Getting Out There
When at last you feel that you are ready to start being seen in polite society again, there are a few things that it might be useful to know. Firstly, people are going to say things that inadvertently mention the subject of death, and more specifically, they are likely to mention the very means of death employed to remove your husband from this world. For example: if your husband died in a car accident, a male friend employing the phrase, ‘This food looks like road kill.’ would induce in himself a peculiar combination of facial paralysis and sphinctal tightening. If your husband died of heart failure and a work colleague casually mentions that, ‘All this pressure is going to give me a coronary,’ then that person might very well forgo the embarrassment of having to look you in the eye, and choose instead an early exit through a fourth storey window.
You may think I’m exaggerating, but I can assure you that people will say really crass things – and it isn’t their fault. You may be a little embarrassed, but you really shouldn’t make it too hard for them, because they will already be feeling terrible. Unless you have chosen to wear a black veil, or a matching black armband and pop-sock combination, people are likely to forget momentarily that you are a widow. So try to give them a break – they will thank you for it, believe me.
The only people in the crass remark department who do not deserve a break are divorced women, who feel that they have a right to compare what they have been through with what you are going through. They have no right, because making a comparison between death and divorce is like saying that repeatedly picking a scab on your knee until it bleeds and leaves a scar, is in the same pain league as having your leg torn off at the hip by wild animals and then devoured before your eyes.
Telling your children that they can only see daddy at weekends is hard, but it is not the same as telling them that their daddy is dead.
The closest I have ever come to wanting to hit a woman is when I heard that she had said in a discussion about my situation that, ‘Separation is much more painful than bereavement.’
I should have hit her, and then said, ‘Feeling pain? Didn’t see it coming? You’ve lost that tooth and it’s never coming back – welcome to my world.’