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) status...to 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.