Archive for Widowhood Posts

published in A Widow's Awakening Book, Change, Christmas, Death, Grief, Life After Loss, Saying NO!, Widowhood by Maryanne | November 27, 2018 | No Comment

This the 2nd blog in the Fall 2018 Life After Loss blog series:

Taking Death to Parties – Mentioning Loved Ones Who Have Recently Passed Away

 

Unfortunately, it’s usually up to the person grieving the recent loss of a loved one who gets stuck bringing death to the party. 

’Tis the season for celebrating

But guess what? If you have recently experienced a significant loss, such as the death of a loved one, you may be in a rather fragile state (to say the least) and “getting out of the house and being around other people” is not necessarily the wisest option. But if parties do seem to be in your near future, then read on.

If you have recently lost a loved one and this is your first Christmas without that person:

Please be aware that the people who you are spending the holidays with may not realize the importance of mentioning your loved one. Instead, they may think that by not mentioning him or her, this will be better because they don’t want to ‘hurt you’ or ‘make you cry.’

Now, this may be okay with you…

But if it isn’t and you discover, to your growing disbelief, that everyone is politely avoiding the elephant in the living room—the fact that you have recently lost a significant person (or pet) in your life—you have four choices:

#1. You say nothing and internalize the hurt and anger (not recommended).

#2. You say to someone that not mentioning your loved one really hurts.

#3. You bring up a memory of the person yourself and share it.

#4. You leave—either in agonized silence or after a spectacular hissy-fit (highly recommended… please see below).

If you are hosting a party or family function and one of your guests has recently experienced the loss of a loved one:  

Here’s an excerpt from my book, A Widow’s Awakening, that you might find of use (the following scene took place two months after the sudden death of my 32-year-old husband):

“HE’S GONE!” I scream, “BUT HE’S NOT FORGOTTEN!”

Then I run out of my cousin’s front door, leaving behind a house full of family trying to celebrate my mother’s seventy-fifth birthday. However, since there’s a snowstorm on this particular evening in early December, I have to stop at the front door, after my embarrassing outburst, to put on my jacket, mittens and boots. Only then do I charge down the icy front walkway, stomping as angrily as possible in my new ridiculously high-heeled boots. I climb into my car, slam the door and slowly inch my way home on icy roads.

“They didn’t toast Sam!” I blubber into the phone from my living room.

“Adri?” says Dawson, on the other end of the line. “What’s wrong?”

“I was (sob) at my Mom’s birthday and my family didn’t even include him (sob) in the toast before dinner. I just can’t believe them!”

“Do you want me to come over?”

“Could you?”

A few minutes later the doorbell rings. But it’s not Dawson; it’s Dale’s wife.

“So they sent you, huh?” I say.

“Yup.”

“I’m pretty pissed off.”

“Oh, we gathered that.”

“I can’t believe my own family. Not one person mentioned Sam the whole night – not even at a goddamn toast to my mother.

My sister-in-law winces. “Everybody feels just terrible about that but I think we all figured we’d try and give you a break from the hurt.”

“Hah!” I give a shrill laugh. “Well that certainly didn’t work.”

“You’re right. We screwed up and I’m sorry.”

“Mentioning Sam’s name and talking about him,” I say, “is really important to me because if we don’t, he’ll be forgotten.”

“You do know, Adri, that at that dinner table tonight, Sam was on every single one of our minds?”

I shrug. “If no one says anything, how would I?”

The doorbell rings. I let Dawson in.

“Well,” she says to him. “We messed up.”

“It happens,” he replies. “It’s hard to know what to say sometimes.”

“Here’s a tip then,” I say. “Not mentioning Sam is gonna bury him a hell of a lot faster than the dirt they threw on his grave.”

I get the double-goldfish (both mouths drop open). Is the nice-widow façade finally crumbling?

And there you have it

If you are honest and open with the people who love and support you, then most people will try and do better—if they know better. Unfortunately, it’s usually up to the person grieving the recent loss of a loved one who gets stuck bringing death to the party. Even though loss and grief are facts of life; they can be significantly alleviated when shared memories—instead of avoidance—are put on the table.

Because an elephant in the living room should not be ignored.

Some parties aren’t worth attending anyway

If you feel obligated to socialize during this festive time of year, do be aware that someone’s casual (perhaps callous) remark might feel rather like that elephant has just sat on your chest. This excerpt from A Widow’s Awakening reflects the ultra-sensitive state a newly bereaved person may find themselves in:

At the Christmas party, I soon realize that being the widow of a fallen officer watching her dead husband’s teammates trying to party is a like a drug addict in rehab, watching other addicts shoot up. I’m not emotionally equipped to observe the reality that life is going on without Sam. So off to the buffet I waddle.

With a heaping plate of food in one hand and a beer in the other, I find a seat in the living room and a woman I’ve never seen before sits beside me.

“And who are you?” she asks.

“Umm…my husband was the police officer who just passed away.”

“Oh now, which one was that?” she says loudly, waving her wineglass. “There’s been so many lately, I get them all mixed up!”

Her callous reference is to another other young police officer who died three months before Sam. He’d been struck and killed by a drunk driver on his way home from work, leaving a young widow and two-month old daughter behind. Both Sam and I had been working the night that officer died. I’d taken a report from the officer over the phone a few hours before his death; Sam had attended the scene of his crash.

“When they pulled him from the car,” Sam had said to me the next day, “and I saw his uniform, it was brutal. I was so angry.”

When Sam had first arrived at the collision scene, it was believed there had been two people in the vehicle that hit the officer. So Sam and several other officers had searched for that possible second person. As it turned out, there was only the one person in the vehicle: the drunk driver who died at the scene.

