Grieving with friends who have lost a spouse is new to me. You want to let them know you are thinking of them and that you care about what they are going through. You don’t want to hit raw nerves to cause more pain.
We went out to lunch with James, whose wife Margaret died a few weeks ago. With ritual American manners, we asked, “How ARE you?”
James graciously told us he had a stock answer for that question. He says, “I’m adjusting, but I don’t like it.”
What a marvelous answer! Conversation bore it out when he talked of driving to see most of his relatives, saying, “I drove solo for 2,000 miles without my navigator.”
His characteristic wit and good humor came through. He spoke of downsizing because he is moving to a smaller place in February. He said, “On that long trip, I took things back to my children that they hadn’t necessarily requested.”
In recent years he and Margaret celebrated Thanksgiving with friends. Although he had perhaps 10 invitations this year, he opted to help feed others. The day before the holiday he carved turkeys, and he helped clean up after the meal on Thursday. They served 150 people that day.
I shared with James something Amy laughed about. She went to a regular doctor’s appointment. She said, “You always fill out the same forms every time you go. Looks like they could keep it on file so you wouldn’t have to do that, but they don’t. I came to the line to check off married, single, or other. What am I now? Ron is dead. Does that make me OTHER? I’m not sure I want to be OTHER.”
Later that day I quoted James’ stock answer to Amy. She agreed it was good. She said, “When people ask me how I am, I tell them it depends on the day. I’m new at this, and I don’t know how I’m supposed to feel.”
I’ve come to the conclusion that death is something you never get used to. Those with a vibrant faith in God know they will someday be reunited in heaven. Today I’m thinking particularly of Peg, Sue, Marty, Carol, Linda, Tom, and Ruth whose spouses died in the last few years or a bit longer. I love you and will continue to pray for you.