I Hate Dead People

My most recent piece at 50 something Moms elicited a comment about my morbid life view.  Precisely that I reference the dead too much. And that it is creepy.  Because, I guess, what is normal is to excise dead people from one’s referential library of memories. Thank goodness I’m not my mother. Fifty-two years is a lot of slate to wipe clean. Still I find it hard not to refer to the measly seven I had with Will. Perhaps if we hadn’t procreated? That pesky kid thing ties me to him pretty tightly. But I suppose I could be vague and let people think I was divorced which is the natural assumption if I don’t mention that he died but still reference the time we were married or his existence in general.

What do I do about Dad though? That’s my whole life and if I don’t fess up to him being dead, and just write about him as though he were still alive – well, that has a higher creepiness factor, right? Or wrong?

Maybe I should just stick to chronicling my journey from Earth Mother to Crone with occasional side-trips to my maiden days of yore. Plumbing heavy posts. And tales of my war against middle-aged girth.

I can’t write about Rob. And not because he forbids it – though there are things he would rather I not blog about – but because he has that whole dead wife issue. And way more years to avoid bringing up than I have . Twenty-seven. That’s half of his life. The adult half. And of course if I mention the step-daughters at all, well that makes him seem divorced too unless I put it in context.

Perhaps being divorced is more acceptable than being widowed? It is less creepy because it is closer to the norm for someone my age?  Only old women like my mother should have buried a husband. For her that is normal and acceptable to reference because old people have that well known tendency to dwell in the past, having not all that much future to look forward to anymore.

There was a small window of time where I let people assume I was divorced. I never mentioned what happened to BabyD’s father.  But then I started to feel that I was besmirching Will’s memory, letting others assume he was a rat bastard who wasn’t a part of his daughter’s life.

It was easier with people who knew me. There was no explaining to be done. But I got tired of everyone else being able to reference events in their lives that I was suddenly forbidden to mention because it might make someone uncomfortable or – god forbid – creep them out.

I started writing at 50 something in late September. My first piece went up just a few weeks before we had to go back to Iowa because Dad’s cancer was spreading much faster than they had thought it would. And there has been an inordinate amount of loss between Rob and I in the last year and half. Frankly, I think he was on to something when he suggested we have everyone in the family take a “no dying” pledge for the remainder of the decade at least. Life here is not just gloom but there are things I am still putting back in order or assigning new order to or simply ditching, and I do a lot of my pondering about these things in words. I thought that is what writers did. My bad.

So, no more death and dying at 50 something Moms. I will simply state the facts about the people in my immediate family and let people- who haven’t read my creepier stuff – assume what they will. Not my business what anyone thinks of me anyway, as my mom (who is still alive and therefore an acceptable reference) always says.

11 thoughts on “I Hate Dead People

  1. I don’t care if you talk about lost loved ones. We all have stories of grief and loss. What stuck me was that you weave a comment about your deceased hubby into every post you write even it the subject isn’t about him.
    The blog is called 50Something Moms for a reason — it’s a forum for women who are 50+ to write about their experiences as mothers and the challenges that they face. I’d love to hear those stories from you but I don’t even know if you have children because you never write about them.
    I also think you deserve to have a new bed and to not have to sleep in the one your husband and his deceased wife had sex in too. Paint those walls as well. Maybe your whole perspective would change with starting anew. You seem to be struggling and perhaps a support group or grief counseling could be of comfort. I’m keeping you in prayers and hope you find peace and that 2009 is your best year yet.

    I shouldn’t have to explain this anymore but I will. I am not a mommy blogger. I am a life blogger. And I was told that 50 something was about life as middle-aged women, growing older and all that goes along with it. Mommying is a part of it sure, but it’s not my core. I steer away from writing about my six year old because she is just six and most middle-aged women are beyond that type of parenting and it makes me appear younger than I am. I haven’t much to say about my grown step-daughters because they are grown women and we don’t see them often and I didn’t raise them, so I have know stories about them as teens to tell. And because I am not their bio-mom and we are new to each other, I hesitate to reveal them to strangers any more than I do. I do plan to write more about family blending in the future however because it is something that women in this age group know although maybe not from circumstances like mine.

    I am not remarried that long. Marriage is a learning thing and this time there are added things to deal with that happen to include our late spouses. Just because you cannot relate doesn’t mean others can’t. And it doesn’t make me a freak or in need of counseling. I think you misread the SisterWife piece completely or you are projecting because you are seeing things that aren’t there.

    My late husband is still a part of my life. Does that not make sense? Why wouldn’t he be a reference or touchstone?

    Struggling? Interesting take. No, I am rebuilding and I tend to think in print, like most bloggers do, and I am not afraid of exposing myself in ways that make it appear that I am not perfect or have all the right answers at the right time. And contrary to popular belief, you don’t “get over” losing your spouse. You slowly incorporate it into your life but it always hurts. Always. My aunt lost her husband over thirty years ago and yet speaking of him brings a certain pause to her voice and a distant look in her eyes. I know it is expected in our society to hide our feelings and omit our dead to make things easier for those around us. I don’t buy that. If someone is uncomfortable, it is their issue. Not mine.

    Cindy made a good point about tone and audience and I will take that to heart. In the meantime, I appreciate your concern but perhaps you should be the kind of blogger/writer you want and allow me to do the same.

