Widow Wednesday: Protecting the Dead

Sometimes, after people die, we make them into better people than they were when they were alive. Speaking ill of the dead is just not something you’re supposed to do. So how do you share information about your loved one without it feeling like you’re speaking ill?

I worry that if I am not completely honest with Nicholas about Mark’s life that he will have a warped image of his biological dad (the least worrisome outcome) or that he will repeat the mistakes that Mark made (the most worrisome outcome).

Mark made a *lot* of mistakes in life. Mistakes that really hurt not only him but also many, many other people. I don’t want Nicholas to make those choices. But I don’t want Nicholas to feel like I’m bashing Mark. Ugh.

I think part of this issue for me is that I spent so many years protecting Mark and his image (or thinking I was), so many years denying or just flat-out lying about our lives that I can’t get over the feeling that I need to protect him. There were a lot of people who got pieces of what was going on, but nobody who ever knew just how bad things were before Mark got sober. I don’t want Nicholas (or his potential family) to live that way, so I want him to be informed.

Obviously, at 5 years old, Nicholas isn’t asking too many probing questions about Mark. I want to be ahead of the curve, though, and address things before they become a problem.

Have you ever had to share uncomfortable information about a loved-one? How did you handle it?

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  1. Wow. This hit home for me, as I’m sure you know. I too have been struggling with the same thing. I’ve touched on it before, but haven’t fully written about it yet. I’ve been wanting to, but for some reason I’ve been waiting. I don’t think I’ll wait anymore. Thank you. Love you. XOXO.

    1. I know it’s been frustrating for you to have to avoid so many conversations. I hate that your healing has been interrupted by greedy jerks. I love you too!

  2. Wow! Rarely do you hear this talked about and it is so true. I have completely avoided it and don’t know if I am ready to actually put it out there.

    1. Thanks for stopping by! I think it’s a strong instinct, to only speak well of the dead. But probably an instinct that isn’t all that healthy.

  3. You’re a Mom. You can be very diplomatic. Everything should be age-appropriate, even about the living. Remember how you treat other topics: he doesn’t understand SNOOKI, does he? You just bring it up one aspect at a time, answer ONLY what he’s asked, and don’t project emotional intensity about the topic until after he’s in bed. Same as any other issue. Does he know where his little brother came from? Does he get the details? See, you done it already with one topic.

    I think you’ll be fine. Heck, I KNOW you’ll be fine.

    True, age-appropriate, non-loaded.

  4. Sherry — wow, THIS is a subject that isn’t mentioned too frequently. Refreshing to read your thoughts and the comments made here. Sometime after my husband’s death, I thought it was important for me to write in my blog about his alcoholism and how it affected our relationship. I was a bit reluctant to do that, but (to my knowledge) his family does not read my blog, although some of MY relatives do. His parents are both dead, his brother is really not in contact with me (although his sister-in-law is), and I have a decent relationship with his aunts and some of his cousins. In fact, some have met my significant other.

    Actually, it took me three separate postings to fully explain what happened with us and his drinking. Amazing how difficult and yet easy it was to spill my anger, my emotions, onto my blog. It was cathartic (sp?) — I was astounded at that effect. I have heard from other widows who read these blogs and told me that they could understand just what I was trying to convey.

    I don’t recommend this approach for everyone, but it was right for me. I did not “trash” my late husband and if anything, I understated his activities. He was, after all, still a loving guy – just one with lots of shortcomings. He loved me with his whole heart and soul, and that is why I probably stayed with him. Yet that unease, that feeling that he might again “fall off the wagon” was always with me.

    Anyway, thank you for this post. I am a new fan! (I was widowed in May of 2008.)

    1. Jessica~Thank you so much for your point of view. Obviously our experiences are very similar. I’m sorry for your husband’s death. I don’t know how much I’ll ever share about mine and Mark’s lives here, but how to talk about it with our son is something that is always on my mind. It’s helpful to hear how other people have done it!

  5. Sherry — just an addendum. I do not have children, so I do not have first-hand experiences that I could help with. I empathize AND sympathize with your situation, but I do not have a CLUE as to how I would begin to discuss this aspect with a young son. {{HUGS}} and support from this part of the country…

    1. Jessica~Thanks. Regardless of the no-kid thing, it’s good to hear from others who can relate to any part of our story.

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