The Widow or Widower Next Door

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"How are you doing? No, Really, How Are You Doing?"


"How are you doing? No, really......Now that you've lost your loved one?"


That's a question I get from people who know me and care about me, and because they really do care about me. I expect it, and am grateful for it. I know they want the best for me and are ready to help if there's something I need.  Now that I'm over three years out, it doesn't come as often, but they'll ask around birthdays, anniversaries or major holidays. Those were the folks that showed up when the earth opened up beneath me and my husband died suddenly.


What's so annoying, so very irritating, is the probing question from casual acquaintances. People I barely know. People who are only asking to be nosy, or maybe to reassure themselves that widowhood is survivable….you know…..just in case of the unlikely event that it might happen to them. Or maybe they can’t figure out what sort of widow would make it her mission to work with supporting other widows. Who knows why they want to  invade the core of my private feelings


How am I supposed to answer that?  I just met a new neighbor who just wouldn’t relent. She wanted all the juicy details.


What is it they want me to say? Do they want me to dissolve into tears before their eyes? That’s not going to happen. Do they want me to tell them what a rousing good time I’m having?  “Oh, never better! Having the time of my life! Widowhood’s a blast?”  What exactly do I say, when they aren’t satisfied with my initial response of “I’m doing fine” or “I’m OK, and you?”   Why isn’t that enough?  Should I open a vein in front of you and make your morbid curiosity happy?



Or perhaps I should say “I lost my husband, my best friend and lover, the absolute love of my life. Not an hour goes by that I don’t miss him. The loneliness chills me to the bone on hot summer days. I am better than I was. I am not anywhere near the life I had, the life I wanted, and wanted to last much longer than it did.  I’ve found new reasons to get up in the morning. I’ve found a way to contentment. But how am I really?  I mean really?  Really….I want my old life back.   Now, I hear you like to dance naked in the shower….Tell me about that?”  




Red, White and....ever so BLUE!



I love Independence Day!  Proud daughter. grandaughter, niece, cousin and wife of family men who served in defense of our country, I wonder sometimes if red, white and blue doesn't run through my veins.  I'm even a veteran of the Army Reserves myself. The strips and stars fly at my home 24/7 on my flag pole.  I remember very well for which it stands.


Holidays are harder now, with most of my family gone. The ones that remain are far away. And then, of course there is the loss of my husband. He was an Army guy, first active duty and then working for the Army as a civilian. The star spangled holidays were important in my crew. Parades, picnics, and fireworks. Who do I have those with now?  


It's an unfortunate fact of life that, as the widowed, we are often overlooked when it comes to making plans for holiday weekends. I've grown to really dread them. There are a few holidays that are easier to handle. lasting only one day. Those I can pretend don't exist and just bury myself in my work, or escape into a movie marathon and forget that they are anything but just another day. That works fairly well for me.


Three day weekends are not so easily handled. It's pretty hard to watch movies for three days in a row, and everything work related slows to a snails pace. Nobody's there!  Even my favorite retail stores and restaurants feel different. Even when there are those sorts of people to be around, they are distracted and full of excitement about their own plans. No way around's lonely!  REALLY lonely!


So what to do?  This holiday I'm taking the initiative, not waiting to be asked. I'm reaching out to friends and asking what they are planning. "Do you have room for one more?"  I've leaned that if I wait for people (even friends I know care about me) to ask...I'll be waiting a long time.  Other holidays I've skinned the cat another way and got very pro-active. I've had a party!


If all else fails?  I'll figure out a way to sparkle all by myself!!!  It's my party and I'll shine if I want to.








Loneliness Can Be Deafening...


Never Coming Back....


Believing in Yourself.....


Widow Without Skin


Thank the Lord for scar tissue!


Since I have chosen to make working with widows my life’s’ purpose, I often talk to freshly minted widows and widowers.  I am always reminded of those early days of my own loss, those ever so tender days of the first year.


I almost literally felt as though I had no skin.


I had no armor to shield me from ordinary affronts, ordinary thoughtless people, ordinary doubts, let alone to protect me from devastating loss and, sometimes, the downright mean remarks. People around me often made cavalier remarks, with no intent to hurt, but no realization of the soft tissue they were landing upon. I had no defenses. None at all.

Someone might say, “Gee, you look tired” and my reaction was to think “No kidding!  Maybe it’s because I am barely sleeping!”  Before Pat’s death, and now, those kinds of remarks rolled off my back. Not then.  Then I found them highly upsetting. Most everything upset me.



A request to the world in general?  Please be very, very gentle with new grievers. We have no skin.


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My Whole Life


A Word About Online Etiquette for Grievers...



I'm not sure exactly why, but grief board bloggers and administrators, and....grief merchandise online shops seem to bring out the worst in some people. We get slammed with insults,  rude remarks and unfounded accusations. I guess it has something to do with the fact that grievers are often a prickly angry lot, and they see us as targets to channel some of that anger on, anonymously  News's not all that anonymous.  We get to know our followers and commenters personas, and they carry their own reputations. News flash #2 ......Maybe some bloggers and online merchants are getting rich, but I don't know any that work in the grief arena that are. We are motivated by our own losses, and a sincere desire to help other grievers, be it through our inspirational quotes, articles of interest on our blogs, or offering books on grief or memorial tokens that we've found helpful ourselves.  Most of us take some of our proceeds and either pour them back into our businesses, so that we may reach and help more grievers, or donate some money to grief organizations. I've done both.


Every now and then, I get some whack job that accuses me of preying on the grieving. Really???  My posts about product say something on the order of "this_____ is available for purchase here.  Available...AVAILABLE....not..."I'm going to come to your house, knock you to the ground and wrestle your credit card out of your delicate, vulnerable little hand. Truth is, most of us are our own best customers or followers, because we believe in what we do and sell. It helps our own grief, just like most of the addiction counselors you meet are recovering addicts. We walk the talk.


Some one trash talked a post, recently, about one of my jewelry offerings.  I am still scratching my head. Their nasty (really nasty) comments were unsolicited and uncalled for. If they didn't like the product, the answer is simple. Don't buy it!  If you were a 65 yr. old man, would you walk into every nail salon you saw at the mall, shouting "I don't need your services, I'll never use them, you can't make me!" ?  Or, as a TV dish owner, rush down to your local cable office so you can tell them you don't want their cable service? People would think you have a screw loose.  


Once in a while, since my follower audience encompasses people in all stages of grief, I'll post something that causes outrage among grievers who are not in "that place" when I put that post up. It happens. Sometimes it's me, nobody hits 'em out of the park every time at bat, and sometimes it's the follower, putting themselves in the position of thinking they are the only reader.


Here's how it works.......just like in the real world.  If you don't like something in a store at the mall or a headline on a magazine.....don't buy it, don't "like" it.  Just keep on strolling....and scrolling. That's just good online etiquette.


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