Tuesday, March 8, 2011

We Scare the Hell Out of People

Widowed people are scary. Who knew? I’ve noticed it in the past 5 years and it took me a while to figure it out. Our tragedy makes people uncomfortable in a way that is hard to describe unless you’ve experienced it. But it’s true. I think it is more than just not knowing what to say to us, or thinking we might cry suddenly. I think we scare people because we represent a reality no one wants to face. They want to pretend it won’t ever happen to them. If they can ignore or gloss over our situation, they don’t have to look death in the face. I mean think about it. There is a 50-50 chance a marriage will end in divorce. But, there is a 100 percent chance that if you don’t get divorced first, one of you will die. ONE HUNDRED PERCENT….

And yet…we don’t talk about it. Death is the elephant in the room. So sad it happened to Daniel, Michelle and Grayson (in head thought – OMG, so unlucky, thank God it didn’t happen to us)….and to that I say: “YET”. It hasn’t happened to you yet, but it will. We all die. When is the only unanswered question. I’m not trying to be dark and foreboding here. None of us make it out alive. I’ve had to face reality. Clearly I cannot pretend it won’t happen to me. Selfishly I hope that if I ever remarry I get to die first. Seriously. I don’t want to do this ever again. Fortunately for G and any future husband, the women in my family live forever, so it is likely that I’ll outlive any man I choose. Perhaps I should become a cougar to increase my chances of dying first? ;-) Just kidding!!

Sorry to get off topic – We represent the reality that no one wants to face – this could happen to them at anytime. We are living evidence of the shortness and unpredictability of life. This doesn’t have to be a bad thing though. I like to put a positive spin on this. I hope I am evidence in a positive way. I hope that people see us and are reminded that they should be living life to the fullest each day. I hope they hug each other tighter, say I love you more often and don’t put things off until tomorrow. I hope I scare them into not taking things for granted.

BOO! Now get out there and live your life. Who knows how much time you have?


  1. Funny and poignant post. I have always been somewhat jealous of people who have never faced adversity. I lost my father at the age of ten (cancer) and from then on I was always cognizant of the finality of death. Because of this, during my marriage and years of motherhood I always knew I could lose my loves, and didn't sweat the small stuff. I appreciated every moment and always felt a sense of gratitude for what I had. The downside was that I would get very nervous when someone was late and didn't call, because my mind would go to dark places. I have now lost my love, and it is a hard journey, but I can look back without regret. I think I will yell "BOO" at the next person who gives me the "poor you" look. Hahahaha that's funny! Thanks.

  2. WOW!! Did you hit the nail on the head!!! Thank you,sometimes I forget this...........I know I scare people but hey I had a scary personality before all this happened so its all good! Thanks for all everyone does here,it helps keep me sane..Lee

  3. Michelle,
    Love, love, love this post.
    I believe when we are truly present for someone when they die, we are also witnessing our own end, our own dying - someday in the future.

    If there is a lesson - it is exactly that.
    Every minute . . . no, every second - moves us ever closer to our own death. Having been witnesses to the truth of that - we have two choices, pretend it is not true and live our lives putting on hold our biggest dreams, being frightened to step outside the box, giving in to all of the old misconceptions about being widowed and how that should play out in our lives or -
    the big leap - dare . . . DARE to live!
    I love the quote "jump and the net will appear" -

    My husband and I were lovers right until his death . . . we said it all a thousand times but we kept saying it until the very end.

    We REALLY don't have that much time - We are living and we are dying in the same moment - lets not waste one more second we have a world waiting to learn what we already know in our hearts.

  4. Yep. We all know we’ll die and that our loved ones will die, yet we live like that won’t ever happen. (I know I certainly did. My parents are both alive and well at 81 & 86. That was my plan too – to grow old with my husband.)

    Yes, our lives will never the same, and soon after Dave’s death 9 months ago I faced a new problem. My eyes were opened to what life SHOULD be about. My career is no longer fulfilling for reasons I won’t get into here. And acquiring ‘stuff’ no longer matters to me. My time is much more precious to me than making money. I want to do something that I love and that matters.
    I have a live to live and Dave would want me to live it and not wallow in self-pity for too long (which still happens a lot right now).

    Unfortunately I’m not independently wealthy, and I no longer have my husband’s income, which was greater than mine. I don’t have a passive income stream that will let me ‘retire’ now at age 45. I will be ‘fine’ financially if I continuing working here full time for another 15-20 years and retire then. But I no longer want to work HERE or full-time for that long. As we all know – life is too short and there’s no guarantee I’ll live that long. So I keep working now for the short term hopefully, while the new me tries to figure this all out. I will find a job that I love, even if I have to create it myself and become self-employed. Fortunately that fact that ‘stuff’ is no longer important to me means that I should be able to live on less.

