Hey Babe -
After you passed, I had all these questions racing through my head:
For the exception of “what is a blood clot / pulmonary embolism,” there wasn’t much information on the internet on any of the above questions. I could hear you saying, “You can’t google everything SY!” or “Google doesn’t know everything, SY!” Those were your famous lines to me whenever I relayed whatever new knowledge or information I had gained from researching the internet. And anytime I asked you a “google” worthy question, you would say, “Why don’t you just google it like you do everything else,” or when I tell you this is what I’m going to do, you would say, “Did you come up with that after consulting Google?”
Until now, Google has always had plethora of information and answers to all my questions. There wasn’t anything that I couldn’t find or research on the internet. Put together a travel itinerary of famous sites and tourist attractions for whatever destination your heart desires? Check! All the knit and crochet patterns you can think of? Check! How to plan the perfect wedding? Check! How does solar panels work and what are the best ones on the market and why? Check! How to arrange and organize the perfect craft room? Check! Hacks for an organized kitchen? Check! How to plan a funeral? Not really! The only info that was available was the differences between the types of services. For instance, a funeral is where the body is present whereas a memorial service is where the body is absent. Now I know! But other than that, nothing noteworthy to mention. How to write an obituary? Lukewarm results. I did find a couple templates but they were all for people who lived to old age, and they were adamant that you state the cause of death in the obituary. So, needless to say, there really wasn’t an obituary template for your husband drops dead suddenly and unexpectedly and causes are unknown, pending an autopsy report that takes 4-6 weeks, at the ripe age of 49, so I just gave up. The one thing I did learn was how to list the spouse of the family members you were survived by, which is in parentheses after the person’s name. And, there’s a serious imbalance in the natural order of things when your survive by section of the obituary was the longest section, and I wasn’t even able to list out everybody’s name (and I’m sure I forgot some people as well). For whomever's name I forgot, I apologize--my excuse is newly widowed syndrome. How to put together a memorial program? Cold! But in google’s defense, the search results did list a ton of places where I could get the memorial program printed, at least I know where to go after I figure out how to put the memorial program together.
Each day after you passed for the first couple of weeks, (not in any particular order but) I would look at my wedding ring on my finger, cry and/or meltdown, and think, “Am I still married--now that my husband died? Do I still wear my wedding ring? When do I take it off?” (Sometimes in the middle of my meltdown I would look at my wedding ring and think these things, other times, I would look at my wedding ring and just meltdown, and then there are times when I don’t even think of or do any of these things and I just melted down for no reason; that’s grief for you. It’s like a wave that crashes against you when your back is facing the ocean and knocks you off your feet and pulls you underwater. You feel like you’re drowning until you can find your footing to come up for air...okay I’ve rambled and went off track!) Let’s just say, I didn’t even bother googling “When do I stop wearing my wedding ring after my husband dies,” since I can’t imagine it would turn up any good results if planning a funeral and writing an obituary was practically non-existent. But whenever I posed these question to whomever was comforting and consoling me during my crazy lady rants and meltdowns, the common theme was, “You will know when it’s time to take it off.” But nobody has yet to answer if I’m still married if you died. I guess I will have to figure that one out on my own. So, for now, you’re still stuck with me for a little while longer, since in my mind, we’re still married and I’m still wearing my wedding ring (I mean, you're just on a business trip, right?). And you know, once I make up my mind--there’s no stopping me. But, I’ll be honest, I have been trying to figure out what to call you though, and I’ve come up with “my late husband” - what do you think? I’ve yet to try it on for size though. I still call you my husband whenever I talk about you, but you know, I always like to plan ahead. Maybe when the wedding ring comes off, it would also feel appropriate to call you “my late husband,” but for now, “my husband” will do. So, the only answer to “when do I stop wearing my wedding ring after my husband dies” is “I will know when I’m ready” and I didn’t even have to google it. See babe, I’m maturing before your eyes. I actually made a decision without consulting google and just listened to the advice of family and friends. I know you didn’t live to see it but if you were here - I know you would be so proud of me!
Well, I did actually google “Should you change your name when you are widowed?” There wasn’t much information on the internet (I know, it’s not that surprising), but I did find one noteworthy article by a young widow named Nora McInerny Purmort. After dating for a year, her boyfriend was diagnosed with stage 4 brain cancer. They decided to get married and crammed a lifetime of marriage into a few short years before her husband died in his mid-30’s. In her article, she talked about how she asked her most trusted confidant, Google, “Do you change your married name when your husband dies?” and google’s response was “¯\_(ツ)_/¯” (I know, not surprisingly either). Her article more or less said, you do whatever feels right for you, and that’s what I will do--whatever feels right. I remember when we were planning our wedding and it was time to get our marriage certificate, I couldn’t decide if I wanted to change my name or not. Of course, I consulted Google for advice. I had always thought I was going to hyphenate my last name when I got married but after researching on the internet, it said that hyphenated last names were more troublesome than good and listed a whole slew of cons for not hyphenating your last name. So, I was in a quandary since I always thought I was going to hyphenate my last name to celebrate both my individualism and my new union, but when Google told me that a hyphenated last name was a bad idea, I didn’t know what to do. I love my maiden name. It was my name for 36+ years, how could I give it up? But then again, how could I not celebrate our new union and let your family know that I also wanted to be a part of your family if I didn’t change my name? So, eventually I came to a compromise and dropped my middle name (since I had no attachment to it and never used it anyways) and moved my maiden name to be my middle name and took your last name. When I told you what I decided to do, you said, “I don’t care if you take my last name or not. I’m not that kind of guy. I won’t get offended or think you love me any less.” I loved you for saying that, but as you know, once I make up my mind, there’s no stopping me. But even after we got married, you still called me SY, since you said SYC doesn’t roll off your tongue right. Maybe you just need more time before it could feel right? But now, we will never know.
A few weeks after you passed, I talked to my therapist about finding a young widows support group to help with the grieving process, but she didn’t really recommend it. She said that unless it was a support group where the spouse’s death was sudden and unexpectedly like mine, the grief process would be different than say a spouse who died of cancer or sickness. This explanation I could buy into. She also asked why I felt it was important to talk to other widows about the grief process? I said, “I just want to know what to expect and what the steps are in the grieving process.” I felt like I just needed to know what I should be expecting on this new journey I’m about to embark on. You know, that’s just me; I never like to do anything without a plan that doesn’t have a lot of contingencies. I not only plan, but I also plan for the “what ifs.” But she ultimately told me that the initial stages of grief is the same for everyone, but what you do after the initial shock and disbelief wears off is different for everyone. And it’s what you do after the initial shock and disbelief wears off that is important in how one deals with grief. She also affirmed that she was going to get me through this. I know she will, but in the google search of whether “widows changed their names,” there were also relevant links that showed up on the search for online widow support group. So, I figure it couldn’t hurt, right? (Yes, I know, I really need to listen to the professional and not do whatever I want.) Well, I joined a few of these online widow support groups - these are the "online widows" I was referring to before. Some of the widows were empowering and it helped, but most were just very depressing and it really brought my mood down. So, of course, I had to tell my therapist she was right and stop trolling the online widow support groups. I accept that each person’s journey is their own and there are no set rules, template, or plan for the grieving process. You just have to move with the grief and all it’s pain and anguish until one day, life becomes bearable. Although, it’s not the life you planned for, you still have to learn to live it to the fullest.
A grieving widow who is trying to find meaning and purpose from her tragic event.