Friends, this post is going to be a rant. And to be candid, most of those reading it are guilty of this type of judgmentalism. A few days ago I came across a blog posting about a comedian named Patton Oswalt. I had no idea who this guy before reading the post. Let me bring you up to speed on who he is.
Patton Oswalt is a comedian whose wife died in April 2016. He was very public with his grief on his social media page and was equally as public in announcing to his followers that he was engaged to be married. And it was at that time the grief police (GP) came out in force. A snippet of some of the comments he received to that announcement are:
The list went on, comment after comment, most with disdain and judgement. Part of this has to do with his public persona. He is someone people know of, like Sheryl Sandberg of Facebook whose own moving forward after her husband's death brought out the GP. Because these people live in the public eye, people who know nothing of them feel free to make their opinion known. It's the kind of thing that people like us, you know those who lost a spouse to death, get all the time. When I was early on in my journey I just nodded and walked away. Now that I'm much further on in my journey, I won't just walk away anymore. Rather, I'll tell you that you are an asshole, an ignorant, judgmental one at that and let you have it. So, here is the rant I promised.
Those of you who have not joined this club are not entitled to an opinion. You do not get to comment and opine on the choices we make or have made while you sit happily next to your living spouse. You have no idea what it is like to have your everyday world upended by a diagnosis, a phone call, a knock on the door. You have no idea what it is to tell your child that their mother is very sick and is going to die soon. You have no idea what it is like to sit in a hospital room with your dying wife and have her tell you she wants you to remarry, she wants you to be happy. You know why, because you have never walked in our shoes before. Sure, you may know people who have walked that walk, but until you have walked it yourself, you know not what we know.
Who gave you the position to judge when it's "too soon" for a person to move on with their life. In the case of Patton the cry was, it's only been 15 months! Well, how long should a widow sit in isolation before YOU are comfortable enough to release them from their solitary confinement? The reality is, none of this is about you. You aren't actually all that concerned about the heart of the widow who found strength to move forward and courage to love once more. You're too worried about your own feelings or sensibilities being offended.
It does take courage to move forward with another person after death. Because we all understand one thing. Every person in our life is going to die. We know intimately that the price of love is pain and death. So instead of your askance glance, your murmuring and whispers, how about an understanding of the courage it took for us to love again.
One of my favorite comments listed above was "Like, good for them and all, but for me personally, I'd like to be mourned for more than a few months." And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the root cause of all the stupid comments and statements that people say to and about widows. It is centered in narcissism. It's all about them. It's all about how they feel. It's all about how they want to be remembered. It's not about those that are left behind, those picking up the pieces. Damn it, I want you to walk around in mourning for a long time. You need to be unhappy that I died. Well, to the self-centered narcissists making those kind of statements, #$@k you and the horse you rode in on. If that offends you, guess what, I really don't care. Truly, I'm past worrying about offending others. If you are an idiot I'm going to tell you so and dump your toxic personality from my world.
I endured more than my share of sideways glances. I had people come to me and tell me they didn't like my choices. I had people, in a passive aggressive manner, let their feelings be known. I had friends who no longer speak to me anymore. I didn't let my feelings be known to them for many reasons. First, the widow thing was still pretty new for me. Second, I was in formation for holy orders and I needed their support to chant Axios! if I were to be ordained. Well, I'm well past the newness of that title and I don't need anyone's affirmation or support anymore. So, to those of you who may be reading this and thinking "He's talking about me", yes I am. And if you choose to make your opinion known to me, I promise I won't hold back on my true feelings for you.
I know that my new wife heard from friends of hers: are you sure, this seems too soon, what are you doing. I'm happy that she didn't listen to them and chose to judge me on my merits and actions. I chose to move forward and be happy, not dwell on things that might have been. We have gone through hell fire and lived to talk about it. We don't need your negativity in our lives. So, if what you have to say about a widow or widower isn't supportive and encouraging, keep it to yourself. Those of us in the "club" aren't interested in hearing it.
Yep, This Guy Says It All