Tuesday, November 29, 2005

The Crabby Widow

Note to many well meaning folks: Yes, this is wretched. But I am in no hurry to "get over it," to "get on with my life," to "get back to my routine," or to "move ahead."

Okay, those things will happen. I accept that I will someday probably find things that bring me joy, a renewed purpose and enthusiasm for my life, a healing and a moving on. I do and will take pleasure and strength from our daughter.

Just not yet. The man I lost was indescribably special to me. For the years that we were together, and still today, he was the center of my life--the glue that held it all in place, the pole around which I orbited, the middle piece of a puzzle we were assembling together. He was my sounding-board, my mirror, my cheerleader, my comfort, my inspiration, my other half. Losing him, I lost the whole life we had planned for, dreamed of, worked toward together.

It is essential that I indulge myself in every fact of his loss, especially in these first raw weeks. My pain is one small measure of the incomparable person he was. Attempting to short circuit, bypass, or speed up that pain, to emerge out of its other side, feels at this point like a denial of who he was and what he meant to me.

I don't want to be "back in the swing of things." I want to take time to hurt, to remember, to be angry at what was taken from him, from me, from us. I want to ride the roller coaster all the way to the bottom, and maybe even pause there for a while.

Please don't rush me. Let me savor the pain and the loss, and to honor him through them.

Besides, there is no "normal life" to go back to.


At 10:45 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jane Siberry - Calling All Angels

santa maria, santa teresa, santa anna, santa susannah
santa cecelia, santa copelia, santa domenica, mary angelica
frater achad, frater pietro, julianus, petronilla
santa, santos, miroslaw, vladimir and all the rest

a man is placed upon the steps, a baby cries,
and high above the church bells start to ring
and as the heaviness the body oh the heaviness settles in
somewhere you can hear a mother sing
then it's one foot then the other as you step out onto the road
how much weight? how much weight?
then it's how long? and how far? and how many times before it's too late?

calling all angels
calling all angels
walk me through this one
don't leave me alone
calling all angels
calling all angels
we're cryin' and we're hurtin'
and we're not sure why...

and every day you gaze upon the sunset with such love and intensity
it's almost...it's almost as if if you could only crack the code
then you'd finally understand what all this means
but if you could...do you think you would trade in all the pain and
ah, but then you'd miss the beauty of the light upon this earth
and the sweetness of the leaving

calling all angels
calling all angels
walk me through this one
don't leave me alone
callin' all angels
callin' all angels
we're tryin'
we're hopin'
we're hurtin'
we're lovin'
we're cryin'
we're callin'
'cuz we're not sure how this goes

At 6:53 AM , Blogger Badger said...

problem 1) our culture doesn't do death well. not that i'd ask for a return to the requirements of widows wearing black for one full year, or veils, or anything, but we really don't have any signs or rituals (other than memorial services) that let the world know we're grieving.

problem 2) very few people our age know grief. most, i think, still have parents alive. many haven't made life-long commitments. these folks, in my experience, tend to say really stupid things, like "wasn't it worse to watch him die than to have him dead?"

grieve how you want to, as long as long as you need to. we'll never get over it. folks tell me we'll get through it. but like you, i need to linger here at the bottom of the roller coaster a while.

At 7:06 AM , Blogger Yankee T said...

There is no timetable for grief. It is what it is. I have no idea what you must be going through, nothing to which I can compare it. I can tell you that even though I was 43 before I suffered an earth-shaking loss, and it was an elderly, sickly parent, it rocked my world. Ten years later, sometimes, I still mourn. The pain and the horror you must feel know no dates, or times, or limits. Nobody gets to tell you to move on or buck up.
Please just know that for every person out there rushing you through it, there is at least one knowing that you cannot and must not.
You and your little girl are in my thoughts, daily.

At 7:06 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's been 14 days, Dorcasina. What half wit could even begin to think, much less imply that it's time to begin to pull yourself together? 14 weeks wouldn't be the moment either-- in fact there is no moment at which anyone has the right to tell you when you should be done-- but good God. 14 days. If you had broken a bone you'd be told to take care of & accommodate it. What is the appropriate healing period for heart & a life?

Badger-- I think of you too, and am so awfully sorry. I've thought about Victorian mourning rituals & imagine that to be obliged to manifest mourning when you don't feel like it must have been annoying, but often wondered whether in fact those visible signs of mourning weren't a very, very intelligent and useful as well as compassionate thing. Visible symbol-- that one would not have to articulate-- of one's loss. Visible reminder of one's fragility. Visible reminder, when 14 days, or weeks had gone by, that the mourning had not ended & that life had not resumed to normal & full-color for the wearer of weeds. I wish we had that, actually. Love to both of you.

