Young Widow Forum

Specific Situations => Other Circumstances => Topic started by: Monique on March 15, 2017, 10:17:54 PM

Title: My mom won't let me call myself a widow
Post by: Monique on March 15, 2017, 10:17:54 PM
Hi all, I've been reading these forums for 2 weeks since losing my fiance. Didn't expect to make THIS my first post, but it's been a frustrating day and I need to. I came to the decision pretty quickly that the only "label" that made sense to me was to call myself a widow. Sam and I weren't married yet, but we were excitedly planning for our wedding and were 100% committed to each other. I was already living out the promises that I would make on our wedding day, and now I have lost the love of my life, the man I expected to spend forever with. His family has been absolutely amazing through all of this. They've welcomed me as one of their own and have made it clear that they will always see me as their daughter/ sister. My mom, on the other hand, seems insistent on pointing out repeatedly that I WASN'T married, I'm NOT a real widow, and I have no legal rights. My entire family have been very supportive in other ways, but I just can't seem to make my mom understand that saying these things does nothing but hurt me and make this harder. I'm not trying to discount the sufferings of widows who WERE married and had many more years with their husbands/wives than I did with Sam, but my loss is still significant and life-changing for me, and if it helps me even a little bit to use this label, is there really any harm in it?
Title: Re: My mom won't let me call myself a widow
Post by: Julester3 on March 15, 2017, 10:26:27 PM
You are a widow in every sense of the word and definition except in sense of the law. You feel and experience everything as we do and you, like all of us, have lost someone you loved dearly. Sorry you have to deal with someone who has to be a stick in the mud, stickler and happens to be your own mom. You have every right to mourn in your own way. Hugs for you today.
Title: Re: My mom won't let me call myself a widow
Post by: Trying on March 16, 2017, 07:21:11 AM
Of course your loss is just as significant.  I'm sorry your mother seems stuck on the legal sense of the word widow instead of the emotional repercussions of the loss you have suffered.  All of us widows mourn the person we loved and chose to spend our lives with and we mourn the shared future we planned that will never happen.  That defines you exactly. 

My heartfelt sympathies go out to you and I hope you find some comfort in this group.
Title: Re: My mom won't let me call myself a widow
Post by: Portside on March 16, 2017, 10:03:39 AM
Please accept my sympathies on the loss of your fiancé.

Of course, your pain is very real and strikes you to your very core. But that is not what this is about. Use, or non use, of the widow label does not define your level of pain or grief.

Having said that though, your mother is correct. Words have specific meanings (in all areas and subjects) and it is confusing, in this case, to society at large when you describe yourself as a widow if you were not married. That is probably your mother's issue with that label. It is, for me, similar to a person telling me they are a veteran. If you refer to yourself as such, I assume you were in the military at some point.  But no one can enforce you to use any words to express yourself. Just don't be surprised if you get 'the look' at some point from someone.   

This board is unique in that the owners make no decision on whether or not anyone signing up and contributing is entitled to be here. Girlfriends/boyfriends, fiancé's or married folks that have lost their spouse are very welcome.

Again, very sorry for your loss.

Best wishes - Mike
Title: Re: My mom won't let me call myself a widow
Post by: Mizpah on March 16, 2017, 10:14:32 AM
Words have meaning, but legal truth and reality truth/life truth/emotional truth are not always the same thing.  For example, religious people can be married by a religious leader, and still not be legally married, and consider themselves husband and wife, and under the law/contracts of their religion, they are married, though legally they may not be. 

I will share my situation/story in the hopes it gives you some comfort.  DH and I were not legally married.  We were legally domestic partners.  Within the first month together, though, he started calling me his wife.  Within a couple months, we'd exchanged "wedding" bands, and I changed my name legally.  Everyone called us husband and wife.  We called each other husband and wife, for years.  We always planned to "make it official," but it made no difference in our lives.  It did make quite a difference in death, though. 

