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Sue Bower

Jefferson City

Dear Editor:

An open letter to widows and those who know widows:

Death opens a door — a door we don't want to go through. Many of your couple friends will no longer come around. I think there is a twofold reason.

The first is that men do not cope with the death — or even the imminent death — of a male friend well. They see their deaths and future incapacitation in your husband. It is too hard for them emotionally to handle. So expect to lose the comradeship and don't blame them.

The second reason is we widows — and I'm not speaking for everyone — fight the battles of loneliness and heartbreak by the lengthy, emotional, detailed and chattering conversations that eventually characterize the conversations with what few steadfast friends remain. God bless these enduring friends.

We widows know we overpower too many conversations with what repetitious boring events we are able to glean from our remaining lives. This is especially true for those of us who have no family residing near us. Even in-laws who were so close while your spouse was still alive fade into the background, and it, too, is very understandable.

Some of us will continue to chatter on to those die-hards who will listen; some of us will choose to spare our friends and decline activities and invitations whose outcomes seem more self-intrusive and gratuitous. There is a thin line here to walk, and the lonelier you are, the less you become aware of your pseudo-welcomeness.

The only advice that seems to radiate from unscathed relatives is "see a psychologist." The best medicine I've found is focusing on others and housework. Giving to, smiling at, cheering up — all are good ways to elevate your mood.

You'd be surprised how many people need smiles, a ride somewhere, a baked cake, their trash picked up, just a kind word. How many grocery-laden walkers need rides? Yes, I dearly miss my old friends and "family," but sometimes people withdraw so relationships cool to the point we will not feel the full impact of each other's deaths in the future.

Children move away and the close ties become more distant, the dependence fades and death becomes a happening instead of a heart-breaking episode. And life goes on.

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