to share or not to share: revealing your death-affected status

I spent a few days last week volunteering for a business conference.

This means I met a lot of people. A lot of people who did not know me at all. Not personally; not professionally.

This brought up, once again, an internal two-step: when spending time with someone new, do I disclose who I am, my “status”? Can I successfully not reveal that information, or does that feel equally wrong?

I was at a business conference. My business is supporting people in grief. My own story is part of that. So aside from any getting-to-know-you personal questions (Are you married? Do you have kids? What brings you here?), revealing my business opens the door to revealing my self.

Does that mean I disclose, or not disclose? My personal and professional lives are intertwined, but does that mean that I have to be an open book to everyone?

Who exactly is on a need to know basis? Where and when, exactly, does anyone need to know?

I did what I often do: I sidestepped personal questions. I left out large gaping chunks of my life.

Earlier in my grief, this sidestepping felt horrible, like I was purposely ignoring and abandoning not only my heart, but my love for Matt as well. What does that say about me that I can so calmly and clearly not say anything?

But as time has gone on, I’ve become more used to this.

I’m much better these days at steering the conversation away from my personal life. In general, there’s just no reason to tell a new acquaintance that I’m widowed. I’m so completely not interested in the probing questions, the pitying looks, the hand placed softly on my forearm as a stranger leans in to hear the details of my life.

Though death and grief and love define me in many ways, I’m better at not mentioning it.

I’m an expert evader. Sort of.

It’s still weird. My shield of deflection is strong, and I question it almost daily.

Will this ever stop being awkward? Will it feel horrible in a whole new way when it does?

Grief and love stitch themselves into our lives in subtle and pervasive ways. It’s everywhere. It’s absent. It’s under the table, it’s out in the open. We choose. We feel horrible that we’re able to choose.

 It’s a strange line to walk.

If you’re here on this path, dodging the landmines of introduction – yeah. It’s weird, isn’t it. This whole grief-walk is weird.


How have you navigated this? Are you in a place of needing to tell everyone? Have you shifted into the ability to not say anything? If so, what fresh weirdness is that?

Let us know in the comments. You can also chime in on the Refuge In Grief facebook page. It’s a big topic. I’d love to hear from you.