Let’s Rant (Socializing as a Widow)

Virtual apology flowers for my blog

Virtual apology flowers for my blog

Dear Blog,

This is again one of those times when you and I are not hitting it off.  I don’t seem to have that much to say if I’m not getting published somewhere else. So, let’s rant:

 Stuff I Hate about Socializing as a Widow:

1.  Being introduced as a widow.  I’m writing a book. As of two weeks ago, I even have an agent.  I’ve been published in national magazines. Does this make me a better or smarter person? No,  But I’m more than someone who has lost her spouse.  As is any other person who’s suffered a loss. Each in her own way.  Let’s not start out with “The Sad.”

I went to a dinner party where I was introduced as “Debbie who just lost her husband and he tried to keep it from her.”  Ever wonder why I drink?

2. Being Given Unsolicited Advice. Men seem more prone to give it to a woman on her own.  See “Mansplaining.” Maybe it makes them feel smarter. And it’s fine if I asked for it or its about a not-too-personal topic like social media hacks or Porsche maintenance.  But not how to organize my personal life, changes I should make to my dating life, etc.

And  it’s not only men. I went out to dinner with a now frenemy who said she didn’t think I’d gone through the grieving process or maybe I hadn’t gotten adequate therapy. I had.  She just didn’t ask. I’m too nice to say it to her face so I’ll say it here behind her back : Fuck you.

3. Being Told to Get Out  Since my husband died three years ago, very few people have offered to fix me up.  Most likely reason, they don’t know anyone. Second most likely, I’m batshit crazy. Either way, I’ve chatted with my single friends, and while some hate fix ups, we generally appreciate the offers.

What I truly hate is being told to “get out there.” I got out there. It made me so cynical I became an angry and embittered writer. If you don’t have a concrete invitation, don’t keep sending me out into the wilderness.

4. Being Pitied. Yup, the holidays suck.  Yes, hard to get though birthdays or other festive times.  But hearing how my life as a widow sucks is just irritating. Only I get to complaint about it.

5. Poor concentration– Sometimes, I’m still recovering. I ‘m not naturally that social. So, sometimes it’s all too much and I just need to leave.

Soooo, I can’t think of any more to add to this list right now, (See poor concentration) but please fill the comments section with your own complaints. And it’s not just for widows. I’m sure divorced people feel that others are needlessly tactless.

Have a great weekend, and don’t forget to “Get out there!”  (Except me, I will be working on my poor neglected blog).

Love,Debbie

 

 

 

31 Comments

  • Holly says:

    Oh yes, yes to #2! I have a friend who is treading into ex-friend territory all the time. “Why can’t you go to the gym regularly? I mean, really? You have time now.” Yes, she actually said this to me two and a half months after I was no longer my husband’s caregiver, because I was now his widow. Most recently she said, in response to my newly developed anxiety about my own health “if all you have to stress about is your own good health then you should count yourself lucky”. Yes, she’s so right! I am counting my lucky stars to be widowed seven months ago, in my 50’s and to having lost the prior five years to caregiving not to mention the rest of my life with the man I loved. I also had another friend say “I can’t wait for you to get to the happy part of grieving.”

    My therapist says I am doing extraordinarily well dealing with things. And I too have friends who think I haven’t had the right therapy. Ack!

    • Debbie says:

      I know! I was a caregiver too! And I got comments like I was lucky to only have myself to worry about after he died. Hard to decide what to do about friends like that!

  • Betsy says:

    Hi there. Yes, I was a caretaker as well as hold down a full time job, run the house, had 2 teenager girls, etc. I kept saying I’m fine, when I really was not fine. I myself had 2 strokes. I guess I just thought that it was more important to take care of everyone else. So that is what I did, until one day at work I was walking in the hall and was bouncing off the walls like in a pin ball machine. My blood pressure was so high they had to drive me to the hospital. I called my doctor first. I actually spoke to my doctor, How does that ever happen? He told me to have someone drive me ASAP to the hospital. It has been 5 years since Bob passed. Have tried a few dating sites – yuck. I don’t go to bars or clubs. He was a loner so my circle of friends is very small. My daughters say go out and meet someone. How? Where? So I am in the grocery store one day and feel brave. I start talking to a nice looking man, no ring, we chat, then he tells me does have a girlfriend. So now I feel like a fool. But not really, because I am proud of me talking to him. He didn’t seem to mind. At 63 it is very hard to just make friends and meet men. Oh bother, one day at a time. I am on the same page with this post Debbie. Thanks for it.

    • Debbie says:

      My husband was a loner too in some ways. We just hung out together and were happy that way. When he died I had to start making friends. I’m proud of you for talking to a new person, a guy. It’s hard. But one day, maybe you’ll make a new friend or etc. Had to start reaching out and it was hard. As for how to meet someone, no ideas. Online sort of sucked. I did make women friends going to yoga…(Love)

      • Betsy says:

        Thanks Debbie, I joined a theater group and a dining out group. I will be going to see Blue Man Group next week. I am trying to get out and do things, even if by myself. One day at a time. Thank you.

