In Smiling Silence – Redux

Feeling forced into a role of valiance
For my tears seem of little credence
I bear this all in smiling silence

They say “It’s not for us to ask Him why”
Or the “It’ll get better by and by”
It’s two weeks! I’m not entitled to cry?
I bear this all in smiling silence

Trying to squelch fears in their own attitudes?
Is it for me folks spew these platitudes?
And THEY’RE upset I don’t nod in gratitude
I bear this all in smiling silence

Because I’m sitting here shattered-hearted
Some take it as permission to get started
On a run of their own dearly departed
I bear this all in smiling silence

Tears flow and I hide feeling contrite
Are my tears only allowed in the night
Far away from everyone else’s sight?
I bear this all in smiling silence

I’m not asking to dwell in an abyss
But I’m consoling others – something’s amiss!
Much as I need to give a moment to this
I bear this all in smiling silence

===== <>  =====

I initially wrote the above as an angry, sobbing stream of consciousness in my journal within days of becoming a widow.  Even, now years later, I sat biting my lip resisting the urge to choke yet another person who says “I’m sorry for your loss”, “It’s all part of a greater plan”, “He needed him more” and other well-meaning but sickeningly trite counsel. Watching a new widow of barely a week graciously handle the condolences that come her way, I can’t help but be reminded of when I was in that exact position.

I can tell by the half-glazed look in her eyes she’s merely going through the motions expected of her and all I can do is watch.  One moment she calls me to her, as she feels that I am the only one in the room who really understands exactly what she is going through. The next moment, like the one in which I’m just watching from a distance, she pushes me away as I am a reminder of what exactly she is now – a widow.  The stages of denial and anger just beginning their ugly battling. I’m also hoping that she’ll see,  though she is far from being able to see and accept it right now, that she also will get through this and will eventually be okay.

I’m headed for home soon. I left a copy of the above poem for her.  Just a way of letting her know that this anger at everyone being nice, even if by route of traditional platitudes, is also normal.  I’ll happily pay it forward and help her through those clichéd, but so true, seven stages as I was lucky to have the guidance of those who also traveled this road. For as annoying as it is to hear in repetition, the only acceptable platitudes were/are “one day at a time” and “it does get better”.

Because eventually we all learn – one breath, one moment, one minute and yes, one day at a time, it does.

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