Wednesday, August 26, 2009

My Widow Advice #26 Three Time Loser?

Dear Poor Widow Me,

I have followed your blog since my good friend Natalie told me about it. That was a year ago. I must tell you that I have enjoyed and found useful just about all of your are a real pro.

Although, I hope I don't have to go through the process of bereavement again, I buried my third husband last October (2008) Yes, Carol, number 3 and I am 62 years young.

I just met a very nice gentleman at my club. He is new to the club and it seems he has taken a fancy to me. Some of the other ladies have taken to calling me the black widow and that really hurts.

Herein lies my problem...At what point do I tell this gent that I have buried 3 husbands already?
I'd like to do it before the "ladies" get his ear.

Should I just not say anything and have him bring it up? Help me 2 step through this, Carol!

BTW: I have two grown children by my second (and longest) marriage.

Please hurry with your response!

Three Time Loser,

Dear Three Time Loser Wanda,

There goes the saying, "3's a charm." Hopefully, for you, #4 is your lucky number, although, for every one's sake it may be best (especially for the guy) if you stay single.

You don't mention how your husbands died. I suppose unless it was by poison or gunshot or he was checking your headlights and you accidentally stepped on the gas it doesn't matter.

Potential suitors are generally not wowed by a dramatic story. They are typically reassured by the boring:

"How does someone fall off a step stool?"
"I told him the gas was on."
"I should have known his heart would give out. It was like a pea."

Should you tell this new fella? Well, it's gonna come out. The mean ladies at the club are salivating for just the right moment to refer to you as "black widow" as they stand next to him at the buffet innocently scooping out a bagel and filling it with low fat vegetable tuna.

If you were putting together a profile on one of the dating sites I certainly wouldn't mention it. "Widow" is sufficient - let a stranger also assume you're 40 years old and 25 pounds lighter - until he meets you. Every body's doing it.

Oh, you'd better let him know before one of your kids blab that their father was number two and you carelessly "lost" number three. Children are such a blessing, aren't they?

In conclusion, Wanda the Widow, even though it's an understandable to conveniently forget to mention three dead husbands if you're not upfront it will no doubt lead to other doubts.

On the positive side, if you don't like to cook telling him could cause him to insist that you and he eat out breakfast, lunch and dinner. Make sure he always pays...use the reasoning few of us have, "All these funerals have cost me a bundle!"

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

My Widow Advice #25 Stress this!

Dear Carol,

My husband Paul passed on June 23rd - a car hit him. I've been dealing with not only his loss (we were married 17 wonderful years and two girls, 11 and 14) but the anger and frustration of losing him in this senseless way.

The police have closed the case and not charged the driver because it seems that Paul had a heart attack and fell into the way of traffic while walking. I'm not convinced of this because there was no sign or family history. He was just 49.

My friends tell me to contact a medium and maybe he or she will be able to tell me if he is all right and if he indeed had a heart attack. And, I want to know that he is

I am also distressed because we had just had an awful fight and he left the house angry "to blow off steam" and obviously never came home. Maybe, a psychic will tell me if his state of mind contributed to his death? If this is true I will never be able to forgive myself.

I'm writing to you because you seem smart and clear headed. I feel silly going to a
psychic, but what else can I do?

Thank you.

Confused in California,

Dear Confused in California Stacy,

What else can you do? You can mourn your husband's death and grieve as all widows do. Make up your mind here and now that your story, while compelling and a bit unusual is not the moment in time for you to hold unto.

Paul died. If he stopped breathing on your couch while watching re-runs of Seinfeld would you wonder if the story line from that episode made him anxious?

Let's take your concerns one by one. You're worried that because you had an argument (was it your first fight in 17 years?) you contributed to his death?

The following is good example of an emotionally healthy reaction to a similar situation....

My friend who is now in her forties told me that when she was 19 she had a fight with her brother and her last words to him were, "Drop dead!" He proceeded to
go out and get hit by a car. Very similar except he was in a coma for three months, came out of it and today is a husband and father. Happy ending.

I was horrified and said, "Oh, my must have felt kind of responsible." She answered, "Not at all. My brother knew I loved him."

Stacy, Paul knew you loved him. And, if stress did contribute to his heart attack or even his lack of awareness of the traffic YOU are not responsible for how he handled or mishandled his stress - Any more than his late night Rocky Road binges, driving like he's Mario Andretti or complaining that you don't give him enough blow jobs. (to a man it's never enough, so again, you're off the hook.)

Your "I'll never be able to forgive myself" is a stupid declaration. It belongs in the
garbage with:

"That was the last time I'll order a third martini."
"I'll never let that junk drawer get so messy again."
"Why did you make me cut bangs? I hate you."

Let's discuss your worry that Paul isn't "happy." Not for nothing, why wouldn't Paul be happy now? He's free from the burden of bringing home the bacon (not literally) and he no longer will get roped into a pointless debate with friends over Obama's health care policy.

While, granted, poor Paul will not see your daughters grow up, he checked out just in time to miss the wonder years of PMS and seeing their heads spin around when you declare the guy your baby faced daughter thinks she loves is a dirt bag.