    So yes. I’m trying to see the positive – the clearer vision of what’s important in life. And I’m trying to plan a better life because I don’t know how much time I have.
    And I’m the only one that can make a better future happen for me.

  5. wanted to share this with you ~ a smile for today . . . to the theme live your life now with enthusiasm.


  6. As I wrote in my memoir, "Grief and widowhood made a person stick out like a leper. Married women especially were often repelled and avoided me. They were afraid this could happen to them."

    Now 16 years later - I can say that the older you get, the less relevant the "widow" tag is as more and more people are widowed, divorced or choose to remain single. But back in those days, I keenly recall the frightened looks, the desire of others to quickly get away . . . the empty feeling I had in the pit of my stomach, almost as if it were my fault, an error on my part to have made them so uncomfortable by bringing up the unmentionable.

    Now there is a certain "badge of honor" to being a widow - of loving and having been loved in return and that it ended, not due to anyone's fault, but because of cancer. He didn't want to leave us, I tell my sons. He was a good man and we loved each other. There is tremendous solace, as well as pride in that, at least from my perspective.

  7. You are so right, but I still bring it up and take about my husband, I am tired of people not getting that maybe, I am not over it yet, even if they are- their uncomfortable feelings are their problem. Sometimes, I cater to them, but sometimes I don't. There are times that people are so insensitive, and I think the unthinkable- what till this happen to them. I will be just as insenstive. I do think that it does make a difference if you are younger than normal, but you are right it will happen to everyone! I too have thought about looking for a younger man so I won't have to go through this again!

  8. i love this post.
    i have spoken about it before on my blog. sadly, i realized this earlier into my grief. it was obvious right after john died that others were uncomfortable. maybe because i am too outspoken? maybe because he died from a rare virus? i have no idea.
    i just wish people would learn to look past that and look at me as me. and not just the girl who almost married the guy who died.

  9. We love your blog each week. It makes me sit back and think about how my mom must have felt after my dad passed away. She loved and adored him with all she had. A true marriage made in heaven she would tell me. She told me one day she would never remarry because she didn't see herself at her age every being able to love anyone like she loved my dad, and that she would always be comparing anyone to my dad. I remember her mentioning to me several times that some of the people they use to see on a regular basis had pretty much stop calling or coming around, she wasn't sure if it was because they didn't know what to say to her or that maybe she wasn't staying intouch with them. Mom moved away from the ranch and into town, she needed a change and after being by my dad's side 24/7 for 7 years and watching him slowly go down hill she wanted out of that house and into something different, something that would allow her to breath and not keep reliving the years watching him go down hill. Of course we all freaked out, you can't move away from our home!!! My mom has made changed in her life and has done different things that I never saw coming. But she lives and she is still my mom in every sence of the word. Her grief has taught us all how to take that step and not be afraid to live and talk about my dad each and everyday. We still have our moments that we are overcome with emotions, but we are finding it easier and easier to laugh and remember the last days and remember the good parts of it and not the saddest parts. Thank you Mickie for sharing, through you I have been able to look at my mom differently and appreciate her struggles as well as yours. I do look at Fred differently because of Daniel's death, and I tell him each and everyday how much a dearly love him, and how much he means to me, I don't care if he already knows, I am going to tell him again and again!

  10. YOu summed up this so well! Loved reading it.

    I feel early on in my new life without my man and not only am I grieving, I'm also feeling very much alone and isolated. People seem to want to stay clear and it's hard going, this is when we need people around us most along with love and support.

  11. This is so true, I was widowed last November, we were married for 37 years, people who I thought were my friends avoid me, its not that they don't know what to say, its like they might catch something from me, the look is poor you, as if my husband left me for another women! It hurts so much.

  12. Thank you. I lost my much loved husband three months ago and at the same time feel as if I have lost so many of my friends. They seem to cope less with the fact that he is gone than I do. It was a long hard struggle for most of the 27 years we were together and the last two years were hard, but everyone was around us. Now I spend a lot of time alone and as a watcher on the fringes. I think people do not come to terms with death until it happens to them. Most of the women friends I have are fine, but don't even think of asking for help from their husbands, for some reason the women then have a problem with the fact that you are no longer part of a couple.

    I am lucky though I have a wonderful daughter who is always there when I need her.

    Life and death comes to us all and if we live long enough we lose people we love throughout our lives. It is not how others cope with this loss that matters though, it is how we cope. Hold up your head when you can, cry when you need to and most of all enjoy the memories. The happy ones are there even in the final days and hours.