Photo by Leo Reynolds
These days, I feel like I am wearing a Scarlet W on my chest. I have seen acquaintances who used to speak to me look the other way as if they didn't see me. Or worse, I have overheard them whispering to others, pointing me out, "That's her, the one whose husband died." It shocks me quite a lot, and hurts me a little. Do people think that widowhood is contagious?
But I get it, I do. Acquaintances don't know me well enough to know what to say or how to comfort me. And it's hard to see someone in pain...it's personal and private and uncomfortable and let's face it, not pretty. So I shouldn't be surprised that acquaintances run the other way. I've been guilty of it myself, in the past.
But I'm here to tell you, those people who don't know me well but say something anyway...I love them for it. I love it when an acquaintance shares a memory of Mark. I love it when acquaintances tell me Grace and I are in their thoughts and prayers. And I think the best approach of all may be one shared by two male work colleagues--one a gruff retired military man, the other a young guy just a few years out of college. I mean no disrespect to either, but neither would win awards for being especially sensitive. But both of them, on separate occasions, saw me walking toward them in the hallway at work, pulled me into a big bear hug, then patted my shoulder and went on without a word. It was the perfect way to show that they care, because truly, there are no words.