AT A TIME WHEN EVERYTHING ELSE SEEMS TO BE COMING BACK TO LIFE, HOW DO WE GRIEVE? WHAT DO WE DO WHEN, IN THIS SEASON OF RENEWAL, LIFE STILL FEELS LIKE A LIFE-SENTENCE? Easter. Passover. Spring. The days lengthen, grow warm. Everything seems to come back to life. Everything, that is, except the one we loved. The one who died. Everything… Read More
COMFORT, REFUGE, & TRUTH-TELLING: THE WHAT & WHY OF WIDOWHOOD WEDNESDAY
“This weekly post on widowhood begins an overdue conversation. Half of all people in committed relationships will lose their spouse first; will be left to live solo. Almost everyone will be called on to console someone bereaved.
"This is my attempt to speak the unspeakable, for all of us… to enable others to speak and listen.
“I’ve been widowed twice. I am who I am in part because of loving, knowing, losing and grieving these two very different partners, each of whom left life under very different circumstances.
"What understanding I have of grief (which I perceive as less an emotion than a tsunami-like force of nature) is provisional. And yet – I say this reluctantly – the experiences of widowhood and grieving are not without hope. Over time, even egregious, cruel losses and disorientations can reveal strange gifts.
“Writing of her own widowhood, Joan Didion said, ‘Grief turns out to be a place none of us know until we reach it.’ It's a journey for which few are ready. We each make our unique path as we walk it, in isolation.
"This isolation is profound. But side-by-side with its truth is this: it is also true that others in ‘the club no one wants to join’ are walking their solitary paths.
"Which means that no matter how it feels, we are not alone. Let us take, and give, comfort in telling our stories, and hearing those of others. If we must bear this, let us also bear witness."
--- Crescent Dragonwagon
DON’T BE AFRAID TO SAY ALOUD THE NAME OF THE DECEASED. DON’T BE AFRAID TO REMEMBER HIM OR HER. ALOUD. WITH US. KNOWING YOU LOVED OUR BELOVED TOO HELPS US. IT EVEN, SOMETIMES, BRINGS HER OR HIM BACK TO LIFE, JUST A LITTLE. THERE CAN BE NO BIGGER GIFT. In last week’s post, Eight Ways to Help the Widow, I mentioned… Read More
OUR FRIENDS WANT TO HELP US. THEY DON’T KNOW HOW. WE DON’T KNOW HOW EITHER. BECAUSE WE ARE RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE OF IT. DEAR WIDOW, I WROTE THIS LETTER FOR YOU TO GIVE YOUR FRIENDS. PART ONE: A LETTER TO THE WIDOW’S FRIENDS Dear Friend of the Widow, You already know this: ___________, the beloved life partner of your… Read More
NOT “FROM THE OTHER WORLD.” NOT “SHE’S SENDING YOU A MESSAGE.” STILL, SOMETIMES SOMETHING YOU DIDN’T FULLY REALIZE YOU HAD BEEN GIVEN MAKES ITSELF KNOWN. Someone must have told me, back in the miasma of grief and unreality that followed Ned’s unexpected death, to call Arkansas Social Security. Told me to ask about “widow’s benefits.” And I did. But I can’t… Read More
CAN ANYONE REPLACE HIM, OR HER? OF COURSE NOT. YET… DO I WANT TO DATE AGAIN? IF SO, WHEN? AND HOW? AND SEX…WILL I EVER HAVE SEX AGAIN? DO I WANT TO? SHOULD I WANT TO? AM I TOO OLD? TERRIFYING QUESTIONS. THIS IS THE FIRST WIDOWHOOD WEDNESDAY POST TO EXPLORE THEM. IF YOU ARE YOUNG IN WIDOWHOOD, IT MAY… Read More
My dear fellow member of the Club No One Wants to Join, I started Widowhood Wednesday just under a year ago. I was almost seventeen years past my first widowhood, almost three past my second. I was accompanying (to the extent it is possible that another person can accompany another in the freshets of recent grief), my recently widowed friend… Read More
SOMETIMES THE PEOPLE WHO ARE MOST PRESENT FOR YOU AFTER YOU ARE WIDOWED ARE NOT WHO YOU’D EXPECT. SOMETIMES THEY BEAR UNLIKELY GIFTS. SOMETIMES THEY BRING SOMETHING THEY DIDN’T KNOW THEY WERE BRINGING, WHICH YOU DIDN’T KNOW YOU NEEDED. UNTIL THEY GAVE IT. THEN, YOU KNEW. Note: this post is Part 2, a special edition being sent not on Wednesday… Read More
HE DIED. SUDDENLY. AN ACCIDENT. THREE WEEKS LATER, THE WORST WINTER WEATHER IN THE STATE’S HISTORY BLEW IN. SOMETIMES DISASTERS COLLIDE SOMETIMES FRIENDS HOLD A PLACE FOR US WHEN WE CAN’T DO IT FOR OURSELVES. It is easy, looking back on the aftermath of the catastrophic theft of normalcy that is widowhood, to recall the hurtful, bone-headed remarks and deeds… Read More
WE CAN NO LONGER HAVE WHAT WE HAD. SOMETIMES THE BEST WAY TO REORIENT IS TO QUIT RESISTING DISORIENTATION. MAYBE EVEN EMBRACE IT. FOR NOW. Thanksgiving, it turns out, is a great day on which to travel. The Thanksgiving after I was widowed for the second time, I spent much of Thanksgiving literally in the air. And that — strangely,… Read More
Our beloved partner is no longer on earth. And now it’s the holidays. Sometimes other people, not realizing they’re doing it, ask us to dress grief up in party clothes. We may even ask it of ourselves. But we don’t have to do it. In the fall of 2004, my friend Kay’s husband, the love of her life, left this… Read More
WIDOWHOOD IS NOT STATIC. IT KEEPS CHANGING, AND IT KEEPS CHANGING US. IT HAS AN INFINITE NUMBER OF COLORS. HERE ARE FIFTY OF THEM. 1. I take a lot of deep breaths this time of year. 2. It’s fall, the season inherently bittersweet and elegiac. All that plush color and harvest, all that stunning beauty, some years almost ostentatiously spectacular…. Read More
I would like to tell you, dear fellow members of the Club No One Wants to Join, especially those younger to widowhood than I am, that it gets easier over time. And I can. For it does. It gets easier over time. I would also, so very much, like not to tell you that you never get over it. But… Read More