There is a little-talked-about effect of losing your partner or spouse. In addition to being denied their company and conversation, you are now bereft of a sounding board for your plans, problems and decision-making.

You’ve lost your sidekick. 

This became real for me during the past week, when two incidents occurred that cried out for someone close with whom to brainstorm.

First was a call from my sister-in-law, a medical practitioner, who asked me for a “consult.” She is confronting a career/relocation decision. As a divorced woman, she turned to me, a family member, to help her weigh the options.

Days later, I faced my own muddle about a financial situation. I unloaded on a friend, hoping she could see a clear path ahead, where I could see none.

It struck me that at times like these, when your own mental “decider” is gummed up, only your closest companion—your sidekick—may be able to help. Rather than simply acting as a passive listener, a sidekick listens to your secrets, parses your thoughts and emotions, and advises you on the action you should take.

If you’re traveling solo following the loss of your partner, however, you might not have such a person to turn to.

The role of a sidekick can be traced back to ancient Greek drama, and has continued right up to today: Quixote and Sancho . . . Sherlock and Doctor Watson . . . The Lone Ranger and Tonto . . . Frodo and Samwise . . . Spock and Kirk . . . Solo and Chewbacca . . . Harry, Ron and Hermione.

A “sidekick” is not a martial arts move. The term originated in the late 19th and early 20th century. The "kick" was the front side pocket of a pair of trousers, considered the pocket safest from theft. So one’s closest companion became known as a "side-kick.”

A sidekick is not only one you confide in and trust, but also a sometime source of comic relief in your life. Think Ethel Mertz and Lucy Ricardo, Ed Norton and Ralph Kramden.

My late wife, for instance, was an ace at puncturing my daffier pipedreams with a simple eye roll.

Lacking a sidekick, some choose the services of a psychotherapist to help them sort and clarify life issues.

And now, technology can connect you to a virtual sidekick, able to support you anytime, anywhere.

Sporting the vaguely obscene-sounding name of PocketConfidant, this app “guides you to find your own solutions from the untapped wealth of wisdom within.”

Its developers invite you to “talk about what is going on in your life, what you want to change, your needs, desires, goals, and aspirations. Create new opportunities and realities for yourself.”

All this is delivered through your favorite messaging device. No medical counsel required.

What all this tells me is that sidekicks are not easy to come by. So if you have one, cherish that person. If you lose one, search out another.

I am taking applications. 


(Image: Hermione Granger, Ron Weasley, Harry Potter)

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  • Gwen Keegan
    commented 2017-07-22 17:04:42 -0400
    Love the history of the ‘side-kick’. I will never put another set of keys or stick of gum in my front right side pocket without thinking of this post. And I will now refer to my husband as my side-kick with greater depth of meaning. Thank you for the wisdom you imparted today. Gwen