The Isolation of Grief

Funerals are totally acceptable. As long as a widow doesn’t audibly cry, tears are allowed to come down her face. People quite easily tolerate death, but definitely not dying. The most taboo emotion is grief, especially if it’s visible. During the time of David’s dying, I stayed in the apartment as much as I could. David disappeared like a Cheshire cat, inch by inch, and I mourned every loss. My visible grief acted as a warning signal for people to stay clear. No one wanted to see evidence of what they might face. When I would get on the elevator to the 21st floor, with tears streaming down my face, someone would say, “have a good day, Nancy.” Sometimes people would pretend they didn’t see me, or walk away from me. I became invisible. Near the end, as I was walking out of the medical center, in tears, a resident said in a loud and dismissive voice, “now what is wrong with her?” After the funeral, which many of David’s clients and partners attended, the entire entourage disappeared. Two of them carried out their promise to support me. One still calls me regularly and advises me on business matters.