By John Catrett
Widow &/or Widower Wisdom
If you are recently widowed – or know of someone who is – you may find this article rather candid. I waited seventeen and a half years for God to bring the love of my life into life, and after five and a half fantastic years puff she died!
I wrote this letter after another friend lost his wife, who was the same age as me, but loved her so much longer than I had my wife. I had been a widow for a year by that point, so this letter sums up some of what I’d learned:
Dear Widower (Wonderful friend),
I’ve just finished my one-year contract with mourning the death of my lovely wife, and now it’s your turn to give it a go. Regardless of the path you choose, you’ve just entered what will undoubtedly be the worst journey of your life. But for what it’s worth; here are a few pointers on how NOT to grieve:
Don’t underestimate the immense power of love and it’s unexplainable mysteries. Yet do not lie to yourself about the fact of death, choosing instead to become consumed by the psychological reaction to it – what we call grief. Do not deny yourself the experience of feeling the pain. Don’t pretend you’re OKAY, when it feels as if your heart has been ripped from your body but you’re not lucky enough to die along with it.
Don’t be angry with the idiots who whisper in your ear to “be strong” and not worry because “you’re young.” Or that it’s a GOOD THING you didn’t have children together – or that your loss couldn’t possibly be as bad as losing a child. And try not to dwell on the fact that you might not get the chance to have a child.
Don’t take it too personally when those around you move forward with their own lives while you’re left sitting at home, staring at the walls, kissing photographs of your dead precious loved one and wondering what just happened. And do not fool yourself into thinking that it’s your job, and your job only, to ensure your spouse’s memory is honored.
Do not twist a religious belief to fit your desires. If and when the suicidal thoughts come, do not give in to the self-pity, pity party monster. Be careful about fantasizing about another guy or gal because doing so makes you temporarily feel better about the great one you just lost. Yet if a new relationship feels right with all your heart, don’t let guilt stop you from being happy again.
And don’t let anyone tell you how long it will take for you to heal – but be aware that time is passing, whether you’re healing or not. Don’t search for meaning in every greeting card and graffiti message. Don’t look to external belief systems to give you the answers – because the only truth that matters is within you and the relationship you shared with your with your cherished loved one.
Love from a former widower,
P.S. Please don’t eat too many cookies!