With a Bit of Love, I Survive

The UN declared June 23 as International Widow´s Day because they are many times invisible for the society

By: Mileyda Menéndez Dávila

Email: sentido@juventudrebelde.cu

2017-06-26 | 17:19:50 EST

June 26, 2017

When the known reality is broken, the safe and orderly becomes chaotic. Jorge Bucay

There are more widows than widowers in the world, among others reasons due to the fact that life expectancy is higher for women than for men (in Cuba it is 81.6 and 77.5 respectively).

In many nations, widows lose much more: from the respect of their own family to the resources to educate their offspring and the right to inherit property or to have a voice in the reconciliation of the wars that caused their misfortunes.

In order to dignify these women and demand their civil, economic and sexual rights, the UN declared June 23 as International Widow´s Day, since there are no reliable stats, as many women are invisible to the society.

The origin of the word widowhood means to be divided. Many people feel they lose an essential part of their identity and miss the company at home or erotic life as the sharing of tasks, fights and the certainty that someone watch their sleep.

Couple seldom talk about how they´d like their surviving spouse to act: sometimes because death is seen as a taboo, sometimes because the mere idea of leaving that person available for a new relationship is bothersome for those who mistake love for attachment and possessiveness.

The most extreme example is a ceremony called Sati (now illegal, but still in force), in which Hindu women are thrown alive on the pyre where the remains of the husband are incinerated or buried with him. According to the English philosopher Bertrand Russel, in nine out of ten cases the widow voluntarily set out "to die burned to glory and because religion demanded it," but this immolation does not diminish her condition as victims, this proves how some cultures educate women to be disposable. In addition, the options are almost worse than death, because misery and contempt awaits them.

Another "civilized" example of prolonging violence after death is offered by the Argentine psychologist Walter Rizo in his book Back Home, where he tells the story of a patient who felt guilty of disrespecting her husband´s memory by feeling relief from being a widow, since he abused her physically and psychologically, contradiction that extended until making her understand that both feelings were natural and lawful.

When the marriage was good and the loss is more difficult to face, the expert proposes to resignify the suffering in the name of love and see it as a noble misfortune. “The human being has the power to trascend biological grief and change it into value”, he said. Perhaps for the other person, more sick or fragile in his or her emotions, dealing with that widowhood would have been excessive.

as people say, the worst part in that situation, is that they miss the everyday gestures, the manias, the details that nobody can replace. "Whether I am happy or sad, it is inevitable for me to remember the mother of my children," confesses José Luis, a widower who frequents the meetings of Sexo sentido. It does not bother me, on the contrary, because I loved her very much, but I have had problems with other couples in having them understand."

Life Goes On         

The right to re-establish life with another couple usually entails misunderstanding, especially if the spouse is a woman and could inherit the social status of the deceased (titles, properties, public offices) or if she has widowed more than once, which label her as a fatal woman, making her target for scorn and scaring new candidates.

Russell, one of the fathers of the Analytical Philosophy, reflects on this dilemma and criticizes the young people opposed to having their elders marry again, thus incurring the same error as the old men who try to regulate the lives of their children. "Old and young, as soon as they reach the age of discretion, have the right to decide for themselves and, if it is the case, to make a mistake on their own."

There are circumstances in which loneliness is more attractive as a life project than a new company, at least for a while. Such a choice does not imply renouncing autoerotism, a practice that comforts the body and spirit, away from the dangerous depression in which those who opt to cling to sadness for an indefinite period fall.

According to the renowned Indian scientist Deepak Chopra, wherever a thought goes, it is  accompanied by a chemical element. People who do not take their losses well double the risk of cancer and other ailments.

Chopra warns about the suffering of anniversaries: this culturally learned habit of gloating over grief is the result of anchoring consciousness to time, instead of leaving it free to live every day, without dragging emotions. It is better to enjoy the sun each morning than to suffer the so-called broken heart syndrome, which is not metaphorical but real.

There are those who, because of a prolonged illness or a very strong setback, choose for themselves a "death in life" and renounce not only to social friction, but also to intimate pleasure, family communication and any expression of joy.

If out of fear or prejudice your partner accompanies, you will be subject to an early widowhood. Both need urgent help because the affliction seeks its physical equivalent generating diseases that worsen depression.

In this state of dysphoria it is common to go for medicines, but antidepressants only numb the pain and delay the dialogue with reality, they do not avoid it. It is preferable to explore healthy ways such as physical exercise, music, meditation ... and above all, resume dreams, undertake trips, explore trades or exercise your talents.

A duel ends when the person manages to reintegrate himself in life with new projects and resets those roles that the couple left vacant, says Jorge Bucay in the book Amarse con los ojos abiertos (Loving with open eyes). The benefits of this rebirth are well-known to the widows added to the Tecla del Duende, especially in the Holguin gathering, which will soon be 11 years old.

Translated by ESTI

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