  • Jane says:

    Being asked… “why are you grieving so hard still?”

    Moving to a new town and having to explain that no, there’s no ex-husband, that no, I’m not a single mom by choice, my husband died. And then the head tilt “I’m so sorry”

    Meeting someone really awesome and thinking “Mark would like this person…” oh wait… he’s dead.

    Wondering what would happen to your children if you died. And then looking around and wondering who would step up if you did.

    • Debbie says:

      And that is great writing. Thank you.

      I do that too, George would/wouldn’t like this person.

      I don’t have kids. But what you said is important.

    • jacqui Mitton says:

      Hi Jane,

      Why are you grieving so hard still? Maybe because you were well loved and it’s very hard to loose that.

      Jacqui x.

  • Quinnland23 says:

    Great rant! Don’t want to dilute the waters with woes of divorce next the struggles of past caregivers. Good insight on what to be sensitive of though.
    Best wishes on the book,… and when do we get to hear more about Paris?!!

    • Debbie says:

      Well, I wrote about my pick up at the Louvre. Shades of Erica Jong…and I need to think of what else to say. Thx on the book! It may happen!

  • Laura says:

    Love the comments. I actually had two former friends cut me dead because they thought I should wear sack cloth and ashes for the rest of my life. One of them lost her husband two years ago, and I was so tempted to ask her “how does it feel”? I didn’t – but I learned a valuable lesson – don’t judge others until you walk in their shoes for a while.

    • Debbie says:

      I agree on judging. I’ve become less judgy since I became a widow since I’ve seem what loneliness can do. My problems was that former friends either thought I should be over it already or thought I should stayed mired in therapy etc.

  • Pam says:

    Anticipatory rant: I have been divorced once and widowed twice. The second time was on my 52nd birthday six weeks ago. Really looking forward to the first time someone asks “are you married?”….not. Do I really have to explain my situation to people? Hopefully it will be good enough to politely answer with “no”. However when I am asked “do you have children?”, and the answer is “no” I feel compelled to fill the silence that follows with “but I have 3 dogs”. I think I should get used to the silence and move on 🙂 I love your blog Debbie. You are doing goid.

    • Debbie says:

      Thanks Pam. And I agree that “no” should be enough. I don’t have kids either and it’s hard when I feel that someone expects an explanation.

  • Michael says:

    Debbie,

    As is often my response upon reading your thoughts and experiences, “thank you!”

    My rant — Let Me Rant! Allow me to express my contempt and frustrations. Allow me to beat-myself-up for being, yes, at times, an ass and a dick brain. Allow me to shatter myself, then leave me be while I pick up the assorted pieces of me and fit them back into the puzzle that I am.

    I find it curious friends and family do not offer: their friends, visiting cousins, or an aunt in Ohio as possible connections. My wonder becomes too often circumspect, “Is there something about me they see that I don’t that makes me undesirable?” Or, on the more confident side, do my associates feel no one they know is good enough for me?

    A significant change that resulted from Getting Out There is that I do get out there (physically, online, and on the phone). For much of my life I was that solitary man — and there are many aspects of such that I miss. I really do want that one single vital connection to cherish. Sometimes I wonder if she is real or merely a figment.

    So, Debbie, I am not going to offer any advice to you or any of your readers. Nor I am going to offer up any of my single male friends because the few I have live hundreds of miles away.

    Be well,

  • Michael says:

    Shortly after Sheryl Sandberg (LEAN IN, Facebook, etc.) became a widow she posted her experiences and thoughts relative to losing her husband. She cited the responses and lack there of she from friends, family, and work associates; as well as her own behaviors. Her reflections and revelations are very poignant. Her words impacted me on several levels, the most meaningful has been to reach out to those grieving be that for the loss of a spouse, a medical diagnosis, etc.

    If interested:
    https://www.facebook.com/sheryl/posts/10155617891025177:0

  • Kevin says:

    Hey Debbie –
    Let me mansplain it to you:

    1. You, at some point, may call yourself “Single” rather than “Widowed”. You may do this anytime. When you get to know someone better, then they get the whole story, but for general consumption, SINGLE says more about your current status than WIDOW. (BTW< what happened to your latest guy?).

    2. Everyone at some point plays the GF/BF card late in a chance meeting (like grocery stores, bars, etc), if they want to bow out without hurting your feelings. Maybe they liked you too, and maybe there really is someone else in their lives. At least they aren't laughing, calling you "OLD (wo)Man", etc. And, any flirt is great practice for later, when you really need it to be natural and easy, and the other person will dig you.

