Role Changes After Loss

Many of us have lived two lives concurrently. The first is our Home-Life, with our wife and family. Most of us also have or had a Work-Life with our co-workers, customers, bosses, etc. Each of these lives is often very different and distinct from the other. If we become too immersed in one, the other often suffers.

We also developed an identity to accompany each of our two lives. So, the Home-Life identity might be more easy-going, supportive, empathetic, and less clock-driven. At the same time, the Work-Life identity might be all business, focused, abrupt, less considerate, and time driven. When the Work-Life identity bleeds into the Home-Life identity, it often leads to challenges for the marriage.

When our wife passes, we suddenly lose our Home-Life as we knew it. This can be unhealthy and lead to medical, emotional, and mental issues, leading to significant problems. If we are still working, we are usually forgiven if we suddenly become buried in our Work-Life.

So how do we find a balance between the two if we still work, OR how do we create an alternative to the Home-Life side of our life if we no longer work?

Severance, an Apple TV+ television series, presents a world where a medical procedure causes the show’s characters to 100% separate their work and non-work lives. Neither can remember the other, so when they are at home, they are entirely removed from workplace stresses, drama, and challenges. But at work, they have no memory of their Home-life, which is perceived as a significant blessing for one Widower.

However, eventually, the “severance” between home and office cannot be preserved, and the implications for the characters in the show become disastrous. The lesson learned is that you can never entirely separate the two; you need a balance between work and non-work to lead a rewarding life.

If you bring the Home-Life into the workspace, you may be unable to distinguish between the two and have trouble focusing on your work. So, how can we escape the attraction of burying ourselves into just Home-Life, Work-Life, or some other alternative we have developed? The first step can be to recognize that you still need a Home-Life to offer respite from becoming completely immersed in the Work-Life.

On the other hand, if you constantly bring the Work-Life into the home, you may be unable to deal with the challenges of building your new self. While she is still a part of you, you do need to continue as a fully functioning person who no longer shares responsibilities, household tasks, communication with friends and family, and the development of outside non-work activities. This creation of your new self is a process we all must go through after losing our better half.

While you are no longer married, at least not physically, you may struggle with your new single or Widower labels. If this is all that defines you, it will be hard to grow as a person. We must find new labels to define ourselves, such as:

  • Board member
  • Volunteer
  • Author
  • Grandparent
  • Hiker
  • Biker
  • Fisherman
  • Traveler

Any of these and others can counter your Work-Life identity and provide balance in your new life. With that new balance, you can continue healing while finding a new sense of comfort and satisfaction in your new life.

© Copyright 2023 Fred Colby

All rights reserved


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