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Friday, July 15, 2016

Death Etiquette or Advice to Those Who’ve NOT Lost a Great Love

If you've not lost the love of your life, your best friend, the most awesomest spouse EVAH, it can be hard to understand how the surviving half of the couple feels as well as what does and does not comprise decorous RSVP behavior.

When responding to a an invitation to the dearly departed’s Honoring Ceremony/Party please ixnay the excuse giving reflex. It’s totally fine AND, in fact, mucho preferable to say something simple along the lines of “I’m sorry I can’t make it.” When you then go on to add “because we’ll still be on the Cape” (at the posh seaside vaca home where they go EVERY weekend) or “Gene’s got a prior family commitment,” all you do is piss me right the fuck off.


I don’t give a good goddamn what your other plans/commitments are. TAB was THE most important, golden human EVAH and a day honoring him takes primo precedence over anything else that anyone’s got going on PERIOD! Dammit.

But look, I also totally know and really do understand that these sorts of events can be triple plus hard. I’m also wickedly well aware that, if you weren’t particularly close with the deeply cherished deceased or the fresh widow, there’s not a whole lot of incentive to attend and deal with hard, occasionally awkward grief.

Fine, I completely understand. HONEST! No prob.  Just don’t be telling me that you can’t come back from your cozy weekend a few hours early or miss out on your bestie's dog’s bar mitzvah because these are more important than honoring my man.

A simple, bloodless “I’m sorry for your loss. I can’t attend the memorial” is preferable.
Here’s the best version of a “nope can’t make it” that I got:

Sorry, can't make it. I absolutely wish that I could! I'll take several moments out over the coming days just to think about Bob. What a wonderful guy!

There were other great ones too – including the folks who’d recently gone through surgery and couldn’t travel – but this one was eloquent, brief, warm and heartfelt.

Next up in Truly Ill-considered Post Death Etiquette, remember that the poor, grieving spouse is on the delicate fucking side right now. Yeah, that’s me mon ami!

I know other women who’ve lost their beloveds. In the early days of widowhood, friends and family came and stayed with them or visited. While being alone is good and important, boyhowdy, I surely do grok the need for company. I ramble around our wee cottage bumping into TAB’s baseballs, jazz books CDs and DVDs, poetry and the very scent of him. I scream and howl with the pain of his gone-ness.

Having friends and fam around helps a LOT – it’s comforting and distracting.

Jen and Oni live next door BUT they’re both away this week. Helen and fam came down to stay with me but had to return to Hoosick Falls on Wednesday morning. Hillel spent part of that evening with me. Miles was here for a few hours yesterday and today, my friend Paula’s taking me to lunch. I’d really hoped my friend Sheila would go to the movies with me one night – it’d be a great diversion and good company. I thought we were on and then I got this email:

Sheila:  Hi Donna,
Sorry, I have some plans for Friday night and a friends' housewarming bbq on Saturday. Some other time.
Me: Have fun!

Once again, the excuse reflex should’ve been held in check. A simple "I can't make the movies this weekend after all, sorry" would've been way better.

“Some plans?” yeah, Sheila’s single and looking to get unsingle-ified. “Some plans” translates as “a date with a hottie and potential nookie.” And she can’t miss a housewarming party to spend time with a friend in great need? Really? Well geez louise, I really do hate to cramp a friend’s style with my pesky grief.

Plus, “some other time” feels ultra similar to my mother’s “we’ll see.” She gave this whenever I asked for something and her answer would be no but she was too tired to deal with my expected reaction. “Some other time” translates as “I really don’t want to spend time with you right now and I’m hoping you’ll take the hint.”

That reply of mine “have fun?” Yeah, that actually translates as “Fine. Fuck you.”

I do understand that this overwhelming, Jupiter sized loss happened to me not her.  I get that life goes on but, fer fuck’s sake, if you can’t pause your dating for just one afternoon to care for a grieving friend, well, it seems you’re not mature enough to get on this ride.

Oh god, now I’ve got Gloria Gaynor in my head right now. Not a bad thing, mind you.

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