What’s Me??

There is something odd that can happen when a spouse dies…I’ve been going through it some.  I’ve been asking the question “what’s me??”…or “who am I without him?”.

I know it sound silly but so many things in my life were defined by Kramer.

-We lived in this area because of his job.
-Most of our friends were Fire Department or First Responder members.
-We had the antique booth because he wanted it.


-We were often late to things as he was running late from getting home from work.
-The lawn mower deck is low because that’s how he liked the lawn mowed.
-We didn’t go on vacations.  He wouldn’t take off work.
-We had a window air conditioner in our bedroom even though we have central air as he liked to sleep where it was cool.
-The garage was messy as he hated to stop and clean.
-We had a pickup as our main vehicle because that’s what he liked.

This is a VERY short list.  I daily find things that we’ve done together or that he’s maintained that I find myself asking, “was that him…or me…or both?”.

As an example:
I was invited to a wedding in August.  Kramer hated traveling.  There is a good chance we wouldn’t have gone.  But…It’s just me now.  Do I like to travel?  Do I want to go?

Another example:
We had the antique booth.  Kramer loved it.  I didn’t mind it.  Do I still want to do it?  I answered that one…NO.

Another example:
Do I want the window air conditioner in the bedroom window?  Do I like to sleep that cold?

My mind has drifted a time or two back to my late teens before I met Kramer.  I planned on being a teacher.  I planned on living in the cities.  I planned to always drive a red car….Hmm.  Are those things I want nowadays?  I used to imagine myself as what my kids call a “Granola Girl”, one who likes natural foods, whole foods, and dresses a little Bohemian.  Am I that girl or am I Mrs. Roger Kramer??

When I met Kramer and got married, so many of those thoughts and things fell to the wayside.  They were immediately replaced with mom and wife ideas.  Things that I liked and things Kramer liked blended.  I think I gave more than he did…or his job dictated more than we realized.  In all of this I can’t help but wonder where am I….”what’s me?”

I am sure some of you who have lost a spouse can relate…those of you have divorced likely can too.

Here are some things I’ve figured out….A blog reader mentioned to me that I should sell Kramer’s tools in the garage.  I immediately knew I wouldn’t.  I knew I like fixing.  I love putzing with old furniture and refinishing it.  Kramer and I both loved this.  I knew there is a chance I would NEED to learn to fix something.  I’d need the right equipment to do it so, as far as Kramer’s tools and stuff in the garage.  I need to organize them (He never really did) and sort them.  I need to organize them in a way I can understand….and I don’t think I need a pop riveter…at least not three of them!!

I do not need a window air conditioner.  Kramer was ALWAYS so hot.  Seriously, he was like a furnace.  Without him here, it’s not nearly as hot in our bedroom.  If I’m careful and open and close windows, which I prefer, I’m just fine….I actually like it.  Now when winter comes…I’ll likely need flannel sheets and a heated mattress pad though.

The antique booth was easy for me to let go of.  I have entirely too many things here to deal with and worry about.  If he was still here, I’d do it- but me alone….NO.

There are so many things like this I wade through besides the obvious things that a person can see when a spouse dies.  I can get through the life insurance, the changing of accounts, the signing of the papers.  These things that are the “What’s Me?” things are so much harder.  My brain goes a little like this…”AH!  I’m so happy that I don’t have to watch raunchy comedy shows.  I can watch all the British shows I want.”…to “Darn…I’d give anything to watch the raunchy comedy shows if only Kramer were here”.  This is an ever rolling scenario.   It plays daily.

It often has me wondering “what’s me?” now that he’s gone.  This is nothing that can be solved in a day..in a week…or even in a year.  It’s something I daily have to face, finding the “new me”.

35 thoughts on “What’s Me??

  1. SallyC

    After my husband died it took me a long time to realise that I was buying food that I didn’t particularly like but were his favourites – carrot and coriander soup was one. It’s a very odd feeling the first time you cook something you love but your other half used to hate. Hang in there, Jo. Eventually all the solo decision making gets easier and you start to enjoy being your own person rather than half of a duo.

  2. Valerie

    Think of it as a journey of discovery–the exploration of Jo. It’s a daring adventure and it is brave of you to explore these thoughts and feelings with us. God bless.

  3. Marilyn

    Jo one day at a time. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us. Acting on decisions that come to you, making it happen, your time..I so admire that.

  4. Jean

    Jo-what a well written and thought provoking post. You will find who you are now without Kramer, but you will always have that piece of him there with you. Hugs!!

  5. Deb

    Oh my, Jo…I haven’t lost a spouse, but this really opened my eyes to what will be through MY head if that should happen. We’re 63, a bunch older than you and Roger… it my neighbor (who is only 5 months older than me), sometimes talk about if that should happen. This Friday, we have weekly cocktails at each other’s homes, I’ll bring this up as a topic of discussion. It is certainly something to think about.
    From here, it looks like you are doing a fine job, one step at a time!

  6. Paulette Voit

    it’s hard trying to find yourself after you lose a spouse. You keep searching trying to find out who you really are and what you are without them. Take everything slow, don’t do anything quickly and you will find out the true you. God bless you Jo.

