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The Mortality Club

Dying to be With You

The Hindu ritual known as Sati during which the widow throws her body on the flames that are turning her husband’s corpse into ash is rarely practiced today. It was prevalent when the role of a Hindu woman was solely to service her man. When he died, her reason for living disappeared. She was declared in-valid, irrelevant, as though already dead. Grief so consumed her that she already felt like her flesh was already on fire. Jumping into the flames held no terror; only the promise of reuniting with her mate.

The ritual of Sati has beome virtually non-existent. That’s happened, in part, because widows are no longer regarded as in-valids who have lost their reason for being. Widows are no more likely than widowers to die, or to want to die, as a result of the death of their mate. The sense of loss that overwhelms when a loved one dies, is not gender-specific. It afflicts both men and women. And, it is not age-specific. Both young and old can be so consumed by grief that they choose to die rather than to live without their mate.  Read More 
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Death and Clutter

As I relate in Widow’s Walk: A Personal Journey through Loss, Fear, Anger and Love, I was widowed at the age of thirty-four when my husband’s damanged heart stopped beating. For the next year, I fluctuated on an almost daily basis between being certain I could deal with the immense challenges that my young family, and a castaway caught in a bog of despair. My emotions were raw, shifting from fear to anger to grief. One moment I was confident; the next, despairing. I tried to bolster my confidence and stay out of the grips of despair by reasserting control over an otherwise chaotic life. That took the form of creating endless to do lists, and then foricng myself to complete them even when, or especially when, the natural flow of events suggested I should put my attention elsewhere. Central on those lists was the de-cluttering of my spaces. Read More 
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Widow's Walk

I wrote Widow’s Walk when I was thirty five years old. Tracing my first year’s torturous journey after my husband died of a heart attack was an attempt to come to terms with death and its aftermath. Now, at the age of seventy-one, I am attempting to come to terms with the challenges of aging and, as the runway of my life gets shorter, the certainty that I will die. I wrote The Hourglass: Life as an Aging Mortal to describe this part of life’s journey. Many who have read that book urged me to republish Widow’s Walk. This posting is taken from the Preface I wrote for that new edition.

Although it was a difficult and sometimes heart-wrenching process, I believe it is even harder to lose a spouse when we’re older than when we are young and the future is filled with the sense of potential. The experience of several of my close friends who have recently become widows and widowers has convinced me this is true. When we are older, we are less resilient. The are fewer paths open for us to discover. Our energy levels are lower than they were, making it harder to explore the new paths that do present themselves. There are fewer candidates who can or want to fill our empty chair. We may not even want them to do so, peferring to content ourselves with the memories we built over the years with our dead mate.  Read More 
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