Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Gay Loss

Dear Carol,

    I am a gay man (28) who was in a committed relationship with Dick (really) (40) for three years.  Four months ago he was in a fatal car crash.  Thankfully (for him) he died on impact. 

   For me, I am adrift because we had just had a huge fight and now I am left with feelings of not only loss, but guilt that my last words to him were "%$#^*". 

  On top of that - other than our circle of friends, my family (his father and my parents) and my co-workers just don't seem to acknowlege how I am hurting.  They don't see me as the "widower" and I do.  

  I know from reading your blog (yes...you have a following in my community) that you had a traditional marriage, but at least you got the compassion that
seems to have sustained you. 

   I am not looking for pity yet I do expect that our relationship is respected and my feelings understood.  I set up a household with this man and my life is now turned upside down. 

Why can't straight people get this?

Love,
Human Bob

Dear Human Bob,

   You seem to be suffering with two very separate issues here.  First you feel guilty that you sent your partner off with less than loving words.  Now you are
left without "closure".  I hate that word.  Why did I use it? (not an actual question)

   Anyway - Most people would be tormented by this, as you are, however, let me tell you a true story that I hope will help you to put this in perspective. 

   My friend, Stephanie, who is now in her forties, told me that when she was about 19 years old she had a fight with her 21 year old brother, and she told him to "Go to hell".  Several hours later he had a terrible car crash and was in a coma for 3 months.  They didn't know if he was going to live or die.  Her brother did recover and is perfectly fine now.  But, obviously the point is:

   My response was, "Oh, my God...you must have felt so awful that those were your last words to him."

   She said, "No.  He knew I loved him, and he knew what I said was in anger."

  I was stunned that she was so emotionally healthy.  Bob, try not to get caught up in the drama of, "He died without hearing "I love you".  You know that Dick knew you loved him.  Just as Stephanie said...Human beings get angry and lash out.  Doesn't it make the "I love you" sweeter to hear when we are feeling it rather than just saying it in case we never see them again?

   Your second issue is more troublesome for me as an advice giver because it is about OTHER people's attitude.  You can't force ignorant, insensitive people to respond as you would hope they would.  You can try to express how broken hearted you are - but you would expect that they would know this.  I understand. 

  That said, all the sympathy and "help" that goes with entering widow territory can be sufficating and embarrassing.  Ask any new widow or widower
how petrified we are about running into someone in the supermarket or having to watch others fall apart with us and for us.  Kindness can be a bitch. 

  Another look at this is you were only living together for three years.  Many straight widows who have short marriages with no children are often assumed by others to be less fragile...After all, they are young and will bounce back and have a whole new lifetime with someone else. Others consider it a blip on the screen - love will find them again. 

  "Outsiders" either don't understand or they need to minimize the pain that the young widow is is experiencing - it's tough to watch someone going through it. They are, as you are, mourning a future that will never happen. 

   I'm sure your co-workers and parents would be more sensitive to you
if you were a straight man who lost his wife, however, you called yourself
"Human Bob" - console yourself with understanding that they are human, too.

   Thanks for seeking me out.

PWM