This treacherous pilgrimage between my old life and my future often amplifies the depth of alone. Sometimes I find myself drifting on wreckage all alone in the middle of an ocean with no land in sight. Sometimes it feels like I’m on an endless walking bridge between two mountains over a bottomless cavern. Alone gets wrapped in grief and grows in intensity. It moves in and invites fear, anxiety, sadness, insecurity, and a myriad of other emotions to join the vicious cycle.
The reminders we are alone now come in so many shapes and sizes. It could be a memory triggered, a date on the calendar, or finding yourself needing to do a job that was always “his” job. Maybe you woke up from a dream with him in it… or without him in it. Activities once enjoyed that were geared for couples now sting the heart. When my computer acts up, I want to ask him for help.
Widowhood impacts each of us in unique ways. I spent most of my life in union with my husband. He was my best friend, confidant, partner, back-up, and trusted companion. Our life revolved around what we wanted to do. We did nearly everything together. We chose to do this. We loved doing things together. Our partnership in life was special and we treasured it. Somehow losing that close companion intensifies the feeling of being alone. It hovers as a constant reminder.
Making conversation and engaging in groups of people was my husband’s gift. He put people at ease and was very comfortable interacting on almost any topic of conversation. His love for people immediately helped them relax and open up. I was the opposite. I’m a classic introvert. I like to listen more than talk. I’m far more comfortable in one-on-one conversation. I’ve always been described as a great listener. Being in group settings by myself makes me feel very self-conscious. When he was at my side, I relaxed and knew he had my back if I said something awkward or was unsure how to respond. I think this is one of the hardest things I deal with now without him.
The impact of becoming a widow on my relationships is something I never anticipated. I read about it in grief books before he went home, but I was sure my family and friends would still be there, and I thought I could count on them. They told me over and over they would be there for me. Most of them were there for me during his long illness. The deterioration of relationships in both family members and friends since his death has been incredibly difficult. It hurt me deeply some people just disappeared from my life, and some relationships turned uncomfortable. I’m not the same person I was before, and I try to remember neither are they. This reality adds to the depth of feeling alone… feeling abandoned… when I find myself needing the right kind of support more than ever before.
Are you feeling alone or lonely today? Loneliness is a part of everyone’s life to some degree or another. Learning to respond to it in a way that will bring healing and hope will lessen its power over us. This quote from Tennessee Williams reveals one way we can find a redemptive quality for this unwelcome guest.
”Everything that is tearing us down today will become a memory, and this memory will be shared as an anecdote or a story or a poem or a play or a warning. It will be shared with another human being, who will then understand that he is not alone in his sadness. This is why we show up for others and tell our tales and listen to others. The great congregation meets daily, and you are someone’s angel today.” – Tennessee Williams
Stories shared by brave widows painting word pictures and honestly expressing the chaos of emotions mixed with the brutal reality of facing and dealing with all the day to day activities, schedules and people, helps me see my situation is not as unique and I’m not as alone as I feel. While I don’t want others to suffer, I learn others found a way through and there is hope.
This is my first blog post for the Hope for Widows Foundation. I appreciate the opportunity to share my heart with fellow widows. I pray as I share my story and thoughts it will not only bring healing to my broken heart, but will stir a measure of hope and healing in my hope sisters hearts. None of us chose to walk this way in life, but together we can find the strength and courage to take that next breath or next step.