Monday, March 21, 2016

So Sorry For Your Loss . . . A Singular Identity

Maybe it's just me.  Wonder if others feel/felt this way? To want that statement "So Sorry For Your Loss" to not be said . . . again.

Is that what happens after a longer time spent "without" the other person?

The loss, the movement from "we" to "me" and from "two to "one" does NOT define me just as being "married" was not the ultimate way I defined myself.

I wasn't focused on the dream of marriage as many young women were and are today; I knew the reality of marriage wasn't finding a "Prince Charming" and "living happily every after" as a child of an alcoholic, divorced parents and significant life challenges for my mother struggling to provide a life for both of us.

I recently revisited another Lewy Body Dementia website went to the writer's new portal (she separated her sites into two, before and after) and her connection to a "widow's website". 

There were those beginning words .... I'm so sorry for your loss.

What else do you say? What's proper? What's expected? What words would be better? I've been on the other side, meeting someone or attending a funeral and at a loss for words.

Society makes me feel like I didn't just lose my husband, I lost an identity I'd had for decades and society keeps reminding me of that loss by ensuring I check the space "widow" instead of "single", for example.

Once married do we retain this identity until/if we marry again? Why?

It isn't that I don't value that association and make it myself, it's when society keeps using the designation of "widow" to classify me -- what I should be like, what I should think, how I should act, etc.

As I mentioned above, I didn't identify myself solely as "his wife" just as I didn't identify myself before we were married as "not someone's wife".

Now, though, I struggle to regain what I had before, my individuality and my "self"; a part of me I never felt so without when we were together. Strange change of identity, now.....

Yesm it's an "appropriate comment" socially to respond with a "sorry for your loss", but it's so flat and it keeps the conversation stuck on the loss, on the challenge and even on the "pain".

Widow. Reduction. Removal. Loss.

Ironically, we've chosen as a society to make light of the word by referring to women whose husband is "away" for a period of time or doing something without her as a "widow" -- i.e., sports widow, golf widow, business travel widow.

I was a "business travel widow"; my husband traveled almost every week for many years. 

I sometimes accompanied him in the early years but sitting in a car, moving from town to town to make "sales calls" because his business was done that way, was, quite frankly, boring to spend hours and days -- even though we were somewhat "together".

That opportunity, to be together no longer exists. 
This widowhood is permanent, non reversible and constant.

How do you heal when you're constantly reminded by society that you have a LOSS of something?

Society on the whole does not seem to know or does not seem to practice how to meet life's challenges: death, loss of an ability, separation, change in life. We're seldom taught in schools and it's not until the event happens that we look for ways socially acceptable to respond, act and go through the experience.

I went to Thought this eminent contributor to all things "social" and all life's events and possibilities would surely have written about what to say, how to act and how to move through that challenging moment when you learn of someone's death you may not have known but want to express you are a concerned human being recognizing the other person's loss.

Actually, couldn't find a reference except directives to "widows" and "widowers" on the most acceptable forms of response to receipt of flowers and condolences and other more "funerally" things.

The funeral lasts a day; the loss continues for all the days that remain.

I suppose something has to be said, socially, that is. After all, if you "learn" I'm the "surviving spouse", what else can you possibly politely say?

While it's a part of my life, it can't remain a central focus or I lose MY ability to focus and it's taken me all this time to realize "I" count, "I" want and "I" need -- although I'm still focused on my "children" -- grown as they are -- and grandchildren and when they're in need, they rise to the top in the "counting order".

It's not selfish, it's not self centered -- it's survival!

It's awkward, I understand; what do you say to someone when you learn they're "without" someone? Husband, mother or father, sister or brother, etc?  We say the ritual, "I'm sorry" or "I'm so sorry" for your loss.

Then we move on. We who have "other lives". We who have other things to "talk about". I get it. It's acceptable and it's understandable. 

However, it's time to move forward and that's taken a very long time to accept especially because of the struggles we had financially and with the Undue Influence we were left to survive on our own, by ourselves, because no one else wanted to see it, wanted to believe it -- when it was easier to believe Grandmother was still the person they remembered from their childhoods and not someone with Lewy Body Dementia.

I've reached a point where the words "I'm sorry for your loss" is a constant reminder of the "loss" and I've worked very hard to get past the focus of that very real, very lasting, life experience. Please find other words to recognize you care about me.

We don't wear black for a year anymore. We don't wear a widow's veil. We don't stop our lives or throw ourselves on the funeral pyre or practice forms of self abuse for the loss.

We widows and widowers are who we were and remain -- individuals, someone's daughter/son, someone's mother/father and all the other relationships and levels of friendship.

Since when did we revert to this "classification" and "needing" to change "socially" -- meaning on the web, on facebook or wherever we want/can -- or for that matter, with groups, organizations, etc. 

Since when did we have to have others question our "announcing" our "singlehood" to the entire world?

So, tell me, do they ask the "divorced" to recognize their "singleness" as frequently?  

Where's the stigma attached to "never having married" -- where's the identifier for that category?

When you learn of someone who's divorced, do you say to them, "Sorry for your loss"? 

Let's refocus:

Let's stop the "sorry for your loss" and instead say something like "Your life together was a special time, I'm sure. I wish you many more life gifts of special times."

Acknowledging what was. Giving hope for what can be. 
  • We who walk this road are often walking it for the first time. 
  • We have challenges standing tall, facing forward, moving in needed directions.
  • We are facing uncertainties as we've done throughout life.
  • We change. We regress. We remain .... individuals.
Come, walk alongside. A step or two or the entire journey.

We're not always sure where we're headed but that's been true other times along our life's pathways.

Yes, remind us in loving ways, those who were also close to the one no longer close to us, and memories about the person, with positive and caring comments and actions....

Remember . . . we are sorry for our loss and we face each day with that loss, making of the day a time to remember.....

One thought in closing:

You never walk alone . . . there are many of us walking the same direction..

No comments:

Post a Comment

We welcome your comments and any additional information we can research and pass on to others. Together we learn and grow.