Whenever I go to the cemetery I always talk to Alan and
that day was no exception. The sun blanketed me with warmth
and the grass felt cool as I sat by his graveside. Childlike
thoughts flooded my head with all those unanswerable questions
I always ask him. Where do you go when you die? Do you still
see me? Can you still talk? Is there really a Chinese restaurant
in the sky? Can you have all the cars you want? Have you watched
our children grow? What does dead feel like?
As I write this, it's been ten years since Alan died,
and I still haven't stopped talking to him. Crazy as that
may seem, I'm not the only widow I know who still talks
to her husband.
- Having a continuing relationship with a deceased spouse
is a normal occurrence and not a pathological distortion.
It can be seen for the most part as a successful coping
strategy that allows women to move forward.
- However, not all widows possess happy memories of their
spouse or the events of their death.
In the search for meaning about life, death, and the afterlife,
widows seek guidance from both familiar and unfamiliar spiritual
sources. They visit psychics, astrologers, Indian Shamans,
Charka painters (spiritualists who depict the aura), attend
yoga and meditation classes, study Judaism's Kabala, and go
to traditional religious services. We (widows) are looking
for answers to things we can't explain and ways of communicating
more directly with our deceased spouse. Particularly in the
early months, widowhood is a confusing time filled with questions
there are no earthly answers for. Many people, who were never
caught up in the spirit world before may find themselves drawn
to its hidden secrets once they are widowed.
- Church and synagogue members who are widowed often find
comfort in congregation-sponsored support groups where they
share a similar language of loss.
- Unfortunately the religious experience isn't always a
- Julie, a Japanese-American Buddhist, cried in frustration.
She was unable to discuss her grief at the temple where
she worshiped. She felt no one there would allow her
to express her grief and shock; her husband, Min died
suddenly when a semi-tractor trailer hit his produce
truck. The widowed women at her temple were not interested
in commiserating with her. "It's something that
you are taught not to dwell on; it can't be helped so
you are just supposed to go on with your life."
- Feeling abandoned by God is not uncommon among widows.
- For the most part though, I have found that women who
were religious prior to their husband's death drew comfort
from their religion after his death. And often widows who
had not formerly been regular practitioners sought solace
in their religion.
Instructions: Some times journaling helps us put into perspective
our lives and feelings. Many of the women that I have interviewed
have found this to be a successful coping strategy. Know that
you are neither alone nor crazy if you have experienced a
visit from your deceased spouse. Take some time to write on
the following topics or whatever occupies your mind.
- Dreams or visitations I've had...
- Things I would like to say to my husband today...
- My feelings about God and/or spirituality...