Looking for a Silver Lining

Many of you long-term readers know I lost my beloved husband, Kramer in June of 2019.  He was diagnosed with lung cancer on January 24th of 2019 and died 129 days later.

Since that day, my life has become a study of learning to deal with loss…but honestly, I started grieving the day he was diagnosed.  Sure, I was hopeful he could lick the cancer but something in me knew he’d never live the life he had…still, I had hope.

On the last weekend in April of 2019, Kramer broke his neck.  The cancer had moved to his neck and had eaten away the bone causing him to break his neck.  It was then that my real grieving start.  I knew for sure then he wasn’t going to lick this.  I knew for sure I would be a widow.  I knew for sure that every effort I had in me had to focus on making the days he had left, no matter the number, the very best I could for him…I also knew without a doubt, it would be me left here.  It would be me that had to find a way to go on.

When people talk about grief they say things like the holidays are the hardest…they say things like the first year is the hardest.  For me, the hardest time will always be this last weekend in April.  It’s the day I realized my prayers wouldn’t be answered.  I realized that many grandkids would be born without knowing their grandpa in the flesh.  I realized it would be me trying to figure out a plumbing problem.  I realized my life would never ever be the same.

Today marks that weekend.  I’ll admit…

I’m again sad.  The memories flood back.  I can feel all the same worries and cares like they are fresh with no layer of healing.  It’s okay though…It means I loved him and if this pain I feel now is a result of many years of love, it’s worth it.

A friend stopped over the other day.  She’s the sweetest gal.  She brought me a gift and treats for the childcare kiddos.  She doesn’t need to bring treats, her company is enough.  You see, she lost her husband too.  There is something completely different about talking to another widow.  They completely understand the frustration of not knowing how to fix something their husband used to fix in a few minutes.  They know the uncertainty of filing taxes and how that will all work now that you’re not filing jointly.  They too miss sharing in the family the way no one else can.  They too know that there are a few things that we are learning to appreciate now that we’re on our own.

As my friend and I were visiting we started to talk about some of the silver linings of not worrying about a husband.

She had recently traveled taking a trip and took the whole family.  Her husband, like my husband, would have likely complained about the cost or the time away.  A few weeks later she went to Texas to visit family.

We got to talking that there are actually a few things that we are starting to appreciate about being single.  Both of us would worry if we were gone for a day that there was food in the refrigerator for our husbands…we didn’t feel comfortable being gone for several days.  It wasn’t necessarily that our husbands made us feel that way, it was more we felt such a responsibility to them so often didn’t travel or did it less than we wanted.

We also talked about food.  It’s nice to sometimes not cook things to our husband’s preference.  I like my steak medium.  It’s nice to turn off the grill and be done cooking when my steak is medium rather than standing there and getting his well done.  I like not having to make a potato with every meal.  I like having a steak and salad.  I like making soup and things that go in just one pot.  Kramer didn’t like soup.  For me, soup is supper with a slice of buttered bread.  For him, I would have made grill cheese or Rueben sandwiches or a hamburger if I served soup.

I was telling my friend that when Karl moved out, he needed dishes.  I ended up giving him my old dishes and I bought myself new Pioneer Woman dishes.

I didn’t have to listen to Kramer say anything about the purchase.  I didn’t have to wonder what he’d think of eating off a floral plate.  I just bought them, put them in the cabinet, and have been enjoying them immensely.  Don’t get the wrong idea.  Both of our husbands were the best guys you could ask for.  Both were strong hard workers that were good at taking care of us and our families…neither was quick to criticize or complain.  Kramer wouldn’t have cared about me getting new dishes.  I just probably wouldn’t have bought them if he were here…he was a manly kind of man.

I can go to bed when I want.  I can get up when I want.  I actually like that.  I can read in bed with the light on and not have to wonder if I am disturbing him.