  2. what a sad indictment on the way we feel about death. if I didn’t write about or mention stephen sometimes I would still be in the abyss I was for the first year after his death. even 16 months later I struggle with the loss every day – it affects my whole life. too sad

    Yeah, there is this attitude that persists about grief that if we mention our loved ones too little or too much – we are troubled or not coping. But who defines the amount? Usually those who have issues of their own. I don’t have to look for opportunities to insert Will into my writing when I talk about my life. He is woven into the tapestry. I can’t remove him without unraveling everything.

  3. First, someone else on 50-something Moms noted that good writing prompts more comments, positive and negative. That’s a good thing for every writer to remember.

    That said, I’ve been through something similar and learned from it. A while ago, I wrote a few newspaper columns touching on religion/spirituality in my regular Sunday gig. Looking back, I can see now that I was searching for something, and using the newspaper column as a way of sorting out my toughest spiritual issues. When I wrote columns of that nature, it would prompt a flurry of wicked notes and nasty e-mails. (Some of them really stung — and made me realize to be more careful when I hurl criticism at others!)

    One local reader said to me, quite tactfully, that she loved my work, but wondered if perhaps I should explore “soul” issues in another publication, and spare the local paper. I was more careful from then on — but I didn’t completely abandon the topic. Sometimes it isn’t the work — it’s the vehicle in which you’re driving it.

    It would be hard to abandon my “creepy” inclinations but I am just three years from Will’s death. In fact the anniversary is this month, and I am still figuring out where he fits in the scheme of things. And I tend to life blogging in general anyway, so whatever is uppermost in my thoughts is going to find its way to the page.

    Still, when I was growing up, my elders referenced the dead without worry and I just assumed that this was normal. I guess it would be jarring to those who are used to simply burying them.

  4. I’m with Cindy. It’s unfair that you have to censor yourself for 50 Something Moms. Hope you never feel compelled to do that here.

    I am not okay with censoring myself but I am going to take a change of direction there for a while. It’s not like a personal blog.

  5. Too bad for her.

    I prefer to specify that my child’s father is absent due to death, not divorce, because there is a difference in my thinking. And although someone else’s opinion of me is not my business, I dislike the judgement associated with the divorce think.

    Okay, who am I kidding? How often do I give a rat’s hiney about what someone (other than my mother) thinks of me? Blissful oblivion- maybe my new catch phrase for 2009? Hmm, that’s not accurate either. I am a little more sensitive than that.

    Enough already- this is a good post, and I would be disappointed if Anniegirl was able to post or publish about nothing more powerful than plumbing. Dooce gets away with lots more than that.

    I don’t want you to think I am judging the divorced because if that were my scenario, I would want that on record too. It’s just like I said in the piece. It implies things about Will that aren’t true if I simply let people assume things and given my age, they are more likely to think “divorced” than “widowed”

    This “creepy” thing is ultimately not my issue. In my family growing up we did not stop talking about people simply because they were dead. In fact my Grandma C. still actually talked to most of our dearly departed, but that is another story.

    I am not going to focus solely on the plumbing because I could conceivably TMI people on that topic too if I simply let loose as Alicia noted is my wont. Still, I think a lot of the problem with being a women today is our tendency to say too little about the truly important life issues and then wonder why are daughters grow up as they do.

  6. That might be the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard. All of those experiences, memories and events that took place — along with the losses associated with the people involved — made you what you are today. Their outlook on “creep” and “morbid” is … well, creepy and morbid, frankly. This is who you are. Not something to be ashamed of or hide.

  7. write what you know. write what you need to write. people find the resonance – or not.

    we bury discussions of death and dying, and i believe that we need MORE discussion on the topic. my favorite “feel good” song – “Do You Realize” – says it well “Everyone you know someday will die”. Fact.

    Denial helps no one… keep writing, annie… say what you need to say.

  8. “It’s a shame you feel you have to censor yourself, Annie. ”

    I seriously doubt that Annie will be censoring herself! LOL Not the Annie I know and love.

    Your mom is right, btw, but you already knew that. That’s why I don’t censor my blog, even though I know my in-laws have found it.

  9. We truly can only write authentically from where we live. Remember people have the choice to read or not to read something, but as far as powerful writing–I don’t think we have the choice. It must come from a place where we are real. I almost wrote “unfortunately”, before this next statement: Our lives happened to have been impacted by death and that is place from which we view life. But perhaps it is just as unfortunate to be in an abusive relationship, to have children who are wayward, to have an alcoholic spouse, to…and I could go on. I would imagine the poster on “50 something” is young and has never experienced anything traumatic–I know that is where I resided pre-Don’s death—oh how different my view is today.

  10. It’s a shame you feel you have to censor yourself, Annie. One of the first blogs of yours I read was the one written by your father’s bedside as he slipped away into death. I was rivited by your story, by the life and strife that continued even as he did not. You captured it for me in a way that made me remember losing those beloved of my own who have made the great transition. Being a widow is part of who you are and so is being a daughter without a dad walking in the world. I’m glad you’ve shared those parts of yourself with us.

  11. It’s only been a couple or so generations that we have had the luxury of not talking about death at your age. My not-that-much-older second cousin lost his mother in childbirth. Nor is this the norm the world over. Part of the problem is that we have shunted the dying off to hospitals, and the dead off to funeral homes. Attending to them is just a blip in time, and not the full-meal deal it used to be. So as a civilization, we are uncomfortable with it. Write what you need to write. And if those 50-something moms aren’t thinking about death, whether of their parents, their spouses, or their children, they should be. Rich people avoid taxes, but not even Jesus avoided death. Or so we are told.

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