  7. Karen

    I can just imagine what it is like – I know I too lost a lot of me when I got married and a lot that we do and became was as my husband wanted it. I would go through a lot of changes too – it will come about with time, you will become yourself – you are still young and have plenty of time to adjust – I say young because you are plenty younger than my 66

  8. Anna

    This is an insightful and brave post. My husband is not deceased–but was severely injured in the military. So much of “me” seems to have disappeared. Almost all of our decisions are based on his needs, as it has to be. I admire how you are dealing with this so openly and head on. I’ll be thinking of you!

  9. Robby

    Life is a series of discoveries about who we are. You’re facing a bigger dose of that than most of us do most of the time. I love that you’re taking this as an opportunity to decide what you want those things to be instead of just stumbling into things. Of course, you can change your mind in the future if you wish.

  10. Stearns Carol

    Its time for you. My hubby is gone at work all day today and so, I’ll putz around, bake a cake and basically do what I want to do. Finding you is so important.

  11. Bobi

    My mom lost her husband just before you did. She’s much older than you, they were retired and her biggest problem is the lack of companionship. Her sister, who lost her husband at a much younger age, says she thinks the journey through grief and finding yourself is easier at a younger age. She says watching mom navigate this new life nearly alone really bothers her. While she says her life wasn’t easy, having a job to go to and friends to support her made it a little less difficult. Mom and those in her age group have lost many of those things already as most of her friends have passed on and her health problems limit her ability to get out and socialize much beyond doctor’s appointments. I
    Good luck on your journey and thanks again for your openness.

  12. Linda L

    What a great way to describe finding yourself again. It’s a muddy path sometimes, remembering, honoring, yet making changes based on your needs and goals. I’m still looking for my purpose 1 1/2 years after my husband passed,, but I find myself quilting more, and reusing clothing from loved ones in my projects. It gives me a lot of satisfaction. One thing that was us is traveling in the RV, and I have felt strongly that I want to continue traveling and he would want me to too. I spent last winter down south as a result.
    Some things will be a struggle and some will be really clear, so do what is right for you. Sending you a great big hug!

  13. Donna Pheneger

    Jo, I am constantly amazed at your insight and love how you share your thoughts with us. Thank you.
    Who are? You are exactly who God wants you to be … someone who can change and yet stay the same.
    Love and prayers

  14. Darlynn Venne

    Well written, It is a muddy path, as said in a comment. Someone said companionship. Yup, that’s the hard one, especially on the weekends, even 15 years later.
    You are a remarkable woman Jo. Strong, positive, intelligent, kind with a focus on family, faith and justice.
    You will figure out the new Jo. She will be the one living inside shining and reborn based on your relationship with Kramer!
    Blessings

  15. Debboe

    Dear Jo,

    You amaze me! With all you are dealing with, you have courage, faith and so much love in your family. We all have our struggles in life. You have been so upbeat, and have been so honest about all that happened. And you have kept up all wonderful things: childcare, blogging, etc. Please know you inspire others and me.

  16. Lorna

    Jeanne, my (younger, wiser) friend, once again you have made me feel more normal on this walk we are on. You clarified my weepy thoughts from the last couple of days! Right now I’m getting lots of things accomplished-there is so much to do. But I analyzed my daily habits, wondering why I didn’t care to have the television on (NCIS) all day and came to the same conclusion. It was his first choice. Now, I prefer nothing to sitting alone, without him, to watch those reruns with. Today a hospice visit with my best friend. Sometimes life is so hard. Love to you all.

  17. gayle r tucker

    Please submit this to a senior’s magazine or Good Sam’s publication or your local newspaper. It is so thought provoking. Facing yourself after you have catered to someone else all your adult life is frightening. Are you still you or have you amputated the girl who would drive red cars and live in a busy city? Give it a try. But a red car or a red armchair or something big and red. Paint a wall. See if you smile and like it. That girl may have been waiting for you to travel around in your red car and do start on your personal bucket list.

  18. Sue

    Thank you for talking about this issue. So many of us are used to being part of a team-and then suddenly we aren’t. And, as you said, the woman usually gives in more. Definitely makes me stop and think.

  19. Rhonda Russell

    You are correct about having the same feelings after a divorce. I was with my ex for 10 years, married for 5 and 2 sons. After the divorce and working through the emotions, I was feeling the same way–who am I without him. There was sooooooo much that I changed about me because of his likes/dislikes that I had forgotten who I was before him. It’s taken time, and I’m still working on it, but the true me is coming back out as I heal from the divorce. You’ll get there and may find that some of his ways you actually want to keep.

  20. Lisa B

    Well expressed. Thank you for sharing. I often work late to shorten my evenings and weekend loneliness is difficult. About two years after my husband’s death I found a group to travel overseas with. I tried traveling alone in the United States but it’s not as enjoyable as having a companion to share things with. I also find making all the decisions myself is exhausting. When to hit the road each day, where to eat at, what time to quit in the evenings, what sites to see along the way. I find making all the decisions when I’m home exhausting. It amazed me how many things he made the decisions for and I just went along with.

