Friday, December 28, 2012

It's NOT OK to Cry Sometimes

Some days are not meant for tears, no matter how much they want to come.

Experts and non-experts alike say that when you want to cry in grief, that you should cry.  It's healthier than holding it in and it helps the grieving process.  I agree with this, and there are certainly times where I've cried when it was not a convenient time.  But there are certain times when although it seems appropriate, it's not.  Today was one of those times.

My older son got passed his driver's test today, and he called me from the test center to tell me he passed and that I should meet him at the local DMV to apply for the license.  He was so excited!  When I got to the DMV, he was not there yet, so I grabbed a few forms for him to fill out and got in line.  While I was in line, I had a sudden overwhelming feeling of missing Bobby.  His son was getting his driver's license...a big step for a teenager, and all I wanted to do was cry because Bobby was not here to share in the experience, not only for his sake but for my son's sake as well. 

But it was not appropriate.  I did not want to steal my son's thunder, rain on his parade, make it all about me, or even all about his dad.  This day was about him, so I kept my tears to myself until I was alone.

Not an easy task, but when you're a widow, AND a mom, there are some things you just gotta do!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

I'm Glad He Was Happy

Two days after Christmas and I haven't posted anything in a long time. Believe me, that's not to say that Bobby has not been on my mind. I think about him a lot all year, but especially during the holiday season when I am not buying him a gift, we are not shopping together for the boys, and we are not snuggled on the couch watching "It's a Wonderful Life" while trying to convince the boys that even black and white movies with no special effects can be really good.

But more than that, what's been on my mind is that I'm glad he was a happy person.  He really was...he even loved his job, which is not something I can say about most people I know.  The last part of the eulogy that I wrote for him that was read at his funeral said, "Many years before he got sick, I asked him what was on his bucket list. He said he didn't have one. He had a unique ability to find happiness and contentment with what he had." I say this because I've learned from him that death can come at almost any time and while we are here on earth we have to make the most of the time we have.

So that is how I am living my life and teaching my boys to live theirs, too. That is why I gave them a unique and fabulous Christmas.

Does it mean that I am no longer afraid of what my life will be after they leave and I am alone? No, of course not! I still fear that time! (See second and fifth paragraphs of this post). I still haven't figured out what I am going to do all by myself.  But I want to model myself after Bobby. I want to get to that point in my life where I am content with what I have, and I know that is going to be tough.

At least now I have a goal.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Raising Boys

Shortly after being widowed, I read online an advice columnist telling a single mom that she could not raise boys on her own; that boys raised by single moms become surly, disobedient, and more-often-than-not gang members because there is no heavy-handed father in the house to put them in their place and teach them to respect their mother. He cited the day he had to shove his own son up against a wall for disrespecting his mother, and said the kid never again disrespected her after that. Of course I had to write in the comments section to say that I was widowed and what am I supposed to do in this case? I chided him for telling me that I could not raise my boys on my own.

The response was really weird. He responded that as a widow, the worse thing for me to do was to get remarried because in those situations, the stepdads usually end up physically abusing the boys, so we were better off alone. What a contradiction! Basically he was telling me that I was screwed if I do and screwed if I don't. What is a widow to do?

Stop reading idiotic advice columnists, for one.

I'll admit, I have a little trouble raising my boys, but not because of their behavior. I'm lucky to have really good kids. The trouble comes when they say or do something that I just don't understand, because I've never been a 14 or 16-year-old boy. If I had girls, I could try to remember what I was feeling at that age, but with boys, (like men), the thinking process is completely different.

I also worry that they do not have a male around to do "boy-things" with. There is no one around to show them how to properly use a chain saw or how to put up molding. I have no idea how to do these things because despite the fact that I have two Master's Degrees, Bobby and I really followed the traditional roles of men and women - I kept things clean and tidy in the house and handled the finances; he fixed things, took care of our cars and worked outside. (I realize that this might make some people, especially women, roll their eyes, but we were happy with this arrangement - it worked for us - but I digress...) Luckily I have cousins and the boys' uncles to show them things, but these people have their own families, houses and issues that need to be taken care of.

So while my friends tell me that I am "lucky to have boys" versus the ever-hormonal teenage girl, raising them as a reluctant single mom was not in the plan. I just hope they grow up to be all they can be, even though they had to grow up without a dad.

(And it should be noted that the columnist I cited above is no longer writing his column...he has retired).

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Hurricane Sandy, Generators and Me

Well, another storm - Hurricane Sandy - least for me.  I got my power back and I'm back to work after it being closed for seven days, not counting the weekend.  Just like dealing with Hurricane Irene last year, and the Halloween Snow.

I look back over the past two weeks - how I was proactive in preparing for the storm and the susequesnt bout of living without electricity for 7 days.  I filled my cars and gas containers with gas, shopped for non-perishable foods, used up as much perishables as I could before the power went out, (my kids never ate so much ice cream in a period of three days), stocked up on "D" batteries and located all my flashlights and my battery powered radio.  With the help of a few family members, I put out the feelers for a new generator (mine broke), and got one, even though they were scarce in the stores and people were waiting in line for 12 hours or more at Lowe's and Home Depot just to get one.  After getting the generator, I learned how to use the generator, (I never knew what a "choke" was until last week), and learned how to convert amps into watts so that I would not plug in too many items and blow up the generator.  I learned how to open gas containers (they all have these weird "locks" on them) and that gas should only be pumped into red containers, unless it is diesel, in which case the container is yellow.

During the storm, I kept an eye on my sump pumps to make sure they did not fail if there was a flood by running extension cords into my basement and having them ready to connect if the power went out while water was pouring into my basement.  I had everything ready to keep the kids and I as comfortable and warm as possible.  Both boys were a little bit nervous, but I admit that my older son, who loves extreme weather, and I did go out on the driveway during the high winds just to feel the power of Sandy.

After the storm passed, and we lived without power for one week.  I found a gas station that was open and waited 90 minutes in line for gas to keep the generator running.  In addition to that, I had to double and triple check the house every time we left since our alarm system was not working.  I also had to reassure my kids that we were safe when we realized that some our firewood behind the shed had been stolen.  I had to go to Home Depot to buy a chain, which is sold by the foot, and learn how to use that machine in Home Depot that cuts the chains.

I did a lot of things I never had to do before, and had to think about a lot of things I never had to think about before.

I handled this all on my own, without panic and very little tears.  Well meaning friends would tell me that I should be proud of myself - being able to handle all these important tasks that normally would have been handled by Bobby in this situation.  My head says I probably should be proud of myself for doing all this by myself.  One of my Facebook friends, who is married, posted about how she did not need her husband to do all this stuff (I guess he must have been at work) and how she was proud to be able to do everything herself without needing a man around.

