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Struggling with the term widow

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Three weeks ago today, my partner took his own life at 47. 


We were engaged, but never married. We lived together for two and a half years and we were raising four children together. Three from his previous marriage (20, 16 and 13) and our 18 month old. 


I have lost my partner and best friend. I have lost our planned future together. I know that by most definitions I am a widow. But I am still uncomfortable with the term. I feel like I am stealing it from those who actually got married. From those who made the commitment on paper. From the people who had been together for decades. In short, I feel like a fraud.  Z


I also don’t feel like a widow. My brain keeps yelling that I’m only 30 and that this isn’t real. That this can’t truly be happening to me. 


I know that it’s just a word. That I can categorize myself however I need to but the government has already categorized me as a widow. Where I am from in Canada, a common law spouse holds the same legal rights as a spouse. I will have to fill out my taxes and all government paperwork until I remarry (or get involved in another common law relationship) as widowed. 


I feel bad posting this, because I see all these people talking about how they are reduced to nothing in the eyes of the government. And I’m sorry for all those people who are in that situation. 


I just can’t be the only person who is struggling with the categorization. It just feels like this constant reminder of this awful thing that happened. 


Anyway, thanks to those who read this.





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Welcome. We choose here to include anyone who has lost a partner, married or not. If you feel you can find connection to people here, by all means you can belong. 


I’m sorry for the tragic loss of your partner and the father of your toddler. I don’t have this type of experience myself, but there are others here who lost a partner to suicide and some who are as young as you are. 


Read, post, vent away. 





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It's been 4 1/2 years for me and it's only very recently that I refer to myself as a widow. It is a very loaded word and for me, conjured all kinds of images to which I simply couldn't relate. Nobody owns the word or how you choose to identify. You do what feels right to you at any given time. I am so sorry for your loss.

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Thanks for the responses. I have been searching for a way out of the term widow for a few weeks, but I’m starting to come around. 


Merriam-Webster’s definition of widow is: 

a woman who has lost her spouse or partner by death and usually has not remarried. 


Michael was my partner. He was the man I was going to spend my life with. I am not about to adopt an all black wardrobe, but I need to start owning the term and making it whatever it means to me. 


I think the the reason I have been struggling is because I don’t want to face the emotions and grief that are associated with the term widow. I just want to sweep it under the rug. But this isn’t something that can be silenced. These emotions will be with me forever. 

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Hi RAC - please accept my deepest sympathies on the passing of your partner.


One thing to be aware of - this forum is a very tiny slice of widows/widowers and an even tinier part of the general public. And while the owners of the site and many posters have no issues as to who uses the term widow while here, the public at large is not so inclined. Indeed, many widows/widowers are even more restrictive about who calls themselves what outside the protected bounds of this site.


I don't mention this to discourage you - not at all. State your status as you wish. My point is simply to let you know you will eventually run into folks irl that will take issue with your choice of descriptor (and possibly take you to task for it). Sorry, that is just the way it is.


Choice of any one word over another does not diminish your hurt in any way. Time will ease your pain eventually - but it sure as hell doesn't seem like it right now.


Best wishes - Mike

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Rising above chos,

I like your username.  You are trying to rise above this.  A word is just that it is how you see yourself.  I choke on the word because for me I do not want it to be true with all of my heart.  I want my love to be waiting for me or sitting in the chair next to me when someone asks where is your husband? 

Widow does not need to define you.  But it is a reality now.  One that is more painful than anyone can imagine.  Say what you need to say at the moment you decide to say it.  It is ok to not talk about it at times too. 

Wishing you peace beyond understanding.


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