Thursday, July 12, 2007

'Til Death Do Us Part

"It's easier to be a widow than to be a widower," one of my colleagues stated matter of factly.

I choked on the tea that I was drinking when I heard this from him. Him being a guy in his late thirties, very soft-spoken and very very very very very nice. He's so nice that it pains him to pass out his own opinion. He's known to sit on the fence at lot. Ironically enough, he's a whiz currency strategist -- a career that depends on personal views and perspective when it comes to taking certain positions. And he does this every. single. day. Probably another one of God's jokes to mankind.

"It's true," he insisted, offering me some water and some tissue paper. "Men have difficulty expressing their emotions" -- altogether ladies: DUH! -- "so when they lose their life partner, it gets to really difficult."

See, if just any guy would have told me that, I probably would have thought he was just saying it for the sake of saying it. But no, this is coming from a guy who rarely volunteers anything that comes from his head. He's really nice (have I mentioned that?). His wife has ultimately hit the lottery... he's the type to open doors and to always offer his hand even in situations where he knows he can't do anything to help.

My parents had a conversation about each other's death a few years ago. It started out very casually -- like, my mum just happened to think about it and blurted it out. It didn't turn out very pretty because my dad opined that if my mum went ahead of him, he'll simply go back to his province and spend the remainder of his time there. My mum, evidently, didn't like this because she wanted him to stay in our current home and live there because she feels that they've worked so hard to acquire. It has become a legacy for them -- a symbol of their life together. Touche!

While I don't think that any of them were wrong, I understood why my dad said that. My dad was never really one to speak up (unless he feels unusually strongly about a certain issue). I'm not sure if this is due to the fact that my mother is just (extremely) strong-headed or that he's just smart enough to not go against her. I, however, reckon that my dad will have a harder time coping with my mother's loss primarily because of the abovementioned reason: that he doesn't express himself enough. I'm sure he has his own coping methods but I somehow wish that we were more involved in it. We, his children, are still learning to read him... and everyday, there's always something new to learn about him. I feel that as we get older, he deems us more trustworthy of his thoughts and feelings.

My mother, on the other hand, is an open book. Actually, that's quite an understatement. She's an open book with multi-colored highlighted lines and lots of dog-eared pages. She always makes sure that everyone knows what she's thinking and feeling... especially when she's not pleased. She's a terrible liar. Her lies just fall out of her eyes in truckloads. She's also good at piling guilt on us (something that I'm convinced that this comes with the maternal instinct package that mothers automatically receive once they pop their first-born).

The fact that I know that my mother will be shattered into talcum powder if (knock on wood) my dad goes first goes to show that she will be fine -- eventually, at least. And I know this because she tells me. My dad, on the other hand, I have absolutely no idea. He'll probably be less obtrusive in his kids' lives but there's really no way of getting in his head. And somehow, that scares me.

Secrets scare me, as a matter of fact. Nevermind that this statement is coming from a person who never runs out of them. I like knowing what's going on... and what's going to happen. I like being kept in the loop. What they say about what you don't know doesn't hurt you -- bollocks! It simply gears you to get even more hurt once you find out the truth. And trust me, the truth always comes out somehow... whenever it may be and whether we like it or not. And no matter how distant you are from the truth (time-wise and geographically), it will still hurt.

Anyway, I digress.

I hope that I won't have to find out the truth about whether or not it's easier to be a widow any time in the near future (or at all, if I can help it). It's a very sad thing to think about. Losing a life partner -- a best friend -- must be indescribably tough. Break ups are bad enough but at least there is still that thread of hope we cling on that a reconcilation is still possible.

I no longer have living grandfathers. My maternal grandma has outlived her husband for almost twenty five years now; my paternal one is on her fourteenth year of widowhood -- and still struggling. I don't know how they do it but they sure are doing one hell of a job. Bless them both.

A dear friend once told me that it is indeed possible for people to die of a broken heart. It's not accepted by science, but it still is possible.

I don't know about everyone else, but that must be the worst way to die. To die of a broken heart.


Blogger Ab said...

ha. post without comment ! so GOLD :)

i typed out a long comment. but th page just went blank in between, and i hate typing it again. but anyways, does this 'nice' colleague of yours have any idea you maintain a blog?

12:22 PM  
Blogger Molly said...

I think my 80+ M-I-L is hanging on for dear life, literally, because she's afraid some skanky, sweet talking waitress will get her hooks into my F-I-L and flatter him out of his $$$! Regardless of which one goes first, the other won't be far behind. But I do think that widowhood is easier to cope with than widowerhood, simply because women are better able to mind themselves than men are....Then again,it's more than possible that those two will outlive us all...sigh.

12:32 PM  
Blogger drips of paint said...

what about those who could not wait for their other half to pass away....

My father passed away a few yeas back and I know that if the other woman was to go 1st then he would have a hard time coping with his daily life.

But in this case he went 1st and I am absolutly sure that she was happy without the burden to have to take care of him and she did get all the money.

But then this is the different kind of relationship that you are referring to I guess.

