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I had a person who was in the throes of divorce tell me that MY loss was "beautiful and romantic." My husband was dying of cancer at the time.

 

I felt sorry for her, and so, she went un-punched.

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Rainy,

I called those people "A" holes & occassionally still do just 'cuz ...

If its any consolation, I asked if CPR had been performed on Bob him following his massive cardiac arrest even though I had already been informed he was brain dead before his heart shut down. The wonders of shock - I'm sure someone laughed at me but whatever - I still had to run my course of anger to get it out ...

One of my friends said that based on the number of years his friend had been married, it “should” only take X number of years for her to “move on” after the death of her husband. And he completely assumed that a bit more than 3 years later, I had completely “moved on.” 

I immediately explained the insanity of his mathematical algorithm for grief, and corrected him about his assumption as to my own journey with grief. 

I’ve developed a serious mental block with people’s use of the phrases “moving on,” “moving forward,” and “letting go.” Quite frankly, I hate these phrases even more 3 years later than when I first became a widow. Time “moves on” and “moves forward,” so from one perspective I have no choice but to get up each morning to keep a roof over my head and pay my bills.

The phrase  “letting go” is far worse and an even more emotionally loaded phrase. I will never “let go,” i.e., relegate my husband to the status of my old boyfriends who I barely remember. I will always love my husband and remember him.

I’ve become more practiced at hiding my distaste when people use such phrases, but after hearing them so often, I’ve decided to stop using these phrases myself.

Starting last year, I began challenging myself to grow and change in ways that honor my husband’s memory. I reflect on both my positive and negative experiences with my husband and use these experiences as the fuel for my continued growth as an individual. For whatever the reason, the phrase “making changes” and the idea of “growth” don’t seem as loaded with negative connotations. I grew and changed as a person when my husband was alive, and continuing to grow and change seem natural.

Springlight I love the terminology you mentioned,  “making changes” and the idea of “growth”.  I have not heard it put that way and you are right, it's so much less painful.  I'm going to try to retrain myself to use that from now on.  I don't love the other terms but really I didn't know of another way to put it.  Thanks!

Hi, Rainy (Misty). 

I'm glad I can be helpful!

My husband was a very big-hearted man, and I'm challenging myself to develop this quality even more than when he was alive. And I tend to reflect more and be more mindful when I consider  making changes he would not have agreed with, and in these ways I honor his memory.

I recognize that Gary wasn't infallible. He was a human being.  I am equally as fallible and human.  So  in the absence of having him or someone to talk with, I tend to reflect more on the constructiveness of my choices before I go ahead and make changes he would not or might not have agreed with but would make me happy in the short/long run. 

I was at a visit with one of my doctors (medical, not psych), and mentioned that I am having difficulty going through this grieving process by myself, with no family or friends near, just the occasional text or e-mail from out of the area.  He responded:  "You just need to stop relying on other people for your happiness".

I had a doctor tell me four months later after my husband died that I was going to be remarried by this year 2018? I asked her did sixty year old women date and remarry? Sounds crazy?  She gave me the whole nine yards on how to date and where to volunteer to meet new men, and change churches to see if there are any eligible men there. I think the majority of doctors probably get about an hour's worth of grief study in their curriculum.(No disrespect to the medical profession) 

I think some people are still in the mindset of the Freudian belief system that you should be able to work and to love. He didn't deal with the aspects of grief as far as I can remember. Funny thing, is that we are all still loving our deceased spouses! He said to love. He didn't stipulate if the person had to be alive or not. 

It was not so much insensitive as it was unsolicited ...

I was rudely asked why after 10yrs I was still calling myself a widow - uh, b/c I haven't remarried! Apparently, there is also a time limit on referring to one's self as widowed - probably divorced or remarried, too ...

Wow Melissa, that’s one I have never heard before. Widow refers to marital status meaning we are not single, not divorced, or married. I don’t feel we belong in those categories unless it’s being used for a head count, in which case divorced people would be single too. That’s the way I look at it. If things have changed, that’s news to me! 

Ah, yes, there are a great many misconceptions about the newly widowed as well as the seasoned widowed. In that particular conversation, my cousin was saying that if I kept referring to myself as a widow I will never get a date - to the prom ... :-)
To her, widowed means mental illness which of course, it's not. Grief is a reaction to the loss of a strong attachment - a deep & meaningful relationship ...
Now that I've turned 60, there is concern that since I'm not looking for a male companion or husband I will die alone - I hope so, no one needs to go w/me. Or no one will be around to care for me, my 50yr old niece lives w/me - she's doing a great job w/ALL the chores plus the cooking - she is my companion ...
At my age, most people are either widowed or divorced or a stray - being single is more of a stigma at this stage. Apparently, the proper term is "unattached" for whom the Starbucks barista as well as everyday cashiers could care less ...
People say strange things ... :-)

SM— Just for discussion’s sake, just say you were interested in dating and were approached by a man. Does this person believe marital status would not be questioned? Being a widow should not freighten anyone away unless the person is still grieving or is unable to let go of the past. I don’t mean ever to speak about the past but there is readiness and unreadiness IMO, 

I don’t know about the dying alone angle. We all come here alone and leave that way. (Neither by choice, usually)  of course it would be wonderful to find someone to enjoy spending time with, but I find after nearly ten years out, odds are I could never come close to replacing what I have lost. Alone kind of scared me in the beginning, but just as I had found peace over my loss, I have found peace in being alone. 

It seems the perception of being a (poor) widow still exists, but I come from a generation when women began to take more control of their lives, at  least for the most part. I have not made Widow part of my name and refer to it only if questioned about marital status or more importantly, someone’s “need” to know. I hope this person’s perception didn’t upset you in any way. Truthfully, I never gave one tenth of a second what life would be like if something happened to my husband first so I’m not sure if before becoming a widow, I may have thought the same way. I think we all have to find our own way through this world doing what is right for us. Having a man would not make me happy or feel better about life unless we were right for each other. I hate to admit this but the longer I am alone, the more benefit I see in remaining alone.

My cousin has done grief differently w/both her son & 2nd husband. Within months she found a new partner after each of their deaths - it was a matter of survival. To answer your question, regardless whether it's a man or woman, in general, the topic of marital status does come up. I don't find it to be a big deal to answer truthfully. As for my cousin, there are many issues we don't agree on ...
Long before Bob died, I decided not to date or remarry if I became widowed. I went though grief w/my Mother twice - after the death of my father w/6 siblings then her 2nd husband 5 years later being left w/a total of 12 kids under the age of 18. Unfortunately, back then as it is now, people suggest socializing to cope w/grief early out rather than take needed time to convalesce. Damage to one's family as well as one's self can easily become a reality during the throes of grief & loneliness ...
I did struggle at times w/my commitment - feeling that if I found a new partner all the madness would simply go away. To get back on track I visited the young widow's board I frequented back then - an avalanche of mistakes I learned from others - some quite harmful ... Ugh!
As I age, the less responsibilities I want. Shedding them is part of my retirement ...
Ten years out, being on my own feels quite natural ... :-)

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