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  • > The Widow Vibe: Pink Platforms and resisting the ‘Three Year Wall.’


by Buzzie

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The Widow Vibe: Pink Platforms and resisting the ‘Three Year Wall.’

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A long silence from Cold Comfort Cottage, I know, but I have been slowly working up to saying a farewell to my Mac friends who have helped me through the very worst. 

 It was – literally - a life ago that I began this blog.  I was tentatively reaching out to the Mac world.  Blogs?  What were blogs?  I didn’t really know and got into all sorts of trouble because I questioned the motives of those who felt the desire to let in all spill out into the cyberspace. (Do any of you remember?)  But there you were – so patient – so understanding.  I thank you, most sincerely. 

 Here is the last installment: 

 About eight weeks ago The Hounds were off for a ‘trial’ night with some people who take dogs as boarders in their house – a very humane alternative to the dreaded kennels about which we always had moral objections.  (Well – those high standards have come back to ‘bite’ me!)

 Unsurprisingly, I was delaying going home to a completely empty house and found myself lurking, in a depressed sort of way, amidst the clothes rails in one of the only shops in this area frequented by women who like to keep vaguely ‘on trend.’  

 I was looking, halfheartedly, for something to boost the tired wardrobe (what is suitable for work, dog walking, doing the ancient Aga, etc, etc … ?) and I was delaying, delaying going back to what now passes for home.

There was a smart, middle-aged woman purchasing something at the checkout.  She was about a decade or so older than me. I glimpsed a glimmer of pink platforms with extreme heels being carefully swaddled in tissue paper before being slipped into a carrier bag.   

 Part of her conversation drifted over to the rails. 

“After the cruise …  Couldn’t do the dancing … Not since my husband … I have got to reinvent myself.” 

My newly acquired widow antennae were on alert and, before I knew what I was doing, I found myself wandering over to her.  I have to say that this is completely uncharacteristic behaviour for me – but not much about me seems familiar, even to me.

“I know what you mean about reinventing yourself,” I said, recognizing a sister in widowhood. 

And then she began unleashing her torrent of advice, so glad to find someone who was in a similar situation.  And we do want to talk, us widows, don’t we?  And why wouldn’t we?  We have only the walls to talk to at home – we have lost our best listener.   

“If you suddenly feel like crying – in the middle of a shop - just do it,” she said. “I found myself doing this more than once.  Who cares what others think?”

My upper lip was stiffening at the thought – no crying in the middle of shops for me – just wailing and banging my head in the privacy of my own four walls (the bathroom basin is a favourite spot – I think it has now been loosened from the wall). 

 “It does get better,” she continued.  But she was crying by this point.

 And then she uttered the words that chilled:

 “Beware the three year ‘wall.’ ”

If she had punctuated this with a pointy, witchy finger I would not have been surprised. 

The ‘three year wall’?  As I understand it, you can be coping quite well, busily re-inventing yourself, spending the life insurance on Carribean cruises (HA! HA!) but, after three years, the reality really sinks in; they are not coming back. Ever. 

 She had been told about the ‘three year wall’ by her widowed ‘friends.’  I don’t know about you, but I feel that her friends were not being very friendly. 

 So here are some of my last lessons in widowhood for you:  there are a lot of others out there who will welcome you to this growing ‘club.’  And I do know, only too well, it is a kind of bereavement that only those who go through it can understand.  However, I have been learning that there is also lot of unhelpful nonsense out there as well as a degree of schadenfruede.

 I have done a little homework on ‘grief.’  Why wouldn’t I?  I know all about those neat ‘five stages’ which are so readily rattled out to the bereaved.  But I know that grief does not fit any easy template.  Stages?  We can go through all of them in about half an hour.  And again. And again.  And more. 

I also know there has been great deal of reinterpretation and ‘debunking’ going on since Elisabeth Kubler-Ross first made her seminal study on which the ‘five stages’ are based. (For the keen students amongst you, you will find that she did her initial study on the terminally ill – I am glad I did not know that two years ago).  

 So I have searched and searched for some understanding of what I have been going through but in all that I have read I have not yet come across anything about a ‘three year wall’  - not even the most bogus new-age psychologist gives it a mention.  

 What you need to remember is the completely obvious -  you are unique, your relationship was and is unique, and so your grief is also unique.  We can go some way to understanding the experience of others and you will find that those who have lost a long-term partner will understand much better than most.  But don’t let the bad advice of others make things worse – there are always those who will wish to weave you into their patterns of despair.

 I am resolved I will resist any ‘three year wall,'  try to ignore any of the other unhelpful psychobabble that I might hear and, if I am to learn new patterns of living, I will resist the temptation to talk to strangers buying pink platforms.

However, I will be here for you should you need me. 

