WOWs and GOWs write to me all the time, asking me, "When you were first dating how did you get your widower to talk about his loss and his grief feelings?" I assume this question comes from women who are having a hard time getting their men to open up and share. How does a woman get ANY man, widower or not, to spill his guts? Men can be quite emotionally-constipated creatures, so bringing them to a woman's level of chatty communication is never an easy task. Difficult, yes...but not impossible.
I suppose the answer to this question for me, personally, is based on the kind of person I am:
I have diarrhea mouth. The only time I ever shut up is when I'm chewing my food. Heck, I even talk in my sleep! I have chronic bronchitis, so losing my voice is a twice-a-year thing for me. That doesn't stop me. Post-It Notes and dry-erase boards are my best friends during speechless illness.
I am also fearlessly opinionated but tactful. I am one of those strange people who could care less what others think of what I have to say, and I don't let other people's subjective opinions hurt me one bit (which came in handy when I worked as a lobbyist!).
I also love honesty, regardless of how it's wrapped: I don't care if it's delivered brutally or gently, just give me the truth!
Thus, getting Hubs to talk about his feelings was a matter of asking the right questions, constantly and without fear, with the goal of honest feedback, even if his answers weren't what I had hoped to hear.
You see, it's MUCH easier to deal with the truth than to sit and worry about assumptions. Quiet men unnerve me. Left to their own devices, most womens' assumptions about a man's unexpressed thoughts can provoke insecurities. They rarely assume positive things, only negative. I hate negativity and insecurity. So, to combat them, I have to be forthright, direct, and inquisitive just for my own peace of mind. And I won't rest until every stone has been turned.
It's no picnic asking "the tough questions" from a widower you love. But before you begin to do that, you have to ask a tough question of yourself first: Would I rather allow my fears to control my destiny, lead me to negative assumptions, and constantly worry and wonder about what my widower thinks and feels.......or would I rather face my fears, ask the questions I need answered, and deal with whatever truth he gives me? The choice, my friends, is up to you.
When you make decisions about what truth you can live with and which you can't, it's easy to find the strength to do what it takes to put your mind at ease. When your mind is at peace, you feel more confident about who you are. And when you feel confident, asking a widower to share his innermost thoughts with you is not as hard as it seems.