Saturday, February 27, 2016

Postscript on a Widow's Journey

Dear Family and Friends,

I recently joined a Facebook Page “community” entitled “WOW,” (“Women’s Older Wisdom”). It was created by Pat Taub, a family therapist, writer, activist, and life-long feminist. Look here to read her interesting “Introduction to WOW:   

At some point, Pat asked me if I would be willing to write two guest blogs about my experience as a widow. “The widow’s voice is missing,” she explained. So I agreed to to fill this void, and thereby open up a topic which is clearly relevant for us older women.

Here, then, are my two guest blogs, A Widow’s Journey Parts I and II, which Pat posted on her blog in late February and early March, 2016:

But – I want to tack on an open-ended addition. Beyond the constraints of a word limit for the those two essays, I have need to say more. So here it is:

                     POSTSCRIPT ON A WIDOW’S JOURNEY

I recently came upon a 73 page pdf I found so helpful, I added it to the annotated list of books on grief and death that helped me after Francis died. It’s on my website under Elaine’s blog: “Mourning and the Transformation of Object Relationships, Evidence for the Persistence of Internal Attachments” by John E. Baker, PhD of Harvard Medical School and Cambridge Hospital
After Francis’ death, I found the most help from Greg Mogenson’s book, Greeting the Angels An Imaginal View of the Mourning Process - because it closely mirrored my experience. That book was published in 1992.

I can now say, however, that this recently published article goes even further in supporting my ongoing widow’s journey.  
In reviewing recent clinical and empirical literature on the subject of mourning, its author declares: “Mourning is seen as a process of inner transformation that . . . involves not the breaking of an object tie, but the transformation of that attachment into a sustaining internal presence .”

When I read the following, I immediately identified it as my experience. This what I do! –
“Widows or widowers who review the events of the day in their imagination with the person who died are using the internal relationship not just to decrease their feelings of loneliness, but also to sort out their own thoughts and to define their own wishes, needs, and feelings. They are using the internal relationship to define and maintain their sense of self-identity. . .

Since these few other passages go even further in illuminating my way, I’m going to quote them here below, without further explanation.

I hope that my writing and sharing of resources that help me, is of help to you, or to others you know.

Loving gratitude,

In healthy mourning, some of the functions of the internal object are gradually taken over by new relationships with new objects in the external world. Yet there are aspects of the internal relationship with the deceased that remain unique. The self is never again the same as it was in that relationship, and the object too is found to be unique in ways that cannot be fully replaced. It is this core of individuality, of uniqueness of the self and object representations, that characterizes a continuing, healthy "introject" in the personality of the bereaved individual. . . .

Although we know that after such a loss the acute state of mourning will subside, we also know that we shall remain inconsolable and will never find a substitute [for the person who died]. No matter what may fill the gap, even if it be filled completely, it nevertheless remains something else. (E. L. Freud, 1960, p. 386) A continuing internal relationship can coexist with the development of new object relationships, which in turn enrich the inner world in their own unique ways. It is this coexistence of inner attachments in the mourning individual, even long after the death of the love object, that needs to be recognized and better understood. . . .