Early Widowhood: Mourning

When my husband James died, I’d done a good chunk of mourning already. He’d suffered from serious cardio-vascular disease for over a decade, had surgery, and then struggled with declining health and mental function. These last two years were difficult with a grumpy spouse, no travel, and no fun. I went through the angry stage of mourning at that time as I prepared myself and others for the inevitable.

I learned that there was no time for grief in the three weeks that followed his passing — I put it on hold as I hosted a houseful of guests and completed the organization of his funeral and wake. After they left, I had to deal with the immediate financial considerations that included notifying everyone of his death, filling in myriad forms for pensions, transfers of investments, and banking info, as well as winding-down his company.

I realized a month later grief was not overwhelming — I’d already mourned his loss before he died. The angry stage had morphed into acceptance. But, there were those who had not yet gone through the process.

One or two of them surprised me — they were angry with me for not collapsing. One said, “Didn’t you love your husband?”  Another remarked, “You’ll regret not mourning him. It’ll catch up with you.” The worst I faced is unrepeatable.

All were devastated. I was appalled.

I briefly blamed myself for giving the wrong impression. Then common sense kicked in — this was their grief speaking. Some had not been prepared for James dying and others had denied my earlier warnings.

I found myself starting to assist them in their mourning, but it was dragging me down while I coped with James’s estate and company. So I stopped because I couldn’t and shouldn’t do it for them. The words I used were: “I know what you’re going through because I’ve lived it for the past two years.” It was the right decision but a difficult one, and one person couldn’t forgive my attitude.

I felt badly as if I’d let them down but now eighteen months have passed and I know I made the right moves for me and my children.

© Julie H. Ferguson 2017

Vancouver-based Julie H. Ferguson is an addicted traveler who is intensely interested in the history and culture of foreign lands, as well as Canada, and her stories and images reflect this focus. Julie never leaves home without her cameras and voice recorder, always looking for the colour and sounds that captivate readers everywhere.

A non-fiction writer for forty-five years and an avid photographer, Julie is also the author of twenty-six books, including four about Canadian naval and church history, six for writers, and sixteen photo portfolios. Her articles have appeared in national and international markets, both print and online, and her images have been exhibited, published, and sold.



  1. In my view, for some of us, grieving is not only uniquely personal it is also intimate. As a result, some of us feel socially awkward and/or vulnerable when grieving.
    I grieve very quietly – no help needed thanks!

  2. Good for you, Julie – first for recognizing what was happening with your friends, and then for coping with it so well. You are one strong lady!

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