Thursday, November 17, 2011

Defined by Widowhood

Tomorrow I will pick up my oldest from college for Thanksgiving break. He is scheduled to work the entire week starting Sat. a.m. and will only have Thanksgiving Day off. He has done very well away at school so far. And he calls or texts me before every test he takes, then follows up with his grade. He has also sought my advice about classes to take next term, and dropping the business frat he joined. I'm not sure he and I would be as close as we are if his father was still alive. I do believe my sons and I share a very close familial relationship based on the fact that the boys were so young when their dad became sick.

My youngest son has just been accepted into his #1 college choice, the one I attended for my undergraduate years. So he received three acceptances out of five applications submitted but at this point the other two don't matter. I am so happy and pleased for him. Excited too! A bit sad that his dad isn't here to share in the news. I had to tell someone, and texted my sister and brother, since their kids are actively involved in the college search right now. But sharing with them just wasn't the same.

Our lives have been defined by widowhood. Even years after, I feel a pang at what has been lost. My sons and I have different relationships than what might have been if they'd had a dad to confide in. To say we have not been defined or influenced by my husband's death would not be true. We became different people, all of us because of our lives changing when my husband died.

Sometimes I have come across widows strongly exclaiming that they would not be defined by their widowhood. I think they mean that they don't want to be held down by widowhood, that they want to rise above it. But I don't think it is accurate to say that they aren't defined by widowhood. Because we end up being defined by all our experiences, and widowhood has a major impact, no doubt about that.

Tonight a blogger from the UK who first inspired me to start blogging posted an update after a year's absence. She said that she is considering starting a new blog because her one on widowhood doesn't seem to represent her life right now. I, too, have been contemplating the same thing. I'd like to keep blogging because I enjoy it and it allows me to gain perspective and clarity. But I don't feel the need to focus so much on widowhood anymore. I'd much rather be focusing on my new and future life, and where I'm headed. Here I have one son successfully having started college and another on the verge of starting his own college career. And I will be moving soon and hopefully starting a new degree/career in social work. I am a widow in transition. I am still a widow. But I really want to place more emphasis on what I'm becoming besides being a widow. And maybe that is what those other widows meant when they determined that they didn't want to be defined by widowhood.


  1. One of my first promises to myself when Ralph died was that I would not let widowhood define me. But I'm not so sure that means the same thing as me being defined by widowhood. I would say the second is true; the my life has changed because of my loss. Every relationship is changed. But do I take on the persona of "the widow"--I'm not sure I do. The two prhases sound the same but I think there's a world of difference between them. At least it seems that way to me.

    Congrats to your son.

  2. Oo! Is that me? I had no idea I had inspired you! (If it isn't me then that's okay too!)

    I really think there's a place for experienced widows like us to keep on telling our stories. I completely agree with thelmaz too - it's a constant puzzle, this widow business...

  3. I'm not sure it's appropriate to do this here, but I don't know how else to contact Poddock. If you have a story about widowhood, I'd love for you to submit it (or them) to for an anthology on widowhood. Email me if you have questions.
    WITM--I hope this is okay with you. I hope you'll submit, too.

  4. Thanks thelmaz - I am honoured to be asked!

  5. Thelma - It is of course ok to contact Puddock via this blog. I think my posts and feelings about widowhood are too darn dreary, sad and rather hopeless - not what people want to believe or look to. Maybe I'd redefine that and say my feelings and posts are honest and I don't think people want to hear that either.