My heart, however, is sending me a different message.  I don't feel proud of myself.  Why am I not patting myself on the back and smiling to myself and saying to myself, "Bobby would be so proud of me"?

I don't know why.  Instead, it's making me feel depressed.

I started writing this post on paper
 during the blackout when I  was
unable to use my computer.
During the course of the storm and the aftermath, I was talking to one of my friends about the generator that her husband set up in their home.  I asked her all kinds of questions about their generator concerning wattage, price, how it was hooked up, how much gas it held, etc.  Her answer to every question I asked was, "I don't know."  One of my other friends texted me that her husband wanted to take a ride down the shore to check on things, but wouldn't leave because he would not leave her alone with the generator.  After the storm, another friend told me that she and her husband decided they should buy a generator, but that it was $1000 and they didn't have that kind of money right now.  That price seemed pretty steep, so I asked her what kind, because I was thinking of getting a bigger one and the one I looked at was only $600.  Her answer?  "I have no idea."

I actually envy their ignorance!  Why should I have to know about all this "guy stuff"?  Instead of being proud of the fact that I was able to get myself and my two kids through the storm safely, I wished I was the one saying, "I don't know" because Bobby would be here taking care of me.  I miss being taken care of by someone who loves me.

What is wrong with me?

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Double Whammy

Just when you think it is safe to not worry about any more "firsts", Election Day rolls around. 

I remember when Obama and McCain were running for president in 2008, Bobby and I had a few discussions about who we would vote for.  We didn't discuss it at any great lengths, simply because we were so much on the same wave-length, that there was nothing to discuss.  We liked the same candidate and had the same political opinions.  No discussion was really necessary.

On Election Day, we went to the polls and voted together while the boys ran around the gym.  (Voting was at the local elementary school in the gym.)  I think we went out to eat afterward.  It was actually fun.

However, this year, when I went to the polls (which was now at the High School since our local elementary still has no power thanks to Hurricane Sandy - more on that in a different post), I gave the woman my name and she looked me up in the book where I was supposed to sign to get my voting ticket.  And there was my the itself.  Bobby's name was not under mine where it usually was.  Here it was...thirty-one months later and ANOTHER FIRST to deal with.  My name looked so lonely in that book without his name underneath mine.  It was a perverbial punch in the stomach.  But I voted anyway, collected my now-teenaged son, and we went home.  Very uneventful.

So why is this blog called a "Double Whammy" you might ask?  Today is also my wedding anniversary. 

Happy Anniversary, my love. 

Monday, October 22, 2012

In Charge

Whenever someone would ask Bobby if he wanted to make plans, he would respond, “I have to talk to the boss” - that boss being me.

I was in charge of our social calendar.  I was also in charge of the bills, what we had for dinner, paint colors for the walls, where we went for vacation, you name it.  He was very happy to sit back and let me be in charge, especially since he had a somewhat demanding job as a supervisor of his department and he was in charge all day.  It was a chance for him to relax at home and just “go for the ride”.

After he died, I was in a situation where I had to re-do my bathroom.  (Water damage behind the tile – the sheetrock had disintegrated, the tile in the shower was being held up by a wing and a prayer, and there was a hole in the floor so big that you could wave to the person in the basement.)  On my way to the tile store, I didn’t think about the fact that I was going alone, because had Bobby been alive, I would have chosen the tile anyway.  But it was a completely different feeling when I was actually there, picking out the tile, alone.  I realized at that point that I did depend on him, a lot, when making the decisions that I made daily, even though it seemed that he was just there, “for the ride”.  I missed his approval for what I picked out.  I missed his opinions and input and the veto power that he had but rarely used.  I didn’t realize until that moment how much I was really not “in charge,” but that it actually was an equal partnership.

I’ve made several important decisions since he’s been gone, like taking the kids on a cruise and having three trees removed from our property.  And every time I make one of these decisions, I question myself over and over again.  Am I doing the right thing?  Would Bobby approve?  Would he have done it differently?

I hope he realized back then how equal our relationship really and truly was.  He knew I loved him, but I hope he realized how much I needed him.  I hope he never thought that I was taking over, felt “second” or thought that I didn't think his opinions mattered.  I wish I could talk to him one more time, and let him know how much he mattered in my life, and still does.

Friday, October 5, 2012

New Show on TV: Go On

When I first heard that Matthew Perry was doing a new show that focuses on a young widower named Ryan King, I planned on watching it.  Not because it's about a widower, but because I like Matthew Perry.  I probably would have watched it even if he were playing a guy who lived at the garbage dump on Staten Island.

I've often thought that you can make humor out of any situation, given the right circumstances.  I believe that the statement, "If you don't laugh, you'll cry" really fits a myriad of sad situations.  Grief can be one of those.  (I loved the scene about the license plates.)  Yesterday was one of those times for me.  I was talking to a colleague of mine who told me that her marriage was not going very well at the moment.  In trying to make her laugh - I like to make people laugh - I said to her, "Well, Bobby and I haven't spoken in almost 2 and a half years!"  She laughed.  Mission accomplished.

However, there are some people who cannot laugh about sad situations, and I support them.  I was reading a blog the other day written by a widower who basically stated that if a widow/er cannot laugh about their grief, they have to "grow up".  That's harsh.  I do not agree with that statement.  While I am one of those who can laugh about grief, I fully respect those who cannot.  

Sooooo....what do I think of "Go On"?  I think it is a great show, because even though the show is humorous, it still has a scene or two in every episode that exposes the reality of Ryan's sadness that he still feels about losing his wife, despite the fact that he is "going on".  That's important, especially because not only is it another way to validate how we widow/widowers feel despite what we show on the outside, it also shows those viewers who have not ever lost a spouse the depth and breadth of grief.

The down side?  The only complaint I have about "Go On" is Ryan King's character.  While I do like the character, sometimes I feel like I am watching what Chandler would be like if Monica died.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Remember When?

People who have not experienced loss of a spouse do not realize that for the most part, we, the surviving spouses, really appreciate when the name of our late spouse is mentioned.  We love hearing others talk about them, and are not offended or saddened when they are brought up in conversation.

Last night, I went to "Back-to-School-Night" at the high school where my kids attend school. Many years ago, Bobby worked there for a couple of years as a Technician, and he became friendly with most of the Business Education teachers because his office was housed in their building.  These are the people he ate lunch with and joked around with for many years, and he was well liked among the staff.

I was walking my son's daily schedule with the other parents, and during "Third Period", I went to my son's media class and saw the teacher, whom I've known for years due to her friendship with Bobby.  She was happy to see me, and after her presentation for the parents, commented to me how much my son reminded her of Bobby.  "Not so much in looks, but in his mannerisms."  It's true, my younger son does have a lot of Bobby's mannerisms.  She told me that she still misses him and her eyes even welled up.  I thanked her and hurried off to Biology, Fourth Period, where that teacher also commented on the same thing about my son's mannerisms.  She, too, was friends with Bobby and told me about the long chats they would have in the halls on her lunch break. 

