Did you know Facebook doesn’t let you change your relationship status to “Widowed” until your partner’s Facebook page has been memorialized? (Unless, presumably, your partner isn’t on Facebook, or isn’t linked as your spouse.) I mean, I kind of understand why, but dang…
I’m still struggling with that label. When Amy and I got married sixteen+ years ago, that was supposed to be it. I mean, we knew one of us would go before the other, but that wasn’t supposed to be until were were both winding down.
“Til death do us part.” In my mind, that always meant death from very old age. Looking at those words now, they feel like an expiration date on a relationship that was supposed to last forever.
Intellectually, I know I’m not married anymore. Emotionally? Not only am I still wearing my wedding ring, I added Amy’s wedding band too.
I know there’s no rule on how long you’re “supposed” to wear your wedding ring after you lose your spouse. Some people take it off right away. Others move it to the right hand, or wear it on a chain. I’m just not ready, and I have no idea when or if that will change.
At group last night, we had an activity about the tasks of grieving, one of which — and I’m paraphrasing — is the emotional adjustment to a new and different relationship with the dead. Amy is still a part of my life. I see her in our kids, our belongings, our friends, the photos that pop up on my screensaver. I talk to her at least a little bit every day. I hear her in my memories.
The relationship now is with those memories. More than thirty years worth of memories, good and bad. But it’s not the same. That’s one of the many things I have to come to terms with.
Sixteen years ago, neither of us really knew how to be married. We both screwed up sometimes. We had to figure it out as we went. Some things we sorted out fairly quickly. Other parts took years. There are bits I don’t think we ever fully figured out. But by the end, I think we made a pretty good couple.
I barely remember what it was like to be single. I sure as hell don’t know how to be widowed. It’s one of the many things I know I need to learn going forward.
I know my life needs to go on, in whatever shape or form it takes. I know Amy would want my life to go on. I just never imagined it would have to be in a world without her.
Fortunately, I also know I don’t have to figure it all out today.
October 10, 2019 @ 4:41 pm
There is no time limit on how long you get feel married. You’re young enough that perhaps you’ll want another relationship later, but you don’t have to decide that today, tomorrow, or ever, really. You get to do what’s right for you.
My father is dead 15 years. My mother still wears her wedding ring and engagement ring, and his ring on a chain around her neck. My folks knew each other only a few years longer than you and Amy. (Married 39 years, but they married 6 months after they met.)
I’m so sorry you’ve had to experience this particular pain.
October 10, 2019 @ 4:47 pm
I’m sending love, Jim. I can’t imagine what you’re feeling and going through, and I wish I could ease it. But I can let you know that people out here are thinking about you, and care. You’re incredibly strong, even if you don’t feel it from time to time.
October 10, 2019 @ 5:12 pm
I had particularly close relationships with both of my grandmothers. My mother’s mother died from pancreatic cancer at only 67 years old. And it broke something in me for a very long time. You get to grieve – and live – the way you need to. My papa? He wore his wedding band until he died at 88. She was his only one. And it was beautiful. Sending peace to you.
October 10, 2019 @ 10:48 pm
Unfortunately, all relationships end in separation, whether it’s death, divorce, moving away, and all the other things life throws at people. I just wish our culture didn’t try to pretend that death isn’t an inevitable part of life; maybe we’d be able to deal with death better when it steals our loved ones.
October 11, 2019 @ 7:57 am
Thank you for sharing Jim. I wish for you to find the joy in things, and for the memories to be kind to you and lift you up even though they are so different.
Terrence C Miltner
October 11, 2019 @ 8:28 am
No. You don’t have to figure it out in one day. After losing three people close to me over two years, patience with yourself is the best advice I can offer. Thank you for sharing your journey through these difficult times.
October 11, 2019 @ 10:17 am
It’s strange the things that drive you crazy. For me it was pronouns. There was suddenly no “we”, no “us”, no “ours”. After 48 years, it was me, I, my and it still feel strange. I always told Art it wouldn’t matter who died first. We’d still have the same arguments about salt, swearing at bad drivers….that really does happen every day and it’s a bit comforting. Stupid. But comforting.
October 13, 2019 @ 2:33 pm
…..who left the onions out, i got stuff in my eyes. wishing you all the best as you figure it out jim
October 13, 2019 @ 11:50 pm
It’s been almost exactly 13 years for me, and I still wear the ring my husband gave me for our 20th anniversary, just a year and a half before I lost him. For awhile I wore our matching wedding bands on a silver chain around my neck, but after awhile it started to rub my neck so they are now in a place of honor on my dresser. As others have confirmed, every step is yours to decide. My heart still belongs to Bob, and always will. I don’t connect with the word “widow” even though I have to tick that box sometimes on papers. It takes a long time for a person to figure out how to be in the world without their heart’s partner. You’re doing fine. And btw, you’re a great dad.
October 15, 2019 @ 2:45 pm
Jim, ye of the Master Beard.
I’m so sorry that this horrible thing is happening to you. I’ve been reading this blog and your tweets trying to share grief with you from afar, because my own life is being difficult at the moment, but I have no sigil, no song to guide you through these waters.
All I know is that you are still connected, and that Amy is fiercely rooting for you and yours to get through these times.
October 20, 2019 @ 5:55 am
I just found out, through a friend who apparently knew you when you were first writing the Goblin series on a message board. I’m deeply sorry for your loss. That has to be incredibly hard. Unwanted divorce was hard for me, but it’s not the same pain. Remember your love, but I know you’re a good egg. Find strength in that.