    3. Being divorced 20 years (and calling myself SINGLE for the last 10), no one who really knows me (family, close friends) has ever set me up. Why would they? They know only married people, or older people, and they themselves aren't very much fun. It's a blessing not a curse.

    4. Online dating sucks only slightly more than real life dating. Both are impossible at this age, especially with the pressure of replacing your husband (and that goes both ways). Be content with random chats that go nowhere, group-friend outings, SOLO ADVENTURES (very important), even solo travel. Great for hookups! Dating is a volume game to be played by the young and tenacious.

    5. If you want (you don't) and are truly ready (you aren't) for a new, fully involved relationship, make sure you are immersed in a "target-rich environment": a vibrant workplace, a residential community of similarly-single types, groups, clubs, etc. Then, STOP LOOKING! Be yourself, be selfish in experiencing what you need, grow.

    6. The real deal only comes along when you least expect it. So don't. It may not come again for you, because you already beat the odds and had more wonderful years with George than most ever have, more than I will even if I met Ms. Perfect TODAY.

    7. Keep writing. Go outside. Flirt. Don't worry.

    Kevin

    • Debbie says:

      Good advice. Live your life well, and don’t worry about dating. Current guy and I are on and off. We’re very different but have had good times for which I’m grateful.

  • Betsy says:

    Debbie, I liked both Michael and Kevin’s replies. It is nice to hear from a man’s view of the same things. I agree that the on line dating is just a waste of money. I had a soulmate, met in high school and married 36 years. So many people tell me how lucky I was to have had that. I realize that, but it just makes me more sad to actually realize it now that I don’t have it anymore.

    Love the comments on this. Thanks Debbie. There are plenty of us right there with you. One day at a time.

    • Debbie says:

      I loved the comments on this too! And me too on not having it anymore after having been with my high school sweetheart for 32 years. Great to hear from you my friend! Take care

  • Terri says:

    Being told my house is too big, my yard work too much and I need to move to a condo in the city. Interesting concept. My husband dies so now I must erase my entire life and exist in a pre-nursing home environment. Thankfully, these friends do not just move me into assisted living. Want to be helpful, dear friends, then grab the weed eater! Rant over.

    • Debbie says:

      Hey Terri, WordPress didn’t tell me you commented. Sorry on the delay in posting and responding!!!And I agree. I was told I need to move. How about just offering to meet for coffee and chat?

  • Lisa says:

    My husband has been gone for five weeks… I’m forcing myself out of drunk widow to two glasses of wine widow… Most people are just tired of me crying…..he wasn’t ill, it was a complete shock at 46. So I am having a difficult time with my new ” role” I’ve always fancied myself a fabulous actress wearing a mask of whatever flavor of BS anyone wanted…but I’m having so much trouble with this.

    • Debbie says:

      I think this is a hard thing to act through. I don’t think you should try. No one should be sick of you crying after only five weeks. As my grief therapist told me, if you’re getting out of bed in the morning after only a few months,it’s a victory. What matters is how you feel. I know what you mean about the wine.

      I am so sorry for your loss. This is so recent and sudden. Let me know how you’re doing.

  • Laura says:

    When Mike died, and he passed 11 years ago, a lot of people gave me advice – of course they weren’t widowed and had no idea of what I was going through. It takes time to heal and everybody gets to their new “normal” at a different rate. Mike died of cancer after 4-1/2 months and I was told that at least I had time to prepare for his death – sorry that’s a bunch of crap. Everyone copes with loss differently. I cried oceans of tears for a long time, there’s still sadness, I still miss him, and I wish he was here, but I’ve also healed becoming a different person than what I was and learned that it’s okay. Hang in there, it does get better.

    • Debbie says:

      Thank you Laura. That sounds like good advice. I hope I get more used to life without George. I’m definitely different in some ways. I didn’t write before. In friendlier. I like your comments very much.

    • Lisa says:

      Laura,
      The advice from those that have suffered no loss is what is sticking most firmly in my craw, even from my mother, who I had to tell ” you … In this instance have to stop talking… You do not know what you are talking about.” My boss, my co-workers… And friends that were closest avoid be now because I’m too young for them too deal with as ” widow” the don’t know what to say to me so choose avoidance.

  • Lisa says:

    Being from LA everything is an act, so one comes prepared to know how to act in every situation. This tragedy put me in the hospital for a week and when my grief takes over I have to choose hysterical sobbing or raging bi*+€… Well I do hate to cry. making schedules and rules for myself to make me go to work and be a functional human being…. There should be a mandated paid time of grief just to keep American businesses productive. Most reputable give 3 days for a spouse. How does one end their entire life and behind a far far lesser one in 3 days or less? It took me more than three days to decide to keep living.

    • Debbie says:

      I didn’t know about the grief time. And I have no idea how someone is supposed to be functional at work or at all after losing their spouse three days ago. I agree on a proper time for paid grief time!