I have read and contributed to posts about how losing a loved one can change the survivor. “How has the death of your spouse changed you” or something of that genre.
It is a fair question, but I am not certain I can give a concrete answer or will be able to in the future, if ever.
The past year has been one of pure unimaginable grief, not one I would ever want to repeat. My spouse’s loss has left me with an incalculable feeling of how shall I say, “Lostness.” I know that’s not a word but…whatever.
What I am learning, is that for me, grief has been a very self-centered place to be. In all my pain, there have been times when all I could feel was the searing suffering of being alone and missing my “soul-mate.”
Many times, people have told me “Give it time, the pain will ease and lessen” something to that affect. That’s like falling off a ladder, breaking my femur and people gathering around saying the pain will go away eventually while I am writhing in agony barely able to comprehend what they are telling me. Take my pain away now ! It’s unbearable!
It’s been over a year since my wife died. It still hurts, but not as severely. The scar remains but I am in rehab (if one uses the analogy of a compound hip fracture) and learning to walk again, move forward step by step.
The other day I was visiting my daughter in San Diego - I was walking my 3-year-old granddaughter I passed a man older than I-for whatever reason I knew he was widowed. When it comes down to it, it’s not brain surgery, odds are 50/50 right? I struck up a conversation with him and he told me what his past year after 50 years of marriage and losing his life has been like for him. Words like “Going crazy” and “Not knowing who I was” as he was in tears.
There was instant compassion and empathy for this man I did not know- as if I was facing myself in a mirror. 600 miles from home I come across a widower in pain and every word he shared I related to 100% It truly was an instant kinship, like I had known him for years.
It was then I realized something, this is not all about me. Millions of people lose loved ones every day. Millions cry and weep, longing for those they loved with all their hearts and are trying to move forward at their pace, from inches to feet, move they do. In my opinion if I don’t move, if we don’t move forward, we die. I know I will. I’m not ready for that yet.
There are others who grieve the death of my wife. Her adult children, they think of her every day. Her two grandsons miss her terribly. And her friends, they grieve over her loss and cry for the close friend that made them laugh and feel so accepted. Her work colleagues, who have wept when they notice her absence during company picnics, meetings, and seeing her drive up to work in the morning.
And my former sister in-law-losing her best friend, her “Sis” has been a life changing event that has rocked her world and forever changed the fact that she no longer can call and say, “Hey sis, let’s talk about our week!”
For today, and I think for tomorrow, what I am learning is that in all my pain, heartbreak, gut wrenching suffering, it’s not all about me and that is more than “Okay.” It’s a chance for me to heal and love others who miss her like I do.