Later on, during my son's "lunch period", I stopped to see the teachers in the Business Department Teacher's Room, to say hello.  I was greeted with smiles and hugs.  The media teacher who I had seen earlier was there, and we reiterated our conversation for the others on how much my son's mannerisms match my husband's, and how much he looks like him, except that he is a blond, while my husband had dark brown, almost black, hair.  I told them, "My mother-in-law told me that Bobby was a blond when he was younger, too.  It got darker as he got older."  One of the other teachers there who was close to Bobby chuckled and added, "Then it turned gray."  We all laughed at his comment, because it was true, Bobby was going gray and his hair was about 50% gray when he passed away.  

It felt so good to have him mentioned and talked about as though he was still there.  It warms my heart to know that this group of people still think about him and feel comfortable enough to talk to me about him and joke about him, as if here were in the room.

Maybe he was......

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Humphrey Bogart, James Cagney and Co.

I always feel so let down when I come across something that I forgot about that Bobby left before he died. I really wish I could get to that point where I smile, instead, but it still makes me sad, 29 months later.

I have TIVO, and for those who are not familiar with TIVO, it's a DVR system that allows you to record programs from TV. There is a feature that allows you to set "Season Passes" by keywords...for example, if you like snowboarding, you could type in "snowboarding" and TIVO will record programs that it finds about snowboarding (based on the descriptions provided by the networks). You could also record by actor name and several other choices. You can then turn the season passes on and off as needed without deleting them.

I was looking through the season passes today to see if I had set a season pass for a particular program. When the list came up on the screen, there they were...all the season passes Bobby had set before he died. He loved old movies, so he had season passes set for Humphrey Bogart, James Cagney, Gary Cooper, Fred Astaire, and so many others from the same era.

I had that strange feeling again...the one that for a split second transports me back to the love and contentment I felt when he was alive, then suddenly thrusts me back into the present where he is no longer. I then have to go through all the feelings again, the feelings I've felt in the last 29 months, all over again, only this time on fast-forward, coming out on the other side feeling very sad....again.

Why can't I just see reminders of him and smile? When is that going to happen?

Saturday, August 25, 2012

"Daddy and Me"

One of the things I did while my kids were away at camp was
to create books for them on "Blurb" that showcased pictures of them with their dad. I went through all the old photo albums and found all the pictures that were taken of just them and their dad, and scanned them, then went through all the digital photos and copied those into a separate folder. Then I uploaded them into "Blurb" and created the books with years and commentary as to where and when the picture was taken and if there was a story behind it.

My boys are 14 and 16, far from being babies (in fact, "camp" for them was an 85-mile canoe trip in the wilderness of Canada). But despite their ages, when they were surprised by the completed books on their beds, they were thrilled. They've been home for 10 days already, and except for the five nights we were down the shore, I see them looking at the books every night before they go to bed.

I'm so happy that I made these books for them.

Monday, August 20, 2012

"I Understand"

I love hearing those words. I loved hearing them from Bobby when he would finally get what I was trying to say to him. (Not always a completely smooth road in that direction, but he typically got my point eventually.) I love hearing them from my boss when I try to explain something to him at work. They are great words to hear from someone no matter what your situation.

Most of all, I loved hearing them when I went to Camp Widow East in April. I was talking to a friend of mine over the weekend, and told her I was seriously considering attending Camp Widow East again in April. I said I liked being in a room full of (mostly) women who knew exactly what I was feeling and understood the conflicting emotions that come with it, without me having to try to explain myself. She said to me, "I understand that."

It took me a millisecond to understand what she meant, because she is not a widow, but I quickly realized that she did know what I meant about the big room of people who understand. One of her sons is autistic, and she found a lot of strength in connecting with other parents who also had children that were autistic.

We discussed it for moment. She doesn't know how it feels to be widowed, and I do not know how it feels to have a child who is autistic, but we were able to find common ground in the understanding of strength and comfort in numbers.

It was actually a pretty cool moment.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Dismissal & Validation

Earlier this summer, I dropped the boys off at summer camp. They went to two different camps, one day apart, so one was dropped off on a Sunday, the other on a Monday. On the way home from dropping off the first one, I imagined Bobby joking to me in the car, "One down, one to go", because whenever the kids went to camp, we would have a lot of fun on our own. We would go out to dinner, stay up late, watch TV together, or drive just about anywhere.

It's all different now. As I've done for the past two summers since he is gone, I cried again on the way home. Between the two camps they attended, I had almost three weeks to myself, and although I did not sit home alone all day every day staring at the walls, it was sort of sad. Sad because this is what my life will be in a few years when I drop my youngest off at college. I'm going to drive home to an empty house, and I'm going to wonder, what the hell do I do now? There are only so many closets to clean.

I've voiced this to several friends and family members. I get the same answer over and over. "Oh, don't worry about what is going to happen in four years. You'll find things to do. You'll probably have a significant other by then anyway." And frankly, that doesn't help. In fact, it does the opposite.

People do not realize by saying this that they are dismissing my fears, and thus my feelings, which in turn makes me feel like I am not allowed to voice my opinion, unless it is a happy, sunny opinion that everyone is comfortable with. One thing that humans in general do not like is to have their feelings dismissed, especially women. I know I don't. People tell me to "live in the present". Well, I am living in the present. I presently feel that in four years when I drop my younger son off at college, I'll have no life. (Yes, I can be a wise-ass at times.)

I wish my friends and family would realize that this fear is a very real, one that I think about almost daily. I am rational enough to know that I have to let my kids go when they get older, and I know better than to hold them back for selfish reasons, but that fear of having them move out and leaving me alone the rest of my life really haunts me.

I hope someday that when and if I voice this fear to a friend or family member, I'll get the more appropriate response which would be for them to acknowledge my feelings instead of dismissing them. As all women know, not just widows, sometimes we just need our feelings to be validated. We aren't always looking for answers.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Love Actually

One of my favorite movies is "Love Actually" which came out in 2003. I woke up early this morning, and couldn't fall back to sleep, so I put the movie on, thinking I would fall back to sleep.

It didn't happen. But something else did. In watching the movie, it made me really really miss Bobby. Not that I don't miss him 24 hours a day, every day; but it really came to the forefront this morning when I was watching the scene with two of the characters dancing to a slow song. It made me remember all the times we danced, and how I just loved dancing with him.

I started to cry. I was suddenly aware of how alone I am. All I could think about is how I felt when we danced, and that led to thinking about sitting together on the couch watching TV, holding hands or just leaning against each other, or even lying in bed together talking, watching TV, or listening to him breathe as he slept.

