Here we go again. My radar pricked up tonight when a friend of mine reminded me forcibly that the reason an individual in our discussion group dropped out was because she was a tender widow. Meaning, she had lost her husband.
Yeah, I feel sorry for her, as I do for all people who have lost their mates. But I had lost my husband too, and I had been married as long as the widow, yet when I bring my feelings of loss up among this group (and this is not often, believe me) I see their eyes glaze. Here's the difference between society's attitude towards a widow and divorcee: Society has accorded the widow all the dignity of her position - a solemn funeral and the rituals that accompany death, all of her husband's asset's, and all the sympathy and empathy she could ever wish for.
A divorcee's loss is generally devalued by society, the legal system, comedians, and yes, even friends and family. The reality is that while the widow is given every benefit of the doubt both legally, financially, and by society, the divorcee is generally viewed as a "loser" in marriage. The loss of a divorced mate, which is felt just as keenly as the loss of a dead mate, is swept aside as having less value on the "loss meter" scale than a widow's. As one friend told me, "Bob is still alive." Cold comfort, as he is completely out of my life in every sense of the word.
This same friend felt free to tell me a few weeks ago, "Bob was strange." Would she have made such a statement to a widow? I doubt it. At the time the widow dropped out of our discussion group a few years back, my wounds from losing my husband were just as raw as hers and I was struggling mightily to hold myself together for the sake of this group. Had I quit as she did, would I have received the same tender consideration? Looking back I think not.
I am tired of this disparity in treatment. Divorce is not a joke. It is as traumatic as the death of a loved one and loss of a child. It is that simple. Thank you for listening.
For my other post on the same topic, Death vs. Divorce, click here.