By Tom Peyton
It’s a question I have asked myself on multiple occasions since my wife has died.
In a similar way one of our new writers Daniel Pratt stated that the day his wife died he started living in the past. I think it’s the common question we widowers and I am sure widows ask and confront on a regular basis. Our worlds have been turned upside down. We don’t know how to deal with the tragic loss of our loved one. It’s as though chaos is all around us and we don’t know how to navigate through the fog, and dense clouds that prevent us from moving forward: as we face those blinding days and weeks of intense grief.
As Daniel Pratt wrote, it’s normal to continue to live in the past. It’s a place filled with memories, times of joy and times of sorrow but a safe place to be. In the early days of my grief, I was comfortable being in that place. Even today at times I drift back into the past because it gives me comfort and safety. It’s where my strongest memories are, and it allows me to feel comfortable as I struggle at times to envision the future.
As time passes however, I continue to focus on the perplexing question: Will I ever be the same? Time is forcing me to accept the fact that I am aging, I am changing whether I like it or not and I am not the same. I am older and growing older every day. It’s not a sentence but a reality. As such it’s also an opportunity to change. I’m going to be a different person in a variety of ways. Let me clarify what I am saying.
I am not the same person I was twenty or thirty years ago. I am not the same person I was three or four years ago either. I cannot run as fast as I did in the past. I can’t carry lots of groceries as I did in the past. I cannot eat certain junk foods that I loved, or I will pay the price – no need to explain that one. Whether I admit it or not I will never be the same person I was. It doesn’t mean my personality will change; it doesn’t mean I become a grump and languish about losing my wife interminably; she would probably haunt me for doing so. It means I make a commitment to doing some things in my life that help me to move forward.
I travel from Upstate New York to my family in South Carolina every two months. I love traveling even though planes get delayed and sometimes it’s challenging. I love being with my grandchildren playing games, going to an arcade, spending time in a park, flying kites and doing so many fun things that for the past several years I was unable to do. I changed from the primary caregiver that I loved doing to being active and doing new things with family and friends.
I visit with a WSN-MO brother when I visit South Carolina and have developed a strong friendship with him as we walk the journey of loss together. I have found peace and strength from his friendship, and I am not the same: I am becoming better.
I lead a grief support group for the Episcopal Church online. I am grateful to the men and women whom I have helped and who help me. Similarly, I lead a support group in NY for the WSN-MO brothers and find sharing laughter and tears helps in the healing process.
No, I will not be the same person I was. I am growing, changing, and hopefully becoming a better person; living guided by the love and gifts my wife gave me and to quote my friend Jim Winner; “Living my life in pencil”. It is really the best way to live life.
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