It made me realize how sad this aspect of my life is....going to bed and waking up every day all by myself. I really miss just being next to him. I miss brushing up against him in bed or in the hall or in the bathroom or kitchen. I miss the random hugs I would get from him out of the blue. It's a very odd feeling, not having been hugged for by him for twenty-eight months now. It almost makes me feel as if I'd had to harden my heart and grow a thick skin in order to just get through the days, and watching the movie dissolved that hardness and thickness that I developed out of necessity. I never realized how much touch is essential to survival until after he was gone. And this all happened to me this morning because of that movie.

I don't think I'll be watching that movie again for a really long time, if ever.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Plastic Roses

One of my favorite entertainers is Stevie Nicks. She sings the song, "Sometimes It's a Bitch" (written by Billy Falcon and Jon Bon Jovi), which is a great song, about taking the good with the bad. Her song lyrics elude to the fact that given the choice she wouldn't change anything in her life, even the bad. (You can view the lyrics here and listen to song here.)

I was totally on board with her until Bobby died. Now, of course, there is something I would change. (It's not rocket science.....)

One of the lines of the song is, "Sometimes it's roses, sometimes it's weeds." Meaning that in life we have good days (the roses) and bad
days (the weeds). I used to think this was true. Before Bobby died, of course I would have good days and bad days, and let me tell you, the good days were truly "roses" while the bad ones were certainly "weeds". But after a "weed" day, or even a series of "weed" days, eventually the roses would bloom again, and all was right with my little world once again.

Things are different now, though.

As a widow, I still have "rose" days and "weed" days. My "rose" days have consisted of many different things, for example, my trip to Paris, the cruise I took with my kids, just spending time with friends and family, New Years Eve in Times Square, to name a few. But I've noticed that my "rose" days are no longer truly the same as the "rose" days pre-widowhood. They are plastic roses. No matter what I am doing, no matter how much fun or how happy I seem to be, there is always sadness and pain lurking in my heart.

And that fact alone makes me feel sadder still. Will I ever have a day again when the roses are real?

Friday, July 13, 2012

Tears? Now?

OK...something is seriously wrong when you are about to step onto a Disney Cruise Ship and you burst out into tears.

But there I was on Sunday afternoon, on Pier 88 in Manhattan, getting ready to go up the walkway onto the ship and I burst out into tears.


Because the Disney Cruise was Bobby's favorite vacation that we ever took as a family. We took the boys on 2 Disney Cruises when they were younger. (They were 5 & 8, then 7 & 9 when we went on the last two). It all started because Bobby, who said he would NEVER go on a cruise, saw a special on the Travel Channel sometime around 2002 about the Disney Cruise and was sold, hook, line and sinker (pun intended), and bugged me about it until we were able to afford it. When we got there, he was like a little kid on the ship. I can honestly say I don't know who had a better time, Bobby or the boys.

After that last cruise, the kids never let up and bothered us, then me, every summer since then to go on another Disney Cruise. I finally relented and chose a cruise out of NYC so we wouldn't have to fly anywhere, which would cut down on the cost. We got very excited getting ready for the cruise, even though they are now 14 & 16. Granted, they ditched me most of the time to go to the teen hangout, Vibe, where they made tons of friends to hang out with until two in the morning.

But there I was, on the pier, ready to board and the tears came. I looked at the woman waving the big Mickey Mouse hand and wondered what was going through her head. But I couldn't stop those tears, and I hate that because as I've said before, they come at some very inopportune times. I also didn't want to bum out the boys, but they were patient and completely understanding. How did I get such sensitive and patient kids?

I was able to compose myself rather quickly, boarded on the ship, and had a great time the rest of the cruise. I even had my picture taken with Goofy.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

What is a Family?

I was told shortly after Bobby died that the boys and I were no longer a family. "A family has two parents" was what I was told. "It's been over a year. You really need to get out there and meet someone and get married again, if not for you, then for your boys. I couldn't imagine my kids not in a two parent family, even if one parent is a step-parent. How do you celebrate holidays without a family?"

So much of our society portrays it that way. In 1992, Dan Quayle blasted fictional TV character Murphy Brown for having a child out of wedlock. Although he was chastised by the media for his comment, eighteen years later in 2010, an article was published called, "Dan Quayle was Right". Just recently, Ann Coulter told Jillian Michaels (the fitness woman from the TV show "The Biggest Loser") that she was a narcissist for adopting her little girl from Haiti and raising her without a father. Lastly, in reading other widows' blogs, I read one where a widow recently got remarried and, as she put it, "I'm so happy to be part of a family again!" - the implication here being that she and her children were no longer a family after her first husband died.

None of this helps me because long before I heard or remembered any of this, one of my first thoughts after Bobby died was that my boys and I were no longer a family. We were now just a "statistic". Single mom, two boys without a dad, what good could possibly come of this? I couldn't get it out of my head that we were no longer a family, and I so feared that I would pass that along to my boys. (I don't think I did....they still refer to dinner time as "family time").

Although I know in my head that families come in all different shapes and sizes, I still struggle in my heart with the concept of whether or not my boys and I are a "real family." Every time I think I'm making progress and start to hesitantly feel like "maybe we ARE a family", I read or hear something that makes me doubt that progress and sends me back to the starting line. Even now, two years later, in 2012.

I know I'm responsible for my own feelings and actions, but I do wish I had as many people (or more) telling me that my boys and I are a real family as I have people telling me that we are not. So far only one has.......

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Extremes - Are They Really Necessary?

I was reading a blog post today on a widower's blog, and the post was really frustrating. In a nutshell, the post was about how widows and widowers need to get over their loss, its not the worse thing that ever happened to anyone, get remarried, and live life. It seemed a little bit too extreme for me.

Then there is the opposite. Widow(er)s who wear their widow status like a badge, hoping everyone will feel sorry for them because they lost their spouse. Every time they screw up or make a mistake, they blame it on the fact that they lost their spouse, whether it was last month, last year or the last decade. They treat others poorly, and blame their grief.

Why does it have to be one way or the other? Why can't there be a middle ground?

Lets address these one by one.

Get over your loss. One thing I've learned from other widows (happy widows) is that you never get over the loss. I know I will never get over the loss of my husband, whether I am happy, sad, sick, healthy, poor, rich, employed, unemployed, fat, skinny, you get the picture. And why should I? I loved him, I still do, and I always will. This world lost a really good person with a big heart who helped people on an almost-daily basis. I lost someone who loved me more than anyone else in the world. Why do I need to get over him? I will always remember him, and feel sad that he is gone.

It's not the worst thing that ever happened to anyone. Really? OK...I will give you this...I know someone who lost a child. So I agree, losing my spouse is not the worst thing to happen, but it's a close second! I know I've said this before, but I've been through some really tough times in my life, (see third paragraph of "Kid Power") and none of those even came close to what I am dealing with.

