One of my dilemmas since my husband died is how to gently navigate my way through the inevitable moments of conversation when I’m not sure whether to explain that my husband died last year.
It’s one of the great inconveniences of the English language that we have to include a subject and a verb. For example, someone says “Why is your last name Japanese?”. I’m now faced with a dilemma in how to answer that question without pressing my ever-ready grief button (if it’s a situation where I don’t want to dissolve into tears). What are my choices?
In Japanese I could say “Husband Japanese” and the person has no idea if I mean present or past tense. I can remain a bit mysterious. But in English, I have to give the time context: “I was married to a Japanese” or “My husband was Japanese”. So the listener hears the past tense and now they might be wondering “Is she divorced or is he dead?”. To save them the confusion, I’m likely to continue and say “He passed away last year”, but this is still too raw and I don’t always want to be announcing myself as newly widowed.
I was sharing this dilemma with a friend recently, who gave me a suggestion that immediately gave me a sense of peace and ease. Just say “My husband IS Japanese!”, he said “because he is! He’s still with you”. “Oh yeah!” I replied “I hadn’t thought of that!”
It seems so obvious, but sometimes it’s small offerings like this that help me through the grief and loneliness of losing my life partner. I don’t have to fully lose him. Thank you Glen.