Monday, March 30, 2009

My Widow Advice #7 Emily Post?

Dear Carol,

God forgive me - I must admit that you give me a lift and even a chuckle every now and then.

That said, your last response (#6 to Laura) was in very poor taste. She was annoyed and disgusted that all the women in her group were flirting with the one man. At first you showed much insight. You told her that perhaps it wasn't flirting that the women were doing. It was giving him attention because they yearn to pamper a man again.

This is so true in my case, but when I think of pampering I think of getting my Joe a cup of tea, not a ...a BJ. Do they even let you talk about such things on blogs?

This time you went too far.

Best Wishes,

Dear Emily,

Is your last name "Post" the etiquette expert? I chose to publish your e-mail rather than the ton of positive ones I received because I wanted to be fair and show that not everyone loved my response.

Let's be frank (Who's Frank?) Would your Joe prefer a hot cup of tea or a blow job? I know Jimmy loved Cherry Vanilla ice-cream, but if even if the spoon was to his lips and I gave him the "signal" the ice-cream would be soup abandoned in the dish.

You remind me a bit of Fanny, my mother-in-law. Her husband died over 25 years ago when she was 65 and after about 10 years she told me she had a dream, but not really a dream.

She said that her late husband "visited" her in the middle of the night to "you know what." She actually told me that she turned him away by saying, "Not tonight, Charlie."

The poor man came back for that "One more time" and she's too sleepy. Fanny hasn't see him since.

Hey, Emily, have you seen Joe, lately?


Tuesday, March 24, 2009

My Widow Advice #6 - Poor Widower Joseph

Dear Carol,

I am at my wits end. I joined a local bereavement group in my town of Bethesda, Maryland and there is one man and nine women including me.

I lost my husband Stan only four months ago and the last thing I want and need in my life is a man. I am still grieving for gosh sakes!

All of the women except for me and Cynthia are being so blatant and obvious flirting and carrying on with this poor widower, Joseph. I find it extremely pathetic and distasteful.

I told our group leader to do something and she just waved me off and laughed. Isn't this unprofessional of her? Should I say something again to her or talk with the women and tell them that they are making fools of themselves?

We are all in our early to mid-seventies.

Disgusted Widow,

Dear Disgusted Widow Laura,

The one thing you don't mention is how Joseph is responding to all this attention. That should be the only concern. I don't know your group leader, but most are responsible and sensitive and have seen it all.

My evil bereavement shrink Gene shared with me many a story about how quickly men "recover" and how needy they are for a woman. Statistic show that widowers remarry on average 2 years after the death of their wives while widows wait 5 years.

I'm sure she figures if this man is uncomfortable he wouldn't be coming back each week. After all, outside of this group Joseph would have to travel to Florida to find 9-1 odds. It's commonplace there for elderly women to elbow each other as they drop off a tasty casserole to the poor widower. All compete to win the prize - a man who drives at night.

If good old Joe is like most men I'll bet he fantasizes all week about having sex with every woman in the room. (you included) He probably has a little blue pill with him 'just in case' like our sons carry condoms.

Consider, too, that you may be mistaking flirting for nurturing. Many widows miss the daily sweet gestures we did for our husbands. Even me, a certified take-out queen enjoys cooking for my kids and friends and now an occasional man.

This brings to mind a conversation I had with my nephew Chuck about four months after his uncle died.

Chuck sat in my kitchen reminiscing about how my husband loved a good back rub from him. Jimmy would lean over and yell "Blood blood!" Of course, this meant "Help me get the kinks out."

Chuck said, "I could barely pass his chair without him asking me to give him a massage. I always did, but I didn't always want to."

I nodded.

"He was so demanding" Chuck continued. "But now if I could do it just one more time..."

"I know what you mean," I said. "I feel the same way about the blow jobs."

Lighten up, Laura.


Friday, March 20, 2009

My Widow Advice #5 Helping Others Helps You

Before I launch into today's letter I want to alert you to a wonderful site that came to my attention It's a quiet, reflective and respectful place to post photos and videos and memory notes to loved ones.

I'm changing my list of 'favorites' and adding this one and others that reflect the spirit of this blog. Take a moment and click on to it. NOT NOW! I"M STILL TALKING HERE!

...About memorial photos. I had the dumbest thought. As it approaches the third anniversary of Jimmy's death on April 13th I wanted to buy space in Newsday with a photo and a few words as I did for year one and two.

However, I thought "I don't want to go with the same photo. I'll use an updated one." Duh...

Dear Carol,

I just got home from my very first bereavement group. I thought it would make me feel better, but listening to every one's horrible story made me feel worse, like I was a loser.

I don't want to be in this club and I don't want to go back. My friends tell me to give it another try. What do you think?

Just some background - My husband, Mike was killed 7 months ago in a car accident and he lingered for 8 days. We were married for 14 years and have no children. I am 50 years old as was Mike.

I don't know if my situation is considered sudden. I had some time for it to "sink in" not like poor Liam Neeson, but I still don't feel comfortable talking about it to strangers.

I don't intend to sound like a snob or anything, but the people were barely functioning and from what I saw I wanted to slap them. Don't get me wrong. I have my bad days, but I haven't lost my ability to laugh. They seem to have. This is why I like your blog so much. You tell it like it is.

A Private Person,

Dear Private Person Addie,

You've said so much in one e-mail. Let me break it down. According to the experts 7 months is an ideal time to be in a group. They say between 3 months and 13 months. Their reasoning is that before three months it is practically impossible for widows to focus long enough to hear what others are saying so what's the point of sitting there all foggy?

