I strongly dislike the word widow. Whenever I say the word my body and energy kind of shrivel and cringe. What kind of image comes to mind when you hear the term widow? Why are people who have lost a loved one referred to as a widow(er)? Who decided on this term? Can’t we come up with something that doesn’t sound so defeated and dark?
Doesn’t the expression conjure up the image of a nasty, black spider who eats her mate? First off I hate spiders and secondly I am not a cannibal. Maybe in the spider world being a [black] widow means you are badass and strong. But in the human world, widow usually means an elderly woman who has spent a better part of her life with her spouse. A woman who may be more at peace with her husbands passing because he too has lived a full life. A woman who may shy away from life, bound to pass her days defined by the death of her loved one. What I have described is the “stereotypical” widow but I can tell you now, I am far from stereotypical.
I am not an elderly woman. I am not frail or grumpy. I do not feel as if my life is over. I am considered a widow by circumstance. I do not feel like a widow and I do not look like a widow. Maybe I dislike the word because honestly I’m scared of the way society pegs widows. I don’t want to be looked at and pitied. I don’t want others to be afraid of me and my emotions. I don’t want guys to find out I am a widowed mother of two and think I have too much baggage (that is a future discussion all together). I know other women who feel this way as well. Young widows mostly. Ones who did not get to spend a full life with their loved one. They don’t want to be viewed as, unstable or unapproachable. Maybe age plays a role in how we handle our “widowhood” and how we perceive life after loss.
I am not ashamed of the label, I just can’t identify with it. I feel I can change the meaning of the word by how I choose to live my life. I have come across some women who inspire me and they too are widows. They make the word less scary. If being bound and determined to be better than I was the day before is a quality of being a widow, I’ll own it. If seeing every opportunity and experience as a chance to learn is a quality of being a widow, then I am a widow. If choosing love and compassion and following my heart defines how a widow moves forward, then I am a widow.
As much as I dislike the word and the labels that come along with it, I will continue to live. I will not let the term define me based off age old illustrations. I will rewrite the definition and in turn I hope that maybe those around me will look at widowhood in a different light, one that is not so dark and final. And hopefully, maybe fellow widows will redefine what being a widow means to them.