I continue to call him my husband.  Though not technically correct, it's what we called each other in life, and I will NOT demote him in death.  Also, convenience.  I don't want to explain to every random person who somehow comes to know part of my story all that I just outlined above.  It means more to me than to them, and I don't consider it a lie, though it's technically untrue to say "widow."  It's kinda like this to me: I don't eat meat.  I haven't since I was 12.  For no real reason, I just don't.  I do, however, eat fish now, but no shellfish.  When I'm talking to acquaintances who, for example, I happen to be having lunch with, it's expedient to simply say I'm a vegetarian.  Why on earth do I need to explain all the little aspects of my eating habits?  It's technically a lie, but who cares? 

One of my widow friends, in the early days, told me a story about how her sister kept (cruelly) bringing up over and over how she wasn't a widow because they were only engaged and not married.  I had a few choice words which I will not repeat here.  YOU know you aren't *legally* a widow - why must she point it out?  It's easier to say widow than to say I lost my fiance every time you need to explain it. 

And emotionally, inside yourself, which - let's face it - is where we live: it's true.  F everyone who wants to hold you to technicalities (like, really - you just lost your future and your person - who gives a shit about legal status?!).  And yeah, words mean specific things, but we don't have a word for this, and widow is the closest one.  Only @$$holes will call you on it (sorry for name-calling your mom, I'm sure she's wonderful). 

{Edited to add: When a person asks me how long we were married, then I divulge the whole technical truth, and explain why I use the word widow.}
Title: Re: My mom won't let me call myself a widow
Post by: Max2507 on March 17, 2017, 02:05:39 PM
Geez people can be so un-self aware of how what they are saying effects people. I lost the person I loved, that loved me back in an incredible way, the person I thought I would spend many more years with, had plans for the future with---Isn't that the person you lost too? Yes I was married but doesn't my decription fit your situation, I was also a woman married to a man but what if it were a female partner? Wouldn't they be in the same fucking sad situation? Sorry just this kind of crap makes me so angry and from your mom of all people, two weeks post loss. I think next time she pushed that distinction I would say OK you are right I am just a woman who's fiance FUCKING DIED!!
Title: Re: My mom won't let me call myself a widow
Post by: Bunny on March 17, 2017, 07:58:52 PM
okay. Yes, legally, you're not a widow. But when you lose the person you've decided to spend the rest of your life with, what the fuck else are you supposed to call yourself?! Maybe you should ask her what label exactly she would like you to use and why.

My mom said some weird hurtful shit right after my husband died. She told me I was just depressed and she knew exactly how I felt because she'd struggled with severe depression for much of her life. She was always trying to get me to take anti-depressants because they worked so well for her so that is what I needed to get better also. It was frustrating to explain over and over that I was not depressed, but rather really really down into my bones SAD, not depressed. It's different. Grief cannot be solved with a pill (if only that were the case!) I felt so invisible to her.

Reflecting on it now-- I think that my grief was scary for her; to see her child- whom she deeply loved- in so much pain. So she tried to put it in a box she could understand. She diminished it in order to try to get me to not be in So Much unbearable unrelenting pain. Of course, it was bullshit and very hurtful. And not in the least helpful. But I knew she did love me, so I let it go as much as I could while being very firm about what my feelings were and were not.

I dunno...maybe your mom thinks, irrationally, that you will hurt less if you just stop calling yourself a widow. Death can create some crazy kinda logic gymnastics in people's brains.

