Yesterday I was talking to a woman who would have become my friend in the best of times; but, unfortunately, we met during the worst of times. I met her in an online grief group – we are both widowed. I was immediately drawn to her positive mindset and her steadfast determination to seek joy, in spite of the mess she found herself in. In truth, I saw a lot of myself reflected in her. She has depth and strength and a love of life that is contagious, even through a computer screen; so, naturally I reached out to her. The rest is history, I have know her for about two years now and we have become very good friends. We talk weekly and, through text, she is part of my daily life despite the geography between us. Well, yesterday, my friend had a tough day. There was no reason for her cruddy day, other than her husband is dead and she is left to figure out where she belongs on this Earth. *Sigh.
From the outside looking in, she has a “good” life. And, in reality her life is “good” in most areas – she knows this. I know that I have a good life too. But, still, it is not the life we imagined for ourselves. We are missing love from our life partner. We can physically feel the void our dead lovers left. Our travel companions and life partners are gone and neither of us has found a new person to occupy these empty spaces. I understand this sense of emptiness she feels because I feel it too.
Well, who the hell knows.
We rebuild our lives.
We recreate our self-identity.
We stand on our own.
We keep trying.
We throw everything we have got at the wall until something sticks.
Yep. That is the plan. Both my friend and I are “strong” women who are attempting to steady ourselves and become comfortable in this new, alternate life we have been hurled into. For the most part, we are both “successful” widows. Between us, we have a lot of “get up and go”. We have moxie in excess. We are built solid. We have grit and determination running through our veins, but we are also human. Widowhood hurts. And, we both struggle to figure out where we belong now at 3.8 and 4+ years into widowhood.
Recently, we had a heartfelt discussion about how our grief has morphed into a grief that is more centred around ourselves. No apologies here. FFS, we are the ones left living. We are the ones who have to live through this mess. So, now, long after the point of impact, we are no longer simply grieving our husbands – as if that was ever “simple”. Now, as more seasoned widows, our fear and anxiety is about adapting to our new lives and building a full life around our grief.
So, we forge ahead into the uncertain future. This is not an easy thing to do. Some days we face the future head on and other days we tiptoe out the front door. It is what it is. Opening the door to uncertainty is especially daunting without a life partner championing you. This is not lost on any widowed person. It is hard stuff, all of it; but we do it anyways. What other choice do we have?
Now, at 3.8 years, my grief is not just about Mike. It’s not that I don’t miss him now, I do. I miss him endlessly. I say “I miss you Mike” many, many times each day. But, now the uncertainty surrounding my future is what really gets to me. My focus is on me and not simply surviving his death. I have done this. I have survived Mike dying. And, now, I am attempting to thrive in the life I am slowly and meticulously recreating from scratch without a recipe to follow. Like all widowed people, I am rebuilding my life and discovering my new self-identity and this is a long and tedious process. But, this process is necessary. It is part of the evolution of grief. Eventually, grief becomes ours – for ourselves. It’s not about my dead spouse anymore… it’s about me. I am the one who is still living. And, you are too.
Evolving with Grace,