|Big Box Store Widow Grief (see the animated version on my Instagram feed)|
This is Day 8 of my #6MonthsOfGrief Project. To learn more about this practice, feel free to visit Day One, where I explain this project in more detail.
Today's photo reflects a weird, sad rite of passage for any new widow - shopping in a big box store by yourself. It may or may not surprise you that I have never done this before. I have always gone with either a friend or my husband, but never by myself. It was weird and lonely and empowering. I had to navigate all the bulk items as a newly single lady, not to mention, I was married to a giant man that ate about as much as two average-sized people. So I had to ask myself weird, new questions, like can I eat two logs of goat cheese before they go bad? Can one freeze goat cheese? Can you put avocados in the fridge and if so, does it change the taste of them? These questions made me feel sad and even more alone. But I also felt a new sense of power in navigating something new, by myself. That's been happening a lot lately.
One of my favorite writers about sudden widowhood and grief is Megan Devine and her Refuge in Grief site. She writes of the painful time when a widow has to return to the grocery store for the first time without his/her partner:
"You’re just trying to hold it together enough to get your bananas and get out, but the rest of the world sees this as a prime moment to catch up with you on your deepest, innermost thoughts. As though you’d spill them there, in the produce section, to your neighbor’s friend’s barista, when you haven’t shared them with anyone else. It’s funny – whenever I talk about the specific difficulties of grocery shopping, almost everyone has their own story to share – some only shop after ten pm to avoid any people they might know, others drive an hour out of their way just to be able to shop anonymously. Abandoned shopping carts are quite common in the world of grieving hearts."
I myself had to switch grocery stores after my husband passed away. He was friends with everyone - the butchers, the coffee lady, the cheese lady. He loved food and he loved talking about food and when you are 6'9" and 400 lbs, people remember you. My first time back to our grocery store, after he passed, I was inundated with questions about where my husband was. The meat guys said, "tell your husband we have a new sausage for him to try out!" The cashier he always flirted with asked coyly, "Where's your husband? I haven't seen him in awhile..." I was one of those widows who abandoned her cart and ran away, groceries un-purchased, because I couldn't face telling another stranger that my husband was suddenly dead.
What about you? What regular, mundane tasks became difficult for you when you lost your loved one?
I am very aware that this project can bring up a lot around yours or other's grief and loss, I will always follow every post some online grief support resources that have helped me. Please feel free to let me know of online support that you have found healing in your grief, as well:
- Self-Portraits: Expressing Emotion Through Art on What's Your Grief?
- Grief Bibliography on Grief Healing
- The Hard Romance of Grief by Mark Liebenow
- A Field Guide to Getting Lost by Rebecca Solnit
- Megan Devine’s Refuge in Grief
- The Geography of Sorrow: Francis Weller on Navigating Our Loses, interviewed by Tim McKee in Sun Magazine
- The poetry of John O’Donohue
- How to Be a Friend in Deed by Bruce Feiler in the New York Times
- 12 Things to Know About the First Year of Grieving Someone You Can’t Live Without by Laurie Costanza in Elephant Magazine
Thank you, and see you tomorrow.