A Rose by any Other Name...


Ok, "rose" isn't exactly the first term that comes to mind when thinking of widow, but I'll go with the literary, Shakespearian reference for this post.

I could be posting on getting through the third anniversary of Ian getting sick, which coincided with his birthday on St Patrick's Day.

But much to my surprise, that anniversary passed without too much impact.  Much like his surgery date.  I guess the best term to use is that the anniversaries now feel 'integrated' into my life, rather than sharp, stark periods.

Besides, I've been hanging onto the seed for a post for close on two weeks, from an experience that piqued my interest.

The night after my last post, I learned a word for widowhood I've not encountered before.   Either in my personal experience as one, or through reading or other means (mind you, it probably wouldn't have resonated without the experience to align the word to and just passed on by in my mind).

For nigh on 15 years,  I've been going to see our state company's productions with a friend.  Over the years, having the regular escape to a different world has kept us sane through milestones and crises in our lives, even if some of the productions were a little ... trying ... for us to sit through.    

The order of the night was a triptych of short Samuel Beckett plays.  Sitting through the third play "Krapp's Last Tape", all of a sudden the character mentions a word.


Hmmm, I wonder.  

It was in reference to his elderly mother who'd passed, and I'd thought that I'd miss-heard 'Maturity'. Until the character drags out a dictionary as part of the play - you could hear the sigh of relief from the audience at this move...

Apparently viduity is "the quality, state, or period of being a widow" (perhttp://dictionary.reference.com/browse/Viduity).  

Ahhh, so I'm in a period of viduity.  A state of viduity.

Well, of course I was distracted for the rest of the play, making sure I remembered that word.

I was quite surprised I'd never heard it.  I know a number of older widows, and they'd never used the term. I'd never heard it used by members of my grandparent's generation. I've been to a lot of theatre, read reasonably widely (when younger), and haven't encountered it.  It must have fallen out of favour at some point in time since.

So onto a bit of (oh so academically rigorous) research. The Wikipedia page for the play describes the word vidutity as 'archaic', which probably explains why I've never heard it. 

Maybe it could be a good option; a word that can be used without the social and cultural loading that 'widow' has.  Particularly when the term 'widow' is so often hated, yet seems the one of the only options we have.  A revived, reclaimed word that doesn't have the load of expectation on how you must behave, how to grieve, how you must look, and how quickly you're expected to be 'over it'.  

A word that seems to fit with where I'm at in my journey at this time.

"I'm in a period of viduity.  I'll do what ever I (insert descriptive language if you wish)want"

In the play a reference is also made to a 'vidower bird' which also sent me looking about, but I only found 'widow birds' checking them out online.  Quite a stunning bird in flight, by the looks of it.   Maybe as we journey through our viduity, we gain stunning plumage we have no concept we have as we learn to take flight into our lives as they are now.

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