Lots of love to you all, my very brave friends and thank you. 



PS  The case to the Ombudsman progresses.  That is something I will let you know about, as appropriate. 


PPS  Dog hotel was a huge success.  Happy dogs.  


  • Thank you for posting Buzzie (Grace) ... it's so lovely to hear from you. I was recently in a book store, and everytime I saw a book with the word "Vibe" on its cover, i thought of you!!!! Well - And now you've taught me a new word: Schedenfreude. Wikipedea description:  "Schadenfreude is pleasure derived from the misfortunes of others." Huh!!! How awful!!!!! Grace - I don't want you to bang your head against the sink any longer. Now, I want you to come online and tell us how you're feeling before trying that again! I can relate, though, as I was doing that when my brother had cancer in the early 1970's before we had chemo, and he died at age 18 after a 4 year battle. I banged my head against the wall - (an inside wall, so as not to disturb the neighbours) - It didn't help. Talking helps. We are all still here for you and we need you as much as you need us. We are here for each other!!! and we need each other. Good luck with the Ombudsman!! Looking forward to hearing what is happening with that. I'm so glad to hear that the Dog Hotel was such a success!!! Now I'm intrigued by the pink platform shoes. All my shoes are so "sensible"!!! Lots of Love to you and Big Hugs!!! M
  • Hello my dear Mo I was just about to be sensible and go to bed when I saw your response. I am glad that you are still learning!   You don't want to know the reality of what I have been feeling which is why I think it is time for me to 'move on'. Suffice it to say, I feel less mad than I did.   But I mean it when I say that I am here for my Mac friends  - and I am taking messages!   Go get those shoes!   Lots of love and huge hugs, Grace xxx
  • There is a three minute wall, a three day wall, a three month wall, a three year wall. Oh blast and walls everywhere if you should look for them. I no longer worry about hunting for special reasons to grieve. There are on average two Monday the thirteenths in any year, just as there are two Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. They all can bring sadness, I make no distinction between any of them. Equally I take no enjoyment in studying the Kubler-Ross, attempts to categorize and box-up the process of emotional turmoil the bereaved live through. I have forgotten why I started writing this reply Grace.(forgive the apparent rant) Maybe I have discovered that the effects of grief on the mind are to shove it into another plane. One only accessible by those similarly initiated. I also think I refuse to fit any mould. Yes we are all indeed unique. I for one have been trying for nearly four years to leave this site, so I wish you well in your endeavour. Perhaps there is a four year wall? I wore a pair of shoes today that brought comment from several who saw them. They are Italian very sleek and cost me a fiver, six years ago. Today's remarks suggested I had been extravagant in my purchase, I had not the heart to disillusion my audience. I think that sums up the masquerade the bereaved portray. We head bang in private but are all things to all people when on display. It seems to me that the Mac site is the only place where truth matters, here and here alone, it is possible to be ourselves, warts and all. I for one will miss your forays into the sanctuary of your thoughts. It would be wondrous if every three years you could pop back and treat us to more vibes, good or bad. My best wishes as you scale the walls others may build to impede your way. Love Charles xxx
  • Hello Charles Perhaps I won't manage to leave at all.  It is just that I am flat out, what with all the 'man' jobs, all the usual jobs, the dogs, as well as working full time, so I feel the blog must go on the back burner.  And it is exhausting too just holding it together in order to put on a brave face to the world.  I am learning that I have tremendous self control when needed.  But there are times when I have almost to remind myself how to walk I am so 'undone' by grief. Again and again, I find myself asking 'How can this be?  How can I have arrived at this place?'  And still I almost expect his car to come up the drive, despite all that I know.  And still I don't really believe it.   You are of course right about the 'walls.'  What I was indignant about was the fact that this woman's friends had warned her about this mythical 'three year wall.'  I thought this was most unhelpful of them and rather cruel. I am very careful now about who see and when I see them - we are too fragile to be exposed to the crass comments that come our way at times. Lots of love to you, kind Charles,   Grace xxx
  • Hi Grace some wise words above and I am struggling to add too them as the old grey cells are not firing on all 4 at present. I sometimes wonder by remaining on the site does it hold us back on the journey we take, you do what feels right for you and you can always pop back if you find the need. Through out the turmoil you have always retained your humour and dignity so I am more than sure that you will hand any pink platforms or blue rinses that head your way. Take care and do nlet us know how you get on with the ombudsman. best wish John x
  • Hello Grace, you probably wont see this as you wrote your blog a couple of months ago. I am 6 months along this road, and having looked on the Merry widows site, there is a lot of talk about the 6month 'low'. so much so, that I think every one believes they have it when they reach this milestone. I still cry on my way to work, but I have a very good waterproof mascara. Best wishes Clare x