There have been experiences in my life that were difficult to overcome. However, they pale in comparison to the difficulty I experienced when losing my husband. It was as though my heart was ripped from my body. How do I move forward?
Early on in my grief, I couldn’t sleep, I had trouble eating and keeping food down, and I couldn’t think clearly. Let’s just lay it there. My life was a mess.
Wanting to Stay in Grief
I had been married for 30 years, more than half of my life at the time of his death. Besides our jobs, very seldom did we do things without the other being there. It’s just how we were and what made us happy.
When I lost him, I didn’t want to move forward without him. I also didn’t know how. So, I stayed in my grief, crying into my pillow each night and wishing for something that could no longer be. I refused to go places unless it was absolutely necessary. I just wanted to make a cocoon, hide in it, and be left alone. Moving forward hurt too much.
Later, I came to understand that this was a typical reaction and feeling. Many people feel this way. It’s part of the process and as I always say, it’s the price we pay for loving someone so deeply. It took me a long time to figure that out, however.
How Do I Move Forward?
For the first year and a half, I was not in a good place, mentally speaking. I couldn’t seem to get past the pain of heartache and being a widow. Intellectually, I knew I had to move forward. If I didn’t, I knew physical ailments would also start to show their ugly head and take its toll on me. In hindsight. they already were. I just hadn’t paid much attention.
Then one day, I had a talk with a friend. She reminded me how much my husband loved life and loved to laugh and have fun. She asked me what I honestly thought he would be feeling if he could somehow see me feeling so broken, lost, and afraid. She told me to think about how he would want me to live out the rest of my days.
I went home that night and gave it a lot of thought. I knew he would never want to see me so distraught. He would have wanted to see me moving forward with my life. I imagined him being sad to see me shed so many tears since his passing. I imagined him telling me it was time to wipe my eyes and move on. Just because he was gone didn’t mean I was.
Honor his Life by Living Again
That became the turning point for me. I decided to honor his life by living again, something I had not done for a long time. I wanted to live for both of us. From that day forward, I made an effort each day to do just that. I began with baby steps. I gradually started to accept invitations to go places, and before long I found myself laughing again. I was slowly moving forward.
If you have lost your spouse, chances are you understood my feelings of initial grief, and may have experienced it yourself. Perhaps you still are. I had to come to the understanding that I could not stay in the past. Staying there was not really living and it was not a healthy place to stay. I couldn’t worry about the future. We know all too well we cannot control that.
The present is all we have. We take it hour by hour, day by day, being present in what we are doing.
That is how we move forward.
Peggy Bell is the author of Life After Loss For Widows: Lifting the Veil of Grief, available here.
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