3:27 PM  
Blogger riseoutofme said...

A friend of mine had her parents die within a day of each other. Her mother had been ill for a little while and had been expected to die but for some reason was hanging on ... and when her father died suddenly, her mother had a peacefulness come over her and let go too. My friend is convinced her mother was waiting for her father because she knew he wouldn't be able to cope ....

4:47 PM  
Blogger Crashdummie said...

hearbroken - taking it to another level.. ouch.

5:20 PM  
Blogger Glamourpuss said...

I think more people die of heartbreak than we realise - all it takes is giving up the will to live, and facing life without your partner of fifty-plus years is frequently motivation enough. Sad, but sort of romantic...


5:44 PM  
Blogger Aditi said...

Honestly, I think my dad will not be able to function without my mother but my mom will be able to (albeit painfully). But I hate thinking abt the possibility of losing either of them.

5:54 PM  
Blogger James said...

Statistically men die sooner...I think we are just worn out. So probably your friend (and your mum)won't have to worry about it.

What jumped out at me on your post was your use of the word "bollocks". I didn't know this word had reached the US. Have you ever been to England Princess?

7:20 PM  
Blogger Andrew said...

"don't know about everyone else, but that must be the worst way to die. To die of a broken heart."

To have loved someone that much sounds like a pretty beautiful and wondrous thing to me.

8:24 PM  
Blogger self taught artist said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

9:09 PM  
Blogger self taught artist said...

lets try this again, I hate writing with mistakes...
your post has me wondering, what does not expressing oneself have to do with having more grief when a spouse dies? Is that a stupid question?
I think the worst way to die is having lived an unlived life.
GREAT post as always.

9:11 PM  
Blogger lemonade said...

dying of a broken're right..definitely scarier than dying of anything else..

9:49 PM  
Blogger Beth said...

I think it's absolutley possible to die of a broken heart. So many times, I have noticed that when an older person dies, within a year, their spouse, who was fairly healthy before losing their partner, will die as well. I think a broken heart plays a major role in situations like that.

10:00 PM  
Blogger Natalie said...

I think either one of my parents would technically be fine without the other and could continue with their life because they have my sister and I. At the same time, I don't know how i would deal with seeing one without the other.

4:08 AM  
Blogger Anu said...

hey once again kudos! very well put!

"She's an open book with multi-colored highlighted lines and lots of dog-eared pages"...loved the sarcasm :-)

"I don't know about everyone else, but that must be the worst way to die. To die of a broken heart." true but i do believe its possible. Science cannot always explain everythin. after all what is life but an eternal miracle

12:33 PM  
Blogger Keshi said...

**A dear friend once told me that it is indeed possible for people to die of a broken heart

I agree...Im such a person...


2:16 PM  
Blogger Shruti said...

I dont why, but a seperation or something realted with it hurts me...
just read but nothing to comment..

Take care

6:48 PM  
Blogger AVIANA said...

i trully believe you can die of a broken heart.....

there's been many stories i've heard where there is an old couple and one dies and the other dies shortly thereafter....

i don't think it's coincidence...seriously

how you feel about someone greatly affects who you are and your mental and physical health

i remember a long time ago...i was distraught at the possibility of losing a guy who i thought was my love for feelings for him were so overwhelming but despite this i didn't tell him....i wanted to tell him but never did...but when i knew he left to move to another state...i was so distraught that i literally lost 15 pounds in 4 days....i finally got over it...thank god!....

but again...i trully believe you can die of a broken heart...

11:39 PM  
Blogger Lucid Darkness said...

My dad's youngest cousin passed away owing to a sudden illness in September 2005. She was 24 and the only child of her parents. Both her parents were devastated. However, only her mother's tears actually saw the light of day. What I noticed then was that men have a very different way of grieving. They do not express themselves openly. My dad, her dad ... all of them. They were so quiet about it. And that was what was so scary.

I guess that what I'm trying to say is that it was probably more painful for them. I know that pain cannot be compared, but if you leave it unexpressed for a long time, it becomes much more intense.

When you express what's inside your head, you undergo a kind of cleansing which lets out at least some of the negative feeling, I think.

I suppose it isn't always an issue of whether men find the loss of a partner more difficult... it depends on whether you're a person who expresses his/her thoughts easily. My maternal grandmother was widowed when my mother was thirteen. My mother says that she changed completely when it happened... she became withdrawn and completely introverted, as compared to her former lively 'hear and soul of a gathering' self.

I suppose that in the end it depends on how you grieve regardless of whether you're a man or a woman. If you become very quiet, you can indeed, die of a broken heart ... or worse, live with one.

12:31 AM  
Blogger Lucid Darkness said...

Oh and did I mention that I loved the post? I.Am.A.Fan!

PS: You have been tagged... I don't know whether you'd indulge in something like that, but you can check out the entry titled Tagged to er,... see what it's all about. :]


12:37 AM  
Blogger X. Dell said...

