Rare Sunday Update

Don’t get used to this. I don’t normally have time for a movie review, much less an update on my life, but I’ve been at the computer most of the weekend working on the PowerPoint portion of my upcoming workshop and conducting the great Twitter experiment, and I needed a break.

I haven’t used a PowerPoint in a million years. I loathe them truthfully because I’ve seldom met anyone who can give decent powerpoint. Most presenters end up writing their whole spiel on the slides and then read them at you. PowerPoints should contain only the main ideas that you then riff off of, but I think most people are just too petrified, or uninspired, to work that hard. Consequently, I am trying to make my PowerPoint visually interesting and devoid of too much in the way of complete sentences, and I guarantee there will be no handouts that say the exact same thing my PowerPoint shows.

On Saturday I took BabyD to her children’s grief group gathering. The counselor who directs the parents’ portion was ill, so we parents holed up in the kitchen and had quite a good conversation. The interesting thing about it, for me, was that we were all survivors of people who had terminal diagnoses from the outset and long care-taking stints – though I think mine was the longest by a couple of years. Because of this, the subject of “pre-grieving” or anticipatory grief came up. On the widow board I was lashed with the “you can’t grieve a person before they’ve died” noodle quite a bit. I will concede that the physical loss is something you can’t really know until it happens, but the letting go of dreams and a future that will never be is a very real thing. And I know because I spent nearly three years doing it before I was widowed. It’s not like I had other things to do. I had months worth of hours to resign myself and decide what I wanted my future to look like because I was going to have one regardless of my personal preferences. My very personal opinion is that people who live in the “might have been” are the ones who are really denying grief.

This topic naturally spun off onto the criticisms and condemnations we all got in one form or another for our relief at being able to finally have a life that was focused on ourselves rather than the sick person and for acting “too quickly” to move on.

I find that even three years on from Will’s death I am intolerant of anyone who suggests that I moved on quickly because I a) didn’t love my late husband, b) that our love wasn’t true or I would have rended my clothing more, or c) that I simply am an avoider and someday I will collapse in a heap of undealt with grief. Seriously. I got this a lot. It was nice to talk with people who understood where I was coming from and didn’t think any of those things. I wish the counselor would let us have free form conversations like this. I might bring this up next time.

Why bring this up? Grief and grieving are on my mind. I was on the board while I was sick. Rob found a flaming thread and showed it to me. I followed it a bit simply because I was mentioned in the post – although not by name thank goodness. I have apparently morphed into some pseudo-cautionary tale and that posters there need to be aware of posters – like me – who might have “alterior” motives. I was the “example” of someone with “alterior” motives. How did the poster put it? Oh yes – like the one who was writing a book and using real board handles and posts to write a book. Thankfully this poster didn’t know me from my time there and there were no links. And apparently thinks I was a fiction writer trolling for material because my own life is brimming with it.

I sorta chuckled because the poster who was actually being targeted and then driven away by the flaming was very likely a real widow – who though a bit clueless – wasn’t harming anyone the way some of those that viciously attacked her have inflicted harm, but it’s not like there haven’t been posers there. And, as usual, none of the “vintage” members who carry real weight in the community there tried to step in and help her. People only think of themselves when the torches and pitch forks come out on the widow board.

I remember a poser from my early days there. At least I am pretty sure he was. He did nothing but ask questions – mostly about dating – and then eventually staged his own death by having a “relative” post about it. Anyway, that’s my take on it. Others will insist he was totally upfront and legit. It’s interesting to me because I tend to take most everyone I meet on the Internet at face value and assume they are real unless they really stink of weird, not overly credible behavior.

When I was on the baby boards back in the day of trying to get pregnant, the other women there would joke about whether one of us was really a 60 year old man with a pregnant woman fetish sitting in his underwear and exchanging posts with the rest of us. I guess that isn’t really a joke. It could happen, but I doubt it happens as much as we are warned about.

Anyway, I felt sorry for that poor widow who was flamed. Anyone there could be a faker. Anyone. And the ones who are really faking will never be found out and run off. They will be welcomed and fawned over by the same people who claim to be able to spot phonies. I mean really – they think I was “faking it” now thanks to the dust up last November.

