One of my favorite interviews was with Ruth.  Her husband, Jacob, died while jogging.  He was an anesthesiologist and a psychiatrist in his fifties, much too young to die.

Different emotions filled Ruth’s body, but the predominate one was rage. “I couldn’t sleep. I must have cleaned the house five times. I was too angry to cry. How the hell can he do  this to me?”

Sleeping fitfully one night, tossing and turning and having unpleasant dreams, she suddenly awoke because she felt a presence there. “It was two people—Jacob and Mack, a friend who died just about the same way, before Jacob did. I didn’t see them, but it was very peaceful. They assured me that everything was fine and wanted to know why the hell I was beating my brains out. ‘We’re not angry,’ they said. ‘You shouldn’t be angry. Everything is peaceful.’”

After that, Ruth’s grief changed. She could finally say, “Yes, I’m a widow,” and “Yes, he’s dead. Passed away, passed over—no. Those are cop-outs. He’s dead. Your own strong survival instinct says, This is it. You’re on your own.”

She got herself a job by volunteering at a non-profit organization, developed her own routine and got accustomed to being alone. For a while she was looking for a replacement for Jacob, but realized that she’d never get a duplicate, and she didn’t want to cater to someone else.

This feeling was reinforced when Ruth and a friend went to a singles get-together for people over the age of fifty. She described it as demeaning. She met a man who promptly got to his subject of interest: “Do you cook?”

“No, I go out to eat,” she replied, and then explained their motives to me. “And that’s when they don’t want to talk to you any more. What they want is a replacement for their wives.  Like I said to one of my friends, ‘Nobody over seventy need apply,’  I’m not a spring chicken, but I’m not that old!”

She has a very strong belief on cremation: “In Orthodox Judaism it is forbidden because when Gabriel blows the trumpet and you’re being resurrected you’ve got to have a body, right? But what about all those millions incinerated in Germany? They cannot be resurrected because someone, some time in the past, said so?”  She paused, then asked, “It’s a bunch of bahonkey, right?”

I don’t know if the word bahonkey is spelled correctly. I couldn’t find it in the dictionary, but I know what it means, do you?

—  — — — —

The Ultimate Book of Discovery About Widowhood

ISBN 13: 978-1460953945 and

ISBN 10: 1460953940


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