Gail Patricia Caldwell
October 04, 1953 - June 10, 2017
A club no one wants to join
A club no one ever wanted to join
In May and early June it was comforting to hear from the myriad of Gail's colleagues and friends. When she could no longer speak I took all of the calls.
By June 20, the day of the memorial service, the number of callers began dwindling. By the 24th, they had disappeared almost entirely.
Some of Gail's closest friends have avoided me like the plague. I have mentioned this in conversation and have been told that they have their own lives to live, and I should not expect that they will think of me. In fact I was told that talking about my feelings this way, on an internet site, was tantamount to vomiting on the public. So I should just keep it to myself.
On the other hand, other grieving spouses have informed me that this is an almost universal occurence. My experience, it seems, is not unique. Bereavement and grief is the pariah of our culture. Most will go to great lengths to avoid thinking of them. Conversation can be about anything except death and the after effects, the debilitating sense of heartache and loss that seems to go on endlessly.
People want to hear that you're getting better, or that you're OK, you're "toughing it out" and that would be their segue to add " It just takes time!" or "Time heals all wounds" . They don't want to hear about your continuing pain of separation and loss. They believe that activity and distraction is better for you because "it gets your mind off of the depressing parts of your life."
The problem is that the preceeding is a lie. Engaging in various activities does nothing except give you exercise. Your mind is still on what has been taken from you. You can work wholeheartedly, mindlessly on any number of things, but your relief from constant emotional pain is minimal at best.
I am seeing that this path that has been forced on me is very discomforting to the majority of others who are not currently on it. I have been told to "move on!", once on FB, and once by a bereaved spouse. This club has an upcoming membership for everyone, but those who are only witnesses currently do not want much to do with anyone who will bring this front and centre to them. It is inevitable that membership will claim us all. And nobody likes it.
When Gail and I spoke of death, and we talked about it often, the contemplation alone was enough to shock us into holding each other a little tighter, saying our love for one another out loud and often, while pushing away the thoughts of consumate loneliness that would surround the idea of not being together. There was nothing more abhorent to us than the thought of not being together.
That thought is still with me, even though I have joined this club whose membership is multitude and whose members don't want to be here.
Started by Robert Flowers on September 21, 2017