Widower to Advice Columnist Talks about Being Stereotyped by Married Couples or Ignored by Other Marrieds Since His Wife has Died
This guy, whose letter I am copying below, was married for twenty years, and his wife died. He wrote a letter to advice columnist “Ask Amy” describing how horribly he was treated after his wife died.
Note that he mentions that married couples viewed him in his new single-again status as “a threat.”
This seems to happen to single women more often, however, as though all unmarried women skulk about, waiting to attack married men and get them into bed.
A lot of Christian material on dating and marriage advises married men to stay away from un-married women (when married women frequently have affairs with married men, yet the church never issues warnings about a married woman being left alone with married men, and sometimes, it is the married man who is the instigator of affairs with both singles and marrieds).
Like the man who wrote this letter to Ask Amy, after my own family member died, I experienced a lack of concern and care from other people, even from other Christians, and even though I pointedly asked for help and support.
Rather than hold my hand as I wept, I was subjected to unsolicited advice, judgment, and criticism! Everyone else avoided me.
Nobody – not even self professing Christians who I knew attended church weekly, including some extended family of mine – wanted to take phone calls and let me discus my emotional pain over the loss.
The others tried to get me off the phone as fast as possible, or dish out critical comments, chiding me for feeling sad over the loss.
Christians should step up to the plate and comfort the one who is grieving, but they DO NOT.
Christians are lazy and selfish. They’d rather dole out quick platitudes than sit and do the actual hard work of helping someone who is in grief, which involves listening to the mourner weep about the loss for two, or more, hours a month.
I related to this guy’s letter on more than one front.
Letter from man who is now single after his wife of 20 years died:
- Over two years ago my wife of 20 years (and my companion of thirty) died of ALS, one of the worst ways to go. Death is not a Hollywood movie, and people are not at their best, but I was there for my wife all the way to the end. She died in my arms. But it was what came after that shocked me.
My immediate, misguided reaction was to ask to be left alone to grieve. That was a big mistake, which I corrected as I found an empty house, and world, overwhelming. What surprised me was who stepped up and who didn’t. Many of our friends just disappeared — some despite pleasant words at the memorial service or promises on sympathy cards.
Now, having connected with my veterans — those who have lost spouses — I think that I may know some of the reasons why. I hope you will share this with your readers.
It boils down to more than busy lives, because those who reached out to me were often the busiest.
A widower or widow represents to another couple the absolute certainty that they or their spouse will be in the same boat one day. You are an unwelcome reminder — a mortician at a birthday party. Also, couples are sometimes threatened by a person who is suddenly single. This is so insulting.
Some people just don’t know what to do. And for them, I have some advice: Life for the surviving spouse is a matter of getting through first the minutes, then the hours, then the days, then the weeks, the months and finally the years.
We don’t necessarily need deep talk. We need an empathetic offer of company, a meal, film, a walk. A diversion from grief is what we need, quite literally, to make it to another day. Just offer a respite, a diversion from pain, even for a little while. That’s all you need to do — and that’s plenty.
And if you really offer it and follow through, you will never be forgotten.
— Widowed in Bethesda
Yep. People are lazy, selfish jackholes.
I also experienced the situation of people making promises to help, only later to blow me off when I phoned them up for help/ comfort. I learned the hard way that you cannot count on people, not even at your lowest point. And I did not feel God during any of that. I got through it all ALONE.
Dec 30, 2013
- I would like to thank “Widowed in Bethesda” for his honest and heartbreaking account of what it is really like when a spouse or partner dies. People who have been in your life for a very long time have a way of disappearing. In my experience, the busiest people were the ones who also made time for me.
Like Widowed, initially I wanted to be alone. I wasn’t able to tell people what I needed. The most comfort I received was from people who worked to maintain the friendship, even though my life had changed dramatically.
— Been There
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