I'm so very sorry you never got to be his wife.
Title: Re: My mom won't let me call myself a widow
Post by: TooSoon on March 17, 2017, 09:05:01 PM
Your loss is as significant as all of our losses.  If you feel like widowed best characterizes where you are right now then to hell with semantics.  You are unconditionally welcome here, as is every person who has lost their partner in life - legal or not, normative or not, no matter the circumstances.  I am so sorry for your loss; please lean on people here for support. 
Title: Re: My mom won't let me call myself a widow
Post by: Monique on March 17, 2017, 09:49:23 PM
Thank you so much to everyone for your support. It's frustrating that there really isn't a good word for my situation unless I tell people the whole long story. So far I haven't really needed to tell anyone other than close friends and family, and I try to be patient with them since the things they say are well-intentioned and said out of love, even if sometimes they hurt me without meaning to. But it's nice to have people to talk to who understand... I'm glad I found this group, even though I wish I hadn't needed to. Love to you all!
Title: Re: My mom won't let me call myself a widow
Post by: beth_krkswidow on April 04, 2017, 08:04:38 AM
There is a girl in our young widoes grief group, who comes to my widow breakfasts. She is in your situation. Her Patrick is buried at the same cemetery as my Kirk. We sometimes visit them together. She is going through the same hell I am.  She lost the love of her life and neither of us want to go on.  She, and you, are widows.  Not in the legal sensr. But this is not a legal matter.  This is a matter of the heart. I am so sorry that you had to join us.  Hugs to you.   Beth
Title: Re: My mom won't let me call myself a widow
Post by: Mizpah on April 07, 2017, 08:40:42 AM
this is not a legal matter.  This is a matter of the heart.

Exactly
Title: Re: My mom won't let me call myself a widow
Post by: Portside on April 07, 2017, 01:51:21 PM
this is not a legal matter.  This is a matter of the heart.

Exactly

I'm not trying to be a PITA but if you use 'widow' incorrectly often enough in public, you WILL get called out on it by someone eventually. Unsurprisingly enough probably from a widow or widower.

No one is trying to minimize your grief. But to apply a word to a situation that does not apply will cause confusion to the listener and you'll end up more unhappy that you already (rightfully) are.

I understand you feel like you imagine a widow would feel. No one is trying to take that away from you.

But please understand what your choice of status may mean to others that are.

Best wishes - Mike
Title: Re: My mom won't let me call myself a widow
Post by: Wheelerswife on April 07, 2017, 07:25:30 PM
I'm sorry that there is no word to define the loss of a fiancé or fiancée.  I understand that you feel very much widowed.  It doesn't concern me at all that you use the word widow.  For all I know, you may have been in a relationship with your fiancé longer that I knew my second husband.  My pain would have been no less than if I had not married him.

But, as you can see from your mother and some others who are sticklers about definitions, you may get push-back from some people.  You already are quite aware that you didn't get the chance to marry him.  It is hard enough to have to explain one's marital status when one has been widowed, never mind when you lost the person you had planned to marry.  I wish that everyone could understand this.

As for being here in this forum, married or not, you are welcome.  I think it is a very small minority of widowed folks that think you are just imagining what it feels like to be a widow. 

Hugs,

Maureen
Title: Re: My mom won't let me call myself a widow
Post by: Monique on April 07, 2017, 09:49:26 PM
I haven't used the term in public, as I've rarely needed to explain my situation to anyone (I've spent almost all my time these past six weeks with close friends or family who already know). It only came up because I was telling my mother about this site, and when I mentioned it was a group for young widows, she told me "but you're not a widow."  I know that's true; I just didn't think it needed to be pointed out in that particular context. I'm not sure what exactly I will end up saying the next time someone asks about my relationship status. If I use the term "widowed" it will be for simplicity's sake and with the awareness that people may be confused or call me out for using it incorrectly.

On a side note, Mizpah, I do the same thing with the word "vegetarian." I'm a pescetarian (I eat seafood but no meat), but most people don't know what that means, so it's quicker to say I'm vegetarian than to explain further. This is a bit different, but I suppose my hope was that telling someone "I'm widowed"  would be a quick response to avoid awkward questions, but perhaps it will just create more instead.

I've thought about changing my facebook status to "widowed" only because "single" to me implies that I'm looking for a relationship when I definitely am not, and "engaged" results in lots of wedding-related ads showing up on my page, which of course just makes me sad. For now, though, I'm not ready to change it, nor have I decided if it would be appropriate, so it still says I'm engaged to him. I like having the connection for now.
Title: Re: My mom won't let me call myself a widow
Post by: fairlanegirl on May 01, 2017, 04:11:20 AM
For all I know, you may have been in a relationship with your fiancé longer that I knew my second husband.  My pain would have been no less than if I had not married him.
Yes, I thought this too. Not that length of time matters really of course, but for example, I have been in a relationship five years. If we were to then get engaged, to me that would be like being married for five years. And having been married before of course, and widowed, in my heart, for me, I would know this.

