As I reflect on my first year as a widow I recall so many things that we did those final weeks of his life. I realize that I am so much stronger than I initially thought.
When I reflect now on the feelings that went through me when he first died (abandonment, isolation, neglect, loneliness, frustration, hurt, anger, confusion), I chuckle at how hard I worked at trying to convince myself that I should not have felt any of those feelings at that time. I felt like I had to be strong for everyone around me that loved him as well, that I didn’t have a right to experience my own level of grief. I kept trying to put my feelings on the back burner and pretend they didn’t exist, so I could be a pillar of strength for others.
Don’t get me wrong; I love being a voice of empowerment for others in encouraging them on their journey. However, I do know that we must learn to be rejuvenated within our own spirits so that we can be effective in serving others, if that is our chosen path. I compiled a list of 10 realities that we should embrace when we lose our spouse, in hopes that it will encourage other widows/widowers.
#1- It is OK to cry and feel emotions –I used to think that I shouldn’t cry or express how I was really feeling about the loss of my spouse. You can cry, scream, kick, or whatever allows you to express your feelings on the loss of your spouse. You built a lifetime together that didn’t last forever as you expected, so you have earned your right to grieve the way YOU see fit.
#2- You will miss your spouse – It is really unfair to think that after losing a spouse you immediately get over it. You don’t! I tried really hard to keep busy and not think about my loss, but because of the time we spent together daily, I eventually could not shake the feeling of emptiness I felt without him. It gets easier to get through the days now, but he is still missed. Take one day at a time.
#3- There is no replacement for your spouse – I was told that I would get married again and find love and happiness. I don’t doubt that it may happen for me at some point in the future. However, I had to embrace the reality that no one can replace him and I don’t expect that. What we built was meant for the two of us and us alone. If love comes along again, what you build will be with that person and should not cross into the life that you shared with the spouse you loss.
#4- He/She is not coming back- My husband was on hospice at home because I wanted to spend every final moment I could with him. There was a special spot in the house that he would peek around and scare me almost daily. When he died, I found myself waiting/hoping that he would peek around the corner and scare me. I also waited for him to pull in the driveway many nights after his death. I had to realize that he wasn’t coming back and nothing I could do would change that. However, we can cherish the sweet memories that we created with our spouses that will always keep a special place for them in our hearts.
#5- There will be tomorrows but…– You must get through today first. I used to tell myself that I just want tomorrow to get here so I did not have to deal with the daily pain of my loss. I had to realize that each day came for a reason and an opportunity for me to get stronger in my spirit and emotions in the loss of my spouse. Tomorrow will come for you but embrace the pain, laughter, loss and joy of today first.
#6- You CAN make it – In the beginning, I just knew I could not make it without my spouse. He was such a major player in the game of my life more than anyone really knew. He was my king! The nights were the longest for me but at the dawn of each new day, I felt a renewed sense of accomplishment and strength. I did make it through my yesterdays and so can you. If you ever think you can’t, refer to #5.
#7 – You are not alone – When we lose our life partners, we often think that we are alone in the healing journey. We are NOT alone. From a spiritual perspective, Jesus will never leave you or forsake you. From a human perspective, there are friends, family and so many people that truly want to see you move past your pain and embrace your life again. While you may take time to be alone and reflect on the beautiful life you shared with your spouse, remember that there are others that love you and are there for you if you need them.
#8- Life happens – It took me a short while to realize that the loss of my spouse was a sinkhole in the streets of my life. The thing about sinkholes is that while we can get sucked in quickly and become damaged, they eventually, over time can be fixed and the streets will become drivable again. Life will happen and things will come that will seemingly suck the life out of you and damage you emotionally/spiritually. However, over time you will become repaired/healed and will take the wheel once again to drive down the streets of your amazing life.
#9- Its fair that you are still here- I said once that it wasn’t fair that I remained while my husband had to leave me. I then remembered a final conversation we had with him telling me he had lived his life with no regrets and I had a chance to live life differently, but without him. While it was difficult to embrace that conversation at that time, I realized afterwards that it is fair for me to live, and to live a more purposeful and determined life of love, happiness and joy with no regrets…by choice.
#10-There is life after death– One of the final pictures my husband took was that of two flowers, one living and one dead. After reflecting on that photo and my conversations with him before he died, I realized that there is life for me after his death. I must move forward by choice because the world is waiting for me to embark upon it. You must move forward no matter how slow the steps are, how painful the days get or how overwhelmed you feel in the moment of your grief. You are here for a purpose so embrace it.
Embrace you…Embrace change.
Dawgelene “Dr Dawj” Sangster
I am a motivational speaker, business psychology professional, philanthropist, photojournalist and world changer. Follow me on twitter @Dawgelene