At one time or another, it happens—the person we most love goes away. How do we survive it—and thrive? Celebrated poet Sharon Olds weighs in!
Married for 30 years and the mother of two children, Sharon Olds was suddenly informed by her husband that he was leaving her for another woman. This fall, in her astonishing book of poems Stag’s Leap, she describes her experience—from the grief and betrayal to her life-expanding discovery of her own freedom. Here she reveals some of the small, tangible things you can do that helped her though the loneliest times—then and now.
1. Tell People
In the city and in our summer community, there were several groups of families my husband and I had been close to for many years. I felt guilty about the pain they were going to feel for us (me) when I told them about the divorce, as if we were harming the community. At the same time, I knew they needed to know. So I crept from apartment to apartment, then from house to house, like a Typhoid Mary—a Divorce Shary.
After I delivered the news each time, our friends immediately looked terrible—wide eyes, altered color. Their shocked reactions, though, helped. I was over the illusion that if I remained quiet and polite maybe events could reverse themselves, but I was also still in denial. Visiting these close friends, telling them the truth, acknowledged that some kind of death had happened, the end of a marriage. It moved me forward, and the empathy that people showed me reminded that I was still loved.