Dear Dr. Brilliant Cliché;
I can’t remember a time when my husband and I weren’t together. I know it sounds like a cliché, but we were childhood sweethearts, went to college together and then got married. We had our ups and downs but he seemed to fill in my blanks- between us, we could handle anything. He could always depend on me and I could always trust him to be there for me. My friends told me I was a lucky woman and I knew they were right. Until now.
He died a month ago and I can’t describe the sense of loss I have. It’s not just as if my partner died…it’s like a part of me has died too. I feel numb. When the numbness begins wearing off I feel such a deep sorrow that it is like a weight pulling me down. I feel lost.
My friends and family have tried to comfort me, but their words don’t reach through this force field around me. My daughter thinks that I should get grief counseling, but I don’t want anyone intruding right now. I’m not ready to let go. I don’t want to move on. I don’t feel like myself anymore, I feel like half a person.
I really need to know- is this ever going to change? Because I am ready to check out, right now, if it isn’t. I can’t imagine going on from here.
I am sorry for your loss. You were indeed lucky in life; but life is about change. It’s important to know that grief is very normal emotion and part of the process of life. Your daughter is correct- you aren’t supposed to do it alone. Your isolation is an attempt to hold back change and keep things as they were. Pain can be like a photo album; if you let go of it, you fear you will also let go of your memories.
If it was you who had died first what would you wish for your husband? I’m guessing you would hope he would find happiness. That is what he would want for you now. What to do is keep busy. Keep a schedule; get out of your house. Volunteering helps a lot. Don’t expect the pain to go away; that will just draw attention to it. It will eventually leave of it’s own accord, when you aren’t looking. It may return, then leave again. That is the nature of feeling. Grief support groups are helpful- you need to know that you are not alone and what you feel is normal. I do not believe in medicating grief as it just prolongs the inevitable. Just try to eat and sleep on schedule; it helps to keep your balance.
Don’t let fear become your new partner; it is an abusive bed fellow.
Dr. Brilliant Cliché
Granny says: When I was in my 50’s, newly divorced, alone and without a solid work resume, I would wake up at night with a sense of deep terror about the future. It seemed to follow me through every day. I’d never realized how many blanks my husband had filled in until he was gone.
To save myself, I played a game. I wasn’t divorced, abandoned and empty- I was an immigrant from another country who had come here to start a new life. I was incredibly fortunate in that someone had provided me with a house to live in and the contact information for people I could call if I needed help. I was not forced to live on the streets in desperate poverty while I struggled to scrape heart and soul together. How lucky I was! Now it was up to me to create the life I wanted.
Whenever I found myself in the grip of cold fear, I would play my game. And suddenly, my world would shift. I was a new person and I had a chance to start over. All I had to do was start walking, one foot in front of the other.
You can write another story for yourself. Write it for your husband if you don’t want to let go of him. We all dedicate our stories to someone. I can’t think of a better tribute and gift to his memory.