Wear your Dead Spouse’s Undies: A Guide to Modern Grieving

“It’s alive.”

The ‘it’ is me.

First things first: My dear Mike started this blog to document his life with cancer. He did it with honesty, grace and humour.

I promised myself that I would carry on and keep The Big Diseasey alive after Mike died. Refresher: He died of cancer, specifically metastatic synovial sarcoma, on May 24, 2015.

So, I soldiered on, wrote a few posts, wrote an essay for the Globe and Mail on our loss, and the Huffington Post asked me to become one of their regular bloggers. I desperately wanted to write but something was holding me back.

I regret not capturing the depths of my grief in words but heck, the best intentions sometimes get laid to waste.

But life also happened: My son started kindergarten; my cookbook, Winnipeg Cooks was published in October 2015; and CBC Radio Canada hired me to pinch hit as a national food columnist for three months to cover a paternity leave. (Here’s one of my radio pieces.)

Here’s what was also happening behind the scenes: My heart hurt, my body ached, my brain went on low-power mode and I put one foot in front of the other. Some days I lived from minute to minute. Other days I measured and managed time from hour to hour.

My hair started falling out. I ate more. I moved less. I lost more sleep. Chest-tightening, flop sweat, anxiety attacks struck. I cried. I stopped crying. I kissed pictures. I put up more pictures. I crawled into Mike’s closet, wrapping his shirt sleeves around me.

And I started wearing his underwear.

In my defence, the first time it happened I was out of clean undies. His dresser was full of fresh ones.

Truths were revealed as a pulled on his snug boy shorts.

Firstly: We now have empirical proof that his butt was smaller than mine. So there’s that.

Also: Men’s undergarments are very comfortable and don’t ride up.

And: Wearing your dead husband’s underwear should be a prescription for grieving.

It felt good, right, sad and comforting. It was a hug, a pelvic hug, from beyond the grave.

So to recap, between the crying, kissing, hair loss, flop sweats and cross-dressing, there was some by-the-book and also off-the-hook grieving going on.

Moving forward. There has been progression since then. Five weeks in New Zealand over Christmas and New Years helped.

I am back. I am back home. I am back writing.

Better late than never? I hope so.

Better than ever? Not quite.

But getting better.

6 thoughts on “Wear your Dead Spouse’s Undies: A Guide to Modern Grieving

  1. we all grieve in our own way, it’s a process as you know, bit by bit it will get easier. My sister also wears her husbands underwear. She was all out of clean so grabbed a pair of his and made the same comment you did, she said it is very comfortable. Maybe we should start a new fad.

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