Friday, October 30, 2009

growing up

Also published on Widow's Voice

In the first days after being widowed, I was much like a young child. Oblivious to the world around me. Completely in my own little realm - though not one of wonder but of grief and fear. My existence was confusing. I didn’t understand what had happened. I relied on others to care for me. To make sure I was fed, clothed, and essentially, breathing.
As those fuzzy and half-remembered early days passed, I began to realize that there were others out there. Other widows. Other people who had endured various other forms of terror and grief. And these people amazed me. I was in awe of them.
Even if they had been widowed a few days, weeks or months earlier than I had, I saw them as veterans. I looked up to them, much as a ‘tween’ looks up to a teenager. I thought they knew it all. Had mastered all their grief and easily morphed into their new lives. But I was bumbling and dorky child-widow.
But now, when I meet other ‘younger widows’, I realize that some of them are looking to me for confirmation that they too will make it. That one day will pass into the next and they will still be standing as the widows before us are. That as they watch my journey, they can see that they will have a journey and they too will learn and grow from it.
But, so very often, as I stare at myself in the ‘mirror’, I think, “Who me? Really, we are all just groping in the dark. I am no more wise than you.” I feel like everyone else has more of a handle on all of this stuff than I do.
Other, more rare times, I am able to give myself more credit. “Yup, I am entering widow teenage hood. I am wiser than I was as a child widow. I am pimply and awkward and don't know it all, but I have a grasp on a few things. And if my growth and vertical position gives you the hope and strength you need, I understand. And I can tell you, I know you can make it at least this far."
One day, a child widow will look to you for confirmation that they will be able to smile, even briefly, again one day. And they will be grateful that you have gone before them and the hope that you provide as an 'adult widow'.


Jen said...

You are so right! I have this expectation that grief is linear, even though I know better. I assume that anyone ahead of me in the process is further along in working through their loss, coping with their feelings, and managing their life. It's funny to imagine people coming up behind me might have the same expectation about me, as I bumble along. But occasionally I do feel like I have something useful to share about my hard-won experience. And I really appreciate the opportunity to connect and learn from anyone, regardless of their place on the chronology.

Mel said...

What a beautiful description, and so true.

Chillin' with Lemonade said...

True. True.

Carrie said...

Jackie, thanks for being someone i can look up to, relate to, and gain hope from. ~carrie

Roads said...

Yes, well said and I couldn't agree more, Jackie.

This is one area where knowledge learned simply has to be shared -- however uncertain we might feel -- because it can make such a great difference to those who follow along this rocky road.

If I'd known then all that I know today, life as a new widower would have been so much easier. Not easy, but not half so difficult.

That's why I'm certain that we have to put something back, and good for you for doing so.

Mama_Bear_Sarah said...

i often have said that grief makes us "child like."