Widows (and widowers) could use lessons in self-defense. The verbal kind, I mean. Not to protect ourselves from muggers, but the barrage of comments from people who might (might not?) mean well.
One rainy evening soon after my husband died, I went for a solitary walk and had the misfortune to encounter a neighbor.”Do you miss him much?” she asked. I was tempted to say, “Who?” She then informed me that despite her husband being a pain in the neck, she didn’t know how she could manage without him. I heard that kind of thing a lot.”Who takes care of the car now?” The same one who always did: me.
“How do you manage all alone at night?” asked the woman next door.”Aren’t you afraid of prowlers?” No, just neighbors.
When I optimistically told a friend I was starting to feel better, she shot me down with: “I hear the second year is harder.” I fled to my bereavement counselor in tears, telling him if the forecast was for “harder” I was giving up. His calm advice: “It’s different for each person.”
I was told that some people just couldn’t deal with my tragedy. One of my oldest friends liked everyone to be “cheery.” For years we had chatted on the phone each week, but lately she seemed to have misplaced my number. When I told her I wished she’d call more often she said, “I’m afraid you’ll sound depressed.” (I’m contagious?)
Then there are the numerous souls who seem to be checking their watches to make sure you’re on target for “getting over it.” The mesage is: “Isn’t it time to went to a movie (on a trip, on a date, down the aisle, etc.)? I debated telling everyone I was in a different time zone. Instead I assured them I was”working on it.” That made them feel better. But that pales compared toi the chorus of, “Get on with your life.” The first time someone said that to me was the day after the funeral!
All this was 20 years ago but, as we discover, problems don’t stop coming. We can be dragged down by conflicts with work, partner (or ex), children, the economy, and all the et cetetras. So the answers I rehearsed as a widow are still helpful. I tell people,Yes I will get over it — in my own time. Yes,, I know everyone has problems, but I’m not “everyone.” And, yes dear friends and foes, I am indeed “getting on with life.” In my own stubborn way.
Humor helps! That’s my number one advice. So to those who tell me, “Keep your chin up,” I quiip: “Both chins.”
BOOKS: Widow’s Walk – available through iUniverse; Turning Toward Tomorrow – Xlibris; Ten Women of Valor — createspace.com and Amazon [also Amazon Kindle]
LINKS: annehosansky.com; Facebook; LinkedIn
“I wish you could have been by my side to offer a retort when I didn’t have the emotional strength to do it myself.”- Karin P.
“I’ve never been a widow but I did lose both of my parents when I was a child, so I’m familiar with the hurtful misguided things people say when you’re grieving. I enjoyed reading your post.”- Laura Holland
“You have done a marvelous job. This post will help a lot of people.” – Alexia