Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Open mouth, insert foot

What not to say to someone who has lost a spouse:
"Are you going to start dating again?"
"Have you thought of putting an ad on the Internet?"
"You never know when you might meet someone!"
"My [friend, aunt, co-worker] got remarried and had a whole new family after [his/her] spouse died."
"You're so young ..." [translation: that you're sure to get married again]
[At a wedding] "Come on and line up for the bouquet toss!"

I honestly don't think people intend to upset or offend me by saying these things. Every awkward life situation has its associated group of boneheaded statements -- a foot-in-the-mouth FAQ, if you will -- and widowhood is no different. Still, it amazes me that anyone could think, after ten and a half months, that I am interested in dating/marrying again (I'm not), or that I would make a good, emotionally healthy partner for anyone. Can you imagine?
Guy No. 1: I went out with some woman last weekend.
Guy No. 2: How'd it go?
Guy No. 1: She told me about her late husband and how she found him dead in their bed and still misses him every day.
Guy No. 2: Criminy!
Guy No. 1: I think she might have post-traumatic stress disorder.
Guy No. 2: So, no sex then.

I'm starting to think that perhaps I should have stayed a theater major after all, since clearly I'm a better actress than I thought I was. I'm walking around half-dead myself, as hollow and empty as a blown-out eggshell, and yet the entire world seems to think that I'm just fine and A-OK to move on with my life -- which I've lately come to realize is code for "start a new relationship."

Well, I don't want a new relationship. I don't want one now and I don't know that I want one ten years from now, either. There are too many things about P that can't be replaced; too much about myself that I can't explain to anyone else. He and I had grown up with each other in a way, even though at 23 and 21 we were technically adults when we met. We lived through a lot of milestones together, and you can never, ever duplicate that. And maybe sometime in the future I'll learn how to settle for something less, or to form another sort of connection that doesn't feel like second-best, but please, please, please don't ask me now. Just don't.


Pixilated Mum said...

Shazbot! You've gotta be joking ... People have SAID THAT TO YOU?????


(pause as I am horror-stricken)

People are sometimes at their cruelest when they are allegedly well-meaning.

I had a friend who at her husband's funeral had a funeral attendant actually say to her, "Hey, you can still find another husband. My husband died a year ago, and I'm a newlywed again!" My friend had been married to C for ****50***** years. Cripes. My friend almost committed murder at the funeral. The nerve.

I don't know why but it makes me mad to think of you dealing with that crap.

Still, some people are just so ... I don't know ... I've known about a handful of people who have lost spouses (the people were in their fifties) and all the men remarried within a year. The women did not.

I don't know if women just are more in touch with all the layers of living or mourning or what, but all the women I know seem to take longer to mourn then men.

God knows I still grieve for people and things from eons ago. I don't know if I would ever get over the loss of my DH.

Maybe I would find peace and cobble together a life without him somehow, but if someone ever said, "Hey, time's up, chick. It's been a year. Time to hit the bars!" I think I would seriously just scream. Absolutely scream.

OK. I've gone off enough about this.


Well-heeled mom said...

I'm sorry to say that I'm not surprised. Remember wwwaaayyy back when, when you went through a period of mourning and had to wear black, etc. When did we go from that to dating with six months? Sheesh.

Space Mom said...

People can be stupid. My BF lost her husband 7 years ago. Her MIL kept saying "I read it takes 18 months to grieve"

Hello? Like you want to put a time table on grief? UGH..That's insane. You take the time you need to deal with your own greif...