Monday, June 13, 2011

Relationships, Part 2: Widowhood

Monday I wrote about the conference I attended in Austin and what I took away from it as a writer. Today I want to extend that, because I found that everything I learned about writers' relationships applied to me as a widow as well.

It's all about relationships, isn't it? As a widow, you've lost the most intimate and important relationship you had. Life will never be the same again. Even when your grief subsides a bit, you'll never recapture that same bond. Not even if you remarry.

So what's left?

For me, relationships helped me build the foundation of a new life--not the life I'd have chosen but the only one I have. My family, friends, colleagues gave me support when I needed it most. But, as the writers' conference panelists emphasized, relationships go both ways. I had to learn to stand on my own and not rely on others all the time, even when I wanted to. The past few weeks, wiped out from an upper respiratory infection, I've had an overwhelming urge to pick up the phone, call everyone I know and whine at them. But I haven't--at least not much.

And what does the new social landscape tell us as widows? Facebook gives us a chance to connect with old friends, keep up with far-flung acquaintances and relatives. One of the conference panelists compared Facebook to a family reunion and Twitter to a cocktail party. I don't tweet, so I can't speak to that. But I do know that the Internet has allowed me to expand my relationships. I've met people through the She Writes community, which has a group for every genre, every niche. Through my blog, I've connected with other widows, exchanged ideas with the people who really understand what widowhood is about. Those two connections have become vitally important to me.

I think you have to use this new medium wisely. It's easy to become so engrossed in blogging, tweeting, commenting, linking that you lose sight of why you're doing this in the first place. Don't let it keep you from your real writing or, God forbid, make it a substitute for living.

Be honest and open but be safe. As a widow, you're alone and maybe vulnerable. We hear too many sad tales of people whose lives have been shattered by on-line scams or romances. We've already been through one tragedy; we can't risk another.

But internet friendships haven't replaced real-life friendships--laughing over lunch, sharing jokes only you and your pals "get," making plans, and yes, gossiping. My friendships go back to elementary school. And there's my family. There's no bond that goes so deep. Keep it strong.


Anonymous said... [Reply to comment]

It is easy to get lost in the minutes of blogging and twittering. It is a difficult balance to strike.

Bella said... [Reply to comment]

Thelma, you've made some very good points. It's easy to become too engrossed with blogging or social networks. And like you mention, the online friendships we establish, while they can be wonderful, should not replace the lifelong friendships many of us have. I think a healthy balance has to be maintained in order to prevent our online activities from monopolizing our everyday lives. Great post, Thelma!


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