I arrived at the widow board today to learn that we'd lost one of our own, a new widow. It is not clear whether it was a suicide, broken heart syndrome, or she just went to bed and refused to get out again. I remember that last option seeming so appealing in those early days, seeing as the first option was impossible to me, and the second seemingly wasn't going to happen. But I had E; I had no choice but to heal, though I remember telling E that should he leave me widowed again, that's what I would do: crawl into bed and never get out again. I figured that fatal dehydration probably wouldn't take more than a week. I hurt so terribly that I was sure I couldn't survive it happening again, because I wasn't sure at that time that I'd survive it the first time.
Obviously, I have, and now I'm not so certain about the fatality of a second widowhood. Would it damage me incredibly? Without question. Would it kill me? I don't know now. I would just as soon never find out.
I have been thinking about this poor dead widow all day, and I find myself angry at her for some reason. I know she was in terrible pain. I know she said she wanted to die. I've felt that pain myself, and I feel for her. Lots of widows say they want to die, and every time they do, I wince. I wince for the survivors of suicide who have to read that. I wince for all those other widows who may be too close to the edge already and are just waiting for that kind of reinforcement to check themselves out of this life. It always seems irresponsible to me, like yelling "Fire!" in a crowded theatre.
Honestly, I'm really not sure what my objection is to suicide, active or passive. I don't believe there's a hell she'll go to for it. I do believe that we come to this life with free will, and that we have the right to exercise that free will even in how long we choose to be here. So on principal, I don't believe that people should force themselves to live through crushing pain, physical or mental. And yet it still seems so very wrong to me. Is it cultural conditioning that says that giving up is not an option that is so deeply ingrained in me? Or is it something more petty: if the rest of us have to stay here and fight it out, why does she get to choose the "get out of jail free" card? Is that why it bothers me? That if I had been widowed and left with no one who loved and relied on me, I would've done the same? Is she my living (and now dead) shadow that I'm forced to confront? I don't know; I just know how I feel.
And yet how can I be angry at someone who hurt so bad, and was hopeless? How can I expect the hopeless to have faith that there is reason to hope? That's not even logical. I guess it's because I really don't believe that people who will themselves dead really want to be dead. What they want is for the pain to stop, and to be with their loved one like they used to be. I understand that, and the pain will stop (mostly). But there is no cure for death; their loved one can't come back the way it was. And there's no getting around that. What hope do we really have to offer to new widows, then? Life will get better, you will get stronger, but some days you're still going to cry out of the blue, and that's how it is? How is that going to lift anyone up? I know a lot of widows who have learned to enjoy life again, to be happy. I'd like to think I AM one of those widows. But I have to say, I've yet to meet one who is just ecstatic about life. All of us have that quiet knowing behind our eyes that can be seen by any pair of eyes who shares it. Is a "pretty good" life all we have to offer each other? Is that enough to make the difference for a person on the edge?
She had no children, but she had other family, and they will now have to feel that horrible, soul-gutting pain, and I am sad for them as much as for her. I am sorry she couldn't hold on long enough to find a tiny shred of hope that this would get better. And I am sorry that I know that the widow road is such that there are few enough shreds for even us veterans to offer her; even those of us who know life gets better still struggle.
I worry for the other noobs, too. My hope is that this death will shake them out of their death wish; my fear is that it will make that death wish seem slightly more reasonable. And I can't really think of anything to dissuade them, other than "You shouldn't." If I am asked why, I've got nothin'.