M3 has not been known for one of the factors which is on my pedigree: Widowhood. This is not to say widowhood does not affect much of what is written here. Settle in for a stop on a blog hop you may just need to read to believe.
As most of the M3 Readers know, I am a widow. To the newcomers, a bit of background is on offer. My husband Russell died of assorted metastatic cancers in May, 2010. It was a time of vast changes in my life.
My grandson, Caden, was born on the day we held Russell’s memorial service, two days after he died. My stepmother succumbed to cancer just six weeks later. It was a summer of thousands of miles commuting between South Carolina and home.
My life at this juncture was a bullet list:
- Finish year end IEP for little ones
- Arrange summer camp
- File suit against South Carolina
- Schedule to be in SC for summer camp
- Pick up Middle V from BRLA
- Schedule speech pathologist
- Get a massage
- Find discount card for hotel
- Buy baby things
- Return Middle V to BRLA
- Write a book
- Get Federal attorney on the telephone
Yes, even then, my to do list did not look like all the other Mommas’ lists. I did all of those things and two or three reams more. The book I did not write then was the one which tells the story of becoming a widow. That would wait until this year.
Who are you?
Young widows are rarely afforded the longevity of marriage or the expected road. Most often, Mate is stolen by accident or crime.
Then, there is Red. How did you know I would be the exception?
While I still fell into the age group of the young widows, I was not just left with young children. Ours ranged in age from 21 to 4. There were a handful of teenagers in the mix and a grandson already. The older children put me on par with some of the older widows, as did my husband’s mode of death. Having toddlers at home put me firmly in the young widows’ crowd.
In my little town, I was the junior member of the widows’ club… by more than 20 years. It made for uneasy conversations and many Friday Follies moments. I had a hard time associating with these women. I did not have 25-50 years to spend with my husband. I did not have the wide palette of great memories to fall back upon to mitigate the loss of my spouse. I had little interest in the gardening club, what with my living on a sand dune and all.
Instead, I had a monumental battle between the Federal government and the state of South Carolina, very young autistic children, a new grandson 900 miles away (with my family), a father going through what I had been, a hospice worker who came by for advice — personal and professional, older children in states a full day’s travel away, twice a week speech therapy, pool therapy, the eternal visits to the park and not a single person who knew how to cope with any of it.
Words suck.” ~ John McDevitt
Being a master wordsmith and Grammar Nazi rendered me with a permanent raised eyebrow. I could not believe some of the tripe falling from the lips of the people who professed to me on my side. I came to realize the affliction was far more epidemic than I had ever imagined.
None of these people had ever been taught to speak with compassion. Never once had they questioned the trite lines they had always delivered when it came time for funerals. It was reminiscent of the garbage they vomited out when my daughter died. One at a time, I eased them toward something other than regurgitation.
Some I made laugh. It made them uncomfortable.
Some I mocked openly. It made them uncomfortable.
Some I berated for failing to have ever been cognizant of what fell out of the agape holes in their faces. It made them uncomfortable.
It was all crap.
They were already uncomfortable. I just pointed it out. Over time, most of them would admit I was the first person to ever challenge the tired tradition of lying to the survivors, of doing a macabre dance of ineptitude masquerading as condolence, of failing to think for one second how the recipient of this trash would feel on hearing what they had said. All who did said words I despise hearing:
You were right.”
There is no consolation in I told you so. All it ever means is you did not get through in time to prevent some catastrophe.
Over the course of my life, I have introduced many to the funerary rituals with which I was raised. It is a celebration. Even before his death, Russell embraced it by making me promise not to have “some stuffy cry fest” for him. It is with this attitude of acceptance and no fear I attempt to inoculate everyone I encounter.
Death is a part of the circle of life. It is nothing to fear. Each death in our lives is a reminder to live and do it well. With them, we should savor the goodness we share with those in our lives; be they in person, on the telephone or through the wire.
Killing Us Softly:
Becoming the Surviving Spouse of Cancer
With the launch of Redmund Productions, I am releasing KUS. It is a road map through endgame of cancer. It is not the typical seven stages of grief book because it shows grief does not begin at death, nor does it end in the accepted way other emotions subside. It is also not a “This is what you should do now,” book.
What is it? KUS is a book which opens the window into a part of life and death which no one discusses and therapy attempts to make you forget. It includes concurrent journal entries and blog posts which bare emotions. It is a testament to survival and a how to navigate the inanity of those who do not have the wherewithal to consider how callous their uninformed utterances and misinformed behaviors are.
Widowed Blog Hop
A group of widows and widowers have banded together to give you some insight on how to intelligently converse with, engage and support the widowed. Take a few minutes to discover some of the others on the hop. Many of you will recognize Samantha. She invited me to join the hop. I hope you will take some time to see who else is in the group to learn a bit more about one of the largest groups in our society.
Until next time,
Do you know anyone who is widowed? Are you? Do you consider widows and widowers single?
(c) Red Dwyer 2012
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