We can attach so much meaning to a word.
I was reading something in which someone called “Widow” a label. By extension, then, so is “Single.” That got me to thinking about the difference between the words and whether there was a difference between “widow” and “Widow.” Then that got me to thinking about who I am.
Some basic definitions from common usage, not Merriam-Webster.
A widow is a woman whose husband died.
A single person is someone who is not married.
I think there is a difference between a Widow and a widow, but I have never seen that stated explicitly. I think all of those words can have baggage attached to them.
To me a Widow is someone who introduces herself by stating that her husband has died and may even include her husband’s name in her own introduction. Being a widow is part of her definition of who she is AND how she should behave.
And, to me, a “widow” is someone whose husband has died, it is a descriptor, not something that defines her or her behavior.
The differences are subtle but important. And the classification of Widow vs. widow may even change with time. At least that is what I think I am seeing for me.
Which of those words describes me now —widow or Widow?
For the first few weeks after Bob died I was simply a couple missing a half. I did not have (or need) a word for it.
Then I recognized that I was, in fact, a widow. I think some form that I filled out created that recognition. It was quite a shock to recognize that I was a widow! After I realized I was a widow, I was probably just that — a widow, and a numb one at that. I chose not to use that word for a while; I think that is denial.
I do not think I ever adopted the personae of Widow. I never felt like that was my identity. It was a descriptor but not who I was and it did not determine how I should behave. (And I could be in denial there, too!) Bob was a huge part of who I was and continues to be a significant part of who I am, but we both had our own identities that were pretty strong.
After pondering this for a while, I find myself wondering if I am in the process of transitioning from widow to single. The difference to me is how much of my identity is tied to Bob. As a widow it was a large part. I am beginning to feel as if my identity is less tied to Bob. I am exploring areas that were not ours and I am meeting people Bob never knew. Simultaneously, the activities that we did together are taking up much less of my time. And this transition has nothing to do with how much I think about him or miss him. Life is such an intertwined knot!
I wonder if there is a point that the widow just feels single. I don’t know. Check back with me in five years or so.
As I have been writing the tears started to flow. And they have been much more frequent the past couple of weeks. I wonder if this is another step in mourning – recognizing how deep the ties were and being a bit frightened and saddened as they seem to be getting smaller: moving from widow to single.
They say that aging isn’t for wimps. Neither is losing a spouse.