What I Want You To Know About Widowhood - The Good Men Project
Filling out a bit of paperwork recently, I was given the choice of two states: married or single. It gave me pause because very simply, I am neither.
I am a widow. In fact, I have found that identifying myself as a widow can be quite the conversation stopper. There is an awkwardness that surrounds the word.
An expression of sorrow seems trite and common, especially since his passing is a past event. Asking for details in response seems intrusive. For myself, as a widow, to not identify as such seems to negate a large part of my life and to erase a big part of who I am. It may be that any word associated with death is the crux of the issue.
Death remains one of the few remaining taboos in our social culture. While we will explore just about anything on social media or even at a cocktail party, death is still not acceptable as a conversation subject. In many respects, even the widow herself finds it awkward. We still carry an image of the widow as quiet and withdrawn, dressed in black, older, forever in mourning, less vibrant, less active.
The product of this image is in effect: an unhappy woman. The reality of life as a widow is very different.
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Becoming widowed is a part of marriage. It is one of the many seasons of marriage and of life.
A Knowledge of the Plan
Eventually, it becomes ordinary for the person living it. The initial shock, grief, and sadness becomes complicated by all the big issues associated with death. There are emotional, financial, and family issues to address. These are made even more complex if there are minor children to comfort and support. There are, what seems to be, endless firsts to embrace and small heartbreaks as one grows accustomed to morning coffee alone or an empty side of the bed. There is loneliness and loss. There is silence. At the same time, there is also comfort.
Family and friends carry us through the rough spots. There is also the ever-present comfort of faith. The words of the book of Revelation, a book often shrouded in mystery, become strongly comforting. Revelation reads:.
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Death will be no more, mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away. These words remind us that, as Catholics, we live in hope and promise. We live not just for eternal life, but for the hope, thanksgiving, and remembrance we share in the Eucharist. We remember that Christ lived and died to give us that life eternal. The life everlasting promised us by Scripture and Tradition begins within ourselves.
Celebrating the life completed begins with the memories we cherished. For myself, celebrating that life completed happens each time my children gift me with another grandchild or when my eldest daughter uses a phrase coined by her father while she was growing up. It happens again when another child looks at her toddler son and suggests that, for one fleeting second, he bore a look that echoed the grandfather he never met.
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How Soon After Widowhood Can You Feel Good Again?
The widow represented not only the powerful bond created by love and marriage, but also embodied the conventions of grief that ordered the response when those bonds were broken by premature death. A tradition of widowhood characterized by chastity, solitude, and permanent bereavement affirmed both the sexual mores and political agenda of the medieval Church.
At 7 months, grief-specific feeling states remain remarkably similar to what they were at 2 months. Anxiety levels remain high and change little from 2 to 7 months. When changes do occur, they are not unidirectional. For example, subjects are about as likely to increase as to decrease their drinking or smoking. Furthermore, depression scores at month 2 correlate well with depression and anxiety scores at month 7. Despite the presence of psychological distress in a significant minority, most bereaved individuals report good health, satisfactory work performance and good adjustment to widowhood.
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