When my wife died, one of the first things I noticed was the silence. Now there was only silence where she once had been. I especially longed to hear her voice; I still do. The house suddenly seemed large and hollow.
Soon after she died, my mind raced back to the days just before I met her forty-five years earlier. With her gone, I felt that I was alone like I was back then. I felt that I was starting my life over.
When you and I lost our wives, we were alone not only physically but also emotionally. Our friends couldn’t fully understand what had happened. Some of my friends didn’t know how to react to me and to my wife’s death. I wouldn’t have known how to respond if their wives had died. Forgive your friends if they seem to wander away from you and your loss too soon. They probably just can’t understand.
You may need a lot of solitude in the first few months after your wife’s. In the first few months after my wife died, I especially valued solitude at home. I didn’t hibernate and avoid all contact with people, but when my social and church events were over, I felt relief being surrounded only by my home. Not all grieving widow-men or widows feel this way. Some resolve their grief by travel, social activity, or volunteer work. Their aloneness gives them the freedom to do those things.
Being alone is not the same as loneliness. Loneliness comes when you feel her absence. Loneliness may rush at you when you are alone or with other people. It may seem to overwhelm you at those times. Some widow-men say they are suddenly “ambushed” by a sudden feeling of grief and loneliness.
When loneliness comes upon me, I sometimes just wait it out, or I tell myself it’s natural to sometimes feel sad at this point in life. After all, I have lost the most important person in my life. Sometimes I just make an unnecessary trip to a store to get out of the house, or I go to see someone for a short visit. Loneliness does recede, but my methods may not be yours. Find activities that turn your grief into peace. Scripture says our grief can turn to joy.
Look for Dr. Kardatzke’s insights to appear in his column named after his book, “WIDOW-MAN,” every other Wednesday. You can write Dr. Kardatzke at firstname.lastname@example.org