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

Thursday, January 10, 2013

The Looming First Anniversary

The first anniversary of Don’s passing is coming up on the 18th and it’s hard to ignore. I’ve got an increased number of blog entries lately to prove that I’ve been trying to work through the emotions this benchmark brings with it. Some widows call it a sadiversary. But society doesn’t call the anniversary of Pearl Harbor or 911 sadiversaries, so that word doesn’t work for me. It might work for Hallmark, though, giving them a whole new line of greeting cards they could market and maybe that wouldn’t be such a bad thing. They could sell them in sets of twelve to cover the first year of widowhood. I doubt there’s a widow on the face of the earth who doesn’t fixate on the death date each month during the first year after her husband passes. It would be have been nice during 2013 to get a card in the mail on the 18th of every month saying things like: “It’s your sadiversary, feel free to cry all day” or “It’s your sadiversary call if you want to talk” or “It’s your sadiversary. If you decide to jump off a cliff, wear a frigging parachute. We love you!”  

One year has come and gone, now what? Societal norms suggest that we quit marking the months and start marking the passing of time in years like children do who’ve passed their second birthday. Why do they get monthly markers past their first birthday but when someone died, we just get a year of doing that? Is that fair? The more I think about the Victorian custom of the ‘second mourning period’ (see blog 1/5/13) the smarter I think they were regarding understanding the human experiences called grief and recovery.

Yesterday I made reservations for ten events taking place at the senior hall over the next three months. One of those events is a cooking class titled, “how to cook for one.” That should make my doctor happy since I’ve been cooking and eating for two without Don in the house. How many punches do I get in my Widowhood Card for signing up for all those events? How many punches does it take to fill it up so I can throw the card away and pronounce myself cured of the curse of living in the sea of sadness? I want rules. I want Victorian widowhood traditions. I want to know if it’s Saturday this must be Paris.

One of the events at the senior hall I signed up for is a mystery tour. A bus picks us up at 9:00 and brings us back at 4:00 and what happens in between is a secret. A lot of people say these trips are exciting but, for me, just the thought of not know where I’ll be all day brings anxiety. Why? As Don’s caregiver and the head of the household for twelve years I’d been in total control of our lives. I’ve been accustom to micromanaging and planning. It’s how I manage stress the best. It’s how I got through a lot of tough times. Micro planning became my security blanket. For me to turn control over to someone else for an entire day, well, that’s like reaching the thirteen mile marker in a twenty-six mile marathon. Not that I know what running a marathon is like but I envision cheering crowds and people reaching out to hand you water and a feeling of pride washing over you for making it to half way point. When I get to the end of my second mourning period in September, I want to feel that kind of pride in myself. In September I want to look back over the first nine months of this year and feel like I just gave birth to myself. See, I’m still trying to micromanage the future. ©

Sea Child -

Am I still adrift in the Sea of Sadness,
Or am I standing on the moonlit shore
Waiting for the tide to change and usher
In a foggy-fingered child of mourning?

With the sounds of earth coming alive
What if on the waves a child did ride
And grow anew with the sun as it climbs,
What should we call this bean of the sea?

Do I call her Me or do I call her You,
This girl with the watery-eyed mother
And father sad at the bottom of time
Do I take her hand or wave good-bye?

by Jean Riva 2013 ©

"Adrift" painting by Anne Packard

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