Oh, and by the way, you and only you will have to point out to her, "Honey, your skirt is too short because I can see your Tampex string...Good times, eh?

Paul is flying light and bright and most likely he's on to another universe where music is soulful, all spirits are kind and he doesn't really give a shit that this minuscule blink of an eye life is over.

By example your daughter's will absorb that after the darkness of a tragedy the light of life peeks through and we must look toward it for a new beginning. Throw away the psychics number and give your girls that example.

Monday, August 17, 2009

My Widow Advice #24 Hey, Widows, You're Not That Special!

Dear Carol,

I've been reading your blog since a friend sent to me last year a month after my Pete passed. It's been a big big relief to hear that you and so many widows experience many of the same
reactions and feelings.

In my small town there are no bereavement groups. Your blog is my group!

I thought I was going crazy! I'm just writing to say "thank you."

God bless you!


Dear Sharon,

Your e-mail warms my cockles (what are cockles?) I'm grateful to know that the Internet connected you to me and poor widow me has helped you and that the input from other widows has given you a sort of group consensus. And, I do appreciate that you took the time and effort
just to say "thank you."

THAT SAID, I'm taking this opportunity to wonder aloud something that bothers me or as my friend Connie says, "It rides my nerves." Connie, from Queens has obviously lived in New Jersey way too long.

My pet peeve is: Why do we adults need others to validate our feelings?
Sharon, did you not know that everything you feel after loosing your husband is normal?

We're not a 13 year old boy from Utah growing up in the '60's alarmed that his dick grows while
watching re-runs of Spartacus. He fears he's abnormal and decides the only way to make his mama proud is to become a priest.

We're not that kid. We are grown-ups and as the saying goes, "We may be shiny but we're not new...or we may have been born at night, but not LAST night. I am continually shocked that other widows are surprised that other widows can't focus enough to read a book the first year or are unable to eat lamb chops, his favorite.

We're human beings. Our reaction and feelings run the gamut but at the same time are universal. Our loved one dies, we hurt. We sit on the edge of the bed smelling his tee-shirt and his hairbrush. It's a scene unimaginative directors use because it is universal.

We cry at old songs and we get scared that we'll run into someone who may not know he died. We blurt out, "Oh, you must have mistaken me for someone else" and we run away. (okay, I almost did that)

We have trouble sleeping or we sleep all the time. We redecorate or we change nothing. His cuff links remain on his night table and we make coffee for him every morning. (all right, the coffee part may be nuts)

We get a dog for companionship and/or a boyfriend for spite. We use "He would have wanted me to buy a new car" to get what we want. In this case, a new car.

His annoying habits are elevated to "If I could have him back I wouldn't mind." Then, the truth kicks us in the ass and we realize after and hour and a half he'd be annoying again.

We make no sense, Sharon, but because we are grieving we make perfect sense.
Grow up grievers and stop acting surprised that you're not that special!

Monday, August 10, 2009

My Widow Advice #23 Back in the Bedroom

Dear Carol,

Here is my dilemma. My Paul passed away 2 yrs. ago from a sudden heart attack at age 58. We were married 39 years, no kids, just us.

He had gone up to bed & when I went to join him I found him on MY side of the bed. He always took my heating pad out from under the bed & plugged it in for me...Anyway...since then, I have not been able to sleep in our bed, or bedroom. I have slept downstairs for two years on a couch in the den.

I know that I cannot sleep down here forever....I was wondering...what if I got a new bedroom set, changed the room around, put up wall paper & new carpeting...

Would this help me to get back into that room? Has anyone else you know had this problem? I would be so interested in your advice.

Thanks so very much.


Dear Karolee,

I normally don't encourage widows to feel sorry for themselves, but look, really look at your loss.

For nearly 40 years (even Hallmark agrees it's the Big 40 and that's just years lived.)
you shared a house, a home, with Paul. You find him dead in your bed on YOUR side (your emphasis, not mine) reaching for a heating pad for YOU. Geez. Some women would torch the freakin' room.

We widows all have emotionally charged areas in our homes. We either avoid them totally as you've done or as you suggest - redecorate. See how smart you are?

You're right. A quick shot of Botox will not do. Your bedroom needs a facelift - new bedroom furniture, carpeting and a different configuration. A new mattress and a set of sheets is a band aide.

When you go to choose the furniture, etc. be mindful that you may hear a little voice that sounds eerily like Paul. He may be scolding you that you're spending too much money. (I've heard that one - in death and in life)

Or, he may be telling you that as you replace you erase and you know, that is partically true. We need to clear away some of the shared "things" so we can breathe fresh air. New things represent our future.

Since Jimmy died I've done lots of redoing to many rooms - some in an effort to not continually face the old memories and some to make areas more useful for Skylar, my granddaughter. And, some because he didn't want to and I did and now I can. Period. Nothing sentimental about that one.

Although, there is the bedroom, the master bedroom, our bedroom, my bedroom. I sleep there with my dog Tony but never with M. Why? I don't know. Maybe one of my readers can tell me...or maybe you can, Karolee?