There’s a lot of buzz around the social-networking world right now about the recent addition of the status “widowed” to Facebook. Word is, a bunch of widows rallied together to convince the Facebook Gods to add the status, because, as I completely identify, being a widow doesn’t necessarily mean you are “single” and you know you are no longer “married.”
At first glance, this was good news to me. Young widows (50 and below) are often ignored by the community. They’re often self-sufficient, and almost always a single parent. It’s good to be able to acknowledge that there are at least 13 million widowed moms and dads under the age of 50 in the United States alone. I’m expecting that number to increase in the future, due to the war on terror and the numerous casualities it has brought to us as a nation, and to the families in it.
However, I have a slight problem with having the option of changing my Facebook status and announcing to the world, (which really only consists of my friends, since I have a private account), that I am a woman whose husband died.
This means that I would have to cancel the relationship status that Jon and I set up in 2006, when we first got our Facebook accounts. We went from “in a relationship with…” to “married to…”
Happy couples and newlyweds will know how good it felt when we could connect with each other that way. Because of our emerging sociology as a technological race, it was very much like announcing to the world that only the two of us were that significant to each other. I wasn’t just “Married,” as I am on Myspace or any other social networking site. I was married with a definitive link to Jon’s profile, and his to mine. He belonged me. And I belonged to him.
What a funny word: “Belonged.” Breaking it down changes the exact meaning to me. The words “Be” and “Long” don’t necessarily convey possession as they do want or desire. Belonging to someone doesn’t make you their property, really. It means that you are a part of them. And in my mind, you LONG for them to BE with you.
I am still in that place where I long for Jon to be with me. I still miss sleeping next to him, and I still wish to be able to go back and change things, despite what I believe and know. I am still very much his wife, in so many ways. It’s hard for me to imagine not belonging to anyone, let alone Jon. I’ll admit that the thought scares me quite a bit, even though it probably shouldn’t. I don’t like the idea of being “single because of death.” I don’t think anyone would argue with me about how much that idea sucks.
There are a lot of people who have been in Widow Country for a shorter time than I have, and have bravely made the transition from “Married” to “Single” or “Widowed.” I am not there yet. I’m sure that many of them didn’t have a Facebook account before their spouses died, and it’s probable that their spouse didn’t have one to connect to, before. Maybe that makes the transition easier.
I have to wonder what happens to our linked relationship when I hit the save button, and officially become a widow in cyberspace. What happens to him? Facebook doesn’t yet have a “deceased” option, and I don’t like the idea that he would default to “Single.”
But I do applaud those who blazed a trail (and continue to do so), by gaining attention to our often very isolated and lonely group of grieving hearts. It’s tough to try and explain to someone why you’re a single parent and you still wear a wedding ring. Making the Public more aware that parents of babies and toddlers do lose a spouse to death more often than they realize makes it easier on us. Even if it doesn’t seem like such a big deal to some.
I am not quite ready to let go of the relationship I had with my husband, be it online or in real life. Some people might find that unhealthy, and might feel the need to remind me that I will eventually have to let him go. I know this. I know that he is no longer with me on this planet and that I have to live the rest of my life without him, however long that may be. But that doesn’t stop me from being his only wife, or loving him still. The idea that my only other option means I have to cancel our link and pretend that we are no longer connected, stings just a little too much. I still believe we are connected, even though we are separated by death.
I am grateful that I will have this option in the future, when I’m ready to let him go more than I already have. But right now, he’s still the only guy on Facebook that I’ve ever been married to. And I’m content to keep it that way, at least for a little while longer.