The Twitter experiment continues where I am sure everyone I am following is a real person and those who follow me are real as well despite not asking anyone for their credentials. I am following 18 people including Demi Moore who really tweets herself and seems a sweet person. Most of the others I follow are friends or writer/agents and creative types. I am following a radical analyst who has a show on BBC and used to work for Al Jazeera English. He is scary but very informative. If half of what he is predicting for the economy comes true we are in for so much hurt. He is following me as well, which is interesting. But I will have more to say when the experiment ends and I decide the fate of Twitter in my life.

See ya all on Monday.

11 thoughts on “Rare Sunday Update

  1. Did you really find people judging you for moving on too quickly? I remarried at 2.5 years and found mostly happy responses. Granted, I am not active on YWBB and I am talking about real life friends…

    So glad I never dealt with anyone who denied anticipatory grief! What a crockload. I am working through your blogs slowly so will comment as you provoke thoughts… as I know you well.

    I like the legend idea — you deserve it!



    1. In my real life once people could see how happy I was and that Rob was a real, wonderful, geniune person – they were fine. I imagine it was more the online nature of things that alarmed them and didn’t have anything to do with widowhood.

      On the widow board though it was about me being “uppity” for lack of a better term. I made the mistake of suggesting once too often that as we crossed the year line and moved farther out that perhaps we shouldn’t use our loss as an excuse for everything that went wrong in our lives and that we had an obligation to the newly widowed on the board and shouldn’t be judgemental but rather simply sharing our experiences without pushing agendas. An older member who’d been widowed about 20 years made it a point to jump on me whenever she could and finally was instrumental in my having to leave. She reminded me a lot of my late husband’s mother, who had also been widowed about the same length of time. Just someone who leads with their widow foot. Every bad thing in life leads back to being widowed. Every missed opportunity. Every lonely spell. Widowhood made her special and gave her an out at the same time.

      Anticipatory grief is very real. I don’t care what anyone says. That was my experience.

      Thanks for reading.

      1. I can see how online communication would be bumpy and allow for that kind of bullying. In a way, it might even be natural for us, with our dramatic stories, to attract more drama or at least dramatic people. And I suppose it’s not unusual for someone to be that stuck after 20 years, and envious. I guess I’ll be careful not to say “move on, people” when I occasionally hang out over there.

        BTW, I am on your side with anticipatory grief — of course it’s real — I didn’t state very clearly.

        Thanks for writing!!

        1. Oh, yes, do be careful there. Especially don’t be too cheery or you might be called out as a fake or worse, someone with “alterior” motives.

          I appreciate your reading and commenting.

  2. I agree with you about PowerPoint – less is more. That’s an interesting turn the parents’ group took when the counselor wasn’t present. Sounds like you had a productive conversation. My sixth-grade teacher said something I’ve never forgotten: The only thing that matters is that you [as an individual] know the truth. In the end, that’s all I have any control over.

  3. re: the widow board… once again, i’m reminded of a great joni mitchell line, from ‘shadows and light’: “The perils of benefactors, the blessings of parasites”. Seems the board can serve a very useful function – certainly before you get sucked into the muck, or god forbid, are flamed by the righteous.

    re: real vs posers… they’re out there in real life, as well as in the blogo-world. i’m sure twitter-space has a few. but like you, i assume that i’m getting ‘real’ until enough flags are thrown that i consider otherwise. then i tend to back slowly away – either in person, or out here.

  4. I can’t imagine what it must have been like for those three years when Will was dying, and neither can I imagine why other widows would judge you for getting through those years any way you could…it sounds to me like there was/is quite a lot of envy going on at that board. Unimaginative people jealous of your creative impulse to put your grief into story form. Their loss!

    1. It’s not jealousy. It’s about validation. If I am not grieving according to the rules of the community then either I or they are wrong and the majority always rules. The reality is that while there are some givens in grieving there are always lots of exceptions.

      I need to check on my media options at the library still but I think I will be okay. I need to work on some of my handouts today – blog piece and About Me Examples and lists of resources.

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