Some of these little things are the silver lining and I am so thankful that I have gotten this far in the grief process that I can admit that.  At one point I thought that, but didn’t dare say that out loud.  I was afraid someone might think I didn’t GRIEVE him enough…didn’t care enough or even sounded selfish.  None of that is true.  I have just come to the point that no matter what I do, he’s not coming back.  This is my life now.  God made me a glass half full girl so…in my half glass, I’m appreciating my Pioneer Woman dishes.  I’m enjoying a salad with my steak.  I’m eating soup when I please.  I add cabbage to lots of things (Kramer didn’t like cabbage).  I’m finding the silver linings…

My friend and I both agreed that in a heartbeat we would eat on paper plates, never eat soup again and for her, give up travel if we could have our husbands back…but if they aren’t going to be here, we’re going to continue to find some silver linings.

36 thoughts on “Looking for a Silver Lining

  1. Christina Coats

    Oh Jo
    you had me think so deeply, that I ended up in tears. Not sad tears but content tears if that makes sense. I am happy you are moving forward , this doesn’t mean you forget Kramer, as I know that he’s in your thoughts every day, and you speak to him every day too, but that you are filling your half glass full up. I have no doubt Kramer will be proud of you, coping, waking up looking forward to your day ahead and to hear laughter in the house be it you or the little ones.
    It has made me think that I will no longer be irritated by the drawers and cupboards left slightly ajar anymore for that means he’s still with me.
    I send blessings to you and your wonderful family, wonderful because of you and Kramer.

    Reply
  2. Linda In UK

    The Queen’s husband Prince Philip died 2 weeks ago and amongst all the hundreds of pages written about their great love and marriage lasting 73 years was this phrase: Grief if the price you pay for love. You understand that – you knew that 2 years ago when your husband broke his neck – but you have also recognised that you have to go on living your life. I admire you, Jo, you have done so well, forging ahead, making your own path through this new part of your life.

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  3. elissa

    My deepest sympathies Jo, have been there with the tragic loss of our only son age 21 years, followed by the loss of our youngest daughter age 19 years only 14 months later.
    Today was the day we heard the devastating news out cousin age 66 years will not be with us much longer.
    Unfortunately I may never see her again as she lives in Ontario, Canada. Between covid19 and the cost of international travel my heart aches as you well understand.
    Thoughts and prayers to you all.
    Elissa

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  4. Kim J LeMere

    I like the title of this post, the silver lining. I thank you for sharing your glass half full thoughts, it gives me pause to appreciate that my husband is still here with me. He is a good man and has always tried to do good by his family and I think I shall not let some of the smaller things bother me so much (Covid has given us a lot of time together in our small home). In fact today I shall make his favorite things, just because.
    You are doing us all a great service by allowing us to see all the ups and downs of grief and the loss of a good man.

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  5. Hedy

    My husband died 23 years ago and I still remember the day he was diagnosed with cancer. It was July 3 and we had a huge July 4th party planned. He died 53 days later. For several years as those two dates were approaching, I felt such sadness and grief, just like you are feeling this weekend. I did remarry but the grief never completely left me, it’s deep inside. Yes, there were silver linings, I got a new kitchen and bathroom floor. My husband always thought the old ones were good enough. I remember thinking I’d take those old floors back in a second if I could have him with me. Silver Linings, yes, I like that phrase.

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  6. Annie

    Your words are so very heartfelt and personal. Thank you for being brave enough to share these intensely private journeys into your soul. Who knows the healing you are accomplishing for yourself and others. We will never be fully healed in this life, but strength and confidence are sure signs of your courageous efforts. I look forward to hearing more from you.

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  7. Donna

    Dear Friend – thank you for being so open and honest with us. That’s one of the things we love so much about you. I have an online friend who lost her husband a few years ago and she mentioned the very same thing. I even remember my mom mentioning that once after my dad passed.
    Silver linings I believe are a gift from God.
    Love and prayers

    Reply
  8. Carol Ameling

    Loved your post. Here I sit tearing and following every word you wrote. Yes there is a silver lining to all the grieving but sure is hard. Hugs Jo love following you and miss our times.

