Sunday, May 2, 2010

A Rant

It's been eight weeks since Michael "relocated", and I just feel like complaining this morning. Isn't that nice?

One of the points in Grief Share this week was in order to receive God's comfort and healing, I need to be honest and I need to bring my complaints to God like David did in many of the Psalms. That was really liberating to me, because I tend to rationalize, spiritualize, and intellectualize what has happened to me. In order to complain, I have to tap into my feelings - even if they're ugly. And they kind of are because grief isn't nice. It's not fair, polite, or refined in any way.

So here goes.

I just finished my Grief Share journaling exercises for the day. One question that elicited a strong response from me was this one:

How does it feel to be around other people who
have not yet experienced the death of a loved one?

I have to modify that question a bit, because within my Grief Share group and in discussions with other people I find that it's beyond that. In my experience, it goes beyond the death of a loved one more specifically to the death of a spouse. It's a unique experience, as are all losses.

My response to this question is that people who haven't lost a spouse don't really get it. That's not to say that everyone who hasn't lost a spouse is without understanding or empathy, but I have found that they are more likely to say dumb, insensitive things. For instance, I've been told that it is better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all. {Insert me rolling my eyes and then gagging myself with my finger.} If I weren't the kind of person who tries to respond to others politely I might have said what I really think about that kind of stupid cliche, No, it's better to be with the one you love than to have him get an incurable cancer and die too young after you've only been married for a couple of years and you're blissfully happy and trying to make babies!!!

Can I get an amen?

Another couple of things that have rubbed me the wrong way are things I've read in two different books about the death of a spouse. The first is about wedding rings. The books advise that you eventually remove your rings because they give others the wrong impression about your marital status. Well, no kidding!

I'm in no hurry to remove my rings, and I've been wearing Michael's wedding band on the middle finger of my right hand. Seriously, removing one's rings has got to be one of the last things one does in the grief process. There's no point in removing your rings unless you are ready to start dating. I envy women who are widowed later in life and have no desire to marry again. They can wear their rings for the rest of their lives if they like and no one will think twice about it.

The other recommendation is for the bereaved to put away pictures of the deceased. You have got to be joking! I'm supposed to remove all traces of my husband's existence from my life? Who does that really help? It helps anyone else who is uncomfortable with the fact that I'm a widow - that's who! But it wouldn't help me. There are pictures all over the house of Michael and of us together. They are a comfort to me.

There has got to be a healthy way to honor my love for Michael and move forward without stripping my life of the things that symbolize our life together. Thankfully, I do know that I am free to figure out what that looks like without having someone else tell me how to do it.

And with that, I conclude my rant.


  1. Joannah,
    So glad that you are doing what's good for YOU!!
    Not only sending you prayers, love and ((HUGS)), but also a great big AMEN!!!

  2. My neighbor has pictures of his wife all over his house, too. He sees it as a comfort. People who think that it isn't a comfort are people who have the luxury of not thinking about the lost loved one every single day... seeing the picture is the reminder.

  3. 9 months later, I still have my wedding ring on. I feel the same - I will not take it off until I am ready to date again, which may be never. I am getting a little sick of my friends asking me when I am going to start dating again. Like it is any of their business!

  4. You keep those rings on and pictures up for as long as you want. That's about the stupidest "advice" I've ever heard.(Good day to rant!)

  5. You are still married. Your husband is just in heaven. I would keep that ring on as long as you want! And as for the pictures? Please! Don't read that book anymore. It sounds horrible.

    And...I hate cliches. I am going to write a book with REAL advice for Christians who are going through trials. It will be titled, "If God Opens a Window, I am Going to Throw Myself Out Of It." You can help me write the chapter on the death of a spouse!!

  6. Dearest Joannah, Taking off your wedding ring and putting away pictures are the STUPIDEST ideas I've EVER HEARD!!!!!!!!!

    Do you mind if I rant with you??? For heaven's sake...what kind of stupid books are these??? And you know what? I wear my mother's wedding rings (she never stopped wearing them even after Dad died) as well as my grandmother's... every single day!!! And when I get my Dad's ring resized, I'll probably wear it too! And who says you have to remarry?? You can do whatever you want to do! Stupid expectations...people can be so dumb!

    I'm outraged...Yes, there is no one who really gets it...grief is as individual and unique as the relationship is...and you have probably found that some who have even lost spouses don't understand because their relationships were different...and so your path is as unique as you are!

    Personally, I think that all that matters is that you survive...who the heck cares what people think you should do! You just keep taking one step at a time just like you have been...and let me know if anyone else says anything dumb, I'll handle 'em for you ;-)

    Love you so very, very much! Janine XOXO

  7. oops...that should have said (she never stopped wearing them EVER after Dad died...) LOL...Love you! ~J.

  8. I agree, taking off wedding rings and removing pictures seems extreme! I definately think taking off rings needs to be on your own time, if ever. And why would you remove pictures ever? I can't imagine wanting to remove pictures of my loved ones, that's how we remember them, see their smiling face. I keep pictures of my mother-in-law in my daughter's bedroom, she was an infant when we lost her to cancer, but I was determined my daughter know Grandma's face, and she does. It's a lovely picture of my mother-in-law holding Jillian's hands as she is learning to stand, a wonderful memory.

  9. AMEN.

    a book that actually helped me- "good grief"-- while it did not deal with spousal loss specifically, there was no bullshit.
    You do what feels right to You. Always.
    with big love,

  10. Fourteen years ago, we lost my brother to complications after leukemia. He was only 41 and his wife was younger; they had two teenagers. Even after remarrying, she has always sent my parents flowers on his birthday. Her husband honors Larry's memory. We continue to tell stories of his life for his grandchildren. Why would anyone want to remove memories of him?

  11. My Grandmother was widowed when when she was fairly young ( early 50s I think)she wore her wedding rings until the day she died at 86. It was very much the right choice for her.

    I think you will know when and if it is the right time for you. Right now I don`t even think it should be on your list of things to think about.

  12. All I keep thinking is... please keep going. I REALLY hope the rant is not over.
    You need to vent, be angry, not stop at the "what I'm supposed to do/feel at this point" And what better place than this... where no one is face to face, where you can scream, yell cry and be pissed off at what bothers you at the moment. Because you deserve the freedom to be mad, your life with Michael was too short, I'm mad as heck for you...
    You have to do what is comfortable for you. I couldn't imagine you in a home without his visable presence... and your rings... at this point in time there is no reason to remove them. especially if it is a comfort to you. Your comfort is the only thing that matters.
    Don't conclude the rant.... use it when you need to.
    Love & hugs always....

  13. This comment has been removed by the author.

  14. Rant away Sweet Joannah. Rant away.

    I can't believe that there is a prescribed way to deal with the grief that you have. Wouldn't it be great if it really was? Like, "take two aspirins and call me in the morning". We are all so different and I just can't believe that there is a cookie cutter approach to coping with such a personal, sensitive, intimate loss.

    We were visiting our friend a few weeks ago who lost his wife very recently. He's a bit older than you - they were married much longer than you and Michael. There were photos of the two of them all over the house. They were smiling & energized...and happy. They were taken just after her diagnosis and before she lost her hair - a fancy photo shoot that they'd planned. She was extremely hopeful that day the photos were taken. As a visitor to our friend's home, it was both comforting and uncomfortable at once. Nonetheless, it all felt right. Right for him. Right for their home. Just right.

    You will find your "right", Joannah. Although, it might include flipping off some of those advisory books from time to time...and embracing your own truth.

    This is what I hope for you. xo


Thank you so much for taking the time to comment! Reading your comments is one of the rewarding aspects of blogging.