I can say undeniably,that I am no longer the person I once was since the death of my husband. However, it has taken me many years to be able to look back at my cumulative progression. I have recalled my long, long mourning, my struggle to rebuild my life and my eventual emergence into my “new normal”.
As the world turns so do we. We often find ourselves beginning again,turning from old ways to new beginnings,via life’s constantly changing circumstances and also by being exposed to new ideas. We are always given an opportunity to open ourselves up to fresher ways of thinking and living our lives.We think that things will remain the same, but they do not, and the news is that they aren’t suppose to.This is all a part of life, yours and mine.
My life before my husband was just that…… before him.When Chuck and I became husband and wife my life totally changed. I was no longer the single woman I’d once been,as I was now in a sacred partnership.I had to learn to accommodate another person’s feelings, habits, routines, idiosyncrasies, values, and emotions. Chuck had to do the same with me. In so doing,we had to learn to compromise, which sometimes got a little messy, but in the end it always worked out for the highest good of each of us and our little family. Life with another involves change and accommodation. We cannot expect to hold sway in every decision, and contrary to popular thought, one person does not always know what’s best at all times.Honoring and respecting a partner’s point of view is a good way to have a harmonious marriage…give and take….oh but then,I do digress.
There are very few 50/50 relationships. Oh people say they do things 50/50, especially nowadays, but if someone gets ill or is out of work, or is forced out of the blue to assume an unforeseen responsibility that alters the normal routine of family life, more than likely the husband or wife will have to assume the burden of picking up the slack for the better good of the family. It is at these times when a couple must rely on their love bond,which undergirds the foundation of their marriage, in order to deal with whatever lies ahead.
Through the struggles and unpredictable situations that will arise in all relationships as we live and grow older, we might be surprised to find out that after the difficulty, the outcome may include a blessing in disguise. One’s life may end up on a road that you never expected to be on. However, one must continue to work through the pain so as not to get stuck at the fork in the road.
My husband Chuck and I had a life together. We cared for ill parents, who seemed to age very quickly, out of the blue.We took on these unexpected new challenges and became the parents, in essence, to our parents. For so many of us, eventually the parent-child roles will be reversed. And I must say, my husband truly stepped up to the plate. As I began to care for my father, Chuck chipped in as if it were his dad. He became not only someone I could lean on, but the man I could rely on to assist me as I cared for my father. We adapted our lives to meet the challenges that were quickly hurdling our way. Our mutual love and commitment, strengthened our bond, allowing us to be there for each other as we adhered to those vows “in sickeness and in health”. Never did we imagine, little did we know, that our sacred promise would be put to the test in a way that would initially shake us up. But in the end, our collective resolve was to see things through, no matter what.We were a fierce force together until the end. After my husband died,and when the dust had settled I would soon begin my own journey through the grieving process and settle into “a new normal”, one that I could have never imagined.
I read many widows’ stories and laments, numerous ones mirroring my own. Women with children, women who’ve been married over 40, 50, 60 years. Some women have been married a year or two or ten.Sudden illnesses, heart attacks, rare diseases, accidents.They write about the pain and how they’ll never get over the loss. They write about how life will never be the same. While it’s true you will never get over the loss, in time the pain will change.Eventually, the hurt will lessen until it becomes a part of the fabric of who you are. You will have a new perspective on your life,friendships,the world,love,death, and all the intangible aspects of being alive.
My life has changed drastically from my former life before my husband died. The life I have now is rich and full of hope. It was unimaginable to me in the early stages of my grief that I would ever be in this really good place,but it was created out of the ashes of my tragic loss and formed by the tiny steps that I took to come back to life again. The things I have experienced,the amazing people who have been put in my path and have helped me grow;all this would not have taken place had my husband and I remained in tact. And, although I would rather have had him here with me, I now understand that was not in the cards for me and my life alone was a part of my destiny. All the pain, and the changes strengthened me, made me wiser, made me more empathetic,more perceptive,more intuitive.I understand the fragility of life and how the most salient thing is to remember that people,not things,are important.Caring for others is doing God’s work.
Every loss is meant to transform those who are left.These are those watershed moments that define and shape us. You are being asked to step up to a higher level of consciousness when you are faced with unexpected changes in conditions,which can lead to opportunities for a higher state of self-awareness and the possibility of coming into more of your own.
Of course,when it comes to losing a spouse, the initial challenge is getting through the grief and pain of loss and that is always up to those who grieve. Remember, after loss, (although hard to understand when blinded by the veil of grief) you’re being given an opportunity to decide if you are going to remain in pain, running in place or shed the shackles of grief and walk toward something new.
It’s all up to you.