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Although I rarely “widow” blog anymore, this blog attracts a fair number of the grief-stricken, who comb through the dead spouse tagged posts or even go back to the deepest corners of my archive and read every single post I wrote in the first two years. And I read griefy stuff here and there myself, mostly people with whom I am acquainted to one degree or another.
There is a blog called Widow’s Voice that showed a bit of promise in terms of balancing the diversity of grief experiences and I would read, comment if I felt inspired, but over time, the site went “party line” as it evolved into a business/career for some of the people involved.
And by party line, I mean it promotes the idea that widowhood is a borderline mental health issue that can be managed over the course of one’s life though never cured. It supports the idea that widowhood is a persona rather than the fact that it is merely one of the less fun life events that a person experiences, deals with before moving on to a hopefully more fun life event.
Recently, one of the bloggers wrote a piece on “getting it”. In widow speak, people who “get it” are those who understand that widowhood is forever and that it’s a delicate condition which should inspire your inner widow to bleed copious amounts of pity indiscriminately. It’s played off as empathy, naturally, but it’s pity – for yourself and the newly widowed – that’s really being promoted.
People who don’t “get it” are the non-widowed because how could they ever imagine such a thing, or begin to have the slightest glimmer of understanding, if they haven’t “been there” themselves? Don’t Get Its are likely to provide solutions and problem solve instead of mindlessly drooling pity and acceptance of bat shit crazy actions or thoughts. Don’t Get Its are mainly uneducated – though this is rarely a good enough excuse to keep them from being scorned and ridiculed.
But the author of the post, someone I recall from my YWBB days with little fondness, wrote about – gasp – discovering that Don’t Get Its existed among the widowed. Shudder.
Not that she was making judgments. She clearly states - That’s neither a negative nor a positive statement. It’s just an observation. My observation.
But a calculated and cutting one and then she goes on to clarify that the number of widow idiots is small though it apparently includes her widower boyfriend,* and that it’s mostly a phenomena of being years out and remarried.
The audacity of some of us. Letting time actually heal our wounds and then moving on. Hand the smelling salts to Aunt PittyPat.
I tried to leave a comment on the piece but the widow (not really as she is remarried too) screens her comments and doesn’t post ones that contradict the blog’s thing of “anything goes as long as its sufficiently brown-nosing and dripping with pity”.
Do I get it? In terms of being newly widowed and learning the ropes in the first year or so, I do. It’s brutal and people without support networks are more the norm than not in North American society, which makes it harder. We are also a death denying/fearing culture and this complicates matters.
But people who are farther along and still leading with their widow foot? I don’t get them at all. Why make loss and grief your identity? Why the need to solicit pity? Why blame every disappointment on the totally unrelated death of your spouse? Why still read between the lines of everything the people around you do or say and interpret it as a slap? Why feel sorry for the newly widowed and encourage them to take more time in the depths of grief than they normally would have but for your misguided “help”?
And frankly, I feel misunderstood and judged. Not a positive or negative? My ass.
It is the same old tripe message that implies that those of us who move on must not have had good marriages or loved our spouses. And don’t get me started on the whole “soul mate thing”. One widow’s comment on the post actually put forth the self-serving notion that people who move on never experienced real love. That their marriages were inferior and lacked the special magic that allows them to “get it”. They were to be pitied.
If I am pragmatic, I must be unfeeling. If I don’t agree with coddling or condoning questionable mindsets or behaviors, I don’t get it. If I think you are wrong, my marriage must have sucked.
But I do get it, all too well. I just don’t agree and that’s not the same thing at all.
If you want to make a living off your misfortune, you are hardly an anomaly. If you chose to work through your “issues” by pursuing a grief-related career, I’ve met more than a few people who’ve done just that. But don’t disingenuously smear those of us who’ve put our loved ones deaths into the perspective of our own lives and choose to rebuild off the cemetery. And don’t make assumptions about boots you haven’t walked in.
The only eyes we can actually see out of are our own. Myopic as they may be.
*Though she doesn’t mention what he thinks about being lumped with those of us who clearly didn’t love our late spouses and/or had marriages of questionable soul-mate status.