You don't say how long the other members of the group have been widowed. It could be that your fog has lifted somewhat and they are still in the center of that awful cloud. That may explain their appearance of "barely functioning."

I don't know what the definition of "sudden" is, but my evil shrink Gene told me that Jimmy's death could be considered sudden and he was sick for one month. Of course, she was dealing with me, a person who was continually saying,

"How did this happen? He was fine and then he wasn't."

Talk about not sinking was me and high school Algebra all over again.

Groups of any kind are not for everyone and it maybe they're not for you. I joined two and stayed for three sessions each. I guess you might say I officially failed bereavement groups. I was eager for the experience because when I went out with friends in an hour or so I would use up my social energy. My close friends saw it in my face and movements.

"You've had it, haven't you?" They'd say. I would nod not understanding what I was feeling. I just had to go home, but I wasn't comfortable there alone, either. Why not stay out with friends who love me? I'd think to myself. It doesn't make sense, this widowhood.

I joined a group to be with others who were feeling the same. That's the pull, Addie. I needed a nod of clear understanding from those who walk in my shoes. (not literally)

And, speaking of shoes, (literally) I was able to notice that several women in the group were wearing ugly shoes. Trading tragedies one moment and then slipping into sarcasm and laughter is human.

It's wonderful that you recognize this in yourself. Many people can't bring themselves to see the funny, unless someone points it ME.

After all is said and done, grieving is not an inherent state. Our minds and our hearts operate on different frequencies.

You would be a valuable group member. Go back another time. Don't slap them though. Just tickle them gently with humor.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

My Widow Advice #4 It IS a Wonderful Life

Dear Readers,

I realize that the topic for this letter is out of step with the season. Spring is a breath away and here I am talking about Christmas. Just switch it in your mind to Easter/Passover so you don't panic and think,

"Damn, was I in a coma and I slept through a few seasons? I hate when that happens."

Yesterday I answered this letter for a sample chapter about holidays and anniversaries to show to my possible publisher tomorrow. I'm too lazy to write a new one for the blog - so here it is.

Also, I'm a teeny bit concerned that my response might be a teeny bit frivilous - My mood dictates my answers. I wrote this wearing my dalmation slippers - the ones I bought to lift my spirits. They may have done TOO good a job.

Please let me know if you think I answered Marion J. in a responsible way. Naturally, I want to be entertaining but it's important that these people who bother to write to me feel somewhat satisfied.

Thanks again for reading - there are so many blogs out there now to read and you chose feel like Sally Fields.

Dear Carol,

This is the second Christmas that I'll be alone. My beloved Fred passed in October two years ago and my son Charlie and his wife and their daughter live in Hawaii.

Last year was horrible. I sat in front of the television eating soggy pizza and watching "It's a Wonderful Life." I was resentful that Fred died on me and left me alone. At 67 my life certainly didn't feel wonderful.

This year my son offered to send me a plane ticket to come to spend Christmas with them, but I am afraid to make that long trip alone. (I live in New Jersey)

I wish they would come to me. I should have had more children. Fred was from a big family and wanted to dote on his only son. Now, Charlie is far away and I'm alone.

Any suggestions to make the holidays more bearable for me?

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year (not for me)

Marion J.

Dear Marion J.

I counted - you used the word 'alone' four times in your short e-mail to me. I worry that the way you describe yourself is who you'll become. Granted, technically you are alone, but perhaps I can find a more uplifting word.

Hmmmm...after checking under the thesaurus it turns out that 'alone' is far more uplifting than it's counterparts. Here are the words they say have the same meaning:
abandoned - by oneself - companionless - deserted - desolate - detached - forlorn - forsaken - friendless - hermit - lonely - single - solo - stag - solitary - traveling light - unattached and ironically - 'widowed'.

I laughed out loud at 'deserted' and 'friendless' but that's just me. It seems another approach is needed for you.

My instinct is to tell you to suck it up and fly over to Hawaii to be with your family. However, the last time I followed my instinct I polished off an entire half gallon of vanilla fudge ice-cream and believe me, it wasn't pretty. My instincts are far better for others, though. I rarely recommend that a widow gorge herself.

You are fearful to fly without a companion and this is understandable. When I am faced with my fear - quicksand - I ask myself, 'Can I wake myself up from this terrible nightmare? and 'What is the worst thing that could happen?' In your case stepping on to a plane will not pull you in never to be seen again unless you fly over the Bermuda Triangle.

You don't say who you and Fred celebrated with all the years before he died. If you invited family and friends to your home for past holidays why not call them and invite them for this year? If it's too much for you then ask them to each bring a dish. (filled with food)

People are aware how isolating widowhood can be during the holidays and they may send a card, but they stay away. Our very presence is a frightening reminder of how fragile life is. This is why sometimes we must be the ones to reach out.

It's impossible to invite yourself, yet if you extend an invitation they may say,

"John and I were just about to call you."

Yes, they will be lying, but with that invitation in your back pocket (not literally) you can confess that being a hostess is overwheming for you this year. Tell them you'd be thrilled to accept what we know is their gracious yet empty gesture.

If you're uncomfortable with any of these suggestions my final thought is: how about you celebrate with my family and I take your ticket to Hawaii?

Try to make the best of it...It IS a wonderful life...

Carol - Poor Widow Me