"A Widow's Story" and a Study of Spousal Grief

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"A Widow's Story" and a Study of Spousal Grief

Postby Robin » Tue Feb 15, 2011 10:42 pm

The well-known fiction author Joyce Carol Oates has published a memoir titled "A Widow's Story," about the death of her husband in 2008, after 48 years of marriage. There was a short (7-minute) interview with her on the PBS Newshour on 2/3/11: http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/entertai ... 02-03.html

Here are two excerpts from that interview:

"It was as if I entered a world of absurdity, like black comedy sometimes. ... I would get out of the car and bump my head. Everything seemed to start to go downhill as soon as I took my husband to the hospital. One thing led to another, as in a mad -- a mad -- a world of madness. You know, it just seemed that something got unhinged and it just went downhill. And most people think that a widow is inhabiting some elegiac world of -- it's like Mozart's 'Requiem Mass.' You know, it's very beautiful and elevated thoughts and some measure of dignity. I didn't have that experience at all. I had one pratfall after another."

"And I should say, one of the things about being a widow or a widower, you really, really need a sense of humor, because everything's going to fall apart."

An article in yesterday's New York Times mentioned "A Widow's Story" along with another book that I've heard a lot about -- "Nothing Was the Same" by Kay Redfield Jamison. The article (link below) discusses what researchers have learned by tracking widows and widowers over time. "They have found that most older people who lose spouses from natural causes recover much more quickly than we have come to expect. In fact, for many, acute grief tends to lift well within six months after the loss. ... As for the remaining participants, about 15 percent exhibited grief symptoms that were moderately high at 6 months but almost completely gone by 18 months. For an additional 10 percent, those who were still having problems at 18 and 48 months, grief had become chronic."

The author of the NYT article says: "Loss is forever, but thankfully, acute grief is not. Yet we rarely come across books (or plays or movies) about women who begin to stabilize after six months and start dating after a year or so because, perhaps, that narrative conflicts with our romantic fantasies that each of us is meant to spend our time on earth with only one soul mate."

Robin



http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/15/opini ... sberg.html

Grief, Unedited
By Ruth Davis Konigsberg
February 14, 2011
New York Times
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Postby Meerkat » Thu Mar 24, 2011 10:55 pm

Robin, many thanks for the posting. Interesting article. We, not just as survivors, all have a secret garden that's hard for the others to penetrate, isn't it? / Sofi
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