The loss of a spouse is best described by those who have experienced such in almost unspeakable terms. Tragic, sad, unbearable, unimaginable, and yet spouses lose spouses everyday. Some deaths are expected, while others come out of the blue. But for those who lose a spouse the response is always the same: shock, disconnection with everything around them, as well as extreme heartache and pain.
It is this acute pain that causes (the widow (er)) to stumble, become forgetful, distance themselves from others, become stoic, and/or wail and cry with anguish and despair. Everyone’s response is different as the bereaved deal with this new realm of normal. This is the aftermath of losing a spouse which eventually becomes the beginning of one’s new normal. They do not know what to expect as they begin to feel their world implode and grapple with the fact that life as they knew it has changed. They end up waiting to see what will happen next and wonder about a lot of things: Will he (she) return? This is a question, believe it or not, asked by many who are at the beginning of their grief. They are in a state of shock and often while in this netherworld, they’re not sure what has just taken place in their life. When some leave the deceased’s personal belongings intact right after a person has died, there is a secret desire for the dead to return. Also there can be a fear that the dead spouse would not approve of any changes made, so an overwhelming task is put off indefinitely. This is all a part of the beginning stage of the grief journey, a denial of the loss of sorts, and it is an experience had by many.
In time as they get used to the idea that their spouse has left forever, they will think about putting their lives back together. It will be as though they are pulling together pieces of a puzzle and realizing that some of the pieces just don’t fit.
This is the beginning of their new normal. Eventually everyone will be “normal” again , but never the same as before. I am convinced they are not meant to be, for the losses that we suffer are meant to remind us that we are mere mortals who are not going to live forever. It is a signal that we must begin to take stock of our own lives as we rebuild them and think about our new future. These lives will look like new chapters in one’s book of life and there will be blank pages waiting to be filled in. This new story is not meant to be a retelling of the old.
For me, during this period between life and death, I began to think deeply about my life and reflect on my purpose for being, the reason why I was born. I sorted through thoughts of the past, my childhood, my life with Chuck, and my whole life became a newsreel playing in my mind over and over again. I became keenly aware of my mortality and the fragility of life, but I didn’t dwell too long on such thoughts as I sought answers to the events that had led me to becoming a widow. I even wondered how my destiny ended up intertwined with my husband’s fate, ultimately leading me to a new place in my life. I thought about so many things as I tried to sort out my new way of living without my husband and what it was that I was suppose to do next.
Eventually, after all I had been through, I began to think that many people had similar questions and experiences resembling my own; then it hit me that I wanted to help them by writing about a topic that folks rarely speak about. I wanted to be a voice for the bereaved, assisting them with the trials and tribulations of bereavement. I wanted to assure them that their feelings were OK and that, as they leaned into the pain; they would eventually make peace with it all in their own time and on their own terms. I also wanted them to know that no one else but they can determine how they should respond. Being resilient and having the determination to go on with life while gaining a new perspective on life, will come to everyone in time, without the pressure of outside forces.
My loss led me to the question :“Why am I here?” I knew for myself, that if I dwelled in the pain too long I would miss the message I was supposed to receive from my spirit. This epiphany took place after a long period of time, but eventually I got it.
Crises and tragedies do not occur for naught. I believe that survivors are meant to take their experiences and find new meanings for their lives. These events call upon everyone to grow into the next level, the one where we “get” that we have something else that we are called upon to do. Whatever that may be, whatever age we may be, a higher purpose is awaiting all of us. We just have to get out of our own way. These events are meant to force us to take action in our lives, as we rebuild and figure out what comes next. We are also meant to be reminded that this life is fleeting and we should be living mindfully. Out of my tragedy, and after many, many years of grieving, my life went off into a new direction, born out of grief and turmoil. My loss became my ultimate moment of enlightenment forcing me to look at a new direction for my life .
I would suggest that all who lose a spouse, take all the time that they need to grieve. Sort through all of the chapters of your old book, your old life. Then, after awhile open to a new chapter and begin to write your new story by living again. It is in this moment that it will be revealed to you the reason that you are here, the reason that you were born. Remember, the loss of a loved one may help you find more than you lost. Sad as losing a spouse may be, it could be the very event that unlocks the key to how to live the remainder of your life, ultimately fulfilling your destiny.
To find out more about how you can heal after loss read Brave in a New World:A Guide to Grieving the Loss of a Spouse available on Amazon, click this link: http://tinyurl.com/jnjs5fu