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After reading through a lot of the threads on here, I see that we all get asked the same types of questions from friends, family and even strangers. I had responded with something similar to this on social media recently, and after looking at posts here with the same theme I thought I would expand it somewhat for folks who suffer the same insipid questions every day. This kind of sums up my “stock” answers to those oh-so-common questions: 

Q: “Are you okay?” (I hate this question the most)  A: Yes, I’m okay … well, as okay as I can be, of course. This really, really sucks, but having had the past several weeks to let everything sink in, in many sadly strange ways it’s all a blessing. Bunny was never going to get better this time, the cancer was too far gone and too aggressive and too pervasive, just plain did too much damage. It was as if the cancer itself got tired of losing these battles with Bunny over the past 25 years, so this time it launched a full on blitz that simply wasn’t going to be beaten.

 

Q: “You must be so sad, huh?”  A: Yes, I’m sad. Heartbreakingly, devastatingly sad. I didn’t expect to be alone at this stage of my life, especially since we had just purchased this new home … Bunny really loves this place, and I will now love it for her and be sure to take care of it the way she would. She trained me, like one would train a stubborn old mule, to take care of the house and me. Because she was so sick most of the time over the past 18 months, I had to learn to cook, clean, handle finances, all the things she routinely did over our many years together. So, yeah, I can take care of things, but I sure didn’t expect to be doing it right now. And who is going to keep an eye on me to be sure I don’t screw all of that training up?

 

Q: “Is it lonely without her?”  A: Yes, it’s lonely. And surprisingly, not during the times one would expect … it would be normal to be lonely when going to bed, or waking up, or coming home. But for me, it’s lonely when I see something and she’s not there to talk to about it, it’s lonely when considering what to have for dinner and she’s not there to tell me “You just had pasta yesterday”, it’s lonely when I realize that I’m no longer going to be in her way all of the time, it’s lonely when she’s not there for me to kiss just because she’s there. And it’s lonely to realize that it’s just the start of being alone, this rotten portion of the journey has barely begun.

 

Q: “You aren’t scared, are you? Don’t worry, you’ll bounce back”   A: Yes, I’m scared. It wasn’t supposed to be this way. My job was to protect her, have her back, and take care of her. That’s why I’m here, to be sure Bunny is okay. I failed at that at the end, I should have been able to take the cancer from her and hold it myself …. yes, I know that’s not possible, I’m not too bright but I do realize that is not possible … and now I’ll pay the price for that failure. And “bouncing back” is the very last concern I have right now … Bunny was supposed to bounce back again this time, just like the previous 3 times she battled with the cancer warriors, and she didn’t. Right now, I don’t care about bouncing back.

 

Q: “At least you have a good job. You will keep working, right?”  A: Yes, I’ll keep on working for the time being.  Why wouldn’t I? The company has been so incredibly supportive during Bunny’s various struggles with her cancer, always giving me whatever time I needed to be able to take care of her. I’m in my 19th year there, it’s my other home, they put up with my nonsense, argue with me when I’m wrong, congratulate me when I’m right, accept me for being me. And they understand that family trumps everything else. But I admit that every single day, I care just a bit less about the job than I did the day before.

 

Q: “Did she have life insurance? At least you can collect that, right?”  A: Yes, I’m okay financially. And no, we didn’t have life insurance for Bunny, our investments for the future have better returns than we would get with life insurance.  But, hey, don’t get me wrong, if anyone wants to give me money, just step on up and hand it over! If it weren’t for Bunny I’d be living in a cardboard box somewhere, busking on the street corners playing a busted up old bass, begging for spare change. Bunny knows how to handle money, both when we do have it and when we didn’t have it. And she has taught me how to handle money … but again, don’t let me discourage anyone from sending me cash (a lesson she taught me; don’t be proud and turn down help, but don’t be greedy and take more than you need)

 

