Learning From Each Other

All widowers… you, me, and the guy down the street… all have something in common. We are going, or have gone, through hell on earth. We may have different experiences on this journey, but we also have many commonalities, especially if we were fortunate enough to have a good and loving marriage.

We can support each other by sharing what is common in our experience, as well as by sharing that which is unique to each of us. By seeing the different ways we meet our challenges, we learn that we don’t all have to do it the same way and that there are many different paths to healing and feeling whole again.

My situation was unique because of my background, culture, family, style of meeting challenges, faith, and circle of friends and acquaintances. Each of us has all of these in some unique combination, so what works for me may not work for you.

However, we all feel, we all loved our wives, we all go through deep and painful grieving, and we all feel like we are alone in our pain during this period. And we all come out of the experience with more empathy than we had before it. These commonalities and shared experiences help us identify with and learn from each other’s experiences.

We all feel that a huge part of us has been torn away, and our very being is now incomplete. We have pain, cry, feel disoriented, and lost all sense of our place in the world. We feel lonely like we have never felt lonely before. We are desperate to have our wives back in our lives and to feel their presence again. We wander around our home, lost and not knowing what to do next.

Most of us worked hard for decades to build a nest egg so we could retire together and enjoy the fruits of our labor. We expected to outlive our wives and that our hard work would provide for her later years. Instead, we now find ourselves alone with no place to go and in a very unfamiliar role.

It helps us to focus on gratitude for this wonderful woman in our lives, the lessons we learned from her, and the love she shared with us. As we struggle with redefining who we are, we must hold on to what she instilled in us and honor how she made us a better person.

We need to ask ourselves, what would she want me to do now? Would she want me to mope around my house, feeling sorry for myself? Would she want me to cut myself off from friends and family? Would she want me to become steeped in anger and put my physical and mental health at risk? I think we all know the answer to these questions.

The alternative is to focus on discovering our new purpose in life now that she is gone. That means becoming a better father, grandfather, neighbor, community member, and person. We need to learn how to turn away from harmful, angry, and helpless thoughts and turn to gratitude for the good in our lives while celebrating the beautiful memories of our past lives with our wives.

Our time left on this earth is now less than before, so making good use of our remaining years becomes even more crucial. So, I challenge all of us to ask ourselves, “What will I do with my remaining time on this earth to improve it for my children, grandchildren, community, and world? How can I make my wife proud of me and my accomplishments after she was gone?”

I hope you will join me and many of our fellow widowers on this journey to healing.

© Copyright 2023 Fred Colby

All rights reserved


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