Losing a loved-one can feel as if we are losing our entire world. We all grieve differently, and for some, like Paula, it can spin us down into a deep depression. We may lose our identity and feel as though we no longer belong in this world. Yet, despite the length of our mourning period, we may all come to a realization and an acceptance of our new role in this life, just as Paula did. It may take time to find peace as a widow, but have faith that life goes on and we are allowed to live in the present, instead of the past.
I am 65 years of age. I am a widow. Losing the love of my life, my high school sweetheart, my lover, and my best friend turned my world upside down. I found myself in the depths of despair — quite frankly the darkest days of my life. Being without my husband of 35 years was the hardest thing that I have ever had to do.
As I look back I can clearly see the path of my healing journey. It is a path that still continues to this day — a path that I know I will be on for the rest of my life. You see, my broken heart is still healing. When my husband Eddie first died I would picture my heart with this terrible gaping wound. Now when I picture my heart I see that the wound has healed, and it has been replaced with a scar — I call it the widow’s scar.
After the death of a loved one people will tell you that time heals. I have found that time leads to acceptance. And, accepting the death of a spouse is something that none of us ever count on having to do. The healing journey is one filled with darkness and despair, as well as memories and hope for future happiness.
What was my healing journey like? Well, there were days when I doubted that I would be able to survive my new reality. Days when all I wanted was to be with him. I had thoughts of dying in a car crash or falling asleep and not waking up. I was on an emotional roller-coaster ride still trying to live the life that we lived together knowing all too well that I had gone from “us” to just “me.” Everywhere I looked said “us,” the house and neighborhood that we had raised our family in, even the shops and restaurants that we frequented together were a constant reminder of the life I longed for but knew I couldn’t have.
For six long years I struggled with loneliness and depression. I kept busy by doing all of the projects around the house that we would have done together. I cleaned, I painted, I cut the grass, and I even tackled plumbing and electrical projects that my husband would have done. I was determined to keep “our” house just the way we would have kept it together — it took all of my time and energy, and quite frankly unknowingly I was living in the past and ignoring the present.
I would take one step forward and three steps back as I struggled to live my life, as I had once known it. I never knew when my depression would hit, I never knew when the waves of sadness would wash over me with a vengeance and I would be taken back down into that dark abyss of despair and loneliness. I dreaded the holidays as they only magnified my loneliness, and produced uncontrollable tears and sadness.
I tried hard to pull myself out of this dark and sad place. I prayed. I cried. And, gradually, I took baby steps forward.
As time passed by, slowly, ever so slowly I was beginning to find myself again. I was beginning to find joy inching its way back into my life. It was as if I suddenly woke up from a deep sleep and I knew that the time had come to “get a grip.” I suddenly realized that I was living in a time capsule. When Eddie died my world came to a screeching halt, and I was still living in that world.
Today I can honestly say that I am beginning to feel like myself again. How did I overcome my depression and sadness? I really can’t say. What I do know is that one day I woke up and said to myself, “What are you doing? You can’t keep living this way.” I had to do something about it — and I did. I went from living in the past to living in the present, still keeping and cherishing the beautiful memories of the life we shared together.
We all grieve differently; we all handle loss in our own way. In my case I believe that I just needed time to come to terms with my new existence. I had to go through the darkness to come to terms with my loss. I had to finally realize that love never dies, that the love that we shared, we still share. I had to finally know that I would see him again. I had to understand that we do stay connected through our love. How do I know that these realizations are true? I just do.
At long last I have peace within my heart that I never thought would ever be possible again. I am thankful for this peace, for this knowing, this understanding, this love connection. I am a widow. I am at peace. And for that I am thankful.
See how Paula answers our Identity Five Questions:
What have you accepted within yourself and/or within your life?
I have accepted being alone, and I have accepted the loss of my husband.
Is there anything you are working on accepting?
Yes, I am working daily on accepting the challenges of aging.
What do you appreciate about yourself or your life?
I appreciate the spiritual wisdom that I have gained.
What have you achieved, or what are you working to achieve personally, physically, or mentally?
I am working on developing a second career as a writer of both inspirational articles/books, and children’s stories.
What is your not-so-perfect way?
I am extremely organized and obsessive compulsive about having things just-so. I’ve learned to embrace this obsession, others are not so quick to embrace it!
How would you complete this sentence “I Love My…”
I love my silver gray hair!