“Judge a man by his questions rather than by his answers.”
A What Not To Say Post
Wowzers. Out of all the posts I’ve written, this one may have had the most feedback and debate. I only scratched one side of the surface of this bereavement iceberg.
Please Ask How He Died
Regular readers know I don’t profess to speak for all Widowkind, only from my own experiences and the conversations I’ve had with my W sisters. I’m grateful to see through other eyes and welcome the feedback. I heard from several Widows in the Twitterverse that they not only didn’t agree with me, but they also wanted people to ask how their husbands died. Silence and assumptions about how he died were worse than the questions. Point taken.
As I mentioned in last week’s post, I don’t mind if people ask how Dan died. He was young. I’ve learned to volunteer, preemptively, that he died of cancer. For most people that simple explanation is enough. But y’all let me know I’m not alone in being the recipient of the invasive interrogation questions.
None of Your Business
I heard back from other Widows who’d also been interrogated by the morbidly curious, especially when they’d lost their husbands by suicide or drug overdose. It’s painful enough when your inner circle asks these questions, but intolerable when “bystanders” get involved. Repeat after me, “Nunya!”
As for human resources and other business reps, grow some empathy. And don’t even get me started on the utility companies. That may warrant its own post. Yeah, Idaho Power I’m looking at you!
How To Ask
If the Widow doesn’t respond to your “He was so young, what a shock” or “I’m here if you ever want to talk about it” prompts, let it die. (Haha.)
If a Widow tells you it was <<fill in the blank name of disease>>, that’s all you need to know. Don’t continue to interrogate.
NEVER ask “Did he suffer?” or “How long did it take for him to die?” to someone who is clearly suffering their loss. Seriously? Detailed questions are unnecessary and painful.
And I shouldn’t have to repeat this, but questioning medical treatment decisions is always a no-no. Want to see me come unhinged? Come at me, bro, with your “should’ve given him green smoothies” or “shouldn’t have done chemo” nonsense.
Everyone Is Different
So there you have it. Like everything on the grief path, the official verdict of whether to ask a Widow how her husband died is, it depends. Use your best judgment. If your W seems open to talking, be gentle.
The Wandering Widow
Live Now. Dream Big. Love Fierce.