Saturday, May 30, 2015

Declaring a Platitude-Free Zone

Dear John,
After work I made my shopping trip to Goshen. I had a nice lunch with you - only a few sprinkles of rain - and got home before the deluge hit. I looked for Hunter for half an hour and finally found him when I turned the recliner over. He seems to have been frightened by the storm. He never was before; maybe Jethro has influenced him. Poor baby.
I heard Nights in White Satin in the car today. One part struck me:
Streets full of people, some hand in hand. Just what I'm going through they can't understand. Some try to tell me thought they cannot defend. If I hear one more platitude, I won't be responsible for how the conversation ends. Because I love you.
Harold and I were talking Thursday about local crisis training for pastors, and he said they emphasized avoiding platitudes. I've heard all of them these last three years. I try to hear past them to the sincere desire to make me feel better that lies behind them, But sometimes it's hard. The one I hate most is when people say that there is something even better ahead of you. That makes me homicidal. It says to me that you weren't good enough, that there is something or somebody that will be better than you. That one makes me angry. The most frequent thing we all hear is the shoulds - people telling us what we should feel/think/do/be. I try to avoid should-ers. And if I'm pushed to extremes, I just smile and say, "Thank you! And how long have YOU been widowed?" 
Handling the should-ers is familiar territory for me; they follow fibromites around in droves. Everybody that can't spell fibromyalgia knows exactly what would cure it. And people who have never grieved know what would cure that, too. But grief, like fibromyalgia, can't be cured, and widows don't need fixing. All we need to hear is that people care and are sorry. That's it. Nothing else.
So tonight I'm declaring a platitude-free zone around all widows everywhere. I doubt it will do any good, but imagining it might make us feel better. And that's something, isn't it?
Adore you,

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