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  9. yvonne Bowe

    I lost my husband that same year due to COPD, I agree with you that now you can eat what you want when you want and buy things you like! Those are the only good things regarding my hubbys passing.

    Nevewr thought of it as a good thing till I read your blog.

    Thank you!

    Reply
  10. Jill Klop

    I appreciate the posts that you write about grief. This week our very good friends lost their son in a motorcycle accident. It’s so hard to know what to do to help them right now. I remember how you compared grief to a ball in a box. Thank you for sharing.

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  11. Ellie

    Thank you Jo for a wonderful post! It’s a perfect example of why you have so many readers who love you and look forward to your posts every day. You have many accomplishments to be proud of in the time you have been alone. No it hasn’t always been easy or comfortable but you have moved ahead . That’s what’s important!

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  12. Marie C. Almon

    This being a widow is very confusing….on the one hand, you miss the guy 24/7. And you doubt you’ll ever want to date again, much less re-marry. On the other hand, you rebel. You cook the cabbage, the liver & onions, and use the 5-spice seasoning he didn’t like. You stay up all night or you stay in bed all day reading the newest book you’ve ordered. In fact, you order a lot more new books on-line. But, you can’t stand driving the new car, the one bought with only four miles on the speedometer, because he’s no longer in the passenger seat, so you trade it in on a used van. On the one hand, it is so uncomfortable at the church where you and he served faithfully as ushers for decades, every Sunday and all the holidays…..that you can no longer even drive by the building. On the other hand, the stores you told him repeatedly that you wanted more time in, you don’t even bother going in anymore either. In your grief, you are torn whether to cry uncontrollably about your loss or rejoice in your perceived new freedom. You consider flirting with the handsome man in line ahead of you at the grocery store, but then you have to duck your head to hide tears when you see his beautiful companion come up to hug him. Yes, it is very confusing to be a widow. And very complicated to be a member of a sorority you never pledged.

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    1. Jo Post author

      Marie. That was beautiful. All of what you said is so true. Thank you for sharing this, it really touched me.

      Reply
  13. Kate

    I am so glad you are able to admit out loud that there are some silver linings amidst the very strong grief. I can only imagine what your pain has been. I felt some of those pains when my first husband divorced me, and in some ways harder pains because our life had been tossed aside out of selfishness. Yes there are silver linings in singleness, but still much grief and like you said, you would gladly give up those silver linings to have him in your life.

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  14. Stearns Carol

    We are refinancing our home in order to replace the aluminum wiring with copper. Myi husband has handled the entire thing and it has been intense, copying documents and getting them to mortgage company, scheduling a wind mitigation and appraisal and much more. I realized during this process that I really appreciated his efforts. I would have been totally lost at the outset, trying to find things. At the same time, my Brother in law has been diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma. He does everything for my sister and now he has a grueling road ahead.
    Silver Linings, I so appreciate my husband and all he has done! Hugs to you!

    Reply
  15. Gloria B.

    Jo, your blog is like a little prayer. It makes me pause each time I read it Am I doing enough for others? Am I appreciative? Am I listening? Am I brightening the world around me? You are our silver lining. Thank you.

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  16. Elle

    Ah Dear Jo, and Kramer clan as well, you grieve in the way you need to grieve. There is no right or wrong and no one walks in your shoes so they don’t get a say or judgment. Bad days, good days. Habits you miss, new habits you like. I watched/supported my Mom in widowhood and 13y later my sister (just 57 then) and I know that each thought is genuine, each heartbreak is real, and each new decision is right. If it helps you, my sister felt her healing turned the corner about 3 1/2 years after her husband died. Those first years were painful to say the least. And there are still days she gets mad that he didn’t live to watch their grandchildren grow from toddlers to teens to adults. Those emotions are healthy as well. That’s the life you anticipated and it’s so not fair!

    You so much deserve to have your joyous moments. Your new dishes. Your change in eating style. There is no less love in your life for Kramer. Instead, there is more self-care and nurturing because you have the time to do so.

    Hugs to you this difficult weekend. Maybe Carver needs to take you to Papa’s rock for a chat and good cry.

