I was chatting and messaging back and forth with some other widowed people in a Facebook Widowed Support Group for re-partnered and remarried widowed people this morning, and the topic came up about the term CHAPTER TWO. Some widowed people refer to their new partner after loss as their “chapter two.” Some people like this phrase, while others feel it is cold or detached sounding, as if people are just broken down into chapters and nothing more. There are mixed feelings about this phrase, just as there are mixed feelings about other phrases used in the widowed world; such as saying “he died” versus “he passed away” or even just “he passed.” (Passed what? A kidney stone? The bar exam? I think you know how I personally feel about this phrasing.) Other complicated word choosings include “my late husband/wife/partner” versus “my partner who died”, or whatever other way you choose to put it.
Anyway, back to the term CHAPTER TWO. Personally, I don’t take these terms too seriously, and I think that each widowed person should use whatever language best describes their own situation and feelings, for them. And for whatever reason, this has become the common term to use for our new relationships in the widowed community. I don’t personally use it, because I tend to agree with feeling like it doesnt properly describe the situation for me. Nick is not a chapter, just as Don was not a chapter. I guess I see it as more of a tapestry or an easel, sort of the way the character Kevin describes it in an early episode in Season One of “This Is Us.” Everyone in our lives is always part of the painting, even when and well after they die. They are always part of our picture, our painting. There are times that I struggle with how to put words to my unique situation, how to fully express the complex feelings of being widowed and re-partnered, of being married two times, to the two most wonderful and very different men I have ever met.
In the widowed world, there is often talk of the term “soulmates”, and whether or not that exists, and if it does, then who is our soulmate – our partner who died, or our partner we share life with now? Again, I firmly believe every person should use whatever language works for them, because its such a personal thing – but here is what I believe and feel: Soulmates are real. Our souls belong with certain people. And also, the loss of a spouse/partner changes you from the inside out, forever. It changes everything forever.
I believe that the person I am today, after the loss of my husband Don, still has bits of the core of who I always was, but is also forever changed. My heart beats differently , and different things are important to me now than in that previous life before loss. My soul is different now too, and so Don was my soulmate for that other life, and Nick is my soulmate today. I love them both forever, always, and very differently – because every relationship and every love story is uniquely it’s own, and can never ever be replaced. We are never subtracting from the loves or experiences we have had in our lives, but merely adding to them. We are adding to the tapestry, and just as love never dies, nor do our many experiences and stories.
I’d love to hear your thoughts.