Grieving Widow

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

Last week my beloved husband of six years was killed in a freak ocean
accident. His body has not been recovered. It was sudden and
shocking, and was reported in newspapers around the state. We’d
been planning a future. We had an RV, a coop of chickens, and dreams
for the next thirty years. Now I am bereft and alone. I can only bear to
be around my family, but I must go back to work this week. I am the
financial manager for a non-profit that employs 25 people and has a
board of directors almost as large. I’ve been flooded with emails and
phone calls, but I haven’t had any emotional energy to respond to
anyone. It feels overwhelming to contemplate going back to the office
but I know I can’t do it all from home. How can I insulate myself?

Grieving Widow
Dear Grieving:

First of all, condolences. What a horrific story. I am sure you are in shock as well
as grieving. Send an email to everyone who has communicated with you in any
form. Make it gracious and very clear. Say simply: I am overwhelmed with grief. I
am trying to get through each day and do what needs to be done. I appreciate
your caring and good wishes but just having to talk about what happened
debilitates me and makes me weepy. There will come a time when I am ready to
hear what a great guy he was and to share all my feelings. I’ll let you know when
that is. In the interim, please respect my absolute need to be quiet, to focus on
work, and to avoid being more emotional than I can cope with being. Ask the
exec at your organization to reinforce the message. Most people will respect your
wishes. Those that don’t, simply say, I cannot do this now, and walk away.
If you do not have a support network of friends and family, and a good doctor
and/or counselor, please focus on getting yourself some people to be with. You
may want isolation now, but beyond a certain period it is not a good thing.