As I stood on a beautiful Florida beach under the sky-blue and the warming sun, serene waves lapping behind me, little did I know my life would soon pivot into life-threatened turbulence; the greatest storm I would ever face.
It’s been over three years since life changed forever; but the days and months leading up to becoming a widow, were a turbulent emotional whiplash of upheaval.
One might describe it as a vortex of struggle which sinks you in a whirlwind of despair – yet finding air to breathe. It seems an accurate picture.
Clocks can not be set to end grief matters. The painful healing of a newly-grieving heart; 1) acceptance and realization of loss, 2) the process of letting go, 3) the turn of events to move one forward culminate to heal the space of loss in the storm of death. It is the reality we all must painfully face in the journey towards the healing heart.
There were a wide range of emotions: moments of deep despair and then by miraculous intervention, a calming peace would be welcomed. When I felt myself sinking, faith reached up to touch heaven with prayer for help to simply survive. It was the strong sense of God’s power, stronger then the unending storm, which drew me to safety. It happened time and time again.
Our journey was a long illness that first launched us through gentle lapping water and quiet moments of renewal. There were small storms with treatment and healing.
Yet, our journey ended in that final thrust of sail through the narrow waters leading to the light of eternal shore.
And there we were: the final separation: life’s ending destination for every member in the human race: a release of suffering replaced by quiet peace.
The Painful Healing:
Communication with your loved one is perhaps the greatest lost of all – the sharing of ideas, the hearing laughter, the for-ever loss of voice is perhaps the most painful.
I remember well this particularly jarring reality. It was only days after my husband passed away after a long battle with cancer. . .
I had begun to work through the first tasks of practical changes and within days I decided to change from a flip phone to an iPhone. I needed to change his cell phone information to mine and a visit to the cell service store was needed.
It was a difficult acceptance: I never would hear his voice again – from that phone, or any other phone. It was a longing that only slowly dissipates with time.
I quietly spoke to the pleasant young man who helped me trying not to bring attention to my grief, but I was convinced my teary-eyes revealed my pain. Not far away was a man shopping too. I was uneasy, anxious whether my emotions would unravel in front of nearby shoppers. And they did some moments later when he spoke of his loss of spouse too.
How could two grieving spouses be facing this sad moment standing so near one another? I couldn’t look up in case there would be the awkward meeting of “knowing eyes.” That unforgettable moment seemed double the unbearable sadness.
It was far more intense than simply retrieving cell phone contact lists and changing my cell phone to his… I can only now analyze.
It was the jarring acceptance of the finality of separation. It was the beginning of separation anxiety for a voice I recognized, loved and longed for to return. It was the realization of the forever loss of our years of communication. A forever loss of closeness… Forever has no end.
It was having to say those very first painful words, “I just lost my husband.” The stark reality of being a widow pained immensely in that Verizon Service Center: I just wanted to run out the door and keep on running. I now know it is okay to feel such pain and yet survive.
The effort of the journey is real but the ultimate transition to new beginnings must come. Courage is found with needed moments of pause. It is our choice to stop and rest and recharge in the transition.
Overcoming obstacles are always part of the healing journey. Faith to overcome is the key to remaining positive in the process of growth. We can’t be passive in the process or we will be overwhelmed by difficulties. It helps when friends and family share in your journey.
Perhaps the true measure of success comes in the ability to discover oneself while also learning to function day to day.
It is the reevaluation of priorities because transition is the shake up (shake-down) of importance: the earthquake of change never seems to stop in life. It is clearing the painful aftermath that is of importance and it takes time and brave strength to sort the rubble.
Functioning as a Single
Questions of how we functioned in the past, our change to fully function in the present and our need to reach beyond into the new future: these stark realities and many more are always being questioned.
Time passes and new beginnings appear and they are hardly recognizable. The acceptance of a new role becomes evident and life carries one forward. It is an unforgettable journey.
The pain of change becomes less because we simply become better at it,” said one fellow widow.
It certainly became easier for me as aloneness changed into new confidence and the process of good decision-making was renewed. One hopes.
And soon new beginnings appear on the horizon. The light travels quickly – as any new dawn unfolds and with it comes the renewed focus of new opportunities. Thankfully, we become fully alive again; free from the unending pain of grief to explore life with all its possibilities. With these changes comes new challenges and the desire to make life worth living fresh and new each day. A future lies before us. It finally comes as grief subsides.
Explore we must in the overall plan and cycle of life. It is all part of the substance of life’s journey. We learn to simply become better at recovering and redefining identity. Hopefully too, we learn the true meaning of fully living life well, full of calm delight.