For many, silence is golden. Overall, silence is to be revered when the world is off its rocker, the children are clamoring for something they absolutely do not need and the telephone battery refuses to die… despite 47 calls in the last three hours. Then, there are the times when silence is tarnished.
Far and away, conversation is the most underrated portion of any marital relationship. This is particularly true of uncommunicative couples. As counter-intuitive as they may seem, let’s look closer.
When Mate is in constant verbal contact, the conversations can be enough to trigger the pining for golden silence. Think about some of the typical marital conversations:
Call from the store… so you can read Mate the list which is still stuck on the fridge with a magnet.
Small talk as you wait for a server to bring food.
The daily report of what is happening outside your home.
The business meetings: bills, children, neighbors, pets
When Mate is no longer there to have these conversations, it can be a poignant example of Be careful what you wish for because you just might get it.
Communicative Mates enjoy the conversation, even when the subject is not a sweet tea.
When Mate is stoic or merely the strong, silent type (which come in both male and female models), conversation is sparse. Often, the conversations are merely ones of necessity:
- I need this from the store.
- It is time for an oil change.
- I quit my job today.
The delivery of small talk and engaging conversation is not often on the menu. Most communication is functional and requires no accoutrements. The content of such communication is suited for Twitter.
With an uncommunicative Mate, the sweet things (I love you, Happy birthday, Are you in the mood?) are cataloged and cherished. They are rare enough to be jewels in a crown.
And then there were none…
When Mate dies, one thing appears after all the
party guests mourners leave: Silence. It does not come and settle on the couch and wait for you to serve tea. Instead, it permeates every room, every place, every event, every moment where Mate once was.
You look back on those moments when you wished for silence, the heated moments where the words seared conscience and soul, the moments when you really were just appearing to listen… and they now mean something entirely different.
The emotions surrounding the silence are as different as the moments which trigger them.
Sadness brings with it a poignant reminder of alone-ness. Occasionally, loneliness stows away for this visit. It can be fended away with a conversation with someone else, but it does not totally dissipate because a surrogate is not the same.
Guilt likes to show up with a lampshade on its head. It delivers a soliloquy of all the times you deferred conversation for what now appears selfish reasons. The statistical capability of the mind to recall past (mis)deeds can defy standardized test scores. Banishing guilt is necessary. Remembering you did deliver the sweetness (I love you, Happy birthday, Are you in the mood?) when you were able must become good enough to assuage your guilty conscience.
Anger is easy, well-armed and brought the movers with it. When it unpacks its boxes, all the other emotions surface in due course. Anger’s first barrage can be as simple as being angry Mate is not here to (talk, fight, whisper) or Mate should have (said, heard) this. More common than these is: No one understands what you are saying.
When we feel misunderstood, we go to Mate, who loves us and knows us well enough to understand even if we are speaking an alien language. That outlet is not available with Mate gone. When you stop being angry at Mate for being AWOL and the misunderstanding others for misunderstanding, you are met with silence.
Do you feel guilty for being angry at Mate? Why? Wasn’t always being there one of the vows between you?
Do you feel guilty for being sad or lonely or both? Why? Isn’t your world different without Mate?
Breaking the Silence
After some time to reflect on your own feelings, breaking the silence is necessary. Once you learn all the noises the house makes in the stillness and the sounds of the children and the animals at rest, it is time for some restorative noise. Yes, noise.
Music is quite a matter of taste, given the literal definition of music is an alarm. Exploring music does two things:
- Reminds you of Mate
- Reminds you of you
Now, One may sound counterproductive. In fact, the memories we attach to the joy of music bring happiness to us even when tinged with the sadness of Mate’s absence. The key is to balance it with music which fall into Two.
Listening to music from our childhood is fulfilling. Break out some tunes your parents listened to, which you thought were motion-sick wolves baying at the moon. Listen to the silly songs which inhabited teenagerdom. Remember who you are as a whole person.
Then, listen to something you never would have imagined you like. Check out the playlists of some of your friends. Listen to your youngest child’s favorite band. Troll the websites of Internet musicians whose music and songs may not populate shelves or even iTunes… yet. Visit a music review site to stumble onto something you have never heard from one of your favorite musicians.
You will inevitably discover new music. This is the soundtrack to your new life which will in no way diminish the life you had before because it is completely different.
If you are so talented, pick up a musical instrument or a microphone and make music. In the face of loss, nothing is more fulfilling than creation.
If you are musically-challenged, pick up a hairbrush and air guitar around the living room. The exercise will do you good.
Welcome to December’s post for the Widowed Blog Hop. Join me and a growing number of widowed bloggers on the journey from marriage to widowhood. The lessons you can learn along the way are great coping mechanisms for any loss in your life, from friends, spouses, siblings or children… even corporate loss. Loss does not always mean death.
Grab some inspiration from those who face each day with an appreciation for life some never are afforded the chance to engage. While we do this blog hop on the first Wednesday of the month, the blogs along the way are just as active as all others. Feel free to drop by any time. Their welcome mats are always out. Say hello and let them know who sent you.
Red’s new book Killing Us Softly: Becoming the Surviving Spouse of Cancer is now available on Redmund Productions in paperback, ebook, PDF and for Kindle.
Is there music you associate with someone in particular? How big a part does music play in your life? Have you ever considered a song as your soundtrack? What would be on your soundtrack play list? Do you know a music/musician website we could visit?
When you tweet and +1 this post, please use the hashtags #music, #widowed and #bloghop. Thank you for spreading the love!
(c) Red Dwyer 2012
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