Of course we entertain thoughts of suicide. Us widowers. It is part of the grief. It is in an odd kind of way, a comfort. To know that ultimately we can choose not to live because the living is so damn brutal at times. I've spoken to other widows who have said the same thing, but only eventually, reluctant sharing that finds common ground. It's that unspoken thing that we plot to ourselves in our lonely rooms late at night, or sometimes crossing the street wondering if that truck will stop and if we just timed it properly.
It is a grievous burden being a widow and yet we are expected to carry on, certainly not as if nothing happened but certainly in a hopeful way by those around us who purportedly love us.
This is why most of us spend time in the grief process, after having entertained every possible notion of offing ourselves, waiting to die. We wait for the heart attack or the cancer or the car accident or the dreadful incurable disease that we will refuse treatment for so that we can gracefully or ungracefully exit without being blamed, without being seen as weak and stupid and ungrateful; without inflicting an unbearable hurt on the ones who love us.
But of course it doesn't happen. We eventually realize we are to go on.
I had a friend, a wise friend, who sat me down and said "Okay, if you want to die, let's get on with it. Right now." And I responded that I had all sorts of paper war to do before I could kill myself. "So," said he, "you are not ready to die. So you better get on with the living part." He then began to help me with the paper war.
Mad as hell I was at him. For a minute or two. Maybe even a day. But the next morning I woke up and instead of miserably choosing not to face the day yet again, I got up and made coffee and played with little Vincent the dog before tackling more paper war. At the end, the decision is pragmatic. It is not a happy one. It is one that says you must go on--sad, despairing, alone, sometimes afraid, and almost always angry if not bitter.
I had said to my "grief counsellor" [who seems to have disappeared ironically, like the 72% of friends and relatives who disappear on widows (according to the statistics from the Globe and Mail article)] that my goal was not to become bitter from all of this. How foolish my goal.
You're damn straight I'm bitter.
There isn't enough love in the world to take away that feeling.
Why couldn't we have had our happiness in this world for a long time yet to come? Why such a good man? Why? The never-answered question. The one you end up living with for the rest of your life. The one that many seem to think they can answer but haven't the foggiest notion like the rest of us. The best answer is that there is none. The hopeful answer which infuriates me is that it is not for us to know.
So then we widows just carry on. If we are lucky we have children or grandchildren to distract, to give meaning, to give a sense of the future. If we aren't so lucky, we gather hope where we may to face yet another day.