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, January 13, 2016

Fourth Sadiversary on Widowhood Lane




My mom died on Easter thirty-two years ago, my dad died on Christmas fifteen years ago and my husband passed away four years ago this coming week. With Mom and Dad’s deaths both falling on holidays it’s impossible to let their sadiversaries slide by without thinking about them. With Don’s I get through the holidays before the anticipation of his sadiversary gets kick-started on New Year’s Day. Even though he died on a nondescript day in the middle of a nondescript month I doubt I’ll ever reach a point when it will be just another day on the calendar. Still, if I was in charge of publishing church calendars I’d make his sadiversary a Red Letter Day like Mom and Dad’s. 

Recently I found myself sorting things that had to do with Don’s funeral---sympathy cards, the guest book, letters and the alike that came out of the messy closet in the room I’m re-purposing. Four years! It was time to throw those greeting cards away, I decided, but people spent time and money picking them out then writing notes inside so I wanted to read them one last time. Would they affect me differently than they did in 2012? The answer is yes. As I sat reading I savored the words where before I read them in a state of numbness. This time I wrapped myself in the warmth and caring they expressed. I kept several cards for the handwritten messages inside and I kept the five letters that were either read as part of the memorial service or just appeared in frames in the visitation room. I had completely forgotten about those pages of shared memories. And I kept Don’s medical bracelet, of all things. It’s not like anyone else can use it with all the stuff written on it: Severe aphasia, heart patient, atrial fibrillation, stroke patient, diabetic non-insulin dependent, takes Coumadin. Plus the bracelet had his name, the name of his internist and hospital engraved on the stainless steel. They had to use both sides of the metal to get all that stuff on it.

Hallmark and American Greetings know their business: “No one else can comprehend the sadness in your heart. You knew this man completely---others only knew him in part.” “In memory and celebration of someone who made this world a brighter and better place.” “Let us remember the smiling, the laughing, the talking, the sharing, the caring and the loving.” “We’re never really ready when it’s time to say good-bye, but slowly we accept what has to be, letting go of what we must…..” Yup, over the past four years I’ve let go of the tears, the sadness, the regrets but I can’t let go of a stupid medical bracelet! It’s too personal and represents everything Don went through in the last twelve years of his life. The idea of throwing it in the trash with garbage headed to the dump didn’t feel right. Back in the box it went with the letters, memorial program and a copy of the eulogy although I made a notation on my day planner to bury it by Don’s cemetery stone next spring.

On my first sadiversary I characterized the year I’d just been through as being all about survival and on my second sadiversary I labeled the previous year as the rebuilding year. During my third year of widowhood I was on a mission to seek contentment and that goal ended with mixed results---the desperation of the search dissipated but not the search itself, if that makes any sense. And now here I am trying to summarize year four of my widowhood in five words or less. The best I can come up with is this past year was a slow march towards resignation, and that resignation stems from the realization that if I move closer to my family I probably won’t see them any more often than I do now. My nieces and nephew are part of the busy sandwich generation; they have parents and grandchildren who---rightly so---will always get first dibs on their free time. Nope, moving won’t be a panacea to cure the lack of closeness that’s been missing from my life since Don died...although I haven't completely ruled a move out of the equation. If I could take the senior hall activities with me the decision would be a no brainer.

There you have it. I’ve taken my widowhood temperature and I pronounce myself ready to embark on the fifth year of living without my soulmate. It’s time for me to get my act together and turn woo-is-me into wow-is-me. It’s time to rediscover myself at the end of a paint brush, if there is a me still there. With that goal in mind, I'll post a photo tour of my new, re-purposed room over the weekend. The chair came today. I still don't know what to call the it---art room, play room or art studio/guest room. Maybe I'll set up a poll and let the blog community decide for me. ©
 
Life is a journey of sweetness and sorrow,
Of yesterday’s memories and hopes for tomorrow,
Of pathways we choose and detours we face
With patience and humor, courage and grace,
Of joys that we’ve shared and of people we’ve met
Who have touched us in ways we will never forget.

American Greetings


Within our hearts,
the ones we love
 are never really gone---
In spirit and in memory,
their legacy lives on.

Hallmark

20 comments:

  1. You're so brave. I haven't looked at the cards since then. Maybe this year I will. Mr. Ralph's death is a Red Letter Day ... the day after my birthday! What a win/win. Celebrate getting another year older then celebrate missing my man. I do cherish waking up each day, especially in Paradise. I love having a day to remember the saddest day in my life. And remembering the best days of living with him.

    Hugs for surviving another sadiversary.

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    1. I'll take the hug and give it right back to you. Not sure I'd want Don's sadiversary so close to my birthday but we don't get to choose.

      We had neighbors once who had 3 kids under 12. She died 2 days before Christmas then two years later the dad killed himself on her sadiversary. Talk about a ruined holiday! You've got to keep moving forward in grief recovery---not you, I know you are. But for those who aren't you have to find your way out of the early stage of raw grief.

      It wasn't hard looking at the cards this time. I tried it once before and I didn't get through them all. I'm glad I finally read them again and am letting go.

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  2. It's kind of hard for me to forget Fred's departure day. New Year's day. My Mother died on the Ides of March and my Daddy's funeral was on my 69th birthday. As for ridding or keeping momentos? I still have Fred's, ratty old Nike sneakers. Why those mean so much to me is beyond my knowledge, but I saw them just yesterday, in the closet, and I gave them a hug.

