I want to be really honest with you: Your biggest grief is not actually about him, no matter how hard that was or how much he suffered. It’s not about him. You have probably already mourned what he went through and what he lost. What you’re grieving now is what YOU have lost and what YOU have gone through. You’re grieving the dreams you had for your life with him that will no longer be able to come true. And that’s hard.
So, take in a deep breath right now, hold it, and release it very slowly through your mouth. I’m going to say this again, because it’s really important: What you are grieving now is what YOU have lost and the dreams you had that can no longer come true. This is not about your husband. This is about YOU. (Pause)
Let me give you an example from my own life. My husband was healthy as a horse until the day of his first stroke. When he died, our son was 16. Our son was the apple of his Daddy’s eye. The first born son of the first born son of the first born son. And when he wasn’t there to see our son make Eagle Scout, or graduate at the top of his class, or see him get that academic ride to college it broke my heart. At all these big moments, our son only had one of his parents there to see it and it broke my heart.
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This compounding of life losses is so deep, so all-encompassing, that we would be foolish to ignore it. Instead, it’s extremely helpful to examine the other losses we have experienced and to take a brave look at the broken dreams that his death left behind in your life.
Taking a look at your life in this way is a lot like cleaning out that over-stuffed closet. You can only delay it so long before one day you open the door to grab a needed item and you can’t shut it again without taking stuff out. And, it’s not much fun to do and it can take a while to sort through everything that’s in there. But once you take the time to clean out the closet, your heart feels lighter and you feel good about getting rid of that old stuff that was cluttering up your life. Life feels a little brighter and cleaner as a result. So I invite you to clean out a closet this week. Give yourself at least a half an hour to do this activity
Make a list of five hopes, dreams, and expectations you lost when your spouse died. Then, sit with the awareness of how much it hurts to have lost those. The loss of these dreams is what you are grieving now. Be gentle with yourself as you mourn and begin to let go of the hopes and dreams you’ve been holding onto from your marriage that no longer serve you.
When you let go of old dreams that will now never come true, you make room for new ones. New dreams are what will bring you joy as you embrace your new reality as a single woman!