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 double-ass ugly. Comments welcome! Jean

Monday, January 21, 2013

Writing Your Grief Away

Most people who write in blogs probably know about blog2print and Blurb. They are services that turn what you’ve written online into a “professionally-printed book.” Now that I’ve gone through a full year of widowhood I plan to have those twelve months of my ‘widows work’ printed so I’ll have that hard copy for my library shelf. In preparation for that printing I’ve been re-reading the entries here, looking for any mistakes that need correcting. Sometimes I’ll read something and think, Wow! I wrote that? And other times I’ll think, Oh, my God, I wrote that? But I’ve resisted the temptation to change text that may have been too raw, too reveling or too dumb and I’m only correcting the technical stuff like spelling errors, misplaced commas and bad coding.

In one blog entry I wrote about the traumatic events surrounding my mother’s death and how I’d used writing a family history book to work through the following two years of grief that, in many ways, was much worse than the grief of losing Don. A lot of widows, I've learned since then, don’t understand how losing a parent can be worse than losing a spouse but her pain-filled death was very much preventable and included a callous doctor who for weeks thought her pain was her imagination working overtime and an ambulance that caught on fire on the way to the hospital while she all her blood left her veins and filled up her body cavity. Then we had to decide if we wanted to join a class action lawsuit against the makers of the ambulance. Anyway, I closed that blog with these words:

“I know to the depths of my soul that most humans are resilient. We can be happy and whole again after horrible, life altering events. I have the ghosts of past grief to thank for teaching me that. Even now, with Don’s death so recent, and my mother’s so long ago, I can still hear the words he kept repeating in my ear during Mom’s funeral: “It’s going to be okay, it’s going to be okay. It’s going to be okay!” And when I’d finished writing my family history book, it was okay. I had purged the grief induced melancholy from my life by introducing the relatives from the past to my relatives in the future. Writing truly is my saving grace.”

Two friendly acquaintances from Don's speech class days who were widowed a few years before me say they still cry every day. They don’t blog, of course---few of us really do when you look at the entire pool of widows out in the world compared to those of us who write about our journey. And although we're not suppose to compare our grief process with that of others I can’t help but think that the cathartic nature of blogging/writing speeds up the process of healing. Having re-read this blog over the past week I see the positive changes in my moods, in what I choose to write about and in the progress I’ve made moving forward, and while I still experience a threat of tears occasionally, I rarely cry anymore. Writing is accountability. You get all your feelings out to examine when others are too busy too listen or too inept to understand. I'll say it again. Writing is my saving grace.

I went out to lunch with a bunch of women from the senior hall recently. Of the fifteen women only two-three were still married. A few were divorced but most are widows---some younger, some older than me. They got to talking about dating as a widow. One woman said if you tell guys you’re not much of a cook "that weeds the herd down in a hurry." They don’t ask for a second date, she said, if they’re just looking for someone to take care of them. I won’t be finding out firsthand about guys looking for cooks, maids and nurses since I have no interest in dating but it was an entertaining conversation. One women who’d just been asked out for the first time since becoming a widow 5-6 years ago was given a crash course in how to google the guy. All of them found it funny to get instructions from their kids on how to be safe out in the dating world.

What on earth the above paragraph has to do with the theme of this blog---writing your grief away---I have no idea. So I guess I’d better quit here before I start rambling about Yellow Submarines and MacArthur Park which were both popular records back when I was last in the dating pool. And that would get me to thinking about Yesterday, the Beatles song, which has been making me teary-eyed since 1968. But that’s another story for another day. It’s enough to say that grief that attaches itself to music never loses that connection. When someone you love has a stroke, like Don did, you learn a lot about how music is stored, processed and decoded in your brain. (Many speech therapists try to use music to bring back speech.) But that was yesterday’s song and today I need to find a new one to sing.  Maybe this one preformed by Bette Midler….. ©

It's the heart afraid of breaking
that never learns to dance.
It's the dream afraid of waking
that never takes the chance.
It's the one who won't be taken,
who cannot seem to give,
and the soul afraid of dyin'
that never learns to live.

(From The Rose)

6 comments:

  1. Amen. Amen. Amen. I couldn't have said it better myself. Writing is accountability. Writing is my saving grace. What Bette Midler sang is achingly true. The music and lyrics were written by Amanda McBroom.

    Funny you stuck dating in there. Dating again is a way to heal, too.

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  2. I couldn't figure out why this blog ended up with dating either. I kept thinking I should should edit it out.... Thanks for the information on Midler's song.

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  3. I am so glad that you blog, and that you wrote this. I love reading your posts, and can relate to many things you write.

    I have often wondered why I started a blog, making my personal experience public. But I was inspired by other bloggers, like you, to put it out there. And I, too believe that it really helps. There are times when I will start a post, and when I return to it 2 days later, my emotion has already completely changed. But even this awareness of the chaotic nature of grief, has helped me to better deal with it. And when I look back to my first posts, also raw and chaotic feeling, I can see that I am no longer in that place. Each post is like throwing a marker down in the sand.

    I know you also just passed the 1-year mark of your husband's death. Another marker in the sand. Eventually, I will face it too. I feel such empathy, but never know what to say. I think every widow, widower, surivor of a deeply personal loss, deserves a medal for surviving the first year. You did it. You made it. And we continue on.

    Keep writing your beautiful, funny, and insightful posts.

    -Katja.

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  4. Katja, thanks for taking the time to share your experiences with writing. It can be such a lonely adventure sometimes and it's great to compare notes from time to time. I like your concept of 'throwing markers down in the sand' with each post we write. How very true!

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  5. Mama was just reading some of your posts. She remembers the song and there was also a movie done which Bette Midler was in.

    Mama has not heard of blog2print or Blurb. She learned something new today.

    Writing does seem to help put things or feelings in perspective. You are brave to write your feelings and share them.

    We also found out that today was Levi's birthday so we sent him a present on his Dogster page.

    Love -

    Hershey and Kaci

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  6. Hershey and Kaci, Levi thanks you for the birthday surprise!! I can't believe he turns five today. I still think of him as a puppy and I guess he's not anymore.

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