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  17. Judy Laquidara

    So thankful your friend stopped by and a bit of girl time, both knowing first hand what the other is experiencing . . just what you needed. I’m so sorry for your loss, so sorry your way of life changed so much but am happy you’re able to find a bit of humor and those things you are able to appreciate. I’ve never been in your shoes but I do believe you’ll always be sad the last weekend in April but, as you said, that means you loved Kramer dearly for so many years. Some never experience that kind of love and I know for that . . you are grateful. You have wonderful children and grandchildren so that’s a blessing. The home you and Kramer provided for them made them what/who they are today. You have great memories, along with those sad ones to get you through.

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  18. Kathy E.

    Jo, we know how much Kramer meant to you and his memory lives on in you and every one of your children, grandchildren and the people he touched. In many ways, being a widow is being a Pioneer Woman. Every widow is left to forge ahead and make new paths because life goes on, with its grief and sweetness along the way. You have shown that so gently and lovingly. I admire you!

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  19. DebMac

    My mother in law and I were just discussing this. I was down visiting around the time of the 3rd anniversary of her husbands death. She commented that “it was hard to adjust to being a widow but her biggest adjustment was living totally alone”. She had went from her parents house to her first husband, to being divorced with 4 children, to remarried without ever living totally on her own. While she misses her husband beyond words, she is enjoying the freedom of not being “considerate” of your partner. She eats what she wants, goes to sleep when she wants, and doesn’t have to pick up after anyone but herself. She then told me “now I know why you stayed single for so long”. I had been foot loose and fancy free for years when I married her son. We laughed and then we cried. Grief is indeed the price you pay for love.

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  20. Lilac Joan

    Your comment: ‘He is never coming back.” is the key to understanding death. So many people I have meet who have lost love ones long ago still haven’t faced that one fact. Thank you for this post. I have been a widow (do not like that word) for twenty years. I had to find find my way just as you have been doing. Hard yes, but acceptance makes it possible.

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  21. Sheila in WI

    Thank you for your heartfelt post. This is indeed a bittersweet time for you and your family. There are times when you still miss Kramer like crazy. while also enjoying the births of those new little twins. Thank you for giving us your perspective, so we can be more insightful and kind to the people that God has placed in our lives.

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  22. Cindy F

    While I haven’t been in your shoes I have watched my MIL over the years as my FIL died when she was 45 and then most recently my SIL lost her husband a few years ago when she was in her late 50s. We all have those anniversary days that are hard to get through, some years they are harder than others. Everyone gets on with their lives in different ways and I admire you for speaking about how you’re doing on your blog. I pray this weekend will be an easier time than before.

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  23. Gail Key

    Thank you Jo, for sharing your deepest thoughts. I can only imagine the heartbreak. We are here for you. We love you and your family.

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  24. Cindy M Yoakum

    Dear Jo: You are so good to us readers in sharing so much with us. Do you realize how you have helped so many who read your blog? You help me. So so so many of the things you wrote about Kramer I am also going through in losing my husband almost 16 mths ago. The holidays and our wedding anniversary and even my husbands birthday did not tear me up: it is the simplest of things; a joke, a movie, his favorite meal. Those things can bring old memories smack dab in my face. I cry a bit and let it flow. And then I keep going. My husband died suddenly. Such a immediate change. I have quite a few silver linings. I’ve learned to mow with his riding lawnmower. I am getting the roof replaced and all that entails with insurance and getting estimates. I am buying a new-to-me Gammill long arm and putting it where the unused pool table was in the basement. I am also refinancing my home to save money and get it paid off early. My husband would be happy I am handling so many things we would have done together. I have done many things since his passing and I am being guided by faith. You are such an inspiration to me and so many others. I pray that this week will not be too hard on you. But your acknowleding it is good and healing. So happy to hear about your two new grand sons. Such joy! Know that Kramer is aware. You will let your grands know about their Grandpa I have no doubt you will tell them stories. May God be with you and your family and bless you all.

