Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Burdened by Burdens

A big reason I started to post and continue to do so was to illustrate the life of a widow burdened by burdens in addition to grief after the death of a spouse - financial hardship, divorce after widowhood, lack of family support, illness and the death of other family members, having to move from one's long-time suburban home into a box (apartment), losing one's socioeconomic status and having to continue to raise children as an only parent, as well as weather the storms of daily life (big thunderstorms and milder sprinkles).

I've experienced a slew of losses in a small amount of time and it has been very difficult for me to pick up the pieces and get my feet back on the ground. I have struggled. It would have been hard enough to just have been a widow. Most of the losses that followed my husband's death were flukes of timing and circumstances - all the events involving my parents' illnesses, my Mom's eventual death and the selling of their home. To add insult to injury, just a week after my Mom's death a high level tornado stormed by my home and I was left with extensive yard damage to clean up. I mention that incident because the past six years it has been like that. One crazy thing happening directly after another. One hard situation would end to only be replaced by another. Let me tell you, it is not easy to focus on a ravaged yard when you're grieving your Mom on your own as a relatively new widow yourself.

I wanted to convey that for some of us, the losses coming after the first strike of death were far more difficult to survive.

I wanted to depict that life is fragile - one moment you can be a middle-class suburban soccer mom living a comfortable lifestyle to wake up the next day and have that familiar reality ripped from you.

I wanted to grapple with the reality of life not being fair - that you can be a good, kind, decent person and still have to face more hardship than what others seem to have to face.

I wanted to tell my story to prove that for some of us struck by poverty, it is not because we're uneducated, drug using criminals. Some of us are intelligent with even advanced degrees. But we're struck down by ill-timed circumstances and flukes of fate.

I hoped to illustrate discrepancies in our country's social services network that is supposed to help our citizens in need. I've related having to go to a food bank and apply for services such as food stamps and my state's health insurance program. Problem is, I am not eligible for any services. The economic criteria used to calculate assistance is out-of-date and no longer applicable. It is a pretty hard pill to swallow to live in the greatest nation in the world and to have fallen on hard times. Because there are some of us who will slip through the cracks and not receive assistance. The state considers my pension of $2,200.00 monthly too much to qualify for any kind of benefit. Yet, I think most of us can plainly recognize that this amount is not enough for one person, let alone three to live on. After not being able to find full-time work in my field because I've been out of the work force, as well as the Recession, I've had to go back to school just to be able to get my foot in the door and get a job with benefits.

I hoped that in maybe sharing my story, readers would ultimately be less judgmental toward others, in particular those in financial crisis.

I hoped to show that grief and loss is so far reaching. It can start out as a single domino and quickly crescendo out of control as the others in the row start toppling.

And more than anything, I wanted to share that going on living as a widow, on one's own can be the most difficult challenge to have to face. It is kind of like a never-ending circle. You're facing hardship because of the loss but then you have even more made harder because you're on your own. It just keeps going on and on and the dominoes continue to fall.


  1. Dear Friend:

    There are no words except that I get it! I am truly sorry for all the burdens you have had to bear alone.

    Know that those who follow your blog, care!


  2. I'm sorry if I have been harsh in my comments. This morning, after reading your blog, I took a moment and remembered when I was in the same spot. Newly divorced, a low paying job, no money for anything extra--in fact no money to live on. My daughter and I ate peanut butter sandwiches for 15 suppers in a row--some nights we ate popcorn and milk for supper. I couldn't get food stamps because I owned my house--the house which cost too much for me to handle.

    I remember those days--they were hard and horrid and scary. I got into a very bad marriage because of my fears and lost the respect of my daughter; who wouldn't live with me and felt I had abandoned her.

    I am so sorry that you have to go through this.

  3. Beth - Thank you for your kindness again today!

    Jude - I did not feel you gave me harsh comments. I appreciate and reflect on all the comments I receive. Everyone's insights give me the ability to see outside my own little world and viewpoint.

    I cried about the peanut butter sandwiches. You had told me about them before but I did not know that it was 15 days in a row of eating them! I like the words you used to describe that time - "hard and horrid and scary." That is certainly what I am feeling now. My house was too hard to handle also, yet I hung onto it for years out of fear and the belief that I would be some kind of failure for losing it. It would have been far better if I had let it go years sooner. So much for hindsight.

    Thanks for your feedback. You have much to offer because you have been on this long, lonely road.