Monday, January 19, 2015

Uncharted Waters: Grieving an Ex-spouse

"There are places I remember all my life, though some have changed. Some forever, not for better, some have gone and some remain." - The Beatles, In My Life
 Together 1982
My ex-husband, Bob, died Friday afternoon  after a long battle with Parkinson's disease. He passed away in Chicago with his wife, Cathy, by his side. I was blogging here in Maine when I heard.
Bob and I  were married for 18 years and have two children together.
Boy, did I cry!
Bob (left) as a Cub Scout, 1950's
Bob's HS Graduation 1964

The tears catch up to me at unexpected times. In fact, having tears over the loss of my ex is unexpected all by itself. I thought I'd already grieved the loss of this man when he left, many, many years ago.  Do I have to grieve for him all over again?   It seems that I do.

Bob's  '57 Chevy, Kennebunkport, Maine, 196

Families don't know what to do with divorced spouses so it's an odd place to find myself.  I'm grieving and yet I have no place in this, except to stay out of it.  My adult son is in Chicago with Bob's family, which is as it should be.  My grown daughter has disabilities and is not able to understand what has happened.  As the ex-spouse,  I don't expect to get calls from friends, sympathy cards, or casseroles left on the doorstep.  I'm grieving alone . . . for memories of long-ago Kennebunkport summers and the wonder of first love.

With our son, 1973

And if you are remarried, take it from me, crying over the death of another man in front of your current spouse feels pretty weird.  Thankfully, my DH of the past 26 years is the most amazing guy. He not only understands but has been right there to support me when I've cried for Bob, or cried for my children on the loss of their father.  But again, there are no precedents here; we're just finding our way through it as best we can.

 Bob, with my DH, Hank (center), and his BFF Bruce (right) , at our son's wedding.
It feels surreal enough that soon I'll be at the florist ordering an arrangement of flowers for the funeral home, with a ribbon  that says "Daddy" on it,  to be sent from our daughter, who can't do this for herself.
How sad is that . . . in so many ways?
Bob (right) with his sister, Carolyn, and brother, Larry
Luckily, Bob's sister, Carolyn, and I went to college together and have remained good friends.  She is a local UCC minister and was the one person to stop by this weekend to share our mutual grief over a couple of glasses of wine.
And, do ex-wives attend the funeral? 
Maybe I'm fortunate that Bob moved to Illinois when he remarried; the distance between our two families means that I won't be able to be there.  I wouldn't want to make the occasion uncomfortable for Bob's current family when they're already grieving.
DH Hank & I
Is there even an etiquette book for stuff like this?
It's always something!
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