The Word Widow

10984058_925824254103825_4262280160418005868_n.jpgI've been asked what I think of the word widow, and specifically if I'd prefer we use a different word that has a more positive connotation to label the widowed experience.

When the word widow first applied to me, I told myself that I hated that word. I shuddered every time I used that word to describe myself, and the unwanted situation in which I found myself. I avoided saying the word "widow" if I could, and certainly did not use that word publicly.

But here is the thing, I have been widowed. My husband died, and the word "widow" IS going to be applied to me whether I like it or not. Eventually I realized that hating the word (and the experience by extension) didn't change anything, in fact, for me, hating the word made it more difficult to bear. I felt as if hating the word widow meant hating a part of myself that I could not change.

Instead of changing the word people use to describe a person whose spouse or partner has died, I seek to change the negative connotation that is applied to the word widow.


The widowed people I have met over the past nine years are remarkable. They are resilient, powerful, broken, rebuilt, struggling, growing, generous, and many are more alive than any other group of people I have ever encountered.

I don't want to change the word widow. I believe that the connotation around the word is a result of the fear our society has of death, grief, illness, and all things that can't be "fixed." Whatever we call ourselves, we will always have to find our own way to own our reborn selves and to handle other people's discomfort with our grief process and/or our choices post-loss. That said, I am all for whatever change of language or perspective each of us needs to walk this widowed road. To each his or her own.

Widow is a powerful word, and I am proud to be known as someone who loved my person to his very last breath. 

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  • commented 2015-11-25 19:22:42 -0800
    I have never minded the word widow as a description of me, only what the reality of the word means if that makes sense. It is a powerful word and one to be proud of because of everything that encompasses a widow/widowers world from the moment that it becomes their label.
  • commented 2015-11-24 04:15:00 -0800
    This last year I have learned widow is an honor. I was loved till forever. What an amazing gift to be someone’s forever love!! While I would give anything to have husband back, I can’t change the fact thst he died so instead I am choosing to take baby steps to live.
  • commented 2015-11-24 02:33:34 -0800
    I wear the badge of widowed with honor where underneath those words are
    courage, honor, devotion, compassion, hope, and love.
    I’ve picked those up on my five year journey surrounded by those other special people who taught me I was still alive, reminded me I was still in love, and led me to sunlight.
    I so get what you are saying Michele. In the depth and darkness of sorrow we find those other lost souls who inspire each other.
  • commented 2015-11-23 23:26:13 -0800
    Michele thank you for addressing this. I too hated the word at first. I am a suicide widow which doubled the impact for me. What I love most about your post is the final paragraph. I am so proud to have loved my husband to his very last breath. I am proud of who he was, of the legacy he has left. But the manner of his death has left society unwilling to even call me a widow at times. As if somehow suicide left me unworthy of being his wife and him unworthy of the pride I feel. This is what I fight to change, what I pray will change.