  21. Jean

    Jo, Just take it a step at a time. Your post took courage to write, and it is so true. Our hubbies are a huge part of the reason we become who we are. It’s so hard to figure out who is who after so many years. You are doing a great job!
    -Jean

  22. Janet B.

    I lost my husband two years ago and I am still creating the new me. My sister sent me a tote bag that said, “Janet needed a hero, so she became one.” I often think of that saying and am working on becoming my own hero.

  23. Kim LeMere

    Jo, what an thoughtful conversation you have started. I think that you are evolving just like you did when you were single and then became a wife, then a mother……we are always changing, evolving. I’m glad that you are adjusting and realizing that things can change and will change.

  24. Carla

    I think we carry a bit of that young girl we were, or thought we would be, inside ourselves even after becoming a wife and mom and undergoing all the unexpected changes that brings. Having said that, I think you might enjoy revisiting aspects of that pre marriage girl and discovering what parts of her are in harmony with who you are now.

  25. Ruth

    I have heard from long-time married couples that when one dies, the one left loses half of their memories, half of their yearly calendar events, etc. because the departed person helped them to remember so much, helped them celebrate holidays too. It’s a big change to go through.
    So I can see how now you are wondering Who You Really Are – and Who You Will Turn Out To Be without the other Half of you present in your life. Happiness is the journey, not the end of life. Take Care and Drive Safe!

  26. Robin

    Thank nice again you are talking about what I’m going through right now. I never thought that I was doing things he wanted to do but many were related to his health. He broke his back two months before we got married in ‘86. Many many things changed. All of our dreams, our hopes of more children , building our own house those all changed and our lives revolved around his abilities and or functions. We managed and still lead a normal life. Four years ago everything changes with more health challenges…cancer diagnosis, chemo and more. He ended up with heart issues and kidney failure. It all caught up with us and boom he was gone. We talked about things like where he wanted to rest and where he wanted to die. We never talked about what was going to happen to me or what I was going to do? I’m so fortunate that two of my three children live here and the third one about three hours north. They help me as much as possible. I still have no idea who I am or who I want to be or need to be. My first step is to get my house and yard in order. The last two years I have let so much go and that’s not me but I needed to spend my time with him as we didn’t know how long he had. I’m so glad I did as we became much closer.
    It’s never going to essay but I’m determined to find myself again.

  27. Carolyn

    Jo, this is such a thought-provoking post. I haven’t been widowed, but I have been divorced, and you are so right about re-discovering who you are without the spouse. As for your dream of being a teacher, you are doing that every day with your childcare. You are shaping young lifes while providing a safe place for them while their parents are away at work. That is so important and worthwhile. You still have a lot of years ahead of you, and I think you will live them to the fullest. Hugs to you!

  28. Janice

    Hi Jo. This is a very thought provoking topic. I still have my wonderful spouse and I think we must have been married in the same year. I had just turned 21. What we both have in common is that, by marrying so young, we didn’t get to experience very much of our adult lives prior to being part of that husband and wife team. You are very fortunate to be surrounded by your family, who I am sure will be there to support all your choices that you make for YOU.

  29. Nancy A

    When my father died, he was 55 and mother was 52. A friend of mothers gave her what seems to me to be very sound advice. “Don’t do anything for a year that you can’t undo.” So keep the tools. They aren’t in your way, and you may be needing them. Your question, “what is me.” is a very thought provoking one. My husband had stage 3 of a very aggressive form of cancer. He has been cancer free for 1 1/2 years now, but we know there is a very good chance of it returning. More than once I have thought of how my life will change if he dies before me. For one thing, I don’t drive at night. So all my night time activities would end. It doesn’t worry me, but I know there would be changes. Thank you so very much for your openness.

  30. Carolyn Sullivan

    Thanks Jo for putting this out there! it is definitely a time of flux for you. I don’t think you should get rid of anything just yet…. do it as you find you can and if you don’t need 3 of something yeah start there. There is no booklet on how to do this….
    I haven’t lost a spouse, but even w divorce, I found myself in another relationship almost immediately. I sometimes feel that I haven’t had enough time to find me. (25 yrs later even!LOL)

  31. Shirley

    It is a long self discovery process after losing a spouse. It a while for me to realize that I am now my own person. I grew up as my parent’s daughter; married at 19 and became my husband’s wife; and then I was also my children’s mother. My identity was always defined my others. Now at this stage of my life I can be myself! Prayers and best wishes on your self discovery.

  32. Kathy Wilson

    Jo, I am going through the same journey. Although I didn’t realize it until reading this post. Whether it’s TV shows, restaurants or banking. I’m discovering me. ❤️

  33. Candi

    Good question Jo. This question of what’s me? Should be ask all the time. Not just after a major life shakeup. So often we take on qualities or habits of those around us that often we lose ourselves or what are desired and dreams were. Sometimes that’s okay. Other times perhaps we should have let our dreams persist. I think the worst thing is at the end of life that we have regrets that we didn’t pursue our dreams and desires. Life is too short we need to make the most of it.

    Love, hugs and prayers coming your way.

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