How do you cope when you lose your partner and you have to pick up the pieces of your life and the future you both had planned out, and attempt to fit them back together, minus the biggest and essential piece?
I was in my 40’s when I lost my husband and the one thing I can tell you is that there is no normal way to cope, no set time limit, no ordinary way to grieve, and that it’s different for everyone who suffers such a loss.
I haven’t got over it and I never will but I have managed to get on with living, making mistakes along the way, and knowing that it isn’t a matter of getting over the loss but learning to live with it, embracing the wonderful memories I have, letting the less auspicious ones fade, and trying my best to live my life in a way that makes me feel he is smiling and egging me on; even applauding and telling me to follow my own dreams.
I am motivated to do that now knowing that life can be short, and that I can honour his life by making sure I make the most of mine. It took me quite some time to have this epiphany, several years in fact, but that’s OK.
I promise you’ll find your way through
I’m still muddling my way through but I have a clearer path now, I cry a little less often, and when I think about him, which is frequently, my heart still hurts but I smile and feel grateful that I had him in my life for the time I did.
I’m finding my way and so will you, in your own time and in your own way. I have managed to harness my DIY skills and redo my bathroom, tile my living room floor, sand and paint, even go back to school and get a degree.
Did I do it because I’m now a strong independent woman? No, I did most of it so I would be constantly busy and wouldn’t have to think about my loss.
But I came out the other side knowing that I actually could do it. That unexpected devastating turn in my life has made me discover who I am again, just me, without the us. It’s hard, exhausting, and full of tears but I’m doing it, and so will you.
What’s the one piece of wisdom I can give? Don’t make any major life-changing decisions right away. You’re already suffered one life-changing event and that’s enough to cope with.
I was in a haze for the first six months, I couldn’t remember things, lost things constantly, and couldn’t think past the day I was experiencing.
The next 12 months I was on automatic pilot, getting through my life but not really thinking about it. Now, almost four years later, I am rediscovering who I am, what I want, and where I’m going from here. Your timeline may be shorter or longer; everybody’s experience is different; there is no normal.
Remember the joy of being loved
I am back to travelling the world, something we loved doing as a couple, and I am enjoying every minute of it and soaking up every experience.
I wish he was standing with me experiencing it too, but in many ways he is. I’m experiencing it for both of us. I no longer feel guilty when I feel happy, life keeps moving, I need to as well.
He would have kicked my arse for feeling like that in the first place. The thought of that makes me smile and that’s a good thing. I went back to school and got my degree.
Hard enough for someone at the midcentury mark, but I did it and I know he would be proud. I’m proud. I’m rethinking my career and what I want from it.
I don’t want to drift through this new normal anymore, on the same track and in the one direction.
I want to experience life, feel fulfilled in it, and live life to the fullest, not just because he would want me to, but because I want to. It may take you a while to get to this point as well, but you will.
I have an amazing family and wonderful friends, one in particular who helped me and held my hand through the worst of it. Let people help you and ask for it when you need it.
What have I learned? I’ve discovered I’m stronger than I thought I was, and that I WILL BE OK.
I miss him every day and still cry, often at the most unexpected times, but I hold him in my heart, remember the joy of being loved and loving someone else so completely, and carry that with me as I move forward.
My new life is going to be good, in fact it’s going to be great, that’s a promise.