I've always had a bit of a wry sense of humour, and a somewhat cynical view of the world. I was worried that I had lost my sense of humour, along with my rather dirty laugh, after Tim died. They both did come back, but my sense of humour is now somewhat darker.
Dark humour is a coping mechanism. It's a distraction and a way of accepting the situation. It can also be used to bring people in the same situation together – I've seen it in doctors, nurses, ambulance crew and police. I have used dark humour about my sexuality when telling other queer people and allies about experiences of biphobia.
An incident in a local pub: "You are marrying a woman? But you used to be married to a man, and he's dead? Your husband knew you liked women? Did you sleep with women while you were married to your husband?"
I have also used dark humour to tell other widows about dealing with muggles (people who haven't been bereaved).
A woman rang up, wanting to talk to Tim, who used to be a bookseller. She launched into a stream of explanation about books she wanted to sell. I finally managed to break in to explain that he had died. She paused imperceptibly and then asked me if I still wanted to buy the books. I said that I wasn't involved in the shop and she rang off. About five minutes later, the same woman, the same explanation. I broke in, this time to say, "You've already spoken to me and he's still dead." She responded to say, "I didn't – I dialled another number…" and I put the phone down.
Comedians and writers who have used humour to handle widowhood include Kat Lister, Tawny Platis (founder of Death is Hilarious) and Sandra E Manning.
It's important to remember that dark humour can be disconcerting for people outside of the community that you are in. I made a dark widow humour comment on a Zoom writing workshop about one bonus of his death being that I could finally get rid of his grandmother's coffee tables, and there was a moment of dead air followed by some nervous laughter.
I was widowed at 50 when Tim, who I expected would be my happy-ever-after following a marriage break-up, died suddenly from heart failure linked to his type 2 diabetes. Though we'd known each other since our early 20s, we'd been married less than ten years.