Readers relate to widow’s desire to make some changes

Published 8:33 am Tuesday, May 9, 2023

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DEAR ABBY: “Unsure How To Feel” (Jan. 24) was upset about changes her sister-in-law was making after the death of her husband. Within months, the widow had given away the husband’s belongings and begun making changes to their home. I saw myself in that column. I lost my beloved husband unexpectedly at the age of 47. Seeing his clothes and belongings in our closets every time I opened the doors was painful. They were a constant reminder of what I’d lost.
After selecting a few meaningful items, I also began giving his belongings to close family members and then to charities. When my daughter became upset, I realized that we all process our grief in different ways. She wanted to preserve everything the way it was. Neither reaction is wrong.And as for the SIL’s remodeling, I did exactly what she did. For me, it was a way to regain control of my life. My husband’s death was shocking and heartbreaking. Having a project gave me something to focus on other than my grief.
I would ask your readers to PLEASE cut some slack with those who are going through the grieving process. It’s a horrible experience. Each person has to survive it in their own way. Just because it isn’t your way doesn’t make it wrong. – CATHERINE IN MICHIGAN

DEAR CATHERINE: Thank you for your wise words. They are so true. Most readers who responded to that letter agreed with you. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: To “Unsure,” I say: Your sister-in-law lived with your brother every day of their married lives in the same house she still lives in. You were likely not an everyday visitor. When my husband died, there were things in our house I NEEDED to change, just so I could get through every day.
Our bedroom was number one. It may seem heartless to anyone other than a spouse, but I could no longer sleep in the bed we had shared, in the room that was decorated in “his” style. I needed to make it solely my space; somewhere I could go to find peace.
Your sister-in-law is not disregarding your brother and his memory. She will always hold his memory in her heart, as you do. But living in that space likely requires her to make it less of a constant reminder of the love she has lost. – RUTH IN ILLINOIS

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DEAR ABBY: I lost my husband seven months ago and began cleaning out his stuff almost immediately. Why would I want to look at his clothes every day? How does “Unsure” know her late brother’s marriage was so “good”? People thought that about mine, but it wasn’t.
Many of the changes to the house (painting, etc.) are things he and I had talked about, but he would never actually move on them. Changing artwork? Yes – not everything, but definitely some pieces I never really liked.
“Unsure” does indeed have to deal with her own grief, but she should leave her widowed sister-in-law alone. No one is “erasing” her brother, and his widow is not obligated to remain stuck in the past. – BEEN THERE, DONE THAT IN CONNECTICUT

DEAR ABBY: My husband passed from cancer in December 2020. He had been in hospice and died in our home as he wished. There was no way I could stay there. Within the next eight months I had remodeled and sold our house and moved to the small town where my son and his family live. Moving was the best thing I could have done. I still grieve, but I don’t regret any of my actions. I know my husband would be proud of the decisions I made. – NO REGRETS IN TEXAS
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.
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