    You are absolutely right about the move. You would FEEL closer, but you wouldn't BE closer, unless you established a once a week family dinner, which probably wouldn't happen.

    As for the naming of your new room? Peace. Sanctuary. Reverie.
    You could stencil a word or phrase on the wall with that name?

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    1. I have Don's last pair of cowboy boots, too. After his stroke he wouldn't let me give them away and I can't do it now, either. They make me smile remembering all the good times we had when he wore them.

      Wow,"I'm going to my peace room" or "going to my sanctuary" has a great ring! I think I will do a poll.

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  3. Loss is so difficult although I've not dealt with this kind of loss. I've said this before...I can't imagine and I'm in no hurry. Perhaps I'll get lucky and go first and never experience this heartache. Hubby always says we'll go together. Perhaps that's a good thing.

    Have a fabulous day. ☺

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    1. Just keep building those good memories and don't worry about "when the time comes..."

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  4. I, too, have not experienced the loss of a spouse but I understand your moving dilemma. We just went as far as putting an offer on a house (to be nearer our daughter) and then declined to pursue it. It just didn't feel right although I really liked the house, I am not really ready to leave where I am despite the fact that it is so blooming cold now that winter has decided to show up!!
    Regards,
    Leze

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    1. I have talked to women at the senior hall who moved to be closer to their kids and, they say, it wasn't worth the effort. They either get stuck with a lot of kid and dog sitting they didn't expect or they don't see their families any more than before. It's a tough decision! Last fall I saw a couple of condos that I loved but with a dog in the winter a condo would be hard at my age and he and I are a family. A smaller house would be nice but since I'm so uncertain about moving, putting it on hold seemed wise.

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  5. It must have been bitter-sweet to re-read all those cards and then realize you were ready to let go of them. I really appreciated your summary of your four years of widowhood. It does seem as though it would be impossible to reach contentment through desperation, so getting past the desperation is probably important. I wonder if you can reframe your "resignation" as "acceptance," which seems like an important step on the road to contentment. -Jean

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    1. You make a great point about reframing my fourth year as a march towards acceptance rather than resignation. They both take me to the same place but 'acceptance' is a glass-is-half-full way to look at where I'm at and 'resignation' is the half-empty-glass.

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  6. I feel sad, too, in a resigned kind of way, that moving toward family may not be all its cracked up to be. I agree with Jean - reframing resignation as 'acceptance' emphasizes this fact (and this is true for all of us): the woman you are has such intrinsic value, that any place you lay your head is fortunate to have you.

    I love the term you are using to describe your fifth year - the 'Wow-is-me' year. Mind if I borrow it?

    I am so interested in what your wonderful self will demonstrate in this re-purposed room. Please, leave your 'inner critic' at the door! I LOVE Judy's idea of naming your new room 'Sanctuary'. And stencilling the name on the wall is awesome. Another idea I have, though it hasn't the same lovely ring, is the 'Wellspring' room. Wellspring of ideas, of creations, of your rebirth.

    ( or maybe call it your 'Midwife room'.)

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    1. I laughed right out loud at the Midwife Room. I ain't birthing no babies in there, ma'am. I only have one wall that could be stenciled and I want to keep it open in case I want to line it up with canvases. You'll see what I mean when I do my weekend photo tour.

      The other Jean (stepintofuture) is one smart lady. Acceptance is the best way to reframe how I feel rather than resignation. I have a wonderful family, no complaints about any one of them, and I would never want to suggest otherwise.

      I'm surprise to hear you advise me to leave my inner critic at the door of my new room. You made a living with your art. I don't see how anyone can improve their work if they don't critique their own work.

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    2. I've known artist's block all too well. I have to keep the inner critic outside the door, and instead, bring the 'inner angel' in with me. The former raises self doubt; the latter brings inspiration to express oneself most clearly. With inner confidence, creativity is a joy. (You probably have this down, as a writer.)

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    3. I'm just the opposite. Inner doubt makes me more creative (not less) because I push harder. Too much confidence makes me lazy and less likely to look for those tweaks that make all the difference. For me, creativity is a dragon to slay and not always a joyful process. You, on the other hand, seem to be saying you do your best stuff when you're inspired and are approaching it joyfully.

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  7. You are my inspiration. WOW is YOU! Holding you in tender friendship -- friend I've never met...

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    1. I've missed your blogs! We inspire each other. My paints are do from FedEx tomorrow!

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    2. I've hit a dry spell....I really and truly have to be more disciplined to write even when I don't feel like it, but well, the thing is, my brother is likely in his final days after a long cancer battle and I cannot write about that yet because he and his family have asked me not to (he won't see this post to YOUR blog, however). Whenever I think of something else to write about, it just falls flat. But I'll get something out there soon...just gotta get past this emotional valley I'm wandering in right now. Thanks for hanging in there with me. Can't wait to see your paintings!!! Woo-Hoo!

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    3. I'm so sorry to hear about your brother. I hope you are at least writing for your eyes only. Writers need that outlet when we're facing such life chancing issues.

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  8. I'm a widower who's about to hit my five-year mark in a few weeks. I'm glad I found this post.

    I like your observation: "They both take me to the same place but 'acceptance' is a glass-is-half-full way to look at where I'm at and 'resignation' is the half-empty-glass." It is a good analogy for what T. S. Eliot describes as "wavering between the profit and the loss". Thank you.

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    1. Thank you for commenting! Connecting with others who understand makes a real difference.

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