    Cindy

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  25. Joanne

    Thank you, Jo for such an honest reflection. I have been widowed just over a year and am feeling so many of the same things. I feel guilty feeling them and would trade them for having my husband back but as you said, he’s not coming back. I think we are healthier when we realize that and are able to cope but I still feel a tad guilty.

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  26. Penny Guglielmoni

    Hopefully you wil find many silver linings and they will allow you to continue to appreciate the differences between you and Kramer that you cherish because of the love and life you shared.

    Reply
  27. Signe Burgen Vaughan

    Thank you Jo for this post that hits the nail on the head! My husband was diagnosed with a terminal brain tumor exactly two years ago today. He died on January 6, 2021 of the brain tumor with complications of sepsis and the covid virus. I started grieving the day he was diagnosed. I knew the whole time that we had together that he wasn’t going to live without a miracle. I am still adjusting and miss him terribly but am getting on with my life. I am now taking care of my 92 year old mother. She was in a nursing home while I was caring for my husband but she hated it and I can now devote my time to her by caring for her in my home. I know it is only a matter of time until she is gone also. There will be plenty of time for traveling, quilting and getting on with life, at some point in time. Hugs to you and thank you for your timely words.

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  28. Becky L.

    I liked reading your silver lining story. I’m glad my husband,Phil, is with me. He does our taxes and still works. I’m now retired even though that wasn’t the plan til a couple years later. Injury last July wasn’t the best but God had a plan. I made it thru it. Glass half full at times but holy spirit fills it up and overflowing with God’s love and tender mercies. They are new every morning. Praying for you especially this weekend.

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  29. Linda Lewis

    Jo, as a widow of just over 3 years, I know about those sad days. We all feel what we feel, it is normal given that we have lost a piece of ourselves. It’s good to also enjoy the little things, I feel like it’s a way back to finding our new selves. Life is already harder being a widow, we do the things that put a smile on our face.

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  30. June

    Thanking God for those Hidden Blessings we fail to see until we look “backwards “. May you “work thru”this week and as you grieve again find more precious meaning to each day. I know it’s not easy. I’m my husband’s caregiver. He has had skin cancer and RSDS. It’s not always easy as I have MS. But I’m the bread winner… I hope you will be ok as you go thru the next phase of grief. God Bless and take care of you. And fill your heart with joy. Hugs

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  31. Paula

    This is so heartfelt, sincere and true. We ar made to feel guilty if we have a good time, but moving on is what husbands and wives would want.

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  32. Linda Hodges

    These past two years have gone by so quickly. My husband died two years ago today and I remember writing to you when you were going through the sad times of Kramer braking his neck. You so kindly sent me a card on my loss and as I was tidying my sewing room the other day, I came across the card which brought back the memories of that time. Thinking of you and supporting you in my mind of how you have managed through the passing time, particularly with the wonderful family that you have. Keep going. Lots of love.
    Linda Hodges.

    Reply
  33. Peggy W

    I am new to this club, and I can’t say I like it much. My husband passed away 8 weeks ago yesterday, after having been in the hospital for 3 months with a trach and on a ventilator (not covid related). I, too, expected him to get well and come home, but that never happened. I had hope up until about 3 days before he passed, when he expressed he was done and to call hospice. I don’t know how anyone gets past this.

    Reply
    1. Jo Post author

      Oh Peggy. You WILL get past this. It’s not easy at all but I know you can do it. Some days it’s just tiny simple shuffles forward…only an inch of progress, but you can do it and it is worth it to keep trying. The best advice I can give, not that you are asking for any, but it’s to let yourself. Let yourself do and feel all of the things you need to do and feel. If sitting at the cemetery is your thing, do it. If sobbing every tear left in you while you piece together quilts made from his shirts, do it. Whatever you do, however you feel is completely okay. I still have days I really struggle through but there are days I can be me without the load of him on me. Hang in there and please feel free to drop me a not anytime. Please read this from my daughter Kalissa’s blog.http://www.thepinkshoelaces.com/the-ball-and-the-box/ It was so helpful for me.

      Reply

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