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

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Holiday Funerals, Facebook and Discontent

When someone dies around a holiday---any holiday---I can’t help thinking about my mom and dad. Mom died on Easter and Dad died on Christmas. I know all about grieving around holidays when the whole world around you seems to be celebrating. And I’ve always been grateful that Don, if he had to die, at least he didn’t do it on a holiday. I don’t know why it should matter, though, it’s not like I’ll ever forget the day I lost my spouse. But then again it is different when someone dies at other times of the year because, you don’t have to endure hearing about joyful holiday gatherings when your anticipation of the holidays are forever changed, like a full-colored photograph that’s been printed in black and white. Your memories of holidays past and future always come with a tinge of regret when that date gets engraved in granite.

Now, I’ve got another funeral to go to on Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving. The deceased is the father of my niece-in-law that I’ve been walking the nature trail with all summer. She comes from a close, loving family and he leaves behind a wife of 60 years, a women who’s always been so upbeat and sweet. I know many of his grandkids and I’ve been reading their Facebook postings. You can tell they’ve been influenced and blessed by their grandfather’s caring spirit. I’ve never been a grandparent (or had one of my own) but if I did I’d be proud if my grandkids were to post the kind of memorial tributes that I’m reading about my niece-in-law’s father, not to mention the photos and videos being shared. Facebook has its bad points but at times like this the site sure has the power to draw people together in shared memories and grief. Who would have ever guessed how much technology would change the customs and etiquette of grief.

I’m fighting it, but discontent is seeping into my soul and I’m sure it’s due in no small part because of my dad’s death nearly 14 years ago. He passed away just five months before Don's massive stroke, ending a tough five year stretch of my brother and me sharing his care. I hadn’t fully recovered from that experience when I was thrown into another caregiver firestorm. So my holiday plans since the beginning of my caregiver life have always come with the good graces of others inviting me to be a part of their celebrations. Anyone who’s been in a caregiver role will understand what I mean when I say I barely had the time or energy to blow my nose let alone decorate, cook and invite people over during the holiday season. So here I am now with all the time in the world and with holiday parties lined up to attend on Thanksgiving and at the Historical Society, the Red Hat Society, the sculpture park, the neighborhood association and probably on Christmas Eve. Can we all say, "It will be lonely in a crowd?" Debbie Downer can but my Mary Poppins persona is telling her to move out of the way and let the good times roll.

Tomorrow the good times start out with the tree lighting ceremony and dinner at the sculpture park, if it doesn’t rain. I can’t image me riding around the park in an open tram if the weather is miserable. The other day I decided I should have bought two tickets and put out an invitation via a mass email to my new Red Hat sisters to see if anyone wanted to go with me. I might be alone in the world but that doesn’t mean I can’t prime the pump of friendship a little harder. The email list is long and at least one person would have jumped at a free ticket. Others in the group have made similar offers ending in success.

Several of my blogger friends have written recently about being former extroverts turned introverts since losing a loved one. It seems I’m trying---maybe too hard---to be the other way around…a former introvert who wants to be an extrovert. My husband was an accomplished extrovert and I spent years coasting in the making friends department because he was so good at it. Well, I’ll have lots of opportunities over the holidays to practice what he’s taught me by example. Then, when the new year starts I’m going to hunker down here on Widowhood Lane and revert back to type. Winter will give me time to think about what I really want the rest of my life to look like. Jeez, why do I have to feel so much pressure to catalog choices and make decisons?   ©


  1. Fred died New Years Day and, just 14 days before the big 70th birthday party I had planned for me. I am usually alone on Christmas Day and it doesn't bother me--my family gets together on Christmas Eve--then they do their own thing on Christmas Day. Last New Year's Day was awful, but I know what to do this year so as not to sabotage myself!!

  2. I remember well the exhaustion that comes with caregiving. I was fortunate enough to have a brother and sister-in-law who took care of most of the holidays. I can't imagine what it must have been like for you to lose your father. Then, just when you were readjusting from those caregiving years, you found yourself facing a new set of challenges with Don.

    I think how you've reached out to others recently is a good thing. You can pull back for awhile, and regroup in the spring. You'll balance it out, and end up with something that works for you. No rules, just trial and error. We kind of fumble our way along.

  3. Wow, Judy, what a sad way to have to start out a new year! I'm glad you've got a plan this year for New Year's Day.

    Bella:"No, rules, just trial and error." I like that so much I'd like to have it sewn on a throw pillow and my new motto.

    Thank you both for your commons!

  4. I for one an grateful that you DO catalog your choices and decisions, because reading about your stream of consciousness airs out the corners of my own mind, and I appreciate that. I've been a widow for 17 months, and was a caregiver for 15 months - not nearly as long as you, but I'm amazed at how empty I felt after he passed away - I really did pour everything into that situation. I'm glad that I did - and definitely have no regrets - but it has changed me - I think from an extrovert into an introvert, which is completely surprising to me. I enjoy my own company (thankfully), but I'm beginning to see a need to reach out and make some connections. I just began working again, and since I answer phone calls all day, I get to make a brief connection with people but it does not take too much out of me because nothing more is expected - and that feels great. I'm just not sure what I have to give in the friend or even family department right now - I am following the trial and error method as well. ;-) So thanks for sharing your process - it gives me a lot to think about and I appreciate that....and your sense of humor as well. Take care.

  5. Cindy: Welcome to my blog and thank you for the thoughtful comment! "Empty" is a good way of describing how a caregiver feels when that role ends. I, too, have no regrets that I did what I did for both my dad and Don but you are right when you say it changes you forever. At 17 months out from your husband's passing, I'm not surprised that you're not sure how much you have to give to friends and family. It takes time to find ourselves again and until we do we move in baby steps.