Friday, April 23, 2010

Typically me

Meeting Who is What?
Originally uploaded by
Meeting Neil Is Easy

I am not typically what others would consider a negative person, but then I am not going through a very typical time in my life.

What is it that people say? Love brings out the best in us? Well, what does death bring out?

I wish I knew what a typical response would be for someone in my position. Then again, I would first have to define what typical is in this case. I have surely known other's who have gone through a loss, but do I necessarily identify with them? I suppose that in order to clearly identify with how they experience the death of their spouse, I would have had to identify with them prior to their loss. And here lies the crux of this matter.

The people that I have known in my life, who have gone through such a loss, have mostly been my aunts, uncles, or grandparents. I don't have any family members within my age group that have experienced this type of loss. And, if I did, would I then need to see further similarities in order to clearly feel a sense of camaraderie?

I suppose the best way to find others that I can say are most similar to me, would be to look at the friends I have chosen to surround myself with. With family members, we might sort through them, and choose to associate with those with similar interests or experiences. But this is more thoroughly done with the friends that we make. I can honestly say that the friends I have chosen probably share more of my world view, lifestyle and day to day experiences. For this reason, I continue to have the challenge of feeling suddenly like the odd man out.

I look to my peers on a daily basis, and feel so alone. Why is this? Clearly, it is because those that I most identify with are now those that so harshly remind me of what I no longer have. Without a doubt this is why I have been isolating myself from the people that mean the most to me. How can the people I care about be there for me if I am no where to be found? Now, the reality of this is, of course, that I can easily be found. I am always at home. But unless I pick up the phone, return calls, or make some effort to come up to the surface, I am as good as missing.

Easily said, right? One step at a time. I know that I need to shift gears about now. I'm sinking. Obviously yesterday's post was quite telling. Those feelings that I expressed are still present, so effecting a change is not going to happen solely by this self realization. It is going to take considerable effort.

I'm typically a one day at a time kind of guy. Tomorrow is a new day.


  1. Tomorrow is a new day. Those are words to live by. Just a thought, but this sentence... But unless I pick up the phone, return calls, or make some effort to come up to the surface, I am as good as missing... is quite important. Last year, I felt that it would be too difficult to be around friends who were couples, or whose spouses were around when I visited. This is just a suggestion, but it's probably worth making an effort to call up your best friends who can get out as "singles" to go to lunch, or come over for the evening, etc.. Last year when I returned from Bisbee to fix up my farm to sell, I made a particular effort to get together with a group of friends who all used to keep dairy goats. When we had goats, we would have a potluck lunch at one another's place several times a year. We're more dispersed now, but have tried to do lunch together at least once or twice a year. I'm the only widowed person, so I thought it might feel awkward, but with just one out of several sets of couples, it was okay.. I did not really feel the odd man out. Another thought on this theme. Do we really want to be defined by our widowed-ness? A couple of months ago, I went to look at some tracts of land for sale in the mountains of southeast Arizona. Three riders came up on horses - a couple and a man. When they found out that I was alone and a widow (after a series of questions), the woman went on at length about how much I would love living there as the community was "just full of widows -- there are a few dozen! You will fit right in!" Much as the property was nice, my heart kind of sank at the thought of becoming the latest addition to the merry widows' club of that area. Is that really how I want to live or to define myself? No. I don't think so. That might be okay for some people, but I'd rather just hang out with friends with similar interests - nature, the wild, hiking, canoeing... so that's what I've been trying to do. Anyhow, the one thing I would say is that, at least for awhile, it will probably be easier to go out with halves of couples until you're feeling stronger and more secure -- or with couples who are really able to empathize with you -- often somewhat older couples who have had their own losses - parents, brothers, sisters, children, previous spouses, best friends, etc... as they seem to intuit how to hang out without going on and on about how happy they are, how fantastic everything is in their lives, blah blah blah. Just some thoughts...

  2. Thank you Bev. You have such wise insights. I really like your ideas, and plan to go with them. I can think of a few friends that were close to me long before they became part of a couple, which will help to engage one to one.

    The Arizona property in the Land of the Widows sounded a bit scary. I picture the open desert, with dozens of widows, dresssed in black, veiled from recognition, roaming the land.

    It's funny, but I have rarely had a conversation with anyone new, where my widowhood has come up. I wonder if that is because I am a man, or a gay man. People don't seem to ask me about my possible "other half."

    Again, thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  3. Dan, you might find that your friends would really like to help you get through this time, but that they're worried they might be intruding. Good friends should be able to intuit what you need right now, which might be as simple as having someone to go out to dinner or a movie with, and some adult conversation.
    Yes, the Land of the Widows does sound a bit scary. I think it was at the point where I was told that they have line-dancing nights a couple of times a week that I thought, "Whoa, Nellie!! This doesn't quite sound like what I'm looking for!" (-:
    I kind of think my "life" comes up because of the places I travel. Both places (Bisbee and here in Nova Scotia), are the kind of towns that people come to "from away" for one reason or another - they're retiring, because they're artists and coming to an artsy town, or a bunch of other reasons. I'd say that, in Bisbee, one of the first things people get asked is "What brought you here?" I'm getting asked the same question here in Nova Scotia as everyone immediately knows that you're not a regular, but are there buying a grocery order, or a bunch of lumber. I don't mind it at all and made a conscious decision to just tell it like it is. My stock answer: My husband and I always wanted to retire here. He died a year or so ago and I decided this was still a great place to live, so I'm here." Most people here and in Bisbee seem to take it in stride. Once in awhile someone offers their sympathies, but mostly, they just continue on with the questions -- where's your place? etc.. which usually results in how they know your next door neighbour, or their aunt lived in your house 60 years ago, or some such thing. It's all innocent and kind of funky and nice.
    Well, back to work. I'm digging post holes for a "dog fence" as Sabrina seems to be having some senior moments and is trying to "walk home" to somewhere else -- not here -- and went out on the road this morning. Job Number 3 just got moved up to Job Number 1.