“One of the commonest ways to deal with another’s suffering is to make light of it, to gloss over it, to attempt shortcuts through it. Because it is so painful, we try to get to the other side quickly. Lamentations provides a structure to guarantee against that happening” (Eugene H. Peterson, Five Smooth Stones for Pastoral Work).
Lamentations of a Lesbian Widow explores my mourning process following the death of my partner/spouse/co-parent Nancy on October 1st, 2014. “Lamentations” is a book from the Bible that describes the destruction of the city of Jerusalem, and is replete with passages in which the narrator (presumably Jeremiah) weeps, cries aloud, and begs God for relief from suffering. In my own lamentations, I weep and remember, seek moments of respite, and attempt to find new meaning through traversing the dark spaces of grief.
In American society, it is often implied that we should act as if nothing has happened as we go about our lives in the aftermath of the loss of a loved one. People are sometimes uncomfortable asking us how we are doing or mentioning the loved one in conversation. But I believe that my own healing requires that I both remember and lament all that has been and cannot be again. If intense grief be the cost of intense love, so be it.
Nancy and I were together for 27 years. She had been in remission from breast cancer for seven years. Just one year before she died on October 1st, she was diagnosed with a recurrence of the cancer. Things looked good at first, but trouble began arising in mid-summer of 2014. She had her last chemotherapy treatment just a week and a half before she died and was brought home to hospice.
One of the bittersweet aspects of my life with Nancy is that we were finally permitted by the state of Michigan to be married on March 22, 2014 (during a five-hour Saturday interlude), just over six months before she died. Following that brief moment in time when Michigan couples could marry, the Michigan courts and Governor Snyder have declared that it was as if these marriages never existed. Finally, on June 26, 2015, less than a year after Nancy died, the Supreme Court ruled that depriving same-sex couples of the right to marry was an infringement of their rights as citizens. Let these lamentations stand as a testimony to the enduring power of love, commitment, and family for same-sex couples everywhere.
About me: Julia Grant lives in East Lansing, MI and is the mother of two teenaged daughters. Although most of my work has been in the form of scholarship up to this point, I find pleasure in narrative writing at this juncture of my life.