Get remarried. Kick the deceased spouse to the metaphorical curb, and make sure you never mention them again lest you hurt this poor new spouse's feelings. (Widow(er)'s feelings no longer count here). This is the be-all end-all to make life complete. I am not saying that I will or will not get remarried, and I'm not for or against it, either. Each person has to make their own decision that is right for them. But to tell widow(er)s that they only way to have a full and happy life is to get remarried is ludicrous. There are plenty of people out there who are happily single, who have never been married at all!

Live life. Isn't that what I'm doing? I'm busier now than when Bobby was alive simply because of the fact I am now the only parent. I used to be cooking dinner while he drove the kids to activities. He cleaned the kitchen after dinner while I helped with homework. Now I'm driving the kids, cooking the dinner, cleaning the kitchen AND helping with homework. I literally fall into bed exhausted every night, and I'm asleep in five minutes. If that isn't living life, what is? I'm raising two boys, and damn, it's hard! Rewarding yes, but hard. I wouldn't trade those boys for anything in the world.

Now the opposite...

Widow status. I'm a widow. People know I'm a widow and frankly, I'm much more comfortable when new people I meet know I'm a widow. One reason is because I am uncomfortable when people assume I am divorced or a never-been-married single mom. But it's certainly not because I am looking for people to feel sorry for me or pity me. Another reason I want them to know because I've learned to be proud of my status.  I've been to hell and back and lived to tell about it.  Proud because "widow" means that I lived up to my vows. I loved and honored until death we did part. And whether you get married in a high holy religious ceremony, or by an Elvis look-a-like at the Chapel-O-Love in Vegas, the vows say, "until death do us part". So being a widow should not be a cry for pity, but status to be proud of, one that shows strength and resilience.

Blaming widow-hood. Yes, there are some things I can blame on being a widow, like feeling lonely at times, or being extra-tired from all the things I need to do (see paragraph "Live Life" above). But when I screw up at work, I can't blame that on being a widow. Any mistakes I've ever made at work since Bobby died are mistakes I probably would have made even if he was here. When I lecture the kids because I'm frustrated they aren't helping around the house or because they forgot their book in their locker, I can't blame that on being a widow. They never happily helped around the house before, and Lord knows my younger one leaves stuff in his locker all the time. So no, every time I mess something up, I cannot blame it on my widow-hood.

Treating others poorly. I'll admit...I went through an angry phase about Bobby's death about a year and a half ago. I was not angry at him, I was angry at the world. I was angry because the man who loved me so much was gone, and I was feeling very unloved. So I lashed out at a colleague. I was in the cafeteria with him and another woman, with whom I was talking to about my situation. This man was recently separated and getting a divorce, and knowing this I loudly said to my friend, "All the good men are married or dead." Then I turned to the man and said snarkily, "No offense." He said, "None taken. But just so you know, not all men are jerks." Ouch...he put me in my place. My friend looked at me as if to say, "What are you going to say to him?" and I turned in a huff and walked out of the cafeteria. This was so not me. I was wrong for doing it. Luckily, I've spoken to this man at work since then, and it all seems to be water under the bridge. I had no excuse for making that snide comment to him.

So there you go. My take on why widow(er)s do not need to go to either extreme while grieving. I've been lucky enough to meet several widows who walk the middle-of-the-road line...more about them coming soon in a future post.

Friday, May 25, 2012

"But I Don't Wannnnnnna......."

I'm not a whiner by nature. Luckily for me, neither are my kids, even when they were toddlers. I never had to listen to that incessant whining that kids tend to do, and my mom says she didn't have to listen to it either, when I was little. I guess it runs in the family.

However, there are times when I want to whine. I want to stomp my foot. I want to throw myself on the floor and kick and scream, "But I don't wannnnnnna...." What is it that I don't want to do?


Well, it's sort of a quandary for's something that I want to do, at least in my head, but not-so-much in my heart. I get so aggravated when someone tells me how great I'm doing. Instead of accepting the compliment gracefully, all I want to do is stomp my foot and scream, "But I don't want to heal...stop saying that!" I can't help but feel that healing means that I've forgotten about Bobby; the love that we had for each other; and the life that we shared. If I heal, then I am dissing him and our past.

But am I?

I am, as they say, caught between a rock and a hard place. I want to heal, but if I heal does it mean I'm forgetting about him? Am I saying to the world, "Look, I didn't need him. I'm fine without him!" That is not the person I want to be. I want to honor him always, with everything I choose to do.

But if I don't heal, am I portraying a woman who is weak with a codependent personality who can't make sensible decisions, raise her boys and live on her own? I don't want to be that person, either.

I wish there was a third choice. Maybe I'll have to invent it.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Walk-Through

For those of you new to this blog, or for those who may have forgotten, Bobby and I worked together for the same organization. He was the IT Manager.

There are several buildings in our organization. Bobby, being the IT Manager, would visit the individual buildings from time to time when needed, which was rare. He was amazingly able to run the whole organization from his office, home, even from overseas when we were on vacation and his boss was sending him emails begging him to fix things that only he could fix.

Presently, our building is being set up for complete wireless access as of the fall, so the IT people are constantly doing walk-throughs in our building. One of the main computer hubs is less than six feet from my desk, so in the past week, I've seen these guys three times...our building technician, the vendors, and the not-so-new IT Manager.

The new IT Manager is a good guy. He was actually pallbearer at Bobby's funeral, and Bobby thought very highly of him. But he is not Bobby. And every time those guys come into my room where my desk is, all that goes through my head is that Bobby would be the one doing the walk through, and we would get to see each other at work, which we both enjoyed, since it rarely happened.

We liked seeing each other at work. One time, when no one was looking, we even stole a kiss goodbye when he was off to another building. Usually when he would be in my building, we would say goodbye and shake hands as a joke because we never parted company without kissing each other goodbye.

It was fun working for the same organization as my husband. Some people would not like it, but we both enjoyed it. In the 11 years that we worked together, we only worked on two small projects together, served together on one committee and attended one training session together. We loved working together. It's another loss to add to the big long list of losses that I suffered when he died.

I think I need a new job.

Monday, April 23, 2012

First Rule of Sales.....

I'm not a salesperson by any means. I couldn't sell snow to a snowman. But I do know that the first rule of sales is "Know Your Customer."

I attended "Camp Widow" this past weekend, which, by the way, was a really awesome experience (but that's another blog post). I flew into Myrtle Beach on a sinfully early flight on Friday morning, so I was in the lobby by 8:30 in the morning. I got a cup of coffee, then approached a woman sitting at a desk in the lobby, thinking she was the concierge, and asked her where I would find the registration table for Camp Widow.

She answered me that she was not the concierge, but the representative who sold the time-shares for the Marriott. She pointed to the gentleman at the other desk, indicating that he was the concierge.

