Perhaps one of the most well known terms to a widowed person is “moving on.” And as well intentioned as it usually is, it is one that we may invariably start strongly disliking.
I know for me, the whole “when are you going to move on?” thing started happening at right around the three week mark.
That’s right, at three little weeks, my grief was starting to become cumbersome to my peer group.
In this case, “move on” didn’t mean get into another romantic relationship, it simply meant when was I going to start living my life again?
You see, “move on” has several connotations. And we widows are judged harshly and differently for each one.
When it comes to her every day life, where perhaps she was once the life of the party and grief is now holding her back, most folks are all too eager to see the widow “move on.”
When it comes to a widow entertaining a romantic situation, though, the widow is not typically encouraged to “move on.”
It’s a strange set of societal expectations that make no sense at all, and yet we are hit with them from the moment the time of death is noted.
So, I’m here to just do away with “move on” altogether.
How about we stop expecting ourselves (and widows as a group) to move “on”, and instead we encourage said widow to move “forward”?
Forward (via Merriam-Webster) can be defined as “moving, tending, or leading toward a position in front.”
It indicates a forward movement. It says nothing about leaving something behind, but rather a tendency toward movement.
“Moving on” somehow says we are leaving something behind for good, and in a way, we are. But that doesn’t mean that we have to turn our backs to it.
Quite the opposite, actually. Instead, we take what remains in our hearts and minds, and we keep going.
This can apply to anything, be it day-to-day existence or a romantic inclination.
We never have to turn our backs to what was, and “move on.” Instead, we gather ourselves together, take a deep breath and keep going in a forward motion.
This doesn’t mean that we are not allowed setbacks. Setbacks happen to all of us. They are an ever-present part of life. But after experiencing a setback, what do we do next? We keep going and move forward. Again.
It also doesn’t mean that the widow should just wake up one day and start forcing herself to feel better for the sake of those around her.
Widowhood is incredibly personal, and moving at our own pace is a grace that should absolutely be granted.
Grief is not a linear thing, but the way humans measure time, is. So don’t worry about “moving on.” Take your time and move “forward” when you are ready. Be gentle with yourself and allow for setbacks.
And remember, you take all the love you shared with you when you do, you never have to fear that you are turning your back on that.
The love stays with us, for the rest of our journey.
(Photo – L.Munk; Tollgate, OR; 2020.)