Forced to Face the World Without a Moniker

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Calling all Significant Others (not that you’d ever call yourselves that), what do you call…yours?  Life Partner feels like there’s a kidney on the auction block.  More medical undertones with Live-In Companion.  (Did you start dating your aide?)  Domestic Partner seems reserved for same sex couples. Companion could be your partner, or your four-legged friend.  Better half.  Seriously? If you’re cohabitating, the U.S. Census Bureau calls you a POSSLQ (pronounced poss-il-que, referring to Persons of Opposite Sex Sharing Living Quarters).  Lady Friend and Gentleman Caller belong in a bygone era of outdated social mores.  (I’m sure the Lady Friend is hooking up with her Gentleman Caller.)  Plus One?  You may end up fighting over who’s the Plus and who’s the One.  Unmarried Spouse.  Un? Why describe ourselves as something we are not?  But unmarried couples over the age of 30 in a committed relationship are forced to face the world without a moniker.  Regardless of living arrangements, once a couple passes the stage of dating, it’s difficult to find an appropriate name to call your…

A 56-year old man is not a boyfriend.

Baby Boomers need their labels.  In light of the Gray Divorce Revolution with divorces on the rise and marriage rates on the decline, there are lots of mature people out there dating, finding new relationships, but struggling with introductions:  “I’d like you to meet my….um….”

What do you call…yours?

 
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What’s on your Widow To Do List?

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I’ve had a To Do List every day of my adult life.  But when I was on survivor spouse autopilot making funeral arrangements, I didn’t need one – I wasn’t going to forget to buy a casket – tasks were written in stone, the funeral director guiding me, family and friends helping every step of the way. After the whirlwind of a two-day wake followed by the funeral, I had a Death To Do List, grim tasks the widowed must carry out:  canceling Robert’s cell phone plan, returning his leased car, negotiating with his credit card companies, dealing with the medical bills – all the bureaucracy of a last breath.  And all those Thank You notes.  Would my dining room table ever be cleared of stacks of sympathy cards,  Mass cards, floral arrangement notes, letters?  Eventually, I crossed off all the items associated with the business of death.  My everyday To Do List was beginning to be about me, with all the changes in priorities and shifts in lifestyle that widowhood brings.  What’s on your Widow To Do List?

The Graceless Task of Condolences

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For those who know someone who is widowed, it’s often difficult to find the right words, do the right thing. There is awkwardness in death.  The well-meaning attempting to ease my pain were in pain themselves.  As a widow, I became adept at making those who were trying to comfort me, feel comfortable.  It’s part of the healing process.  To those offering condolences, there are no rules.  In my experience, there were no inarticulate words of sympathy; no mourner dressed inappropriately; no bad flower arrangement; no incorrectly executed act of kindness.  Just reach out and be there. Knowing I wasn’t alone made all the difference. The outpouring of love and support was overwhelmingly comforting and heartwarming.  Is there any other advice from my fellow widows and widowers for well-wishers?  What was helpful to you?

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While you were grieving…

 

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It’s subtle, hardly noticeable, but while you’re grieving, you grow.  You grow in ways you wouldn’t have imagined: conquering a fear, discovering a new passion, swapping out something unnecessary and unwelcome in your day-to-day routine for something fresh and new.  For me, once I became a widow, I discovered I was no longer rushing.  After all the rushing to meet doctors and rushing to the hospital was over, I realized that annoying habit, seemingly hard-wired into my DNA, eventually switched off.  It was as if I began to breathe.  As Maya Angelou said:   “Since time is the one immaterial object which we cannot influence–neither speed up nor slow down, add to nor diminish–it is an imponderably valuable gift.”  What growth have you experienced?  Perhaps you haven’t noticed anything yet, but I promise – you will grow from this.

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Match v. eHarmony

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In the Match.com v. eHarmony comparison, my thinking was that Match would cast a wider net, while eHarmony would yield a leaner but finer crop.  The two major players in the online dating world operate differently, though with the same goal.  Match is pretty basic:  there are plenty of fish in the sea, they give you the sea and you do the fishing.  eHarmony does the matching for you.

I joined Match first theorizing that men are inherently hunters and would prefer that sense of control when looking for a mate…or at least a date.  Plus, Match was an easier and quicker registration, anticipating that guys would have less patience than women.

Online dating is addictive, entertaining and as time-consuming as having a second job.  You come home and click around the site like cupid over-caffeinated. The goal is the elusive exclusive, finding someone who isn’t a serial dater. What I was looking for was my last date, but before that I’d have to have lots of first dates.

Since You’ve Been Gone

Ola and Terri removed that big bush that used to block our side view of the street. Can you believe Lenny and Laurie eloped? Dessie died.  Since you’ve been gone, so much has happened.

There are events in life ‘after’ that you’re dying to discuss with your late spouse, perhaps something only they would appreciate. It’s the stuff of everyday life that elicits chitchat, laughter, shockwaves.

How often do you have questions to ask. Robert, do you like the new stone driveway and retaining wall, my first big house project since you’ve been gone. What do you think of my haircut?  Can you believe what the basement looks like these days, transformed from your alcoholic hideout to a cozy guest room?

Remember the very first time you picked up the phone out of habit to call your husband?  It’s chilling. I could almost sense the split-second timing of my brainwaves sending the message to my fingertips to stop punching in Robert’s number.  He won’t answer. The body registers what the mind wants to forget, he’s dead.

Tell us here what you wanted to tell them.  Ask us your questions.  Though we cannot answer for your late spouse, chances are we have similar thoughts.