Call me irrepressibly optimistic or call me nuts, but if I'm going to have to be widowed, I might as well try to make the best of it. I know that many of you on the site are very recently widowed, in a place where hurt predominates. I was there too for a long, long time. But I hope that for you, as it FINALLY is for me (5 years since being widowed), there will come a time when you can find and make good in the new life you have been forced to create. I had a very happy marriage and I used to feel guilty even acknowledging that I could be happy without my husband, but the guilt is gone now and I can just be happy. It feels wonderful.
Here are some good new things in my life that wouldn't be here if I hadn't been widowed:
I really and fully appreciate being healthy and I no longer consider it to be self-indulgent to exercise, go to yoga, meditate, eat good food, or get a massage. After seeing my once healthy husband suffer from cancer and cancer treatment, I completely understand that having a healthy strong body is an amazing gift and something to cherish.
I love making decisions and acting on them without having to always consult someone else. I feel more capable and powerful than I've ever felt in my life before because I have no choice but to make major and minor decisions for myself and my children all the time. It has been quite empowering for me.
I enjoy having a new man in my life who is not a husband. He has his own household and I have my own household and when we are together our time is not generally spent on domestic activities or chores. There is time for simply connecting and enjoying one another that isn't complicated by household tasks or shared responsibilities. Yes, we love helping one another out, but there is something to be said for time apart as well as time together, and even for time just appreciating what we are creating without necessarily knowing how it will all turn out.
I feel less fear in general. Now that I have survived one of the worst events that can happen to a person, smaller obstacles don't even register as difficult anymore. This makes life so much more enjoyable and a lot less stressful.
I have more to give to others in wisdom, time and energy than ever before. Nothing matters more to me than my connections with others. I feel a greater desire to share what I know and to give what I can.
On the other hand, I am more comfortable being alone. I understand that loss prevails in the end, and I am learning to accept change and loss with more grace.
I would love to hear how others have experienced good through their very significant pain and loss.
Thank you for sharing your perspective and experience, Jill. At about 6 months out, I have found that I have more strength than I realized and more supports in my life than I acknowledged. I too have felt profoundly appreciative of my relatively good health and am recommitting myself to maintaining it. On a few occasions, even in the midst of sadness, I have felt some sense of relief at being able to do what I want within my own time frames. I worry less about small things. Although generally I still have this vague fear about the future and feeling that there is nothing much to look forward to in my life, at times I do wonder whether life might hold some possibilities .
I would not have discovered some of the negative things about my marriage -- and about my married self -- if he were still alive. These are turning out to be BIG lessons in my life and I'm grateful to have found them.
I am SURE I would not have experienced any of this change if he'd lived. Plus, we might have split up.... which would have brought some other lessons, which I THINK I'm happy to have avoided. :-)
(Don't get me wrong... I loved him, and he loved me... we were happy. But I was young when we hooked up. I did learn a lot from him... but I compromised a lot too. Good for the marriage... not so good for me.)
There we go. That's called bouncing back!
I think that after surviving a loss such as this, we cannot help but be changed, and in some ways better. I am stronger, more mature than I ever cared to be. I am starting (almost 5 years) to be more confident in my decision-making abilities. My writing and art have developed more out of the pain and that has been good for me.
There are gifts from the grief, like them or not. I will use them as best I can. I go on to honor my LH, as he would have wanted with all his heart.
even in this day and time,It’s a common theme, women who stand behind their husbands, raising a family, while not planning their own future. I thought I had a plan; it was to be with him and I was happy with that life.I returned to college a few years before he was diagnosed with brain cancer. Taking a class here and there, even after he was diagnosed I took online courses, they were a good distraction. I thought there would be time, the kids go off to college, he would be doing what he loved and I would have the time to discover who I am. Well, here I am, forced to make a new plan.
After reading post and comments here and the following excerpt from the book, “The way of transition, embracing life’s most difficult moments” It became very clear to me that I had some “self work” to do first.
“In any relationship, the other person is the reason (or at least the excuse) for not doing some things that you think you might otherwise like to do. The other relationships you do not pursue, the adventuresome-sounding activities or trips you pass up, the professional ventures you do not engage in, the wonderful things you could buy yourself , but don’t- each of these unexplored possibilities can be dismissed because your partner would not like them, or simply because your life together cannot accommodate them.” (For me, I was raising five daughters, volunteering for many causes, planning vacations and parties, I had an excuse)
“Suddenly-although the shock of the loss may hide the fact for a while-your excuse is gone. You could go to Italy, next spring; you could drop everything, go to the movies; you could…do almost anything. And when you realize that you find that the freedom you longed for is also more frightening than you realized. What you have lost is the reason I have to be the person that I currently am. And that is no small loss, if you have any doubts about yourself”
13 months later……Just this week! I MADE myself make some life changing decisions. I’m moving three states away, I’ve been accepted into a medical university, to finish my nursing degree. I’m going for it. I may change my mind along the way to concentrate on a certain area in medicine, but the most important thing is, I’m doing it! And I don’t feel guilty(at least not today) This is a decision that my husband would not have agreed with or even approve of; and It’s going to be hard for my 15 yr old, but I feel I have to go, I need to take my life back and quit trying to hang on to a life that is in the past.
Henry's passing was like a blessing in a way for me to have full healing for myself, to be able to confront the greatest fear in my life. You see I lost my mother when I was 12 and being there at that last moment was veyr traumatic for me. I was so afraid to connect and get into a relationship with someone for fear of experiencing that pain of losing someone I love. I did not even want to witness my father dying because I felt if I had I would go crazy. I had my first boyfriend and first kiss at 29 - LOL (now laugh at the wasted times....) and Henry came along. I know he was the right person for me.
Looking back at the time during Henry's emergency, I am thankful that I was able to talk to him. He could no longer talk but I knew he was listening to me. That gave me peace because I expressed my gratitude and okay for him to go even though deep inside it pained me so. I also did my best and showered him with love during those times.
Nowadays, I am trying to rediscover my old tenacious self... I do not feel guilty for myself if I do not really prepare or cook the meals and if I do a little overtime at the office. I still do have some fears - things that I was so complacent because I knew Henry could handle them much better than I do.