How we fell asleep
I told you how my other lover had died
how he had held me until
he couldn’t and for a while
his warm body was still familiar in my arms
until, of course, death stiffened it
and they laid a cooling element under
what we still called him, but wasn’t.
You said, that must have been so hard
and we drifted to sleep tender and emptied
of our cares
a tear printed and still wet between my cheek
and your jaw.
RL (c) 2020
“After my first “date” with my new partner, where I knew “something important had happened,” I remember going home and sleeping poorly for several nights as my nervous system processed this new fire on very watery, grieving circuits” (From my new book “Writing the Self in Bereavement” on the topic of repartnering after widowhood).
In my book on bereavement, I wrote about a number of topics that I didn’t find a lot about in grief resources I read.
These were the hardest things to write about:
1. unfinished business with the deceased
2. what to disclose about one’s life
3. ongoing sexual desire
4. (last but not least) repartnering
Since writing the book and sharing it with a handful of readers as I did the final edits, and in talking with others about a number of these more sensitive topics, I’ve had more than a handful of people (friends and colleagues) tell me about their own struggles with partners, living or dead.
There is a lot we don’t say, and sometimes for very good reason.
On the other hand, there is freedom in at least being honest with ourselves.
Writing is one way to do that.
Quotes from the book
“A new partner does not mean diluting one’s love for the dead spouse; we love both simultaneously and writing about new love is important as it is relevant to a widow’s life and speaks of new hope.”
“In studying the rates of repartnering for widowed women over 45, I made several interesting discoveries. The first is that it’s rare (Wu et al., 2015). The second is that women tend to repartner less frequently than men, and for a number of clear reasons: they don’t always relish household or caregiving tasks and they are more resilient on their own than men, though they sometimes struggle more than men financially (Statistics Canada, 2009).”
“In the case of repartnering, the risk of disenfranchisement is twofold for a widow (or widower). First, a death that was socially recognized might become less so when a woman repartners (e.g., she’s okay now, she’s over her husband’s death; she has a new guy), and on the other hand, she may feel compelled to keep quiet about her choice to repartner so that her joy doesn’t become disenfranchised in addition to her grief. “
Pre-order the book here