“So you thought there might have been two bad guys?” I’d confirmed with Sam.

“Yeah,” he’d said, “and I totally wanted to catch whoever had done that to him.”

Recalling this conversation now makes me realize that the ‘bad guy’ isn’t always a person. Just because the drunk driver died didn’t mean there wasn’t a bigger issue to be addressed. One less drunk on the road isn’t the end of impaired driving. I think about the map in Sam’s duty-bag, folded open to the location of his death. Maybe it is a clue pointing me in the direction of the ‘bad guy issue,’ whatever that might be.

After the party, Nick, Angela and I trundle clear across the city to yet another one. I still haven’t mastered the use of the word ‘no.’ Friends and family are obviously concerned about me, judging from the number of social invitations coming my way. But the busier I allow myself to be, the more anxious and upset I am when alone again.

‘No’ is one of the most beautiful words in the English language

Consider giving the gift of ‘no’ this Christmas. If you don’t have the energy to bring death to parties, stay at home and focus on activities that bring you some semblance of comfort and joy.

Maryanne Pope is the author of A Widow’s Awakening, the playwright of Saviour and the screenwriter of God’s Country. Maryanne is CEO of Pink Gazelle Productions and Chair of the John Petropoulos Memorial Fund. To subscribe to the Life After Loss blog series, please sign up here

 

A Widow’s Awakening – Unpacking the Ultimate Mystery

By Kara Post-Kennedy

“The author understands above all that grief plays tricks with the mind and that as sentient beings we are always seeking meaning; even in tragedy, even in the senseless.”

– Kara Post Kennedy

Here is a detailed and insightful book review of A Widow’s Awakening:

Death is the ultimate mystery; while we can understand the mechanics of biological, physical death, it is hard for any of us to fathom the ongoing journey of the soul without its corporeal suit.  Religions try to explain it in a way our brains can comprehend, people who share “after-life” experiences hope to shed some light for the curious, but no one truly knows, once the body has expired, what this energy and intelligence and love we have accumulated during our lifetime does next.

In “A Widow’s Awakening”, Maryanne Pope grapples with all of this through the transformative lens of profound grief; when her husband and “soul mate” was killed in a freak workplace accident at the age of 32, her life was turned upside down and inside out so catastrophically that she had no choice but to dive into the ocean of pain and confusion to try to make sense of her enormous loss.  Or if not “sense”, at least find meaning.

This fictionalized account of her story is by turns raw and gangly and then elegant and profound.  She leaves her ego at the door and just lays it out bare—she is not precious with herself and gives the reader the whole spectrum of her response, from grandiose delusions to suicidal despair.  The rollercoaster ride of early grief is accounted for with complete candor; her unflinching approach makes for a compelling, although sometimes uncomfortable, tale…

Please click here to read entire review.

To order a copy, please visit BHC Press.

Maybe True Love Means Tough Love? 

 

“Your soul knows the geography of your destiny.”

– John O’Donohue, Anam Cara

What would you do if your dream was handed to you on the same platter as your soul mate’s life?

Not all fairy tales have happy endings…but perhaps the best ones aren’t meant to? Maybe true love is also tough love?

Please click here to watch a 2-min book trailer, Do You Believe in Soul Mates?

“We must own our true stories. In doing so, we begin again to belong to the world in the way only we can. The door to soul opens.”

– Bill Plotkin, Soulcraft

Coming Sept 13th, 2018…

“The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you.

Don’t go back to sleep.

You must ask for what you really want.

Don’t go back to sleep.

People are going back and forth across the door sill where the two worlds touch. 

The door is round and open. 

Don’t go back to sleep.”

– Rumi

About A Widow’s Awakening

With over 2000 copies sold, the self-published edition of A Widow’s Awakening (2008) touched the heart and soul of readers.

Ten years later, we are thrilled to announce the book has been picked up for publication by BHC Press. The book will be published as a fictional novel on Sept 13th, 2018.

To pre-order a copy of the book, please visit BHC Press for a list of on-line booksellers.

This extraordinary story is a candid portrayal of Maryanne’s journey through the first year of grief after the on-duty death of her police officer husband. Engaging, powerful and heart-wrenching, this book captures the immense difficulty of accepting the unacceptable while learning to transform loss into positive change.

What Readers Are Saying…

“I started reading A Widow’s Awakening on Sunday and finished it Monday. The first third of your book touched me in ways I hadn’t anticipated. I cried so hard, my eyes became swollen; the pain was so real. I haven’t cried that hard in a long, long time. The grief you expressed was so real to me, as I experienced my own grief in a similar way. Reading your book has been healing for me.” 

– Cristy

“What an incredibly powerful and moving book! Although I had tears in my eyes as I read each page, I think your messages are uplifting and are so important in challenging the human spirit to make our lives mean something meaningful in this world, by helping others and doing something more for society. It is so cleverly written and thought provoking. I haven’t enjoyed a book this much since I taught classic literature to high school students a few years ago.”

– Sarah

“WOW! As soon as I read the first line, I couldn’t put the book down. The truth on soul-mates, hope, after-life, happiness, sadness…you definitely told your tale as it is. I can’t stop talking about this book. I’m glad you shared your story with us.”

– Parveen

For additional reader testimonials, please click here.

About Maryanne Pope

Maryanne Pope is the author of A Widow’s Awakening, the playwright of Saviour and the screenwriter of God’s Country. She is the executive producer of the documentary, Whatever Floats Your Boat…Perspectives on Motherhood. Maryanne is the CEO of Pink Gazelle Productions and Chair of the John Petropoulos Memorial Fund. If you would like to receive her weekly blog, please sign up here. Maryanne lives on Vancouver Island, British Columbia.