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
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
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, strangely — felt just right to me that year. Because, I was in the air. My assumed life had ended for the second time nine… 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
That last Thursday in November, I had been at Miller Williams‘ sixth or eighth Survey of Western Poetry class, which I was auditing at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville.I’d drive over each Thursday — it was about an hour from Eureka Springs — immerse myself in Miller’s world, do any Fayetteville errands that I might have, and drive home…. Read More
How do we travel through widowhood and grief towards whatever the next phase of our life will be if, as we said last week, “healing” doesn’t work as a model? And let’s look at a couple of other commonly used phrases that also don’t apply; “getting over it,” and “closure.” How can you “get over” the death of someone you… Read More
Most of us, before widowhood was thrust upon us, gave little thought to what that state would actually be like. And when and if we did try to conceive of it, most of us got it wrong. ” … In the version of grief we imagine ( before we are widowed),” writes Joan Didion in The Year of Magical Thinking,… Read More
In the little Arkansas town (population, then, just under 2000) in which Ned and I had lived, everybody did not exactly know each other. But we certainly knew about each other. Maybe two years after Ned’s death, still deeply bereft, I ran into Freddy. We were friends, though not close. He was someone I knew and liked, had worked with;… Read More
“What’s on your mind this morning?” Facebook asked me cheerily last week. As it does daily, to any user who opens it before noon. That morning happened to be September 10th, 2017. What was on my mind? Quite a bit. It was the day before the 16th anniversary of the 9-11 attacks. It was the day before Hurricane Irma was… Read More
I have a new cat. New to me, that is; she is actually 14 years old. She belonged to my friend Rupa, who died on the 4th of July this year. Intelligent, affectionate, and calm — as was Rupa herself, a glowing soul — Nomah quickly made her way into my heart. To the extent that, when I went to… Read More
You expect things like anniversaries. Like birthdays. Like Father’s Day (if he was the father of your children). Mother’s Day (if she was the mother of your children). Like “We would have been married 31 years today.” Like, looking at your watch and seeing the exact dark beat of time, when according to the death certificate, he or she crossed… Read More