Becoming a widda renders many things, people, and events irreversibly altered, including your current marital status, or rather, the perception of just what your marital status is. Or isn’t.
And as even as the widda, it can even boggle your mind, too. If not initially, then later in your journey.
For the first few months after my involuntary induction into da’ hood, I wouldn’t have even blinked at being asked if I was married. Hell, yes, I’m married! He might be cardio-respiratorally challenged, but I have a husband. But, in the months to follow, I’d hesitate as to what I deemed my marital status to be.
My husband had left me–at least celestially–but there was no divorce–no severing of marital ties. I didn’t feel “single”, either (singular, maybe, but that’s a whole ‘nother post). I had zero interest in flirting, dating, or looking for a husband, especially when I felt so viscerally attached to my precious, but deceased, hubs.
Except, I began to feel less and less that I belonged in the “married” category. My husband was and is not present to eat dinner with, to brush our teeth in tandem before bed, or to fantasize about our future with, in the hushed, intimate ways that lovers do. The way we used to do.
And then there’s what the rest of the world thinks.
There’s the classical thought that if it’s “til death do you part”, then you’re no longer legally married. But, then again, you’re entitled to all of your late spouse’s benefits, pensions, properties, assets and life insurance policies (providing you’re the designated beneficiary, most natch!). You often declare yourself as the spouse’s “wife” or “husband” on these forms, as well. This seems to indicate a relationship that exists beyond death, which seems to murky the married versus unmarried question even further.
Then there’s other officials forms that ask you to declare your marital status by method of multiple choice: single, married, divorced, separated. I’ve noted there’s usually not a choice for “widowed”. (Why’s it the “separated” get a shout out, while the “widowed” get the finger on these forms, hmm’s?).
It isn’t uncommon to have various family and friends who all view it differently. Some will implore you to get back out there on the dating scene and find your next spouse. Others might get their spines in a twist if you decline to don your widow’s weeds til kingdom come.
When it comes to this conundrum, my suggestion is to go with the flow: call yourself what you feel like, when you feel like. If you want to identify as married for as long as you draw breath, do it. After all, society doesn’t seem to have a clear-cut answer for this, so how could we?
And I will betroth you to me forever. I will betroth you to me in righteousness, and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy.–Hosea 2:19