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GannettUSA Today

Monday, April 17, 2006


In the weeks and months after you lose a spouse, you go through a period in which, to put it bluntly, you must work very hard to erase that person from your life.

You must stand in line at Motor Vehicle to surrender your Loved One's plates and have his or her driver's license terminated.

You must sit in a crowded room at the Social Security office, carrying all manners of documents, to collect your Loved One's "death benefit" (there's two words that go together oddly).

You must call up every service you use -- heat, water, electricity, phone, checking, car insurance, etc. -- punch in the correct numbers to navigate your way to an operator, and sometimes wait for a long while to tell the (invariably sympathetic) operator the circumstances, and that your Loved One's name must be removed from future invoices, etc. Occasionally, these calls don't "take" the first time around, and you are reiterating your position months later.

It takes a great deal of effort. Sometimes, you can't escape the feeling that you are somehow betraying your Loved One. It's all a part of grieving, you will be told.

Perhaps you will bring your Loved One's wardrobe to an organization such as the Salvation Army. This is a win-win-win situation. You're being given a quick, easy solution to a part of this sad process. The money your Loved One's clothes may bring in will go to a fine charity. And the person who purchased those clothes, who may not be in a high-salary bracket, gets a bargain.

At my local Salvation Army, I saw all of the volunteers' eyes widen when I walked in with bag after bag after bag of the well-maintained wardrobe of a stylish young woman. One looked at me questioningly. "Death in the family," I told her. A few minutes later, as I was leaving, I noticed that one of the gals put on a cute matching blue scarf and hat with snowflakes printed on them that my Loved One wore during many a long winter walk. I approached the woman and kissed her hand, saying, "You're doing God's work."


Blogger Larry Grogan said...

Nicely said, man.

2:13 PM, April 18, 2006  
Anonymous Gail said...

We know that she'll never be erased from your heart.

7:08 PM, April 18, 2006  
Anonymous Hazel's mom said...

Yes, it's grueling and surreal to have to deal with bureaucracy while in mourning. You write so well about the bittersweet, and the just plain bitter, in the aftermath of a loss.

10:05 PM, April 25, 2006  

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