“We know what we are, but not what we may be.”
A Wondering Widow Post
In a recent conversation about my experiences as a W, a friend asked if I considered myself married or single. Whoah! I had to think about that one. If you feel confused about the topic, you’re not alone. W’s are too. It’s one of the many grey areas of widowhood that we struggle to navigate. As always, each W is different, so I can only share my thoughts about my experiences. So here goes.
When Dan first died, I had a mountain of paperwork to fill out (thanks for that US Government). In each successive form, I had two marital status options: married or single. I can remember sobbing while filling out my new W-4 that I was still married; my husband just happened to be dead. FYI the IRS disagrees, no matter how much you try to argue the point. Insensitive jerks! (Apologies to my lovely HR manager who got the brunt of that conversation).
Just like being separated isn’t as precise a definition as being divorced, being widowed is a weird nebulous married-ish region of space in which to get stuck. It’s not the same as being married to a living spouse, even though I still wore my wedding rings and slept on my side of the bed and said good-night to my husband just like I always had. And it sure as hell is not the same as being single. The category single carries all kinds of moved on and date-y (yeah, it’s a word) connotations. And before you start throwing logic at me, I never said widowhood was logical. Some days it’s as far from logical as you can get.
Somewhere before I started dating again, my status changed. I don’t know exactly how or when it happened, but one day I woke up and realized I’d become the single Mrs. Bain. Maybe someday the Mrs. will get put away in the safety deposit box just like my wedding rings. I dunno. For now, it’s still my name. And for now, if you ask, my answer is single.
One caveat to this. If I’m tired, cranky or just don’t want to talk to you, I will shut down your question with widowed. As much as I sometimes hate this word, it is very descriptive. That one word tells you I was married, my husband died, and I have not remarried. The laser beams shooting out of my eyeballs should tell you the conversation is over.
So yeah. To answer the question, I am single. Not all W’s are. To friends and family of W’s, please pay attention here. Each W I know has different thoughts and feelings about this. My inner circle has a pass to ask anything they want since we’re on this grief journey together, and I don’t have to answer if I don’t want to. I’d recommend NOT asking your W this question unless you’re in the same kind of inner circle relationship AND she brings up the topic first. But, as always, thanks for being there for her.
The Wandering Widow
Live Now. Dream Big. Love Fierce.