Thursday, March 4, 2010

How ARE You?

This is the question everyone still feels obligated to ask, but few people want to really hear your answer. It's such a difficult question to answer because there is no simple way of expressing the range of emotions you feel every hour, every day. It's a question that can bring on strong emotions faster than the snap of a finger, and it can happen in public places where having tears roll down your face is just not exactly what you want to do.

So, you pause, try to collect yourself, to give a thoughtful answer without sounding like a drama queen or someone consumed with pity. You pause. You're not finished with the answer by a long ways. You just pause. And they, in their nervous state, become uncomfortable and jump in to fill the silence they find so unacceptable. And they go on, and on, and on. They're trying to do the right thing, really, but you were just collecting your self. You paused. You didn't finish. And you never get to finish, because they really don't want to hear the whole answer. It's unnerving to some, depressing to others. The silence is unacceptable. Must fill this awful silence with talk! Mustn't get into so close to those emotions!

You want them to understand there is no simple answer. I'm fine one minute--until I hear a song, catch a familiar smell, see a picture or an object I haven't seen in weeks--and then it hits me. The moment might be brief, or might send me down for hours, until I can finally get to sleep. I'm grieving all the time, that's how I am. I'm angry at being alone, that's how I am. I'm so tired of coming home to an empty apartment I could just sit at the doorstep in cry, if that would do any good. (I've tried; it won't.) I'm confused and don't know what to do with the rest of my life. I don't know how to restart my life. I don't even know what I want out of my life. I don't know if I can survive being alone. That's how I am.

Honest answers take more time than most people can give. So, when I next get the "How ARE you?" question, I will just say, "I'm OK, thanks." That's what most people want to hear. They don't want to get your whole story or to be your confessional or a shoulder to cry on. You can see the relief when you give the short answer, the fear when you pause, the regret when you offer details they cannot handle and don't want to hear.

I really do understand. They haven't see death up close and I am a reminder that at some point they will see these things they don't want to see, go through something they don't want to experience. When my father died I was much the same. Denial was my specialty. I did everything I could to avoid thinking about the reality of the situation. I was disgustingly upbeat most days. I cringed every time Mama started to cry. Raw emotions are unattractive and if you've never been around them you just want to run the other way.

I'd just as soon someone not ask me how I am, but I remind myself they are trying to do the right thing. They may be lousy at it, but they are trying. And I'm trying to give an honest answer that doesn't make the other person cringe. I've got a ways to go.


  1. I am the same age. I was married for 32 years. I am also gay. The difference is I was married to a woman. She was unaware of my sexual ambiguity and died thinking I was straight. Most of the world thinks I am straight. I am so deep in the closet I can't see past the winter coats. And now I face a life of full disclosure, and the ramifications of that, or a life alone. My friends are couple friends and I can't do couple things with them. Meeting new people, especially at my age, is difficult. You know all about it I'm sure. Keep blogging. I need your perspective.

  2. I recently lost my life partner of 36 years. He and I were going to get married at San Francisco City Hall once the bigoted Prop 8 was overturned by the Supreme Court. He did not life long enough to see that, sadly. I am devastated. Your blog posts - all of them - could be my words. Only you are more eloquent, more revealing. I am utilizing talk therapy and drug therapy to deal with my extreme bereavement. I thank you for your comments. I would be interested in how you are doing now, August 2013. Does the pain and grief ever subside, just a little. I'd love to talk to you. John

  3. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, pains.... I recognize many of these "Words" & the Words behind these Words and Feelings. Just lost my husband after 30 years. Well, it feels like yesterday... it was 8 months ago. I'm facing huge changes in my life & moving back to Canada.... bankrupted, no job... nothing.

  4. I keep reading ur blog... to make sure I'm not crazy
    Bernardus (Santiago, Chile)

  5. Thanks for sharing these very, very familiar thoughts, GW@55. Now that you are 59, do you still identify as Gay Widower, and have you found your way to some new life, with some joy, I hope?

    I have just joined this unhappy club, having just 40 days ago lost my guy of 21 years. I was so busy caring for him -- and trying to be present with him -- for 2 1/2 years of illness. I knew that, if I wasn't going to jump on the funeral pyre, I would just have to find some way to reinvent, to embrace some new life and find some new way of experiencing joy. But what a fool, trying to walk before I had crawled. It was two weeks before I actually realized he was truly, fully gone, that I had seen him die -- not only in my arms, that last awful day, but also gradually over the whole horrible -- and (thanks to his unending appetite for life) sometimes genuinely wonderful -- long decline from the point of his diagnosis. And gradually I have had to realize that this new life gives no points, no extra credit for having had what we shared. Just back to zero.

    My dear Papi and I, having both lived through the worst of the AIDS years, often commented to one another about how very different our experience of his illness was to that era. No, this new cruel period did not have the horrible ubiquity of illness and death of those years, but it was so much more solitary, so much lonelier to be braving it without the community and historical context of that epic struggle. Thank you for so eloquently sharing your experiences, which resonate so much for me already, and making it a little less lonely and solitary.

    Zig Zag, John, I think of you and wish you well. (You too pholley, if you are still reading.)

