First off, I want to extend my sincerest condolences to you on the loss of your husband Dave. Although I do not know you, your essay resonated with me so. I too lost my husband (to cancer) in 2009. The grief and pain from the loss of a spouse run so deep it is like none other. All loss is different, not worse, just different. I had so much to tell you, a stranger and kindred soul; I wrote it out, but it was too much to post on FB. I wanted to write you something more. The compartmentalized thing, the void in your bed, (yours with the arms of your mother holding you as you wept… mine with soft pillows). There is so much of your experience that is so familiar. I had the time to grieve and cry, and wail, as I had retired and had nothing but time to do just that, grieve. I soon realized that no one talks about the suffering and pain and all the emotional ups and downs of the grief experience.When I was thrust into my situation I didn’t know any widows or widowers who I could talk to about what I was experiencing. Back in 2009 there weren’t really any online grief communities, but there are many now. Other people are uncomfortable about what to say and they don’t really know how to treat you or be with you, the first time they see you after your life changing event. I’ve written a book about my experience called Brave in a New World: A Guide to Grieving the Loss of a Spouse. I talk about how I dealt with the varying stages of my grief Journey in my blogs on my website at http://www.braveinanewworld.wordpress.com. If you have a moment read some of my blogs, they may bring you comfort.
I am already years ahead of you in my grief journey. I know that you are still in the numb stage. However, I must add, that in 30 days you’ve managed to figure out so many things that will fortify you as you move your life forward. The love of your husband will remain with you and your children as long as you live. You may know that now, but you will know many more things as you continue on your life’s journey….I promise. I mean, I’ve become an author… because of my husband’s passing. It’s not a new career path that I chose, but one that was given to me. I also co-facilitate a grief recovery group for people who have lost spouses.
When I wrote my book it was as if my husband was giving me the words, and I wrote and wrote and wrote. I want to empower the griever and I want them to know exactly what it is that they are feeling. The outside world would rather you close yourself away and grieve or get yourself together quietly and not let them see the pain and the suffering that you’re going through. So kudos to you for writing and sharing your thoughts with us. It is more than I could’ve done in thirty days.
The only book that helped me make sense of everything was a gift from a friend: Healing after Loss by Margaret Whitmore Hickman. You might want to read it if you have a chance.
You, my dear Sheryl, will at some point see the light at the end of the tunnel. You’re in the beginning stage of this life-altering experience, but I promise you, you will come out knowing things you’ve never ever known before. You will have a new wisdom and you’ll look at the world and those around you with a newly enlightened perspective. You have lost your beloved husband, but the word widow will not define you-you will define it.
It’s been 4 years since you’ve lost Dave. You have rebuilt your life and found new love. This is what Dave would’ve wanted for you: to grieve and then live, with clarity of purpose, renewed strength, peace of mind and joy.