My mind takes me into weird places, since being widowed, and today I imagined filling out a questionnaire, titled What has grief taught you?
It would emphasize the importance of filling this out with no filter, thank you very much.
How long have you been widowed? How I’d pose the question: how long since your entire world exploded and evaporated?
It’s been 5 fucking insane, confusing, wandering around not knowing what the fuck I’m doing, years.
What was your initial experience of grief, on the moment of impact?
It felt like my world vaporized and evaporated around me. The ground liquified under me and the world went black around me. But maybe that’s just me.
What has grief and widowhood taught you?
It’s taught me how fucking hard life can be.
Has it made you stronger?
No. Excuse me…FUCK no.
Explain: Well, I was already strong. And I knew it. And I knew that I’d somehow keep standing, no matter what. That’s bullshit, thinking it made me stronger.
Has this experience made you kinder?
Again, fuck no. I was already fucking kind. To a fault. Because that’s the kind of person I’ve always been.
Has this experience made you take life less for granted?
What are you, new? Fuck, no. Again. I didn’t take life for granted. EVER. Especially for the 24 years I had with my husband. Why the fuck would I take such a beautiful thing for granted? Jesus, Mary and Joseph. Who makes up these questions?
What were some of the helpful words offered in comfort?
The only one that would have meant anything was “this sucks the big one” and I didn’t hear that from anyone. I think most people barely hear what is said to them at funerals and memorial services. Unless it’s really bullshit stuff, all the platitudes and such. Those bullshit platitudes seem to be pretty popular with attendees.
Have you felt anger at god since your person’s death?
No. God had nothing to do with it. He/She/It isn’t, in my opinion, some weird being in the sky, acting as a puppeteer. Life happens. Cancer happens. People die. And it sucks.
Have you lost friends/family through this experience?
Yes, though I wouldn’t use the word “lost” so much as “let go of” and, more so “got rid of”. And it was surprising how easy it was. Which then begs the question…how long was the relationship dead in the water anyways? Also, my bullshit meter tends to engage quickly, the longer out I am, and not everyone responds well to that.
What’s the weirdest thing you’ve done in widowhood?
Well, it depends what you consider weird. Does sleeping with my husband’s cremains qualify as weird? Dancing with his cremains, pretending that you’re dancing with him, with the total realization that, of course, you’re not dancing with him, but you ARE dancing with dead him? Also, is it weird if, after scattering his cremains, you rub what’s on your hand up and down your arms? Asking for a friend…
Have you sought counseling and what is your best coping mechanism?
Christ, I’ve done it all; talk therapy, EMDR, bilateral brain stimulation, tapping…all to help with trauma. Bach Flower remedies, Rescue Remedy, and homeopathic remedies to assist with grief support. And these things did, and do, help. On a daily basis, chocolate seems to work well, along with coke zero.
What advice would you give to someone newly grieving?
Dig your heels in and get ready for a fucking firestorm of everything: Grief shaming, financial ruin, the dating world, people intent on fixing you, and advice from people who don’t have a frickin’ clue what they’re talking about. And everything else. Learn how to stand your ground and keep handy the phrase “fuck off”. With Love, of course.
All in all, how would you rate your experience of grief/widowhood?
Jesus. That’s one of the most idiotic questions I’ve ever heard! But if you want a straight up answer, I’d say, generally speaking, that I don’t recommend it. It isn’t for the faint of heart and you better arm yourself with everything you have in order to live it out, to one degree or another, for the rest of your life.
What has been the most helpful aspect as you live this experience?
My widow community. My brother and sister widows. I’d be a raving lunatic without them, quite simply. They hold me up and walk with me and encourage me and support me. Seriously. They’re my people. Couldn’t do this without them. Wouldn’t want to.
This questionnaire could go on and on, and become a book.
Which, someday, it might.