  6. So well put .....I feel for you , I lost my partner and soul mate in March after caring for him 24/7 for four months , the world has turned upside down and I don't recognise it anymore friends are becoming strangers .We shared 32 years together he was 20yrs older than me but was always the one so full of life such a short time I am having to sell our home and have no idea where or how I am going to live ...thank you for sharing your painful and utterly unique stories I wish you all love

  7. While I can't condone homosexuality, that doesn't mean I can't encourage you and point you to God. I'm not here to spew any hatred, just wanted to point you to God. Hear me out if you are interested. God has been the difference in my own life during times of loneliness, heartbreak, and pain. I know too well what it means of not getting encouraged by others and the hurt that comes from that. I've found that only God always offer encouragement and hope, much better than any human can offer. I can only imagine how it feels to be widowed. I have the taste of having a soul tie broken- I've gotten dumped in the past and it's hurt me so much in the past. The Bible teaches that a sexual relationship (whether marital or premarital) results in the man and woman becoming one (a soul tie). I believe that even emotional involvement (without having sex) also creates soul ties, but to a lesser degree than a sexual soul tie. Rejection and abandonment are all painful things. King Solomon said that everything in this world is vanity, everything is meaningless- a chasing after the wind. Eventually whatever we gain in this world (relationships, success, wealth), we lose them all at some point. There is something you can never lose though- God. God surpasses everything in our lives. Our thirsting for things in this world (especially human relationships) is evidence that we need something greater than those things to satisfy us because everything except God will end up failing you in some way. God has promised us that He will never leave us nor forsake us. God can't die on us and leave us in a state of loneliness. God won't cheat on us, dump us and go off with someone else. Whenever you feel lonely or feel that you're missing something in your life- realize that God wants to fill that void in your life. So many times I've been ignorant about the Bible. We're trained from our birth to live by our senses- thus we look to perceive God with those senses. Most of the time, we can't perceive God with our senses as He is a spiritual being. God has wanted me to develop my spiritual senses and rely on His word (the Bible) to experience Him. I've learned to always see God's word as alive, powerful, and relevant for each day. When I've failed to see that in the past, it's robbed me so much joy and peace. I've learned to look at the Bible as a powerful and active gateway/portal to God. We can try to occupy our minds with so many different things in this world to try and fill the void in our lives or suppress the pain, but all of those things will keep us still hungry and thirsty. God has promised us that if we reach out to Him, He will give us rest, quench our thirst, and satisfy our hunger. If you haven't done that, I hope you will give God a chance. I further hope that God will use you to go and reach others with His word, just like He has used me to reach out to you. Many people in this world are hurting just like you. Many are just looking for a simple act of kindness or a word of encouragement (words are powerful- they can heal and motivate or when used in an evil manner destroy others) which they don't receive from others. Ultimately, many even end their own lives because they feel hopeless and want to end their pain of torment- all because they've failed to see God was nearby all along and they failed to perceive Him with their spiritual senses. God loves you more than any human in this world! He wants to be your companion today and take care of you and your family's needs. I hope you see and explore His love for you today through the Bible- the Bible is the secret source for unraveling peace and joy for you when you can't find them in this world. I can't give you physical copy of the Bible right now, but you can freely access it online at ( May God bless you, heal you and strengthen you and your family. Continue to write and help others for His glory.

  8. Claim God's promises to you from His word today. Humans will likely fail to encourage you when you really need it, however, God won't fail. All you need to do is turn to His word. It is available 24/7 whenever you need it- to experience God.
    Please read these verses when you get the chance- Isaiah 55:11-13; Jeremiah 49:11; Psalm 146:9; Psalm 68:5; Revelation 21:1-7; Jeremiah 17:5-8; Isaiah 2:22; 1 Corinthians 7:29-35.

    If you accept God's way of salvation through Jesus Christ, you will have a future hope because a new earth and new heavens will be created. God will make us new also. All pain, sorrow, and death will be gone in the new world that is to come. You will forget the sorrow of your widowhood in that new world.

    Isaiah 54:4-6 (NLT):
    "Fear not; you will no longer live in shame. Don't be afraid; there is no more disgrace for you. You will no longer remember the shame of your youth and the sorrows of widowhood. For your Creator will be your husband;
    the Lord of Heaven’s Armies is his name!
    He is your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel,
    the God of all the earth.
    6 For the Lord has called you back from your grief—
    as though you were a young wife abandoned by her husband,”
    says your God.

    Isaiah 65:17 (GW):
    I will create a new heaven and a new earth.
    Past things will not be remembered.
    They will not come to mind.

    Revelation 21:1-4 (NLT):
    Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had disappeared. And the sea was also gone. 2 And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven like a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.

    3 I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. 4 He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.”

  9. Hi, Is anyone still reading this blog? In the past 2 weeks, I became an official card carrying member. It is one organization that I could well live without ever joining.

    I lost my husband of 43 years. Six weeks from diagnosis to death with cancer. Never really had time to discuss anything.

    Interested in hearing from others if they are still active on this blog.

    1. I just found this blog today. My husband of 22 years died earlier this month after a two year battle with prostate cancer. It's devastating.

    2. Lost my partner, too, after almost 26 years. He was 47. I am so lost markasey at gmail Matt or "new member" please feel free to email me