Q: “You still have your music, right?”  A: Yes, I still have my “music”. Bunny loves the fact that I’m a musician … she actually refers to me as a musician first, then to my regular day gig. I believe she likes the idea that we’re an “artistic” couple, probably a flash back to her hippy youth. She made me promise her … promise … that I would up the level of my musical opportunities. She was not happy with the current trend of “jamming” for little to no pay, feeling like that was below me. She loves when I play with my trio; “that’s the type of musicians I want to see you with”, she must have said that 1000 times. Yes, I’ll keep my promise, but I’m not yet sure how I’ll do that …

 

Q: “She has so many dolls and all of her supplies, are you going to keep all of it?  You should sell it and use the money for something else.”  A: Yes, I have a plan for all of Bunny’s “stuff”. And yes, she has a LOT of stuff, a lot of supplies, a lot of doll body parts, a lot of sewing machine accessories, a lot of journals with design ideas, a ton of magazines, a huge volume of fabric, just a crap-load of stuff. My plan was to call “1-800-We’ll-Take-Your-Shit” and have them haul it away. Laura (my daughter) stepped in and took over the role of “stop being an idiot”, so she’ll guide me and make sure I don’t do something stupid. I need to have a female in my life that is much smarter than me, and luckily Bunny & Laura have that in common.

 

And yes, I’m going to miss her for every second of every day for the rest of my life …. Peace, Ed

 

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Comment by Pointbass on July 3, 2016 at 6:48pm

When my son died I thought the world would stop and crash, and I never expected a sorrow that deep again in my life .. until now.  "You never expect to bury a child", I was told that more times than I care to remember. It's true, but I also didn't expect to lose my wife and believe me, the sorrow is equally deep, but in a different pit in my stomach. They both ache, all of the time. I believe that's why the "are you okay" questions feel soooo tired and old. I've heard it all before ...

Comment by Callie2 on July 3, 2016 at 1:58pm
I guess I was spared a lot of those type of questions, but I did get a few. Of course you're not OK. What does that even mean? You just had your heart ripped out and you're not OK right now, but hope to be someday. Sad, lonely, scared--just the tip of the iceberg. Grief is one gigantic tangled-up ball of emotion and it takes a very long time to sort through these feelings. I would say that most people will suffer a loss of someone very close during a lifetime, but when it is a spouse or partner, it cuts very deeply. I never quite understood how painful it would be until I experienced it. So, sometimes these questions are really ackward attempts to console us. Try not to allow it to get under your skin--if they haven't experienced it, they just don't know. Your answers are polite and your blog is a fair warning to the newly- widowed as to the type of questions people ask. There can be some real doozies too!
Comment by Pointbass on July 3, 2016 at 7:55am

My problem is that I don't know what I'm doing, quite literally.  I have no idea what is right or what is wrong ... or if there is even a right or wrong under the circumstances. I know I'm really, really tired of the "are you okay" question. How do you answer that without screaming at the person "of course I'm not okay!!!" ... I just nod at them and say I'm trying my best to cope

Comment by jojen on July 3, 2016 at 7:43am

This is very helpful.  I am usually at a loss for what to say.  I am usually dumbfounded when asked some of these questions.  Four days after Frank died a friend of his asked me what I was going to do with all of his stuff.  I couldn't believe he was asking me that!  Some people I just try to avoid now.  Well-meaning people ask "are you doing okay?" and I get tired of lying.  I guess it's their way of saying I care, but don't know what to say.  

Comment by Pointbass on July 3, 2016 at 6:57am

Thank you for the hugs and here is a big one right back (((HUG)))   I wish you peace while coping with your loss, too ...

Comment by deaf widow on July 3, 2016 at 6:18am

So sorry for your loss of Bunny!  I hate cancer!  I loss my very smart hubby to cancer, too, right after Christmas.  Yes, he was the smart one.  He could always correct me when ever I was gonna make a huge bad decision.  I'm so glad you have your daughter, Laura, there to help you when needed.  I'm also glad you have a good job with supportive co-workers.  Am sending you and Laura (((hugs)))!  I TOTALLY understand what you are going through!

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