I thanked her and attemped to walk away when she stopped me and asked me if I would like a free travel mug and a coupon for a free cup of coffee from Starbucks. I said, "Sure." Never hurts to have an extra travel mug, especially since they are easily lost. She gave me the mug and the coupon, and I attempted to walk away again, and she asked me if I would like to fill out a form to enter a drawing for a free vacation to Aruba. I asked her "For how many people?" I wouldn't want to win a vacation for two since I would have to choose which of my kids to take, which is simply unrealistic. Besides, I didn't really want my name on a mailing list for the solicitation of time-shares.

She said, "It's a trip for two."

"No, thank you," I answered.

"Are you sure? Is your spouse here with you?"

I looked at her incredulously. Hadn't I just asked her, not less than sixty seconds ago, where the registration table for Camp Widow was? I reminded her, "No, he's not. I'm here for Camp Widow." Emphasis on widow.

Her answer? "Oh, yes, you did say that." That's it. No "sorry", no "my condolences", nothing.

Luckily, I was in a good mood and I didn't reach out and slap her upside the back of her head, even though I would have liked to. But I know other widows that would have.


It made a great story at Camp Widow, though!

Monday, April 16, 2012

2nd Anniversary

Yesterday was the second anniversary of Bobby's passing. It was weird...I was actually more sad than I was on the one year anniversary. The boys and I did the same thing that we did last year - we visited him at the cemetery and went to lunch at his favorite pizzeria. However, the rest of the day I was a little cranky...due to the fact that I couldn't get his death off of my mind, not even for a minute. I was not like that last year.

Last year, maybe I was still in shock.

Last year, the anniversary fell on a Friday, which meant school for the kids and activities after school. I rushed from here to there all night long. This year, it was on a quiet Sunday. After lunch at the pizzeria, I was not rushed to do anything or be anywhere.

Last year, I had so many jitters as the one-year anniversary approached, that I was quite surprised that the anticipation of the day was much more unsettling than the day itself. This year, as the day approached, I kept telling myself that the same thing would happen this year - that when the actual day came, I would be fine. But I wasn't fine! I may have underplayed it in my head - who knows?

I remember when everything was new, I thought to myself that one or two years down the road, I'd be "fine". That is another reason that I did not expect to be so depressed yesterday. No matter what the reason, it came as somewhat of a surprise, since I did not feel the same way last year. Feelings of grief tend to ebb and flow, they are stronger one day, and less so the next. Sometimes grief can come over you because you hear a song, or see a photo Sometimes there is no trigger at all. Grief has no rules, and no explanations. Grief is two people grieve the same way in the same time frame.

With that thought in mind, I will approach the next significant day with no expectations, in order to avoid the feelings of disappointment I had to deal with yesterday. I hope I'm successful!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Kid Power

Since the incident at the Festival of Arts Band Concert last week, I've been thinking about how my kids were able to make me feel better the other night without even knowing what they were doing.

My kids have powers. Not the kind of power you see on TV or in the movies - they can't move things with
their minds or fly around on a magic carpet. As a matter of fact, they don't even know they have these powers, and I don't have to worry about them reading about it on this blog because these two wonderful boys think this blog is "girl stuff", so they wouldn't be caught dead reading it. (No pun intended).

Every so often I think about those first few days after Bobby passed away and the pile of mess that I had turned into. I was completely helpless, and I didn't want to be anything else. Three days after he passed away, I was lying in bed, in the house all alone, crying really really hard, and wishing for the first time in my whole life that I would die. And I'd been through some hard times...problems at school when I was little, divorced from my first husband, losing my dad, laid off from a job, wondering where my next rent payment was coming from. And let me tell you, all of these scenarios SUCKED, but none of them ever made me want to die! It was a scary, scary place to be.

So I was lying there, feeling like death would be better than this, yet not contemplating suicide simply because I couldn't go that far. But I can tell you that if Tony Soprano and his goons has showed up at my house "packing heat", I probably would have let them in and offered them a cup of coffee instead of running in the other direction.

Then I thought of something...the kids!! If I died, they would find me here!! That would traumatize them for life! I could not do that to them!! They just lost their dad - losing me, too, would ruin them! That thought scared me more than anything else that was going on with what I considered at the time my wretched life without Bobby. So I remember dragging myself out of that bed, into the shower so I'd be clean, dressed and ready for them when they got home.

Was I still a mess? Of course! But I had two other very important people to worry about, who held me together without even realizing it.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

I Matter

Thursday night I attended the Festival of Arts Band Concert in our school district. All the school bands, 6th Grade through High School were playing in one concert - which was good for me because my kids are in two different schools, so this was only one trip to see both kids play.

The festival takes place in the High School Gym, so I found a spot in the bleachers where I'd be able to see my kid playing his clarinet. I arrived early in order to get a good spot, so I was sitting there for quite a while. I watched as the bleachers filled up with more and more parents.

It's times like this when I am really self-conscious of myself, though, and it makes me really uncomfortable. I looked around and the place was full of couples. Moms and Dads sitting together. And for some reason, on Thursday night, all the Moms and Dads seemed to be all over each other...holding hands, arms around each other, you get the picture. In the meantime, I felt like there was a neon sign over my head that said SINGLE MOM with a flashing arrow pointing at me. I felt like people were staring at me with a mixture of pity and contempt, while in reality, I'm sure nobody even gave me a second thought. But that is how I felt. I even scanned the bleachers to find any other single parents, and surprisingly, could not find one other single parent in those bleachers...not one.

Then something occurred to me...there wasn't anyone in this room to whom I mattered. I became involuntarily sad - and boy do I hate when that happens. There wasn't one person in that room to whom I was important, and if I got up and left, nobody would even notice, let alone care. I get really annoyed with myself when these thoughts enter my head, but I just cannot stop them sometimes.

Soon the concert started, and I listened to the first three bands play, which was somewhat uneventful for me personally because neither of my kids were in the first wave of bands. Then the second wave of kids took their seats, and I prepared to tape the first band. I re-situated myself to make sure I was able to see my kid, and propped my hand with the camera up on my knee, ready to hit record. As I scanned the band again, to make sure my kid would be in the picture, he looked up, caught my eye and smiled. I smiled back. Then, for some reason, I looked over at the other band, and ironically, my other kid was looking at me, and he smiled at me, too. And at that moment, I thought of something.

I did matter to someone in that room...two people, in fact. And my feelings of worthlessness immediately melted away. It's amazing what our kids can do for us without realizing it.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Time Alone

Years ago, when Bobby was alive and my boys were little, I rarely, if ever, had time alone to myself. So from time to time, Bobby would volunteer to take the boys out to Shop Rite or Home Depot to give me an hour alone to myself. I loved those scattered hours alone, and wouldn't even put the TV or radio on just because I was reveling in the sounds of silence. Although I never thought it was enough time, I didn't dwell on it either because I'm lucky to have had the forsight to enjoy the time I had with them when they were little, because I knew it wouldn't last.

