Unique and Devastating Loss

My lovely readers, I know there hasn’t been much activity on the blog lately and for that I apologize. I am having a hard time these days with my emotions, and with putting those emotions and thoughts into words to share with others. As the holidays approach, I’m getting increasingly introspective and bottled up. Add to that the craziness of buying a house, moving, my son’s second birthday, Christmas… and well, once again you get a boring blog and an apologetic blogger.

Until my own words can flow again, I’ll just continue sharing inspirational, touching, and/or relevant things I come across. Like this short piece, written by a member of the Young Widow/Widowers Bulletin Board with the name ‘wifeless’. This writer hit the nail on the head when describing just how unique and devastating the loss of spouse is. Widows and widowers grieve differently, in that we not only grieve for our loved one, but we grieve for our lost life, our lost friend, our lost future, our lost identity.

I hope this article can help friends and family members better understand the grief of widow/ers, and maybe even help a widow herself see that she is not alone in what she is feeling.

*Disclaimer—this post is in no way meant to trivialize or lessen any other form of grief. Every loss is devastating, and to say one type of grief is ‘harder’ or ‘worse’ than another is an unnecessary comparison. All losses are grieved very differently, just as we as individuals grieve differently as well. This post and message is simply to provide a further glimpse into the unique situation of losing a spouse.

Unique and Devastating Loss (by WifeLess)

With the death of our spouse, we grieve the loss of so much more than some
one we merely loved or were close to, like a grandparent, friend or pet. We
grieve instead the loss of: The one we loved most deeply, cherished and felt
the very closest to. The one we swore commitment to in that unique human
bond of marriage, which many consider sacred. The one we shared the
ultimate partnership with to live as one and perhaps bear children with. The
one who embodied our true sense of home. The one who was our best friend
and who was to be our companion for life. The one we confided in, depended
on and trusted most. The one who really knew, understood and accepted us
as we were. The one we felt safe and protected with. The one we shared
private moments and intimate feelings with. The one we mated souls with.

But it is not just that this most precious person has been torn from our life,
as unbearably heartbreaking as that alone is. With the death of our spouse,
and only of our spouse, many additional profound losses must be grieved as
well. For we also suffer: The loss of who we ourselves were while with them.
The loss of the couple we were once half of. The loss of the life partnership
we once formed. The loss of the husband or wife role we once embraced.
The loss of the life we once lived. The loss of the plans we once made. The
loss of the dreams we once shared. The loss of the future we once envisioned.

Amidst all this, we are also suddenly confronted with many hardships we
never expected to face at this point in our life. Besides financial survival,
increased domestic burdens and perhaps single parenting, additional
challenges less apparent to others but all too real and terrifying to us. We
must now find it within ourselves: To create a new identity. To redefine
our role in life. To establish a new connection to the world. To build a new
network of social relationships. To discover a new sense of purpose. To
formulate a new set of goals. To decide on a new direction for our future.

And we must accomplish these without dishonoring our former life, but while
suppressing bittersweet memories of that life, so that they not hold us back.
Memories of happier times mostly, but also those of our spouse’s death,
either sudden and shocking or after prolonged illness. We must further
endure the feelings of guilt and disloyalty that follow us as we attempt to
forget and move forward, but with our heartstrings tied so tightly to the past.

And all these tasks must be taken on at the lowest possible point of our life in
the worst state imaginable. When we are the weakest, most vulnerable, most
insecure, most isolated, most heartbroken and most emotionally exhausted
we have ever been. Without that one person we long ago became accustomed
to relying on to help get us through life’s greatest challenges. The one who,
just by being there, would have provided us emotional comfort and moral
support to draw upon, as well as the strength and confidence we need to
complete those tasks and so much more. But now we face all this alone.

Profound indeed is the death of our spouse. Unique and devastating. For
nearly all of us, much more catastrophic to our life than the loss of any other.
And truly comparable, many of us widows and widowers often feel, to one
other death only. Ours.

kathryn rippley

Hi. I lost my husband to melanoma on July 31, 2010, after a 13-month battle. With the first anniversary of his death coming up, I am again dealing with all those feelings that came up in the beginning. I am having a hard time functioning, and parenting our 4-yr-old daughter. I don’t think anyone understands how devastating losing a spouse at a young age is.

Alan Liebowitz

I lost my wife on January 21, 2012, after a 10 month battle with pancreatic cancer. You have captured the sense of the loss suffered.

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