“Blob of Butter” (Post #11) Lessons Learned by a Dating Widower
As I write this post, it’s been about 3 years since my wife, ‘Ruby’, passed away. Looking back to the first 12 months, I don’t remember much of anything. It truly is a blur. During that time, well meaning family, friends and self-proclaimed experts on grieving advised me, “Don’t make any important decisions in the first year.” And after looking back into my ‘vulnerability Black Box’ (my emotional flight data recorder) for that first year, it was a good thing that I didn’t make any important decisions.
A psychologist once told me that he advised his clients that they needed to go through “each of the seasons” after their spouse died. That would be a year’s worth of time, right? “So why say it that way” I asked him. He explained that there are unique events in each of the seasons that will trigger powerful emotions as we travel the grief-path. Examples that you’d expect would include birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, special activities that ‘Ruby’ and I would do together (like taking a walk in freshly fallen snow; or going on a bike ride in the woods on a breezy summer day; or working on the flower beds together in the spring… you get the idea). But many activities are unpredictable (like hearing a certain song on the radio, or holding a newborn grandchild). Waiting a year made a whole lot more sense to me when I thought about the ‘seasons’ of climate as well as ‘emotional seasons’ that we experience.
So, I waited, and waited . . . counting the months I had to wait until I would be ‘allowed’ to make a major decision – and not be ostracized by my family and friends. How naïve of me! The ‘year of waiting’ should be considered a MINIMUM, and ANY weighty decision should be made cautiously ANYTIME after losing a spouse. Any experienced widow or widower would corroborate that.
You’d think that now reaching the 3 year mark of my wife’s passing that I wouldn’t be as vulnerable. But, believe it or not, recent checking of my ‘Black Box’ STILL indicates that I’m still a vulnerable guy. Allow me to elaborate.
If you have read or studied the Bible, you may remember the verse in Ephesians 4 that advises us to “not let the sun go down on your wrath”. It’s great advice, and ‘Ruby’ and I followed that practice in our marriage. We tried never to go to bed with unresolved issues; because we learned that if we did, there was a HIGHER probability it would more difficult for us to resolve our disagreement the following day.
Well, I learned just the opposite while on my ‘grief-path’. I learned that I should AVOID making any decisions (especially related to women) during an evening. This discovery was reinforced while attending a recent concert where Olivia Newton John ended the show by singing “I Honestly Love You”. Now on a normal day, Olivia can knead my hardest of hearts into a pile of putty. But on that particular night, just a few weeks ago, she had my heart melted like a ‘blob of butter’ on a hot August day. By the time I walked out of that concert, I was ready to drop to a knee and propose to ANY woman who was breathing!
WHAT I LEARNED: Know when and where you’re most vulnerable! By the morning after the concert, I was back to my normal self and able to use logic and reasoning when making decisions. My ‘blob of butter’-heart was back in shape again. I learned that evenings were my most vulnerable time of day (especially on weekends!). Once I actually recognized and admitted that, only then could I begin to act on that reality.
Now that you’ve finished reading this post, I’m sure you have some thoughts on this topic, and I’d love to know what they are. Feel free to post your comments, whether you disagree or agree with what I’ve learned. I’d be indebted to learn from your thoughts and experiences too!