Righting the ship

A recent post in one of the widow/widower sites I participate in on facebook really struck a nerve, but not on a personal level, but more of a “sheepdog” response. The gentleman posting has been without his spouse for at least a decade, and, apparently, is either devoid of human emotions, or forgot what his loss was like in the early stages. His post amounted to “Why can’t you function? Why are you so interested in finding another partner? Don’t you know how to run your house?” Yes, offensive and totally devoid of compassion and understanding. I don’t think he’s a “bad guy” – I just think he was simply reacting – poorly – to a question that occurred to him based on his current experience.

For others who wrestle with similar on a personal level, I provide the following response, gleaned directly from my post to facebook (typoes corrected from the original):

Why? Because we’re all different.

From my reading here, most of us did not look to our wives solely as someone who “(knew) how to cook … iron shirts, sew on a button, clean house, run a home, shop for groceries, have (a) social network” and I don’t believe for a minute that those who appear to be “(unable) to function on (their) own” are looking for a maid.

As you may have experienced, the loss of your spouse is pretty jarring. Even the most capable individuals can be knocked off an even keel for some time after such an experience. And getting back on even keel depends a lot on your circumstances. Reading these pages, I’ve found that most of those who are alone after their loss have the most difficulty, and those of us with family still in the home – especially those with young children – seem to get our ships a-right faster on some levels. This can be the “necessity is a mother” thing where having those who depend deeply upon you force you to adapt a lot more quickly than those who are alone to languish in their grief. And even those who have found an even keel again can get knocked off of it on occasion as various things occur in their voyage through this loss.

And there are also many who are simply not equipped to go through life without the emotional support such a partner provides – just as many of us are not equipped to perform the caber toss. Emotional capability is really no different than physical capability: each has differing inherent capabilities, and each has differing capacities to develop new capabilities as they go along.

Finally, dating is VERY different now than when most of us were actively dating before we married. There is a lot of stress and confusion for those embarking in dating due to these changes, and most of us have a lot of questions and concerns about the social stigmas, norms, and expectations regarding widowers getting involved with other women.

And most are simply looking for comfort and understanding – and, frankly, survival tips – in their postings here. They’re looking for a lifeline. Being effectively told to “man up” isn’t the answer, isn’t effective, and, frankly, is a bit cruel. We’re all in pain to differing degrees This makes having the proper filters on our comments a comfort…