On Being a New Widow
"Death ends a life, not a relationship." Robert Benchley
I'm back in LA this week visiting my sister. The one whose husband was killed in a private plane crash this summer. I came out for the memorial in August. We talk pretty much every day either on the phone, in IM's or email.
She's hanging in there, but it's not always easy. Especially when the kids are grown and gone and you've gotten used to making a life for just two. Now she's just one. Widowhood is a state of being and coping in the beginning. Then, if you're lucky and smart, it fades into another facet of life.
She's shared some feelings and philosophies of widowhood with me that she's given me permission to share with you.
Had a long hard day at work, was so tired I started to cry in the traffic jam on Wilshire. Then stopped, chose not to waste the energy.She's a fighter too. Not her first line of defense, but she'll do what it takes to make it. Tomorrow's her birthday, which is why I came out here. It won't be the best birthday she's ever had. But I'm here to make sure it won't be the worst.
At the beginning people said I wasn't handling it well. Screw them -- I was doing fine. Was I supposed to burst out in tears every minute? Let them live in my house and go to bed alone every night. Then they'll know how to handle it.
That's hard for me -- when I get saddest. Weekends really suck. They are no different from weekdays, except I'm not working. So many little habits, like 21 years of Saturday breakfasts at Izzy's, gone.
In whatever grief counseling I've done, my tactic is to explain that the most difficult thing a person can deal with is change. Change upsets the body and the body chemistry and, therefore, the mind. It's a stressor and it makes you feel shitty.
And with all due respect to the deceased--and recognizing the hole they've left--it's the change that's the hardest to handle. So I'm trying to hear my own words and take my own advice: try to adapt to the change rather than the absence of the person. It's working pretty well, but then of course I invented the theory, so why not?
But. Changes I don't like: having done something fun/good/noble and not being able to share. Doing a long day's work without anyone caring if I come home late. Weekends. Empty bookcases and the lack of the perennial piles of stuff' all over the house. It's neater than it was. The clutter made me uncomfortable. I learned to live with it ... but the clutterer was fun and that part's tough.
I haven't, and won't change easily -- I like me the way I am, and the way Bob made me. Moving forward is going to take a fight, and I'm a lover.
Happy Birthday, Judy. I wish you many, many more happier ones to come.