by Tom Peyton
Stephen Hawking, the English theoretical physicist, was probably one of the greatest minds ever to exist. My feeble mind could never attempt to understand the workings of this genius, but a few of his famous quotes always inspired me. What strikes me about the passage mentioned above is that Hawking believed something of a physical state that entered the black hole should not disappear forever, according to physics. It either becomes a hologram on the edge of the black hole or exits in an alternative universe. He said don’t give up because it is never gone forever: there is a way out.
I am fascinated that a man who did not believe in God and felt heaven was a “fairy tale” for people afraid of the dark believed in the possibility of an alternative universe. He does not describe this new reality because, as theologians and non-believers would say, it is beyond the breadth and scope of our language and understanding. Hawking and religious leaders, I think, would agree on one common point: There is a way out if you feel you are in the black hole.
My purpose is not to debate faith or the afterlife but to think about how I can get out of the black hole that I sometimes feel trapped in through my experience of grief. In over two years since the loss of my wife, I have experienced days and weeks of extreme sadness to times of great joy and happiness. I have days that I feel so good about my future, but then that wave of grief washes over me and knocks me down. Sometimes I get up with a slight struggle, and sometimes, it takes a lot of work. Each time is different, and each time, it demands work on my part.
I often wish there was a book that could easily explain how to deal with grief. Wishful thinking on my part since grief is complex and not simple to handle. Fortunately, the wisdom of men I consider to be pioneers in the field of being a Widower like Herb Knoll, Fred Colby, and Terrell Whitener, accomplished authors all in what I call the new science of male grief. Collectively, they offer sage advice in handling the diversity of problems we encounter as Widowers.
I am learning through trial and error that being a Widower is a role I must adapt to that has no clear path yet has many detours that require careful navigation. There is no one way to deal with grief successfully. Each one’s approach is different, and each one has no timeframe. It’s a road we all travel, but we have opportunities and support if we don’t give up.
I know and have read the stories of men who found love again by simply trying and meeting someone who understands their pain and loss. They don’t abandon the love they had but embrace it as a way to move forward in a new relationship. The love they now share is different, yet it is guided by the love they previously had in that former relationship
I read about brothers who volunteer in various ways and find overwhelming joy in their work. Whether it be leading a support group as I do, being a listener to someone struggling or offering your skill and wisdom to someone in need. It gives purpose and meaning to life. I feel I am paying it forward if I take the love I had for my wife and offer it to others.
I truly believe there can be a way out if you look beyond your tears, pain, sorrow, and darkness. Yes, it may feel like the black hole took everything away from you, but whether you are a believer or non-believer, there is a way out. Just don’t ever give up!