All the very best to you Monique. It is a very very hard road, I don't think it is presumptuous to say you are likely still in the shock stage, take care of yourself.  And I too remember reading on the previous forum in my very early days, and gaining some comfort and hope. i hope you do too. 
Title: Re: My mom won't let me call myself a widow
Post by: MissingSquish on May 07, 2017, 11:02:26 AM
This has much more to do with your mom's hang ups about your situation than you specifically. I would not take it personally. If you have a good relationship with your mom, I'd tell her that her behavior is hurting you.

I was married, but only for a short time, and I hadn't had a chance to change my name legally (but I went by my husband's last name socially). My mom addressed every single correspondence to me (any cards etc) with my legal name on it, and still does. I explained to her why it was hurtful, but I didn't change her behavior. I decided it wasn't worth it for me to fight with her over something she wasn't willing to change.

Best of luck as you navigate your journey.
Title: Re: My mom won't let me call myself a widow
Post by: Tweety76 on May 16, 2017, 10:39:07 AM
Monique: I'm so sorry you have to go through that in addition to the terrible loss you have experienced. Very unjust!

You are a widow just as much as the next person who lost their loved one. Legalities in this day and age are only blast from the past that at least in my country are being fixed/made more just to the various forms of partnership. I've had this discussion with many non-married widows and it's heartbreaking everytime. This is a peer support group for widows which does in my mind include non-married widows.

If a widow/widower comes and slaps that "you are not a widow because you weren't married", I'd be shocked. That would be the worst insult ever. From a non-widow I do understand the ignorance and bad manners but from a fellow widow/widower, never and quite frankly at least here, I've never seen it and I'd rather not see it.

Having read Mizpahs story and knowing what I felt about widow -term, I started to think that could it be a form of denial based on legalities to make it easier to take also for your mother? The Mizpah's example person refuses to be called a widow based on legalities, I didn't want to be called a widow even we were married, so could it be that seeing you in pain is too much for you mother so she takes the easy road (and hurtful one) of denying the term from you because it hurts her (and no! I am not defending her. This is just my thinking)

Big hugs to you Monique and good (yet I'm sorry that you had to) that you found us. Someone once said this is the greatest group of people you never wanted to meet.
Title: Re: My mom won't let me call myself a widow
Post by: Portside on May 16, 2017, 12:04:04 PM

If a widow/widower comes and slaps that "you are not a widow because you weren't married", I'd be shocked.

Tweety - prepare to be shocked.

You are absolutely correct that this forum is for all that have lost someone close, no matter what the legal status. That is the right of the owners of the site. They can make this whatever they want it to be. They pay the freight - they make the rules.

But that was not what the original poster was concerned with. She asked about her mother and, if we look at this issue with a little larger scope, we can extrapolate it to general society.

General society does not view the words we use here to describe ourselves to have the same 'definition' as this site does. I'll give you a similar example - In general society, the word 'veteran', when used to describe a former member of the armed services, has a specific, unbending meaning. It does not, and can not, be used to describe folks that are closely aligned to the Navy (for example) or any civilian support groups. Hell, they may even be working in a combat zone alongside Marines. Living, eating, sleeping, fighting as the Marines but they are not veterans. To claim otherwise would be to start a monumental fight with the troops.

Words have specific meanings.  But, posters here are allowed to call themselves whatever they want. No one said otherwise and no one is trying to minimize anyone's hurt.

But to try it on the 'outside' is asking for further hurt.

I can call myself a cheese sandwich - that doesn't make me one.

Best wishes - Mike
Title: Re: My mom won't let me call myself a widow
Post by: hachi on May 16, 2017, 12:46:38 PM
They've welcomed me as one of their own and have made it clear that they will always see me as their daughter/ sister.

 My mom, on the other hand, seems insistent on pointing out repeatedly that I WASN'T married, I'm NOT a real widow, and I have no legal rights. My entire family have been very supportive in other ways, but I just can't seem to make my mom understand that saying these things does nothing but hurt me and make this harder. I'm not trying to discount the sufferings of widows who WERE married and had many more years with their husbands/wives than I did with Sam, but my loss is still significant and life-changing for me, and if it helps me even a little bit to use this label, is there really any harm in it?