Later on, when they were elementary-school age and they joined Cub Scouts, Bobby would take them on a weekend camping trip once every spring. Those two or three weekends were was the first time I had the house to myself, to do as I pleased. I hardly went out those weekends because I just liked being in the house alone, by myself, with only the sound of something that I wanted to watch on TV - something that had nothing to do with The Disney Channel or How It's Made. I went to see the Sex and the City Movie with one of my friends without worrying about what time I had to be home because I could actually sleep late the next day.

I guess you all know where this is going....

Now my boys are teens and they go out a lot with their friends; Bobby is gone, and I often have a lot of time to myself. Too much, if you ask me. My frazzled friends tell me that they envy the time I have to myself, and I do understand where they are coming from - I've been there. However, I want to tell them to be careful of what you wish for. Too much of anything, even a good thing, is not what it's all cracked up to be.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

A Rock to the Head

Sometimes even widows and widowers have to "up" each other in the grief department, which is really sad because we really should all be here to support each other, not trying to decide who's grief is worse than who's .

One of those examples are the widows who lose a spouse to a long illness versus the widows who lost their husbands suddenly, like in a car accident. The widow who loses their husband suddenly feels that the other one "at least had time to say goodbye" while the widow who has to watch thier husband go through a long terminal illness thinks of the other, "at least you didn't have to watch your husband fade away". Neither of these are correct. They both hurt the same.

I heard someone explain it like this...if someone throws a rock at your head, and you don't see it, it doesn't hurt any more or any less than if you did see the rock coming at your head and you couldn't move out of the way. The impact is the same, whether you know it is coming or not.

So the next time I hear or read this argument, I am going to tell this little story about the rock, which hopefully will make everyone realize that no matter how we lose our spouse, the impact is the same - very, very, painful.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

To My Fellow Widows

I heard something on TV recently which described perfectly how I feel when people try to understand what I am dealing with. I tell them that no matter what I say, I can't describe it accurately, simply because widowhood is something you need to experience to understand. I know that I had no clue what it was all about until it happened to me. When our friends and families try to understand, they usually end up saying something stupid that either angers or hurts us, even though the intention is not there.

According to the TV show that I was watching, the person who originated this was a WWII veteran who was talking about fighting in WWII and what he experienced and witnessed, and when I looked it up on the internet, I found other variations as well. But it can definitely be applied to widowhood.

So, to all my widowed friends:
To those who are experiencing it, no explanation is necessary.
To those who have not experienced it, no explanation is possible.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Railroad Tracks

I don't really understand a lot of what people are talking about when they talk about grief. Especially when people get really existential. Phrases like "transform your grief", "you can be closer to your spouse more now than when he was alive", "people choose pain" and "the gifts of death,” confuse me and sometimes even anger me. When I read these things on Facebook or other websites for widowed people I'm probably looking at the computer with a glazed look on my face because most of this stuff makes no sense to me. I'm much more comfortable living in the concrete.

So once in a while, when something comes my way that does make me understand more of what I am going through, I'm thrilled because I'm really tired of not "getting it". Recently, I saw this on the web (and I do not remember where I saw it):

Living with grief is like traveling on a railroad track. One side of the track is sadness and the other side of the track is happiness. When a train travels on a track, it travels on both sides, simultaneously, like a grieving person lives their life, sad and happy, at the same time.

I thought that was great because it's a really concrete illustration of how I feel the majority of the time. It also really helps me because it allows me to give to others who've never been through this a clearer picture of how my life is now.

And it makes a lot more sense than that other stuff!!!!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Weekend in Bed

Don't get too excited, nothing X-rated going on over here.

Last weekend I started to feel like I was getting a head cold, so I got myself a supply of DayQuil and NyQuil and stubbornly plowed my way through the work week, wrongly thinking that if I ignored it, it would go away.

I was wrong.

By Saturday morning, not only had I only gotten worse, but now I had an upset stomach and nausea along with everything else. So I dragged myself to the doctor's office only to find out that not only did I have a sinus infection, but a stomach virus along with it. I was prescribed some antibiotics, (which the doctor warned may upset my stomach - and they did) stopped at ShopRite to get the prescription filled, went home, and crawled into bed. I stayed there until Sunday night when I had no choice but to drag my butt out of bed and take the kids to an important meeting for an upcoming trip they are taking.

Boy did I miss Bobby this weekend! I miss him all the time, but he had a great way with me when I was sick. No, he didn't sit by my bedside the whole time, but he was there to drive me to the doctor's, pick up my prescription, make me tea, bring me my meds, make me toast, and drive the kids to where ever they had to go so I wouldn't have to get dressed and leave my nice warm house in the middle of February. He would also suffer through re-runs of "I Dream of Jeannie" and "Charmed" just to keep me company when I was sick.

However, to give credit where credit is due, I must say that even though I had to pick up my prescription and drive the kids to their meeting, they did help me out when they were home. Of course, where Bobby would stop by my room every so often to see if I needed anything or just spend some time with me, my teens pretty much forgot I was there unless I texted them. Yes, I had to text them across a small three bedroom ranch house, but they did bring me something to drink when I asked, and my oldest even made me something to eat.

So even though I had some help, it wasn't the same. And again, it was one of those situations that magnified the fact that he is gone. And that pain is something that the antibiotics can't help.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Unexpected Surprise

Boy, did I get a surprise in my email the other day! It was from the Circle of Moms Online Community saying that this blog was nominated to the Top 25 Moms with Inspiring Families - 2012 list on Circle of Moms! I was so shocked, yet pleasantly surprised. If you're enjoying my blog, please vote for me every day between now and March 7. The link is to the right (the pink circle).

Thank you so much!!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Hearts and Flowers and Candy...Oh My!

Yes, I’m being sarcastic.

I’ve turned into one of those “single” people who considers Valentine’s Day a big joke. (I use the word "single" lightly since I really don't feel "single" either, but that is a subject for another post.) I can’t stand all the big giant red hearts all over the stores, and the advertisements showing the smiling perfect couple dressed in the perfect clothes at the perfect restaurant. It’s making me nauseous.

Not that Bobby and I were really big Valentine’s Day fans to begin with. Of course in the beginning of our relationship he would spend a month’s rent to send me 2 dozen red roses to work on Valentine’s Day, which quickly went the way of the dodo bird once we had a mortgage. After that, my gift consisted of whatever he could find at CVS on his way home from work, which was fine with me because I was at Shop-rite doing the same thing. All in the name of marital bliss.

