M lost her husband yesterday. She has now joined what dswidow so aptly termed “the club.” Unlike most clubs, none of these members joined voluntarily. We found ourselves here through various paths, the only common denominator that we’ve all lost our husbands or partners.
One would think already being in the club makes it easier to talk to a new member. Yet, there is some trepidation, a defensive dam which, during the healing process, each veteran slowly built to hold back the raging torrents of her own grief. Will the new member with her fresh, searing tsunami of tears cause cracks in the cement? Will her cries of anguish unplug some of the bricks? Can we withstand the after-shocks of her collapsed world?
And what do we tell her? Who among us can say – “It all turns out alright in the end, you’ll see”? Perhaps all we know for certain (at this moment) is that there will come a day when the tears ebb, when we go back to functioning. There will be moments of joy and laughter again, as well as days of not constantly thinking of and pining for our lost one, something that seemed impossible in the beginning. We might be less certain about how to lead a normal life again, rather, the life we dreamed of when our loved one was alive.
Every woman’s dream is different, yet connected by some variation on a life with a loving partner, comfortable shelter, a fulfilling livelihood, perhaps a family. When we lose our partners all these possibilities, once within reach, suddenly get stretched back very far… to the point of not being able to see them.
After some time on the widow’s path, we think we can make them out again, faintly, on the horizon. But the path between us and them is still foggy. We move forward in this fog full of yearning that we are heading in the right direction… yet not quite sure we can trust our step. After all, the rug has been pulled out from under us already. We can still feel the bruises from when we fell into the abyss.
This is not something to tell the new widow. In fact, she doesn’t need to hear words right now. She needs someone to listen. She wants to talk about her loved one, she wants to tell us about him and their time together, things he told her, things that made him unique. She wants to gush about him, lest he be forgotten, lest she forget him, perhaps even to remind herself that he really existed, that he was really here at one point. She can still see him, smell him, remember his voice, his touch… even if these things are already beginning to feel like a dream or distant memory, to which she was the sole witness.
She yearns to interact with someone who is not grieving and therefore not crazy, at least not in the same way she feels. She aches for understanding, answers, anything to explain the inexplicable. She also wants to be alone, hidden from view, from pity, from judgement, from other people’s pain, from all the useless-heard-it-all-before advice.
All the veterans can say is: We understand. We are here for you. We won’t judge you, nor bombard you with ridiculous statements like “He’s in a better place now,” or “Who are we to question.” We will help you question. We will help you accept the lack of answers. We will help you forgive and navigate this unwanted, yet apparently destined new path.
Hold our hand, sister. Together, we’ll find our way.
August 17, 2013 at 1:43 am
Oh! I just read your letter to her yesterday. This happened so fast. My deepest condolences. I’m a stranger but I am so sad for her loss.
August 17, 2013 at 1:58 am
She is lucky to have you, Niva.
Every time I read about this, I am more grateful to still have Jose. It’s a good lesson.
August 17, 2013 at 2:53 am
Most excellent! Thank you, from all of us!
August 17, 2013 at 2:21 pm
As with VivBlogs, I just read your Open Letter to M yesterday … and today, this news.
I am sorry that you are in the position to be a member of “the club” … but she is fortunate to have you by her side.
August 17, 2013 at 5:35 pm
Oh, so sorry for M. I was in tears reading this. You have so perfectly captured the path we are all walking down.
August 19, 2013 at 5:04 am
This made me immediately do an inventory of the things I love about my wife. Good luck to all ‘club’ members.
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