Before I became a widow, I never would have comprehended or fathomed all the secondary, unspoken losses that some widows are forced to endure and navigate amidst all consuming grief. Have you experienced secondary losses?
Since the life altering moment that my beloved husband took his last breath, secondary losses have crashed over my being. The overwhelming waves of turbulence have pulled me under. I am gasping for air. I feel like I am drowning. Do you ever feel this way?
Below is a list of secondary losses that I have dealt with as each day unfolds since my husband’s passing. Many seem to be unspoken, almost forbidden to talk about; however, so pertinent and real as they have compounded my anguish. Can you relate to any of them?
- Loss of Partnership in Decision Making and Main Support System- From the moment the funeral director came to pick up David’s body, I have felt bombarded with decisions that I never anticipated having to decipher alone without his feedback and insights. Not to mention the mounds of paperwork and forms to fill out. As a result, even checking the “widow” box altered the fabric of my being.
- Loss of Companionship-David and I were intertwined, soul mates. Our life wasn’t perfect; but, deep loyalty and unwavering love permeated our lives. We affirmed the basic values of family and living simply. Our greatest joy was just being together. Now, many days I drive around instead of returning home just so I can keep the loneliness that invades my mind at bay for a little bit longer.
- Loss of Being a Couple-As I expressed in my HFW blog on 11-26-14 titled, “A New Identity- From Us to Me,” being single has not been an easy transition for me. My whole adult life I was united and inclusively devoted to my husband. My soul still cannot grasp the vastness of this void as I am striving to recapture and reinvent who I am.
- Loss of Intimacy- I ache for the resounding warmth of my husband’s embrace and feeling nestled in our passion. I relish the pillow talk, our endless flowing conversations, and the fragile details that we once relayed to each other. There is such a tenderness and priceless gift attached to knowing that you are loved emotionally, spiritually, and physically.
- Loss of Our Daughters’ Father and Parenting Team- Dealing with my own grief is challenging, dealing with my daughters’ pain is paralyzing. One is an adult and married, my other is 16 and as I have written about before, she has autism and requires 24 hour care. For me, the pleasures and pain of motherhood are profoundly parallel, yet unique. The delightful pleasures can lift me incredibly high and the pain of watching them suffer can plunge and capsize my heart. I will dive into that topic on April 15th.
- Loss of Our Future Plans- When my husband’s limp hands fell out of mine, all of my hopes, dreams, and plans that I had envisioned for the future also perished. Next week’s blog titled, “My Husband’s Angelversary: Rainbows and Hope” will discuss this topic.
- Loss of Income and Financial Stability-As I am a full time, stay at home mother running an autism therapeutic and academic program for my youngest, the loss of my husband’s income has been devastating. Coupled with my sorrow, these financial issues have been hard to manage.
Remember how I mentioned above that I felt adrift without my husband, that I was struggling to tread and stay above water? Well, during the last two weeks, a constant, reassuring song has played over and over in my mind, “Here Comes Jesus.” The first verse is: “Here comes Jesus, see Him walking on the water, He’ll lift you up and He’ll help you to stand; Oh, here comes Jesus, He’s the Master of the waves that roll. Here comes Jesus, let him take your hand.” As I reach out my hand to God who demonstrated the seemingly impossible into the explanation of possible, He has once again become my life saver and my safe harbor.
If you are dealing with secondary losses in the narrative of your sorrow like I am, please hold fast to your beliefs, the courage and compass within you, and the ability to swim and stand again on steady ground.
As I volunteer to open up my vulnerable emotions and grief path with you, my hope is that something will speak out to you. That you might feel somehow strengthened, validated, uplifted, and your burdens eased in the knowledge that you are not alone. As always, please feel free to comment and/or share.
With Friendship and Gratitude to You,
Lisa Dempsey Bargewell