I see two very separate things going on here. The support you are getting from your late fiances family is encouraging, and the fact that they view you as family is wonderful.

What your mom is saying is correct, by definition, you would not be afforded any legal rights. It doesn't make your loss any less than if he had been taken from you a few weeks later. It is certainly significant and life-changing for you. If she is trying to minimize your loss, well, maybe that is the real issue. By pointing it out repeatedly, when you have made it clear that it hurts you, seems, well, hurtful. I sincerely hope that she is supportive of you in every other way.

I tend to agree with Portside. Labels do mean something. My brother has a life partner who he is not, and for their own reasons, never will be married to. I view them as life partners. I do not like to refer to her as my sister-in-law because she isn't related to me by law. But I would never make a big deal out of it and say to her that her relationship is less than a marriage. It just is what it is.

For what it is worth, in the beginning it is hard not to define yourself as a widow/widower because your whole world is upended by this set of events. For me, at 5 years, I now say that I "was widowed" instead of "am a widow". It is still a significant part of who I am, but I am so much more now than a widow although who I am is forever changed because I was widowed.  I hope that makes some kind of sense.

I am very sorry you are going through such pain and hope you will continue to be comforted by your extended family.
Title: Re: My mom won't let me call myself a widow
Post by: Mizpah on May 18, 2017, 03:42:01 PM
I can call myself a cheese sandwich - that doesn't make me one.

I think it's less like a human calling himself a cheese sandwich and more like an open-faced sandwich calling itself a sandwich.  Not technically a sandwich, because nothing is sandwiched between two pieces of bread, because there's only one piece of bread.  Yet it's close enough that no one wants to go through the rigmarole of saying, "It's a piece of bread with cheese on top but there is no second slice of bread." 

I was at lunch with a work colleague a couple weeks ago, and she was talking about a woman she knows who she called a widow.  Another person asked how long they'd been married when he died, and the woman went on to explain that they were actually just engaged and he died before they got married, and said how long they'd been together.  The responses?  "How horrible."  "So sad."  "Poor girl."  None of this parsing and correcting or, "Oh, well, she's actually not a widow then, is she?" 

I will say, though, that I take a critical view sometimes myself.  I call NG a widower even though she was "just" his fiancee.  (Like I said in an earlier response, DH and I called each other husband and wife, as did our friends and family, we wore wedding bands with each other's names engraved, and I changed my name legally.  NG and his fiancee called each other fiance and fiancee.)  But he's called her his wife a few times in conversation with me, and it *does* (against all of my opinions) rankle me.  I continue to call DH husband because I don't want to short thrift him in death from what I gave him in life, but to change the nomenclature after death, I don't know, it does bother me.  I don't know why.  It's silly.  He knows the truth.  I know the truth. 

It's complicated.  Our language lacks a word for this.  We do our best. 
Title: Re: My mom won't let me call myself a widow
Post by: TornApart on July 09, 2017, 05:53:24 AM
I am a widow. I recognize you as a widow. You are feeling all the same feelings of loss and grief as I did. For me, it is not the legal definition, but the emotional experience.
Title: Re: My mom won't let me call myself a widow
Post by: Christopher on August 15, 2017, 03:18:03 PM
Your mom is a Statist and believes that the State is god and that their paperwork is gospel.

According to ancient, unbroken tradition a husband and wife were sexually and otherwise committed to one another. A marriage began with sex and ended only in death. Sex is sacred and should not be shared with strangers (according to the same traditions). These traditions have a common origin indeed, but they predate even the civilizations that archaeologists try to tell us actually existed.

You were married to him if you were already behaving like it. I can list the practices that study energy and how it works as examples of proof but I don't think those kinds of things would be healthy to list on a grieving help board.

Your mom needs to stop worshiping the flag and trying to enforce the State's corporate codes and policies and try to acknowledge the truth. You are an authentic widow.