Thursday, January 28, 2010

Death of a spouse vs divorce

I had a conversation with someone recently on whether divorce is more painful than death of a spouse. I'm of the belief that it is, since divorce almost always involves some bitter or hurt feelings, while death means great loss, but normally with only loving feelings and memories. I've never been divorced, but have lost a spouse to death, so I'm not experienced on both counts, but having had family and friends go through divorces, it seems they were slower to heal. And, from a common sense standpoint, this makes sense - when you look back at divorce, you wonder if you failed in some way or why your partner treated you the way they did (did you deserve it, were you not nice enough or pretty enough or smart enough, etc.?). Losing someone in death is still a loss, but generally you don't blame yourself or think there was something you could have done differently. There are exceptions to this generalization of course, but from my perspective - losing Randy after a ten-year battle with cancer - I don't blame myself for his death. I'm not saying I don't have regrets about things, like how I could be impatient with him when he was moving slowly when I was in a hurry, but I know we did everything possible for his health.

I've also begun to notice that a lot of women (and probably men, if I heard them talk more) seem to take their husbands for granted. That may not be the right phrase, because usually they're just commenting on something he did (or didn't do) and this develops into a summary of his problems or shortcomings and a "I could so live without him" demeanor. I've found myself telling women I hardly know (who are working out with me and complaining about husbands) that "you won't have him with you always, so please appreciate him now." I'm starting to feel like a marriage promoter!

Now before my closest friends get ruffled, let me say that most comments I've heard from you are totally said in love and yes, I know your husbands aren't perfect anyway! I can also appreciate that you aren't in the goo-goo eyes stage talking about how wonderful love is and how you couldn't live without it, etc. That would probably make me feel more obvious about not having Randy in my life. And as for teasing about feelings, Randy and I were pretty much masters of that. So, I don't mean to preach, but I do want you to be aware of the good things about your spouse and your marriage and just think about how it would be if you didn't have them in your life.

Back to the divorced folks, particularly those of you with bitter resentment toward your ex, I want to ask you a favor: when you're around someone who has lost a spouse in the last few years, PLEASE try to avoid dissing men in general and jumping on the "all men are jerks" bandwagon. I can take, and even understand, your bad feelings toward an ex, but it is painful for me to hear the stereotyping of all guys. Not only did I have a great one, but many of my friends are either good guys (literally) or married to very decent men.

To conclude my sermon for today, I will summarize my points(!):
1. Appreciate what you got while you got it.
2. When you don't have it anymore, but it's still walking around on this earth, try to get over it and look to a better future.
3. When you don't have it anymore due to death, be patient with everyone who's having trouble with #1 and #2, above and know they wouldn't do anything to make you sad.

I didn't mean to preach, but needed to get this off my heart. I don't think I've ever talked to or read about anyone experiencing the feelings I have, but I know you are out there somewhere. Maybe you'll even read this someday and feel a connection, which is what it's all about.

1 comment:

  1. Great stuff, Karen! I know someone who lost his wife to cancer. He always says, "Always say 'I love you' because one day you will say it to them for the last time.'"