So it's apparently "news" that Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook's COO, may be dating less than a year after her husband's death. Really? Why is that any of our business? And why on earth are people being so judgmental in their comments? This is her life. She does not need your permission to date nor does she need your ugly comments ... and I'm rather grateful that she's probably not reading them.
But my widowed friends are reading them. You know ... those of us 'regular' folk who have lost our loves and are facing it every.single.day. Our lives may not be covered in the national press, but we do hear those comments, those judgments. And so do our children. And they are hurtful and just as wrong for us as they are for a 'celebrity'.
I am truly excited, thrilled and grateful - regardless of the time since loss - when:
I feel these lovely emotions even though that is not something I choose for myself.
So why can't we just let everyone live their best life the way they choose?
I choose to not date or remarry and I've felt this way right from the start. For me. Personally. Not something I push on others. Not something I say is better or the way we must do this widow thing. It's just for me - and I guess to also be a voice for anyone else out there who may feel as I do.
But while responding to the offensive comments made by NOT WIDOWED people to all of these Sheryl Sandberg articles, some of my widowed friends have edged up to a line, too, with comments that could also be offensive to me and others like me if we didn't know and love the people making them.
To paraphrase ...
"my married life made me love being part of a couple so I want that again"
"because we loved so well the first time, we want it a second time"
"loving again honors him instead of wallowing in grief and wasting my life"
"I want to model resilience by moving forward with a new love"
These kind of statements - even while said in response to hurtful and ridiculous comments about widows dating 'too soon' - have a subtle implication that those of us who choose not to seek a new partner had a bad marriage. Or that we are wallowing in our grief and wasting our lives. Not true and not fair.
I believe I am modeling resilience ... just for a different audience.
So ... to my friends who are not widowed ... please do not pass judgments on others for things you have not experienced. You do not know what this alone life is like, you do not know how you will feel or how you will want to live your life when that time comes. Trust me on this. Just love your spouse or significant person while they are still with you - and show love and compassion to your widowed friends as they do the best they can to move forward in the way they choose.
And to my widowed friends ... please be cautious with the words you use to defend yourself against those who feel they have a right to comment about how you live your life. You really don't need to defend yourself. How you live your life is none.of.their.business. And it's ok to just tell them that. Period.