At 9:15 AM , Blogger Christine said...

Hi Dorcasina -- Good for you. Your husband was precious. Honor his memory. Wail. Knash your teeth. Tear your clothing. Get into bed and pull the covers over your head. Do all the things that aren't socially acceptable ways to handle grief. And come out the other side having mourned your love properly. We'll be thinking and praying for you.

At 1:25 PM , Anonymous leslie said...

I think you're very wise to give your grief its due. You honor the love between your husband and yourself. Supressing it because someone else is made uncomfortable by it would be even worse than being utterly subsumed by it. And it would be an act anyway because such overwhelming sorrow won't ease on someone else's timetable.

I lost my mother last spring. There are times when I'm just leveled by how much I miss her -the phone will ring and my first thought is that it's her before I remember that she's gone. She had been sick for more than a year and she wasn't young. I can't begin to imagine the agony of losing one's life partner.

You have my deepest sympathy. I think of you and hope you're getting through each day somehow.

At 3:24 PM , Anonymous mindspin said...

There is a wisdom that belongs to grief, and an all-consuming agenda. The ordinary demands of ordinary life must seem so irrelevant and burdensome right now, when your heart's whole task is grief.

We know the contours of love in our lives by two means, by presence and by loss, in the hollowed caves of emptiness and grief. Toward the end of "Little Gidding," T.S. Eliot writes, "And the end of all our exploring / Will be to arrive where we started / And know the place for the first time." So you are returning and unable to return, and yet you know your love more completely now - you're taking measure of love's height and depth in those caves of emptiness. To know these things utterly is an act of love for your husband, of acknowledgment and gratitude. There is a kind of communion there in the knowing and in memory, even in incontrovertible absence.

Dickinson writes to one lost,

So We must meet apart -
You there - I - here -
With just the Door ajar
That Oceans are - and Prayer -
And that White Sustenance -
Despair -

There are no expectations here but that you should have scope to feel what you feel and that you should find hearts who regard your pain. That is what hearts can do, and you are doing right to teach us how.

At 6:15 PM , Blogger MaggieMay said...

I just started reading your blog-- what a beautiful space.

I am thinking about you and wishing you strength.


At 8:01 PM , Blogger Laura said...

I still have moments of grief more my sister who died almost 20 years ago. When she died, I sunk into another place for a while. I didn't really revel in my grief, but just let it carry me where it would. I didn't try to get back to anything normal. I returned to school, but I let my loss determine what I did. I valued time with people close to me. I recognized the shortness of life and that for some people, it would be even shorter. I don't know how to explain those first months of grief. It was painful, yes, but comforting in an odd way. Maybe you are experiencing something similar.

At 8:35 PM , Anonymous wolfangel said...

There is a pernicious belief that grief can -- and should -- be bounded, that "indulging yourself" makes it worse. That the way to honour the causes of the grief is, in fact, not to grieve at all. (I am thinking of a different grieving, specifically, but I think this is general.)

This belief is absurd. Of course people grieve, a week, two weeks, a month, a year. This belief makes everything worse, when you end up doubting yourself -- shouldn't you be happier by now? I mean, everyone seems to think the mourning period is over. The push will get greater and greater, and I wish you strength and courage in refusing it.

Grieve as you need to. Mourn when you feel mournful. Don't fight yourself. Bon courage.

At 4:24 PM , Anonymous Flippy said...

Are those real quotes from people??? I haven't yet experienced real grief, but I can't imagine saying any of those things to someone, even on one of my most clueless days. I'm sorry that people can be so senseless.

At 8:06 PM , Blogger PowerProf said...

This is what you need. What is right. Take this time. He will always be your rock - your love. No one or time can take that away. You will discover new reasons for life, aside from your daughter, some day. That will never take away from your relationship or your loss. Feel it It's real. Tell everyone else to fuck off as they don't understand and lucky enough not to need to. Care for yourself now. And, of course, your daughter. But you didn't need to hear that as I'm sure you're doing a wonderful job. I'm thinking of you -- and I know that this is really hard, to say the least, but you will come through eventually. Take the time it needs.

At 10:54 AM , Anonymous a said...

It really pisses me off that you have to defend this. With anyone. Given that you do, I'm glad you're able to find the words and say them, even if you just say them here. But I wish you didn't have to. I wish these people would just get a clue and act like they ought to.

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