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  • Writer's pictureTracy Bottiglieri

When I Became A Widow

If you have read my bio on the About page of this site, you know that I am a recent widow. Unless you are a good friend, what you won’t know is how much I loved my husband. And he loved me. We were lucky to find each other fairly early in our lives; I was 22 and he was 26. Like all marriages, we worked on improving our communication and staying close when necessary and simply being the best team we could. He was “my favorite,” and I was his. We were very lucky.

On March 21, 2019, my husband was tragically killed in a skiing accident. He was an expert skier. He often said he felt closer to God when he was on the mountain. In fact, he had said that exact phrase only moments before he took his fatal run. On that day, anyone who loved Joe was forever changed. He was the calm, rational advice-giver to family, friends, and clients. He was an inspiration and guiding force to young associates. He was a role model, support system, and fun-loving dad to our twin 21-year-old sons. And he was my life partner and love of my life. What would the future look like without him? I couldn’t bear to imagine it. But, as the saying goes, life goes on.

Thank you for allowing me to pour my heart out a bit. I want you to understand my relationship so that you can get to know me a little better. I am not saying our marriage was perfect, but we truly worked to make it better when we knew it needed a little improvement. And that to me is the definition of a good marriage. I definitely do not have all of the answers related to grieving. However I can share what has worked for me, and hopefully help one of you or someone you know.

Today I want to share the underlying “mantra” I developed: Treat Your Grieving Self As A Guest. I did not set out to come up with a mantra. In fact, I don’t really even like to use that term, but it’s the only word I can come up with that fits the situation best. As a new widow, I was simply trying to get from moment to moment. I had not even been able to look from day-to-day yet. Tomorrow was too far in the future! But I could survive for another moment. In the background of my mind was always Joe: how I missed him; what would we do without him; how I wished he was just in the other room; how much I wish I could talk to him; over and over and over.

As I said in my bio, my goal is happiness. It may seem simplistic to some of you, but it is true. I love nothing more than being happy and making other people happy. This all-consuming grief made me someone I didn’t recognize. Did not want to recognize. I wasn’t sure how long my Grieving Self would be around, but I hoped she was simply visiting. Granted it was going to be an extended visit, but it was still temporary in my mind.

And so I started to treat my Grieving Self as I would any of my guests. I made sure to set out the best cups and plates for breakfast. Coffee was in an urn, creamer was in a small pitcher. My GS might notice the little touches I was trying to make, and maybe it would make her feel a little better. I would prepare a delicious meal, or at least buy something I knew she would enjoy. The dinner was always served on a plate, not paper goods. Even when I was writing out Thank You cards for the many kind and generous gifts, help and more that people gave to me and the boys, I prepared a small charcuterie board and poured a glass of wine for my GS. I purchased flowers and put them in vases around the house, making sure to put them in places my GS would notice and be able to enjoy. I treated her to massages or pedicures, just to get her out of the house. I did puzzles with her, and we learned how to make cocktails together. My GS was taken care of while she mourned.

In my case, my “guest” was grieving for her lost husband. Possibly in your case, it might be from a broken marriage, a sick child, or simply this crazy pandemic. Whatever the reason for your personal heartache, I hope you will treat your hurting self as the special guest she is.

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