Sunday, May 9, 2010

Sharing Thoughts

three friends
Originally uploaded by
m o d e

First off, let me wish all of you widowed, and not widowed, mothers a very happy Mother's Day. You have all been such shining examples of love and care for me, and I will embrace your nurturing qualities, and channel them when needed.

This weekend my youngest son had a friend from school come for a sleep over. While I have seen this other kid at the school, the boys had not connected or spent time outside of school together until recently. This other kid is also adopted, so I had a very nice visit with his mother when she dropped him off. We talked about a mutual friend in the neighborhood, and shared our experience with our adopted children. During our conversation I shared that my husband had passed away 7 months ago, and showed her his picture. She had some really nice things to say. Later in the conversation we were talking about our children's birth mothers, and I found myself sharing that the mother of my children had also passed away a few years ago. We had learned of her death just months before Michael was diagnosed. Traditionally I allow my kids to make Mother's Day cards or gifts for what ever woman they want to honor on this day. When they were younger this was more the practice, as they always made something at school. This year they are all a bit older, so there were no school gifts made.

My children have very complicated feelings about their birth mother, and all have settled in at different places. To keep it light this year I chose to not bring her up. Instead I sent of a bouquet of flowers to my mother, as she lives 500 miles away. We did drive up north for a picnic with Michael's mother. It has been raining on and off today, but the rain gave us a break for a few hours, so we had a beautiful sunny time for our picnic. I told her to just bring some drinks, and I would take care of the rest. I know that she loves roses, so I bought three rose bushes for her to add to her garden. Included with these gifts was a letter that I found on my computer that Michael had written his mother last year. I didn't know if he already gave it to her, so I printed it out, and secured it in an envelope. At the park I explained what it was, and told her to put it away for a time when she feels up to reading it. We had a very nice time together, and I am so happy that all the kids were with me to help her feel cared about for her day.

On to another topic. Yesterday another blogger posted a question on her Facebook. She often posts questions for us widow(er)s to discuss. I was so pleased to see her topic of choice yesterday. She was addressing the question to the men, and dads, who are now widowers, wondering in what ways we feel our grief process might be different than that of women. I wasn't able to get into the conversation right away, as I had guests all day, but eventually I was able to share my thoughts. Now prior to my entry there were both men and women sharing their thoughts on the topic, which seemed to be turning to the subject of how widowers are perceived by possible new dating interests. About twenty posts into the subject at hand, I added my thoughts. In my post I described my process of losing my husband. I then logged off to take care of some other things around the house. Today I see that after my post there are about twenty three more posts of people responding to each other's thoughts, and continuing their discussions. Now I don't know if I should be reading something into this, but not one person has chosen to respond to me.

As I have shared in the topics of my last few days, being an outsider of sorts, today as the gay outsider, I tend to be a bit sensitive to being treated differently. It's the ongoing concern that if I dare to enter into a discussion, or join a group of people who I think most resembles what I am going through, I risk the chance of being ignored or rejected. Now I tend to not worry about complete rejection from people within my own age group, as most of us in this age group have come to understand tolerance, and to respect differences. But it is when I feel like the response I get is a bit on the distant side, or that I am made to feel invisible, that I realize Imay need to look elsewhere. Again, I said this a few days ago, I accept that by now I can be a bit hyper sensitive to this type of situation. Most of the time I tell myself that it could happen to anyone, and not to read too much into it. Yet recently it is a theme that seems to be coming up more than usual.

I'm trying to decide how to respond to these feelings that are coming up for me. I don't want to see them as negative, and in response isolate myself. Instead I hope to use them as an opportunity to move forward, and to keep educating people on what my individual experience has been. This takes a delicate balance, as nobody wants to hear someone whine about being mistreated. At the same time I am here to write honestly about my experience so that others that come after me (no, not in the paranoid 'coming after me' way) will find a place where they can find support.

In any case, what it does bring to mind is that I have been so fortunate to have all of you reading, commenting, and dropping by for a quick visit. So many of you have shared your own sense of isolation, or being considered outside the box. I know that the whole gay issue is not the only identifying factor in making some of us feel different. There are many of them. It is just one that I have taken on as a focus to reach out to others who may be out there searching for support.

Thanks for listening.


  1. you are a beautiful person. i know Michael's mother was so very happy to spend time with you and receive the gifts.

    i have seen the forum thing going on Facebook. there are quite a few regulars that are "frequent flyers" as it were with comments there. i think to be truly noticed you have to either say something completely outrageous (a joke) or be an active participant where others see you commenting all the time. i honestly do not know. in all the months i have seen it, i have responded only once. i am a wraith there so i do not expect anything.

    i am sorry you are experiencing this feeling of isolation. it is something i understand completely. whatever i can do, listen to you, continue reading, to make you feel less lonely, i am here. i am glad to see your resolve to stay strong and maintain a positive attitude. it takes a lot of energy and work to deal with these feelings. i prefer to nap through them. (another small joke)

    i am proud to "know" you here. i look forward to meeting you in San Diego.

