Dear E. Jean: Please forgive this handwritten note. I live on a cattle ranch in central Montana and don’t have e-mail, Twitter, or Facebook. But, yes, I do get ELLE. We’re not all spurs and blue jeans out here. I’m a young widow who recently lost her husband. The very last words he spoke were to say how much he loved me. I can’t ask for anything more. But people keep telling me, “You’ll move on! You’ll meet someone new!” What if I don’t want to? I am already fending off the advances of really older men who think they’re doing me some kind of favor by visiting a widow of only one month!
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I have my own land and cattle and am totally debt-free. People say, “But aren’t you afraid to be out there in the country all alone?” To which I reply, “Of course not. I have guns and know how to use them.” That usually gets them off my back. But whatever happened to the traditional year of mourning? My husband is worth a year’s mourning. What in the hell is the big hurry to move on? What if I never want to? Seriously, E. Jean, I have my girlfriends and a good supply of batteries. Isn’t it possible for an independent, self-sufficient woman to live happily without a man?—Mrs. Custer’s Last Stand
Custer, My Dearest Luv: I’m distraught to hear your husband died. A terrible loss! But at the same time, I’m happy to know you were beloved. And I’m strangely enthralled with the intoxicating picture you paint—a fashionably dressed, gloriously free woman galloping across her own spread.
Honor your man! Grieve as long as it feels good and right to grieve, and give an elegant middle finger to the world that expects you to “move on.” You don’t have to entertain another dude as long as you live. But who knows? When you reach 60, you may change your mind and run off to Paris with a much younger lusty lad.
Before I close, I want to give you some plain, deeply personal advice: Drink lots of coffee. My parents, the exceptionally attractive Tom and Betty, were married for 70—70!—years, and when my darling Pa died last month, my Ma was stoic as a bridge abutment, never visiting her unhappiness on anyone. (You and Betty Carroll have a good deal in common, it appears.) But, of course, the sadness does hit. And Betty has suffered some bad days. But coffee (not wimpy decaf) is giving her energy to go on. She began with two cups instead of her usual one in the morning, and we saw an immediate lifting of spirits. Now she’s downing two more cups in the afternoon and is reorganizing her entire house! A Harvard study of nearly 51,000 women over 10 years found that women who drank four or more cups of coffee a day were 20 percent less likely to develop depression than women who sipped a cup or less a week. As I say, it seems rustic advice for a widow, but sometimes old-fashioned remedies (accompanied by a good group of girlfriends) work better than any modern miracle.
This letter is from the Ask E. Jean Archive, 1993-2017. Send questions to E. Jean at E.Jean@AskEJean.com.