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Transcending The Loss Of A Spouse


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My dear Kay,

I've been reading your posts every day, and I feel such a need just to let you know I’m here, I care about you, and I am thinking of you. In some of your posts I can feel the isolation, loneliness, depression and despair that threaten to overtake and swallow you up, and at those times, my heart just aches for you. I hope that at such times, you can feel our collective arms around you. At other times I sit in awe of the supportive messages you post to others in these forums, as with the utmost compassion you attend to us, normalize our reactions, and find just the right words to comfort and reassure us. I hope that at those times, too, you know how much we treasure you, and how much we value your continued presence in our GH family.

Kay, I understand completely your not wanting to stay forever locked into the sorrow and despair that came with George’s death. You wanted to grow and to heal, and to move your life forward with your new husband John, and there is nothing wrong with that! When life handed you an opportunity to live again, you did not resist, and no one can fault you for that!

I know you come here for support in your grief journey, Kay, but I also think you need and deserve support in your journey to let new love in your life. I think, for example, that if you were exposed to the stories of other widows and widowers who’ve “transcended the loss of a spouse to find a new love” ~ whether it’s by reading about them in books, or by being with them in a support group ~ it would reinforce the decisions you’ve made, and give you some hope for the future. (The book I’m reading right now is an example: The Healing Power of Love: Transcending the Loss of a Spouse to New Love.)

I also believe that your particular circumstances (separation from your new husband; long commute which leaves little time for socializing, rest and relaxation; financial worries; etc.) are complicating your grief and your transition into your new life, Kay. I’m reminded of an empowering passage from another book I highly recommend:

Someone asked me the other day how a person can feel any personal power when you’re down, feeling the lowest you’ve ever felt. I answered, “The personal power comes from knowing that I made the choices that led to good things in the past and I made the choices later that led to bad things happening. And I can make new and different choices today. There is something strong in knowing that your choices matter and that you can make new ones. I said to myself early on in this process, “You screwed up. Now you have to do what’s necessary to get to where you want to be from here. Start right here. Move yourself forward from this point.” So every day it’s a matter of getting up, determined to keep going. You’ve got to keep getting up and keep on doing whatever there is to do today, the best way you can do it. I’m a different person today, and I think a better person. I know I’m much less afraid. My attitude is now that the light at the end of the tunnel isn’t a freight train; it’s the light of a beautiful, wonderful day.

[source: “Renewing after a Financial Loss,” in Tough Transitions: Navigating Your Way through Difficult Times, © 2005 by Elizabeth Harper Neeld, PhD, ISBN # 044669455X, p. 265]

Kay, I don’t know where you are in your relationship with John ~ I cannot imagine how difficult it must be to be so far apart from each other while trying to develop and nurture a new marriage ~ but even when you’re apart, I hope you will continue to allow yourself to experience John’s love, at the same time releasing some of the pain of your grief for George. Releasing the pain of grief is not the same as releasing George ~ you know as well as I do that George will stay in your heart forever, and you will never, ever forget him. The love you have for John does not in any way diminish or cancel the love you have for George.

I wish with all my heart that we could wave a magic wand and take away your troubles and your pain, dear Kay, but that we cannot do. Instead, we can offer only this: our love, which is with you always. :wub:

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Marty,

Thank you for your kind message. I receive it with all of the love and encouragement that is intended in it.

I am trying very hard to build a new life and, you're right, the physical distance between John and I, combined with lack of time and financial constraints due to this long commute have compounded my grief further.

With this grief journey, there is one thing I have noticed, there are ups and downs. We go a few steps forward one day, only to go back a few steps the next...yet when we look back, we can see how far we've come, even while in the midst of it, we can't see any progress.

I think back to nearly two years ago when I was first struck with the knowledge that my soulmate and best friend, my beloved husband, was gone from me. Suddenly I was no longer someone's wife and partner, but all alone. Suddenly my income was ripped in half. Suddenly there were doctor and hospital bills pouring in that I didn't know how I'd pay, as well as funeral expenses. Suddenly the friendships we'd had disappeared. Suddenly there were responsibilities that had been his, for which I felt ill equipped, that now belonged on my shoulders alone. My friend and confident was gone. I look back at how I dealt with all that...I remortgaged our home to pay off the doctors and hospital bills. I accepted help wherever offered. I made a couple of new friends. When I lost my job, I jobsearched full time until I got a new one. And this weekend, when I purchased a brand new car, utilizing the savings in gas I will have to pay for most of the payments. Somehow, I've gotten by...with or without a man in my life, and that has been an empowering realization. Life doesn't always turn out as planned, but we have to continue this journey regardless and do our best with it. I realized I have used this forum as a sounding board whenever I was down or scared or disappointed. And that is a good thing. Sometimes we feel we have worn out our welcome with friends, their lives are normal and it's difficult for them to understand what we are and have been going through. But this site, this group of people, have been relentlessly patient and encouraging. I appreciate your support.

Today John asked if he could take my classifieds with him...he wants to start keeping an eye out for a job closer to here. It may take a while, but that means a lot to me, for it means he really wants and intends to be here. So many of the things you mention, Marty, are part of what I love about John, such as "Now you have to do what’s necessary to get to where you want to be from here. Start right here. Move yourself forward from this point.” That is something I've heard him say. I do intend to move forward, and yet I still grieve even while I live. Some of that I just have to accept. How many times I have heard from those who have been widowed, whether remarried or not, that you never forget them or totally stop missing them. It is just that the choosing to live is a choice, a conscious choice, that we make. And it takes time, but eventually, hopefully, we all get there.

Thank you, all of you, for being there. P.S. I thought you might want to see a picture of John and I at our wedding.

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