This is not my first Valentine’s Day without him. (You can read about my first one here.) However, while I was sad last year, I am more disgusted this year. And maybe a little bitter, too, which I hate to admit to, but there you go. And I am typically not a bitter person! But I really miss those last minute cards and gifts from CVS. I hate being without him every day, and this is just another reminder that I am alone. And the last thing I need is another reminder!

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Lisa Niemi Swayze

I recently read an interview with Lisa Niemi Swayze in the latest issue of "Ladies Home Journal". She talks about her memoir that she recently published called, "Worth Fighting For: Love, Loss, and Moving Forward". The memoir got great reviews, but I haven't read it. That's not why I'm mentioning it.

Lisa said many things in the interview that I was able to relate to, since we both had the honor of caring for the man we loved during his illness and last days of his life. But one thing that she said toward the end of the interview really resonated with me - "I'm usually such a positive person, but I found nothing positive about widowhood." (Miller, 127)

Like Lisa, I too, haven't found anything positive about widowhood, either. Has anything positive happened to me since he died? Yes, of course. But has anything positive happened to me as a result of being a widow? No, not at all! Anything positive that has happened to me or my family since he died would have happened even if he was still here. So Lisa really nailed it on the head.

I'll be writing more about Lisa in the future. Her interview was awesome.

Source: Miller, Kenneth. "Life After Patrick." Ladies Home Journal Feb. 2012: 122+.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Widow Wedding

Nope...not my wedding.

I ran into an old friend, Joe, who retired about two years ago. He was widowed about five years ago, and recently re-married this past summer. (This is a different "Joe" than the one I blogged about earlier from church).

I remember when Bobby was dying, Joe came and sat with me one afternoon and let me talk out my feelings. He just listened, and it was really good for me because he knew exactly what I was going through. His wife, Leslie, had also passed away of an illness, and he assured me that after Bobby passed away, that he would always be a part of my life. He told me that he still spoke to Leslie, three years later, every single day.

Since his retirement, I don't see him any more, but recently ran into him and congratulated him since I heard he had gotten remarried. The woman he married, Amanda, is a casual acquaintance whom I've met a few times through others. When I congratulated him, he told me how happy he was being remarried to Amanda and that everything was wonderful. I hugged him and told him that I was so happy for him, but remembered what he had told me two years ago, so I asked, "Do you still talk to Leslie every day?"

He smiled, "Of course I do."

This made me smile. Not because I'm running out to get married tomorrow (or anytime in the near future) but because it made me happy to know that no matter how happy he was with Amanda, he wasn't forgetting Leslie. But in my usual style, I blurted out, "Amanda doesn't mind?"

What he told me next really surprised me. "Of course not. Amanda doesn't expect me to forget Leslie, ever. I still have Leslie's pictures up in the house, along with Amanda's pictures and other family members. We remembered both Leslie and Rita at the ceremony at the church." (Rita was Amanda's sister who passed away).

I told him that I thought this whole situation was awesome. He thanked me for the well wishes, just as Amanda joined us. I gave Amanda a hug and congratulated her, too. They looked like they were still on their honeymoon.

I chose to include this story on my blog because there is so much written online about marrying widows and widowers and it is not necessarily in the best interest of the widow or widower. Much of it is all about the feelings of the second spouse, and doesn't take into consideration that the widow(er) is still more than likely in love with the late spouse. There are even books written about not marrying widow(er)s unless they completely purge the late spouse from their lives and heart.

In my humble opinion, it takes a very special person, and a very mature person, to love and marry a widow(er). This person has to realize and accept that he/she will never be the only one in the widow(er)'s heart, yet also be secure in knowing that if the widow(er) truly loves him/her, it won't take away from the relationship. If someone cannot handle it, then they need to get out of the relationship. Furthermore, if the widow(er) cannot commit to you or the relationship, it has nothing to do wth the widow(er) use that old cliche, "He/she's just not that into you," and the person needs to get over it and move on.

I'm not dating. But I can tell you that if I was dating, I would not be comfortable dating anyone who wants me to purge Bobby from my heart; his memories from my every day life or his name from my lips. He has a permanent place with me forever. But since I cannot speak from experience that this works and works well, try reading any of these, where the late spouse lives on while the marriage with the current spouse is both happy and thriving.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Choice - Are We Blaming the Victim?

Hmmmm...another Facebook post to get my mind going.

There is a widower on Facebook whom I follow that posts inspirational messages for widows and people who have lost other loved ones. He posted on his page the other day:

Lynette posted: "There will always be a hole in my heart where my daughter used to be."

He replied "...if that is the experience you want to create for yourself, you will. But why choose that pain?"

Someone please explain to me why one would choose to create that kind of pain for themselves?

Well, I have no idea who Lynette is, but I can be reasonably sure that she is not choosing to create this pain. Talk about blaming the victim.

Yes, his post made me angry. I cannot and will not believe that anyone “chooses” to be in pain. I know I didn’t when Bobby first passed away. I was a mess. But given the choice, I much rather would have liked to smile and be happy. But according to this post, I chose to be a mess…it was my fault I wasn’t waking up the next morning and doing a happy dance.

I do believe that as humans, we have a choice to do happy things and create certain situations that will make us happy. My perfect own example is my trip to Paris, which I blogged about earlier. I chose to go on that trip, and it was an amazing experience. I chose to go to dinner at a friend’s house last night and had a great time. I chose to take my kids to Times Square on New Year’s Eve and it was awesome. But during all of these events, I, too, had and still have a hole in my heart where Bobby used to be. I did not choose for that hole to exist, it just does. Like the wind and the clouds and the moon, it is just there, and there is nothing I or anyone can do to change it. Humans don’t choose everything that happens, so I think the post was sort of harsh.

When the Oprah show ended last year, I came across an article written by two doctors who said that no matter how much good Oprah did, they were so glad to see her go off the air. Their reasoning was this: Oprah and her guests consistently talked about creating your own new life, and basically how if your life sucked, it was your fault. (Not Oprah’s exact words, but that was the idea). These doctors went on to reveal that their patients were blaming themselves when they could not dig themselves out of some sort of hole, and that it was hindering their healing. (If I remember correctly, these doctors were actually psychologists, but I cannot remember. If I ever come across the article again, I will post a link). I used to watch Oprah, and I never actually thought of it in that way. But it’s true, in a sense, it is blaming the victim.

I think everyone wants to be happy and choose to move forward with their lives, with the exception of a minor few. My gut tells me that Lynette is not in that minority. Part of me would really like to reach out to this woman, who is carrying that hole in her heart, give her a hug, and tell her that it is not her fault. Because it’s not.

I think everyone wants to be happy and choose to move forward with their lives, with the exception of a minor few. My gut tells me that Lynette is not in that minority. Part of me would really like to reach out to this woman, who is carrying that hole in her heart, give her a hug, and tell her that it is not her fault. Because it’s not.