Most people were really sensitive when my husband passed away, but I didn’t want to hear this one. more. time., “You are still young, you are going to find someone else.” How do you reply to that? It’s awkward, to say the least! I lost my husband, not an item like my shoes. I didn’t trade him in! When people say this type of statement it would hurt my heart, even though to them it sounds like hope. I know people who have never become a widow or widower don’t understand, but these words made me feel like my husband was replaceable. And NO person is replaceable. At the beginning of loss, all I could think of was my entire future that I had planned was gone. No watching the kids grow up, no moving to a different home, no being grandparents together. None of that was possible and I felt so uncertain about myself and my identity. I know life goes on but my world had just been completely turned upside-down! I wasn’t thinking about having another man around and trying to figure out all the complexities of that. I wasn’t ready to imagine a future with someone else or even process that. I just needed to grieve what was lost for a while!
I realize that people say things to be optimistic and comfort us when we are going through hard times and they don’t understand. There is really no etiquette on death. (That’s why I’m writing this.) I really do get that and gave people the benefit of the doubt and said to myself, “They luckily don’t get it and I am grateful for their sake that they don’t.” Even if we explain it they can’t understand if they haven’t walked this path. Most people are really trying to be kind. I can give them a “fools pardon” and something to giggle about when writing in my journal.
No, my life is not over and I’m sure there is some kind of a future ahead, but at the beginning of this grieving thing, I needed time to feel sad and be at the bottom of my pit. I knew I really had to go through the yuck because I didn’t want to have to do it later. Think if I had moved forward quickly just to get over the pain- that would certainly be a mess. Emotions of all sorts are running high the first few months after loss, well even the first year and longer.
The kids were my biggest priority over me. They needed me to be present. Not to be “young and finding someone else”. I wanted them to feel safe and secure which is a hard thing to feel at a time like this.
What I really needed was to get to know myself. Who was I without Jay? Was I still whole- absolutely! I had to dig deep within myself and build myself and my identity again. It’s funny- as soon as I felt like I was really fine with just me, and decided if I found another man he would add to my already awesome self and life. The next weekend my Mr. Wonderful appeared. But he didn’t replace Jay, he added to my life. Just like when you have your second child, your love isn’t split in half… it grows!
If you know someone who has just lost a loved one, and you really want to love and support them consider these things: instead of telling them that they are young and will find someone else, offer assistance that will help them to become their best self. Remember that many people who have lost a spouse, still consider themselves married. Let them grieve their loss. Ask lots of questions without giving advice. By asking questions, you can encourage them to talk about their lost loved one if they are in the mood. Follow your intuition. Be there to listen. These are great ways that will be incredibly helpful in their healing journey. I know it’s tempting to say something when there are just NO words. If you don’t know them very well and need a sentence to say, consider saying something like, “I think about you often and wish you the best.”