I was asked by one of my readers this week to talk about moving on when you lose a partner, and specifically when you are a widow. It got me wondering about all the people in the world who have lost someone dear to them and how they managed their grief, and ultimately moving on with their life. When you consider that humans have been around for thousands of years, there’s been a whole lot of widows doing a lot of grieving and recovering. So, none of this is new but it is certainly unique to each individual.
As a widow myself, I could talk about me and my own life experiences but another thought came to me as I was pondering what to write. I have a lovely elderly godfather who is very close to my heart, and my kids and I love to spend time with him when we can. He lives an hour and a half’s car drive away from me and I can’t see him as often as I would like but last week the boys and I wanted to go see him and take him out for the day. He is 95 years’ old and is as sharp as a tack (no dementia there!) and up until last year, when he fell and broke a hip, he has kept in excellent physical condition. He has a wonderful attitude to life and is a joy to be around. He laughs and smiles, never complains and just gets on with life.
Now the sad thing is…my godmother (his wife) died last year. She was 92 and up until the week of her death, she had also been in excellent mental and physical health. They had been married for 65 years. After so many years living alongside and loving another person, how did he manage to carry on without her? Well, it would appear from the outside that he was very philosophical about it all and carried on with each day as he always had. Yes, of course he was sad but I’m wondering whether you get to a certain age and then death becomes more part of our world and we are resigned to it.
It’s quite odd for me because when I think about it, I am in the same boat as him; I lost my husband and am also without my loved one. But somehow it feels different. Why is that? Is it the age difference? Is it that we expect elderly people to die and young people not to die? Is it that their generation have experienced so much hardship in their life that they see this as just one more thing to endure?
And then I began to think about young people and their resilience in life and their attitude to death. I have witnessed death through young eyes; through my own when my mother died and I was only 26, or the journey of my children after the death of their father. Young people are incredibly ‘here and now’ when it comes to life, and the future is always that thing in the distance that will eventually happen (but why worry about it now?). To many young people (and I guess I was like this), our reaction to events is directly related to how much it affects us personally. It is much simpler when we are young to be removed from the bigger picture and get busy in our own life, and analyzing our emotions is not something that we spend a lot of time doing. The daily task of living takes up most of our energy and time is something we have a lot of (so we don’t put pressure on ourselves to ‘get over it’). Things just are the way they are…
So, in answer to my lovely reader’s request for information on how to move on when you become a widow, my response is…however feels right for you. Some people are philosophical about it like my godfather, others are plunged into the depths of despair and only manage to climb out of the black hole of emotions many years later. It is such an individual experience that no-one can tell you how to do it for you. If I have one piece of wisdom which may help, and taking a leaf out of my godfather’s book, justlive each day however it comes. Continue the routines of your days and weeks, feel the emotions when they appear, don’t judge yourself or others going through the process and eventually some form of normality will reign. It may not be the same normal as before but a new kind of normal that is stable and comfortable for now.