“I don’t want to ever forget who we were to each other,” a widow said in a retreat recently. And I want to reassure right now that, no matter what happens, if you start dating again or remarry, you will never forget who you were to each other.
Your love and marriage to your spouse is indelibly part of your life. It was part of who you were when they were alive and it’s part of who you are now and it will always be a part of who the day you die. Our union with another soul is just that powerful. You have memories wrapped around it that will always remain. And you will find, as time goes on, that most of them are really good.
Initially after the death, we’re often overwhelmed by the exhaustion of the experience, too numb to feel much of anything. And then we enter “gone” which is really different from dead. Dead is where they bury your spouse. Gone is where you realize, day after day, that they’re never coming back. I think this is why many widows say the second year is actually the hardest. Kind of like the terrible twos little kids experience, it usually comes with a lot of emotional volatility.
Trying to rebuild your own life, the one you’re left to lead on your own now, in no way devalues your life with your spouse. The fact that you are trying to live a happy, healthy live is nothing to be ashamed of or to feel embarrassed about. If your spouse were able to talk to you, they’d say, “Go for it honey, I want you to be happy again!”
But just we aware that some folks won’t think you should do that. About a year after my husband died, I was in the grocery store. I’d just finished listening to “It’s a Wonderful World” in the car and I was smiling and humming the tune. And a woman that I only vaguely recognized came up and said, “What are you smiling about? Didn’t your husband just die?” Well, that shut down the humming for sure.
How dare she! How dare she judge that moment of happiness that came from listening to a great song about life. I had one of those dialogues inside my head, you know the ones! “Well just come sit with me tonight while I eat my supper alone with Tom Brokaw. And the night after that and the night after that and the night after that. B…H.”
Don’t do that to yourself. Don’t judge yourself for wanting to be happy and healthy. Your life is up to you now and you deserve all the happiness you can get! And, no matter how happy your life becomes from this moment on it will NEVER take away the love you felt for your spouse. What you had together will always be a part of you. So don’t fear or regret wanting to have a life worth living now.