A DIFFERENT SHADE OF GRIEF

Here’s the thing: many know that there are stages of grief and that everyone goes through them differently. Many also know that there is no such thing as “getting over” grief; you only slip and slide through it.

But nowhere yet have I encountered any article, any book, telling me there is an other-worldly component to grieving.

*After posting the sad news on social media about my husband’s sudden death, and receiving many prayers, thoughts, and virtual hugs, I woke up at two in the morning barely a week later and posted an important update: I desperately needed coffee NOW. The background I chose was a plethora of smiley faces, all laughing hysterically. (I’m sure many friends were scratching their heads.)

*I walked into the Acme supermarket, stood near the rice and burst into quiet tears. My recently departed spouse hardly ever bought that particular brand of rice. Or any rice. We didn’t even have rice thrown at us at our wedding. It was raining and soggy rice just wouldn’t have cut it.

*I’m humming Christmas songs long after the decorations are put away and we’re segueing towards spring. And there’s no holly jolly in them–“I Wonder as I Wander,” “Silent Night,” “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer.”

*Just like in pregnancy, I have cravings. Right now I crave dark chocolate; it’s what’s for breakfast (and maybe lunch and dinner). Next week it might be pomegranates, whatever they taste like.

*Even though I am deep into the fun of menopause, I’m stacking sweaters on top of sweaters to ward off an imaginary chill. I wobble instead of walking.

*I cut my finger on the envelope of a sympathy card and, amazed at the red stuff and the knife-like pain, thought, how appropriate. No, my husband did not die of a paper cut. No blood was lost on his part. Probably a reminder that I’m still alive and kicking.

* I shudder when I am referred to as a widow. It conjures up thoughts of ancient women wearing black gauzy veils over their faces and smelling of decaying carnations. Give me my makeup and fragrant tea roses and a glass of chardonnay, and call me “the surviving spouse” instead.

–Anne Skalitza, 2019

WITH A SAFETY PIN AND A PRAYER

Years ago there was a tongue-in-cheek advice given to girls when going on a date:

“Bring a newspaper and a safety pin. The newspaper is to place on a boy’s lap in case you’re in a crowded room and need to sit on his lap. The pin is to poke him if he tries anything you don’t want.”

Of course we all laughed but I’m sure we all crossed our fingers or said a prayer that we wouldn’t have to fight off a guy who couldn’t take “no” for an answer. Unfortunately this was the norm. This was the expected. This was and still seems to be the mentality of boys will be boys, what do you expect when they’re drunk, you dressed provocatively, you were drunk…and the list goes on and on.

No. Just no. No more. No longer should we females have to pray, scream, kick, or silently cry. Nor should we be laughed at or taunted by the males who feel they need to demonstrate their prowess or their entitlement.

There is one thing, though, that should also be noted: through the years of my dating or just being around males, it was the very few who acted like they could do anything they wanted with no repercussions. Most of the boys in high school and men in college and beyond respected me and I know my girlfriends can say the same. But what we need is for all males to realize that the norm now is not what it was, but rather what it should be. And that we girls and women will no longer tolerate any male who doesn’t accept that.