Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Widowed twice

My mom was widowed twice. First, as a young widow when I was six years old. She remarried when I was 13 to a man 18 years her senior. We lost him in 2001. I spoke to another widow recently who was widowed twice. Once younger and once again more recently. The common reaction is to say, "why me???" Losing one spouse is hard enough, but two? Although both my mom and this other widow that I talked to are doing well and came out on the other side of both tragedies, I know it's not always the case.

I asked Tina B. Tessina, Ph.D., (pictured left) for advice on what to say to widows or widowers who have had double spousal losses. Tina Tessina is the author of too many books to list here, but here are just a few: It Ends With You: Grow Up and Out of Dysfunction; How To Be a Couple and Still Be Free; The Unofficial Guide to Dating Again; Gay Relationships, and more. On her website, you can sign up for her free newsletter "Happiness Tips from Tina." She has two new books coming out from Adams Press in 2008: Money, Sex and Kids, and The Commuter Marriage.

Here's what she wrote, "With an experience like this, it's natural to say "why me?" It all seems so unfair. We all know, in our grownup mode, that life is anything but fair. The thing that helps is to focus on what you had. Understand that the most precious things can be the most short-lived. I don't know the circumstances under which this woman's husbands died, but I doubt if any of it is her fault. What she needs to do is take credit for the good life they had together when each of her husbands were alive. The longer we live, the more we lose, and the more we need to learn to grieve. Needing to grieve is like having x number of tears to shed. Don't hold back on crying, let it go, and move through that phase. On the other side is loving memories of time well worth spending."

Good advice. Thanks Tina.

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