It's the one subject you never want to talk about, but must. At a certain point, my parents began to talk to me about their deaths, mostly their wishes, etc. for what they want from me after they are gone. I have never seen them discuss the topic with each other, and I could swear my mom is on a campaign to make my dad live forever.

A lot of people, however, are shattered by the death of a spouse. I've seen it so many times where a spouse will die literally within twelve months after the other one, despite their health at the time of becoming widowed.

As uncomfortable as it is to talk about such things, perhaps doing so now can help couples make that transition.

2:18 AM  
Blogger broadwaybabe said...

to die of a broken heart i like that i might write a song about it. anyway whan my grand mother died my grand father went into a terrible deppression for about a week till he died when asleep and there was no way to justify it scientificly i think it may have been his broken heart because he was healthy

4:48 AM  
Blogger nithin ramachandran said...

man always confuses and scrambles my mind...never married cant comment on that but yeah been in love ....death is one weird phenomena that noone has ever understood cause theres noone experienced to tell you about it...but then ...i always feel man ( or a woman) rises up to occassions when the circumstances demand it. Guess thats why people live. Id rather live my life for the one i love and bear testimony to his/her dreams of my life rather than die of a broken heat ..cause i guess the one who you love resides inside you than just as a physical figure. you might see the physical one dying but not the one deep inside you . He's there till you die and dies with you .

4:53 AM  
Blogger jellyhead said...

Another thought-provoking post - I loved it.

By the way, I think lots of medical people believe that people can die of a broken heart. Sometimes people seem to simply lose the will to live. It happens time and time again that closely-bonded spouses die within a short time of each other.

I agree that in general, women do better after losing their significant other. We`are more used to sharing our feelings with others, and we have more people we let close to us who can continue to support us when our spouse has passed away. Generalising terribly here, of course, but still I agree with your quiet, thoughtful co-worker!

6:12 AM  
Blogger thisisme said...

Reading this post, so many memories flooding back to me. My elderly neighbours when I was a child, they were both so healthy, but when she was told she had only months left to live, he took it hardest and ended up dying a month before her. I really don't think he could have imagined living without her. I loved your description of your mother - beautiful turn of phrase! I think your workmate is right though - women do seem to have better coping mechanisms.

8:09 AM  
Blogger Sling said...

..and that's exactly how my Grandfather died..Of a broken heart,3 months after my Grandmother.
It's harder on widowers.

8:37 AM  
Blogger alex said...


1:19 PM  
Blogger Behind Blue Eyes said...

Oh, I know that this isn't what you are talking about, but I think that if I went first my husband would have a harder time. But what I mean by that is I don't think he could run a household. My daughters would have the most atrocious clothes and they would probably eat at MdD's everynight. I would feel so sorry for them if I were capable of feeling anything. I would probably be forced to force my way into someone else, take over their body and go take care of my girls.

11:29 PM  
Blogger Kati said...

One of my Great Grandmother's died of a broken heart exactly one week after her husband, my Great Grandfather, died. I can think of something worse than dying of a broken heart.... Living with a broken heart. At least my Great-Grandmother was soon reunited with her husband, albeit in the afterlife. My husband's grandmother, on the other hand, has lived almost 15 years now without the love of her life. And not a day goes by that she doesn't express how greatly she misses him.

Interesting topic, and some definite food for thought.

7:56 AM  
Blogger david santos said...

Thanks for your work, is very good, and have a good weekend

8:30 AM  
Blogger nasia said...

First of all.. Beautiful!!! I had a lump in my throat when i read the last line..

My dads brother passed away a few months back and his wife has been struggling with every single part of her life ever since. She cries at the random mention of even a movie. and has lost atleast 30-40 kilos in 2 months. But the worst part is how people assume she has to overcum all of this and almost never understand!!
I so wish she knew english and was able to make her read this..

10:43 AM  
Blogger noThiNG but "fiCUs" said...

I chanced upon ur blog as a result of my meanderings in orkut and was pleasantly surprised! its beautiful work that u r doing here :) keep it up.

As regards to the post, and about relationships in general,I have a philosophy that while Men are like Dogs, women are like Cats! Men get attached to people.. They are loyal and dedicated and can be heartbroken at the parting..Women on the other hand, like cats, are more attached to the "Security" a cat,that wouldnt leave the house, even if the masters decide to leave.. Perhaps thats how God intended it, so that, even in relationship break ups (leave alone death), men tend to brood and cry longer, while women move on faster.

To break the ice, my name is Thauseef. I was in school with you . Nice work was a pleasure reading your blog.

6:31 AM  
Blogger noThiNG but "fiCUs" said...

Gosh, I feel like an idiot! And wit regret i realize there's no option for deleting a comment once its already posted...

For suddenly, it struck me, tht ur not niveditha... i had somehow clicked on another link, and reached ur blog..

however, i still feel that u have put up some real good writing, princess ( as thts wat u call urself and i cant find a name :)

However, every other line i wrote is completely intended and heartfelt. ( i still wish the comments had a delete option though, or atleast, an edit option to make the necessary changes).

8:41 PM  

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