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Are We Being Watched...

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In my grief group last week, one of the leaders said it felt like she was being watched after her husband was killed. I didn't get to ask her about it because the conversation went elsewhere, but I've had the same feeling. Do people watch us to see how we are handling things?

I know my neighbors have been more than nosey regarding the company I keep. I live in a small, close-knit suburb. Once, when a new neighbor had offered to do some carpentry for me out of the goodness of his heart, the gal across the street called someone next door to see who this man was going in and out of my house. And then, when I had a man from church over for Thanksgiving as he would have otherwise been alone, someone came over to question me about it with the lame excuse of "Did I know where she could get some dry cleaning done?" The conversation then went on to "if he was married or not." Then there was the "look" when I informed her he wasn't and yes, he is a nice guy.

I refuse to explain to people that I still "feel" married, even though the presence of Bob is missing. I want to scream to everyone that I am not interested in being with anyone and that we are just regaining our footing as a family unit. But, just as I take offense that they feel they are privey to the questions, I don't feel I owe them any explanation.

If all these people are watching, then why don't they come over when I can't get the lawnmower started or am crying over the snow that is impossible to shovel? I've been told by a few people that I've handled this all so gracefully. I beg to differ as most of my sorrow is kept indoors, alone and away from the eyes of the apparently watching public.

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Kath, I think I know what you mean. A few months ago I had a garage sale. A couple of my neighbors complimented me on the re-landscaping I had done to the front yard. They told me how nice it looks now and they knew that while Bill was still alive I hadn't had time to keep the weeds under control. Then another neighbor, looking at the things I had put out for sale, shook her head and said, "Oh, dear. I came down because I thought I could pick up some men's clothes or tools at your sale. You don't have anything like that out."

I informed her I wasn't ready to part with Bill's personal effects, and I was keeping the tools because I knew I'd be doing a lot of fix-it jobs myself now.

My neighbors seem to keep track of my comings and goings, but they've never been nosy enough to ask who my guests are of what their marital status is. In a way, though, their interest in them reassures me that if they saw strangers with bad intentions lurking around my place, they'd be curious and the strangers wouldn't go unnoticed.

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It seems to me that people are curious, but it requires less of them to merely ask about someone that it does to actually help you. People like to gossip or be in the know. I think you're handling it well by ignoring it and not offering explanations...none are required!

There are some neighbors who watch out of concern...I wish I had some of those!


Edited by kayc
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You know, Kath, I think it's just the nature of people. They can be totally oblivious, and they can be overly intrusive. Reading your post, the neighbor who was checking on the "strange man" going in and out of your house is not necessarily bad, and I felt it showed her concern. The other neighbor who wanted to know about your Thanksgiving guest was out of line. When Joe died, and even before, it came back to me that rumors were floating around the beach that I was going to sell my business. Come to find out it was one of my competitors, but just the fact that there was gossip involved pissed me off.

I have found that there is a thin line between caring and intruding from my neighbors. I'm a very private person, and like you, my grieving is done in my house, behind closed doors. My counselor suggested, too, that when people offer help, it's usually for themselves, not us so much. All I know is that my widow brain radar is torqued up to high! Peace, Marsha

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I know I shouldn't take offense, some of these are the same neighbors that have supported me immensely, others are not involved and I wonder what gives them the right to pry. And it is probably my own vain imagination that makes me think I'd even be worth watching. It's like when Bob first died, it felt like the whole world knew yet continued to run it's course regardless of my pain. Yet, I still have people coming up and saying they just found out and want to know how we are doing.

My grief group leader aluded to other wives and their "relief" at her re-marrying. Are people uncomfortable with young widows living near them? Lord knows this was not my plan when we bought this house five years ago. Or could it be that being so publicly vulnerable has left me paranoid? Whatever, I can't re-write history, so I guess I'll just carry on. Thanks for your thoughts.


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