Polonius: What do you read, my lord?
Hamlet: Words, words, words. (Hamlet IIii)
It’s easy to forget that other people exist when a spouse dies. No one can know what you are feeling–can they? What about other widows? We know that no words can comfort or explain, but because we are widowed we have a sense of what NOT to say.
People shouldn’t assume that everyone’s default setting is theism. “At least he is in heaven…it’s all part of God’s plan…his spirit is always looking down on you.” That last one really creeps me out. First of all, if Kent is in some spirit world, I would hope he has more enlightened things to do than peep at me. I don’t believe in a heaven or hell or god or gods so it doesn’t help that this imaginary being presumably is in control of our fate. It’s like saying, “Don’t worry–Odin totally has him covered up in Valhalla.”
Most times we are speechless when we hear of another’s loss. That’s because we cannot empathize with it, cannot understand it. I often wish I could go back in time and say just the right thing to make someone feel better; I am not a quick wit. I am a writer, and I need time to process my thoughts. I came across this great op-ed piece called “Dear New Widow: Remember That You are Never Alone” by Danelle Boyles teNyenhuis today. She talks about what she would have liked to say to a new widow. There are some beautiful sentiments in this piece. Here is one:
I’m trying to make my life meaningful as a tribute to the love we shared. You will find what works for you.
The phrase a “new widow” has me thinking. It will be six years this Thanksgiving that Kent died. Does that make me an “old” widow? A “middle-aged” widow? Time is far too strange. Some days it feels like he died yesterday and other days it feels like he was never really there–that he was part of some fabulous fairytale I concocted in my mind. Another question I have about words is grief versus mourning. I found a website
called Funeral Basics (SOMEone had to to it) and it describes grief as internal and mourning as external. Apparently, without the public act of mourning the grief we feel inside becomes “carried” grief. This prevents us from dealing with loss. More on this in next week’s post. I’ll leave you with more words. Sometimes they are all we need.
There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are the messengers of overwhelming grief, of deep contrition, and of unspeakable love. –Washington Irving
I answer the heroic question, ‘Death where is thy sting?’ with ‘It is here in my heart and mind and memories. –Maya Angelou