Recently one of my late husband’s nurses made the comment, “Elizabeth, I wish you would write a book about all of the wildly insensitive and inappropriate things people have said intentionally and unintentionally to you and your daughters over the past year or so”. We have surmised, jokingly, that it would become a NYT best seller for widows and their families. The reality is, according to my late husband, the vast majority pride themselves in being sexual intellectuals.
In a millennial 2018 America where we fight for equality, inclusiveness, anti-bullying as well as advocate for seemingly every single social cause on the planet, we sure have become a society of sexual intellectuals. I love that, don’t you? Sexual Intellectual. My late husband, Robin, coined it as one of his (dozens of) “Robinisms”.
A ‘sexual intellectual’ is a very gracious way of saying a ‘f-ing know it all’. A sexual intellectual has opinions about everything. Absolutely everything. These opinions are usually baseless. But I am of the opinion (see what I did there) because of the internet, how to YouTube videos, the all-time high collegiate enrollment, and the fact that people just no longer have any couth? Society, in general, believes in unsolicited opinions ad nauseam . Self proclaimed experts who want to interject their proverbial knowledge –whether you signed up for that Widow 101 class or not. Sexual intellectuals have taken over social media and, I am absolutely certain, a family dynamic near you.
For whatever reason; we, as a nation, think we’re more educated, qualified, certified and beautified to make decisions, have opinions and place public judgement on other peoples lives. This is astounding to me. When did this become okay? When did the unsolicited opinions of others invading obtrusively into our private lives for public scrutiny and discussion become acceptable?
What makes people think that their pain trumps another? Is death a competition? Loss is loss. It is irrelevant if it’s your adult child, your adult parent or your spouse—grief is grief. To have the gumption to assume your grief has more presidence than the widow or the children? I was, no, I am the deceased wife. My daughters, albeit grown, are his children. We lived in the same household. We shared a life. We had intimacy that no one else was ever privy too. With all due respect, he is gone, your opinions mean nothing at this point.
My experience over the past 17 months of widowhood has been 90% supportive. But that 10% has been really hard. I know other widows have gone through this as well. I understand it’s just life. However there seems to be this pack like ownership when someone dies. Everyone wants to lay claim on the deceased, making their relationship more valid than the next persons. This became evident in the case of my husband, the least likely Southerner to share his thoughts with anyone except “his three girls”, when it was made known to me that he had confided great wisdom and his deepest thoughts with every living relative he had. Could this be true? Who knows! Doubtful; and for what it’s worth, it doesn’t matter. But for some reason, it seems as if it is taboo for us, the widows, to speak out and say enough is enough. Particularly when it comes to family.
In a country where we have to be so uber politically focused on sexual gender identity and political affiliation I have an awesome idea! In 2019 let us be focused on ones feelings other than our own. Let us put ourselves, for just a nanosecond, in the shoes of the person we are about to verbally assault before speaking.
That is my Hope for Widows, that we all think before we speak in the New Year. If we could be as kind to those we actually know as we are to those that we don’t know on social media? What a wonderful world it would be.