Welcome to the Misadventures of Widowhood blog!

In January of 2012 my soul mate of 42 years passed away after nearly 12 years of living with severe disabilities due to a stroke. I survived the first year after Don’s death doing what most widows do---trying to make sense of my world turned upside down. The pain and heartache of loss, my dark humor, my sweetest memories and, yes, even my pity parties are well documented in this blog.

Now that I’m a "seasoned widow" the focus of my writing has changed. I’m still a widow looking through that lens but I’m also a woman searching for contentment, friends and a voice in my restless world. Some people say I have a quirky sense of humor that shows up from time to time in this blog. Others say I make some keen observations about life and growing older. I say I just write about whatever passes through my days---the good, bad and the ugly. Comments welcome and encouraged. Let's get a dialogue going! Jean

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Not Like Other Widows

I’ve known for a long time that a spouse of someone who’s had a stroke mourns the loss of many aspects of their relationship in months/years that follows. But it’s never been as crystal clear to me as it’s been since I started hanging around a support website for widowed people. In most ways I don’t fit in there. Sure, I just lost my spouse recently but that fact alone apparently isn’t enough to earn me full membership in the Crying All Day Club and its sister club: The Little Lost Lambs. I don’t cry all day and I have a two year transition plan for my future. Ya, little things will turn on the water works like finding a pin-on compass with Don’s favorite out west “toys” or telling a dear relative about fixing the wheelchair damage on the woodwork for the very last time. But all day cries? Been there done that just after the Don’s stroke. It didn’t help then and it won’t help now.

I don’t mean to sound cranky when I compare myself to other widows. I know I’m at an advantage---if you can call what Don and I went through in the first few years after his stroke an advantage. But in this situation it is an advantage in the sense that I’d already mourned the loss of things like in depth conversations, the feel of Don’s full body hugs, and having someone to share household responsibilities with. I went through the emotional roller coast of having to downsize my husband’s work and hobby lives. I also went through the financial cash-flow issues of having to sell houses and cars to make way for a new chapter of life. All these common “widow woes” I’ve faced and I came out the other side stronger.

By comparisons, most of other widows I’ve met make me feel like Mary Poppins and when they find out I’m a woman who still measures her widowhood in days, not months like most of them, they are shocked. It makes me nervous. Am I in denial? No, I don’t think so. But then again do people in denial actually know they are? When I go to their chat room, listen to them lament this or that it’s like hearing an echo from the past. The spousal caregiver’s mourning period really was like having training wheels on the bicycle for this final loss. Why do I keep going? That’s a question I’ve asked myself several times. And a comment I heard last night might be a reason. A woman said she thought I should give classes in how to move forward and another woman replied, “I think that’s what she’s doing now.” Perhaps I hang around because the community has become my new set of training wheels to help me transfer from being a full time caregiver to not being needed anymore. ©

4 comments:

  1. I get it. I started mourning the day I heard the words, "lung cancer, metasticized to his liver" I knew I was going to be a widow much too soon. So I mourned 27 months before I was a widow. Not as long as you, but I had a head start of the car wreck widows and the heart attack widows. You have been a good addtion to widowed village.

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  2. Thank you, Marg! I'm glad the widow's support site has a sub-group for those of us who've been caregivers.

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  3. I guess there was a silver lining to being a full time caregiver the final three years of my husband's life. And yes, the shock and mourning began the day I heard the diagnosis 'terminal cancer'. It certainly explained why this man who was vibrant one month earlier was now writhing in pain. His life and death struggle, OUR life and death struggle for three years allowed me to live with death in the room. At first it flattened me, but then I pulled out all the stops and flattened it. The final three months, knowing death was closing in, I gave him the gift I know he most wanted - my joy, not my tears.

    Now I understand, years later, that I had postponed my tears, until my crying would not steal the precious moments we still had together.

    There is a time to be strong, and a time to be weak. I sense you know this well. God bless you!

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  4. Thank you for the comments, gowithflow. It's really nice to find others with similar experiences.

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