Friday, September 28, 2012

Widowhood. It ain't funny

Well, maybe it is, a little.  I'm amazed how many of us are collectors.  Compulsive buyers.  Compulsive collectors.

Meet my rocks.  The marble from Massachusetts.  The others from deep in my backyard.  I love rocks.   I adore rocks.  Rocks last forever. Rocks are my friends. 

Meet my other best friends. My journal, my favorite blogs, my books, my gardens, my cats, my piano, my bicycles, my road trips, my food, my clothes, my shoes, my jewelry.   

Well, if collecting doesn't solve the grief problem, what is it that makes us resilient enough to beat it?

Maybe the humor.  Maybe getting to the real issues and having a good cry.  Maybe having somebody believe in you.  Maybe the passage of time.  Maybe taking on new projects.   Maybe optimism and faith.  Maybe enough money.   Maybe good enough health.  Maybe a 'can-do' spirit.   Maybe the void itself once we welcome it.  Maybe having a dear new friend. 

Whatever those special ingredients, it somehow all adds up to a new identity, post widowhood, at some point in our lives.  It has to. 

Time's come to give up a few things I've hoarded.  I'm going to take a deep breath, and purge some things from my closet.  Maybe I can live with less?

Tell me about your collections.  Are they helping?

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

How can somebody have this much stuff?

Enough is enough!  Which sweaters should I hold on to?  I'm not talking about my own.  I mean his.  I gave away most of his sweaters, shoes, coats, jackets, vests, PJs, slippers, belts, hats, gloves, boots and old electronics by the third year.  Now I'm holding on to just a few special items...

Every time I try to let one more garment go, paralysis sets in.   Can't I hold on to the option of seeing his clothes if I'm lonely?   They're not in a closet I use anyway.

I have to confess I'm eyeing that space for my own use. 

Someone said you have to create empty spaces in your closets, for someone else to enter.  Nice thought, probably true.  However, to me empty space is like an ugly bleeding gash that taunts me.  I'm alone.  Alone.

I'll deal with this later.  Close the door.  If and when the times comes I will make the space for somebody else; evidently not a moment sooner.

What do you think?  Keep those last few things of his or clear them out? 

Saturday, September 22, 2012


I have no idea how a new relationship will turn out and I'm completely comfortable with that.

I don't know if I'm coming or going and I'm completely comfortable with this.

I'm not feeling lonely, and this is a new feeling. 

I just saw my neighbor, a very recent widower, who was married for 53 years.  His beloved wife was suffering for the last seven years and he took care of her at home until she died.  Now he's been alone  four months.  He reached out to me and I'm happy to be there.

I talked to another neighbor yesterday.  Her husband is fighting his new diagnosis of cancer. My first impulse is to help in any way I can.

There was a time I had nothing left to give.  Now I have enough to give. 

I think this is Post widowhood.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Can't I keep even my HAPPY memories?

Recently, I found myself commenting on another person's blog post.  As usual, in the act of writing, I learned something about myself.  I have no idea if what I wrote is wise, or good, or necessary.  It's about letting go of even the happy memories.

When my husband died some seven years ago, I was more than happy to let go of some memories -the difficult periods we shared.  Letting go of cancer's agony was a particular joy.  I was also happy to let the memories of discord between us go.

Here's what I wrote:

"In my journey it's necessary to get unstuck even from happy memories, since I can't access that life any more.  What I can access, however, is the present moment, and enter it wholly."

For me, happy memories might keep me stuck.  My husband might become sacred, burnished in time and fabricated into a legend.   That would certainly interfere with new connections!  So, when a happy memory comes along I let it go.  Dwelling on a dead man feels, well, foolish. He's history. 

Well, duh.

I wouldn't be writing this blog if it weren't for his, and our, history.  Here I am, trying to make sense of memories.  Sense of the absent him.  Sense of me without him.  Sense of a present without him.  I am coming to love the present without him.  But clearly, I am not doing it without him.  He's here, in this blog. I'm quite confused.  Does post widowhood mean abandoning any reference to him in my life? 

What do you think?  Are memories useful or not?

Monday, September 3, 2012

feeling abandoned?

Were we abandoned by our husbands?    You bet we were.  Work through that grief, and we may find a deeper fear of abandonment still alive and kicking.  I truly hope not for you.  I hope you have made wonderful new connections that fill your heart.  But fear of abandonment is alive and well for me.  When my husband was alive, I felt strong in his commitment and love.  I carried his presence with me a long while after his death.  I didn't feel so alone.  Then his presence began fading. This is when fear of abandonment surfaced for me.

If I truly let myself need another man again I may be abandoned again - by sickness, by death, by his love petering out.  Can I reach out?  First I'm going to reach in. 

My new project, the "you're welcome, (my name)" project, said deeply into my heart, addresses this fear.   I can never really be abandoned, can I, when I welcome myself in?  I can welcome my own needy self - tenderly, carefully.   I need to be there, first for me. Then I need to be there for someone else.  I shared this with a widowed friend.  She took my hand, "I can see you're speaking from your heart." We sat there quietly, hand in hand, tears streaming down my face. Her heart reached mine without saying a word.    

No advice.  No need to talk about her own experience.  No need to fill the void.  Just be in the void with me.  Simply be there in that void with me.

I guess I'm talking about providing my own emotional support first, before offering and seeking it from someone new.  I've been pretty guarded about loving again.  It's scary letting a new man in.  But, darn it, I'll survive.

Do any of you ladies have these fears, too?