  2. Thanks for the encouragement, and humor. I too look forward to our meeting.

  3. Hi Dan,

    One of the reasons I have avoided facebook like the plague is because I don't want all my highschool insecurities to creep back up on me =), so I can't completely relate as I'm not on fb - but I can see how that would make you feel. I would most likely react the same.

    I've been meaning to comment for days on your posts about isolation, but haven't been able to collect my thoughts in a way I feel would well enough express them - but I'll give it a go . . .

    Not being gay, I can't say I understand, and I don't think I could even imagine the type of isolation you feel, but it makes sense that since you have lived with it in some way for your entire life, that it would filter it's way into your grief as well.

    I know that just being a widow makes me feel incredibly isolated. I have next to no one in my life who is a widow/er. Even all my grandparents are alive (though some barely now). This is one of the reasons I have found the on-line community so helpful in feeling less alone. You consistently comment on my blog, and I have always found your words helpful, uplifting and I greatly appreciate your understanding - and in reading your blog, I also find so many similarities in our feelings and experiences.

    I can definitely see how it would be frustrating to not find people in your exact situation as to relate on as close a level as possible. I often look for that myself. I think what is challenging, is that even if we do find someone very similar - our story will always be our story. Our experience unique to us. Yet, the grief of losing someone you love with your heart and soul, is 'relationship neutral'. Married 1yr, 10yrs, engaged, gay, straight - grief is so similar across the board.

    I'm rambling - but I truly hope that in time you will be able to find a group that can relate on the added level you are looking for. The extra unique experiences of dealing with the loss as a gay man. And, I think others who are looking, just as you did, will be so happy to have found you and your insight. In the meantime - I hope us widows who are a little more 'commonplace' will be an ok substitute. . . . =)


  4. Dan, I think wNs may have a point about how people on some forums tend to engage those who are frequent posters. I've noticed this happen on other forums - new or less-frequent posters seem to be skipped over by everyone until they've posted several times, or unless one of the "old timers" makes a point of addressing their post. On some of the forums I've belonged to for awhile (not widow's forums), it's often me who responds to those posts as I know how it feels to be ignored until you break into "the club". I hate that kind of thing, but it surely exists on most forums.
    Of course, the other aspect of this is that you're responding from the perspective of a gay man who is also a single parent now. I don't speak with any authority on this, but I'd be fairly surprised if anyone was consciously rejecting or ignoring your posts (I'm trying to put this into the right words so this may seem clumsy). I can only base my perception of the situation on the group of gay men that I have known best - and those were members of a particular part of the farming community. Don and I used to have a large herd of dairy goats which we showed, and for some reason or another, there was a very large contingent of gay couples who were very into showing dairy goats as well. The entire circle in which we belonged included people - gay and straight - of all ages - and I think there was just an overall feeling of camaraderie regardless of whether you were the family with 4 or 5 children, the childless couple like Don and I, the older or very young gay couple, the single farmer, etc.. It didn't seem to matter where we were coming from -- we were united by our strong interest in dairy goats. I have since seen the same within the organic food growers community, and also within the scientific (field biologist) community and I suspect it exists within a bunch of other special interest communities which I don't belong to.
    But that's getting bit off topic in some respects - but maybe not. I've been pondering over why it could be that so few gay men seem to be participating in widow's forums. Could it be that they are finding support somewhere else? Just a wild-assed guess. If a person belonged to one of these larger communities - say, the dairy goat group - perhaps they would be getting support within that group. Oddly enough, even though Don and I stopped keeping goats about 10 years ago, some of the best support I've had has come from that group - most of them not keeping goats anymore either - but they are old and good friends. Anyhow, I guess the only conclusion I can come to is that those participating in the online widow's forums tend to feel the most akin to others from a similar walk of life. I did look at some of those forums for awhile, but felt that I did not belong either. I had no children and just about everyone else seemed to have some. Almost everyone else seemed to have a lot of family support and I have very close to none. I didn't want to date again, and it seemed a lot of talk was about that. No one else seemed to be taking my approach to grief - of traveling and exploring the internal wilderness of my mind. As "C" has stated above, perhaps grief is sort of "relationship neutral" and so people are responding more to their circumstances and associated concerns - how their children are handling the loss, how to make it alone financially, how to begin dating again, etc.. I don't know, but just tossing out those ideas. You may have to continue to search elsewhere in order to find the group that will be most supportive and where you can discuss those aspects of your grief which are unique to your sitution.