There are many of us out there for whom death has played the mean separator from the spouse! Well, I am not going to tell you how to grieve for this irreplaceable loss since there is really not ‘A’ particular way to grieve for this particular loss. Yes, I do know however, that this permanent loss brings very definitive barriers, challenges, and even secondary losses. Your life suddenly has several questions – some ugly ones – raising their heads and staring you in the face. There are not even a few days to process what has just hit you, because you need to take care of ‘life’ and work.
When a spouse dies – your world changes in more ways than you ever thought possible. You feel extreme grief, shock, acute fear, and numbness – all at once. There is both physical and emotional pain and trauma – you find yourself crying a lot from both. You feel anger – anger at him / her leaving you, whilst feeling guilty about the anger and regret that you could not keep them alive. These are all feelings – myriad and normal – so there is no right or wrong when it comes to grieving and mourning.
These feelings are burdened further by the anxiety of ‘getting life together’, earning a livelihood, and caring for the children such that they cope better. This is hard work – herculean. This is when most people can either break or emerge – the ones who emerge quickly wear a mask of ‘I am fine’ and a smile (even though their heart might be bleeding and smiling feeling like torture). You feel dead on the inside. Of course, life continues to hit you – the economic hardships become a reality. This is true for both sexes – the other ‘wheel’ is broken, so it’s a lot harder to pull the ‘cart’ – the home. The nucleus of support is gone.
Time passes – you continue to miss your spouse and that ‘sharp’ pain never does quite go away. You will still have bad days amidst days where you seem to feel better. There is an inexplicable guilt that sweeps over when you might laugh, or eat a tasty meal, or even dress up for an important meeting. These are all common with which only those who have lost a spouse would identify.
Then there are the romantic dilemmas. Should one move on and find another partner / lover? Will it be acceptable to continue to be in love with the deceased spouse while feeling love for another? Would the new person adjust to this ‘double love’? Would you be able to adjust with another person? Romantic love is an essential aspect of one’s life – life does seem worthless and without meaning, since romantic love is a strong expression. With the ‘sunshine’ of your life snatched away, it is natural to feel that there is only death, misery, and decay all around.
The death of a spouse is a new situation – it is the end of several aspects, and this is true irrespective of whether the relationship had been extremely happy, or average, or even bad. The ending of such a close personal relationship changes a person, changes the circumstances – it’s akin to starting from scratch.
So if you have gone through this in the past or recently, know that those who have also been torn apart from their beloved, understand how you feel. For those of you who have not experienced this, feel blessed and also be kind and understanding. The feelings of pain and trauma NEVER REALLY GO AWAY!