Using the ‘W’ word

 W-is-for-WidowOn Saturday night a fellow widow and wonderful friend and I attended our first ever singles cocktail party. I spent the day feeling nervous and for the first time a little angry. When I married my best friend I thought it was forever.

The night was interesting and an eye opener to say the least. For every single man there were four woman so the odds were interesting. The most surprising revelation came when I was asked details of my divorce.  This prompted me to use the ‘W’ word –  ‘widow’. The reactions were startling. One man actually physically took a step back. Suddenly conversations went from fun banter to awkwardly ending. The collection of 40-55 year old men did not ask any details they just seem to want to run away as fast as possible. I am not naive to believe this was the only reason they weren’t interested but it sure was a fascinating observation.

After two hours we decided to gracefully leave and a gentleman enthusiastically said “don’t leave yet” and as the conversation progressed he asked about my ex husband and I said “actually I don’t have an ex …..I am a widow” and at that moment the conversation went from stay longer to “maybe you should go home, curl up on the lounge with your doona and watch a good movie” and then his departing comment was “go home and honour your husband”.

This left me quite gobsmacked.  Was I supposed to put on a black veil and black dress and assume the role of a so-called traditional widow. 

What is the stereotype for a widow?

Do men feel uncomfortable expressing empathy?

I am not complaining about the night. If I think a little deeper about it maybe I was attracting that reaction into my life for a reason. Life can sometimes be a great big mirror reflecting our inner thoughts.

Some may suggest that the solution is to lie about being a widow, but I have no intention on playing dating games at forty. I know who I am. Being a widow is now part of who I am but does not define me. I am a single, vibrant, independent, self-sufficient, happy mother of three children who actually still has some living to do.

The possibilities are endless.

Ultimately though, my friend and I had a brief glimpse into one aspect of being single at 40+. I woke up on Sunday with some funny stories to tell my children and parents and some tired yet humorous pick up lines. We possibly won’t be returning to a function like this but it did give us a chance to feel vulnerable, fearful, a little excited and ultimately courageous that we gave it a go and survived.

When I walked into the function a man commented that I looked like a deer in headlights and I would have to say that was fairly accurate.

6 Replies to “Using the ‘W’ word”

  1. A great post to read, you write so well, and I identify with so many of your journeys and observations, thankyou for sharing all. Sorry it wasn’t a brilliant night for you, you’re not alone in your struggles, keep your chin up.

  2. Mel – what an interesting adventure for you! I agree with Maree that you are very brave and it is wonderful how you handle everything with your usual humour and grace. Chalk it up to experience. Just a thought though – we don’t always read others’ reactions correctly – maybe you were reading their own fears? After all they are just as nervous and scared as you. xx

  3. You go girlfriend!!!!! Love Love Love that you went out – Yes so it wasn’t the right place, and yes some men are hopeless…. but you get back on that horse. You are “single, vibrant, independent, self-sufficient, happy mother of three children who actually still has some living” – not to mentioned gorgeous on the inside and out!!! I know your heart would have been in your mouth but you should feel so proud of yourself as I know your beautiful children are of you and someone very important upstairs! You have so much to give. Love you xxxxxx

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