is.” After my husband’s stroke he was so hurt by friends who no longer wanted to stop by. It was like he had already died in their eyes.

    Making inappropriate jokes as a coping mechanism? It’s what we caregivers-turned-widows do to break the stress and get through the tough times. More power to you!

    1. Hi Jean,
      Gosh, your message is so spot on, people don’t visit because it makes them think about their own morality. Nick was also offended by the people that ‘dropped off’ visiting, but they always had some lame excuse not to come.
      Always good to know, im not the only inappropriate joke making widow, i’ve got a ton of widow jokes, that I found hilarious and secretly made all my friends think I was losing it.
      Great to hear from you, thanks for writing me!
      Michela xx

  7. So lovely to read again you write with such honesty! Would love to see a pic of that little black dress!! I know what you mean about not bring able to wear a funeral dress again. I couldn’t bear to wash mine that I wore for my Dads for a couple of years feeling that I would be washing away the last part of him. However 6 years later I wore the very dress to my sons 10 year old friends funeral who tragically died and felt my Dad would be happy .. It felt appropriate.

    I loved reading the part about how you made light of putting things in the casket and yes when you make a joke about things relatives really get astounded at times but it’s a great mechanism for coping.

    Take care and hope you and your daughter are keeping well.

    Love Kate x

    1. Hi Kate,
      Lovely to hear from you again! Thank you for asking, Claudia and I are doing really well!
      Thanks for sharing your funeral dress story, it’s funny that we place such emotions on something as simple as an outfit, but they hold such memories of that time. Sorry to hear your son’s friend passed away, that makes me sad, but yes, sounds like it was good opportunity to wear the dress again and feel like your Dad was near too.

      Hope to hear from you again,
      Michela xx

  8. It is heartbreaking to read this, Michela, as it points out to me how little time you and Nick had together. It actually reminds me more of our wedding, when Peter’s parents were absolutely horrified by our unconventional and non-traditional plans, protesting every step along the way. But Peter died six weeks before our 25th wedding anniversary, so his family had had time to get used to our way of doing things, and they didn’t even think of questioning my authority to decide how we would say good-bye to Peter.
    For the memorial, I wished I could wear the red silk dress I had made for our wedding (there is even a picture of Peter helping me finish sewing the hem when we started running out of time), but there was no way I could get into it after so many years. Instead I wore a long black leather skirt and a red silk blouse that Peter had given me, and wearing beautiful clothes he had given me felt a little bit like feeling him hold me.

    1. Hi Aileen,
      Thank you for sharing your story, I love that you wore a black leather skirt and red silk blouse to Peter’s funeral, sounds lovely and I love the thought of him helping to finish your wedding dress!
      I could never have gotten away with red at Nick’s funeral, well, without being spoken about for the next 30 years for how inappropriate ‘they’ thought it was. I found it easier to go with what every one else expected, than cause any problems, his family are very traditional in that sense, and I don’t think they realised how non-traditional Nick actually was.

  9. Dear Michela, I am totally enjoying your Blog. Thank you for taking the time and being brave enough to write the truth about such a difficult subject!
    My brother died of Pancreatic cancer 6 years ago and I can relate to a lot of what you experienced. You have a talent for writing… keep it up, it will become (if it’s not already!) your emotional savior and your livelihood.
    All the best, Melissa

    1. Hi Melissa,
      Im so sorry for you loss of your brother, pancreatic cancer sucks. I hope reading along, isn’t too emotional for you, but thank you so much for reading and taking the time to comment.
      I have really enjoyed writing & keeping Nick’s memory alive. I haven’t written anything since high school, so thank you for your compliment, I sometimes question whether it even makes any sense, as I write my posts so quickly. Getting such beautiful feedback like yours, makes me want to continue writing, thanks again.

      Michela xxx

        1. Dearest Melissa,
          I’m so touched that you say I have been your inspiration, totally humbled! I think writing your way through your daughters illness will be a great release, I wish I had this when Nick was sick, even just to get all your thoughts down.
          I’ll be reading along and hoping for good news, sending my love xxxxx

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