(Gents: Pay close attention. Great lessons to follow)
The fear of loneliness is what compels people to seek relationships. A neonate cries out loud upon waking up from a nap but is comforted immediately upon seeing a smiling face loom over the crib. A toddler wants to be tucked in bed; it is not the dark room that scares him as much as the idea of being alone in a dark room. Children seek out friends in school and on the playground; we instinctively know something is wrong when we see a child sitting all by himself. A teenager would rather be out with friends than sit alone at home and watch a movie. Young adults find ways to network with other young adults outside of the workplace. Then, you meet the love of your life and discover that nothing fulfills you as much as time spent with your love.
You get married – life happens, bills need to be paid, jobs become stressful, and children come along, bringing a huge change in the dynamics between your spouse and you. Time spent with each other is at a premium; the number of hats you wear is wearing you down. However, you have this awesome alliance which allows you to toss hats back and forth at each other as you juggle your way through the responsibilities of life. Sometimes a hat gets thrown back at you, at other times a hat falls to the ground, and then there are those days when you just want to throw every hat out the window and curl up in bed with a book. Blissful solitude!
Widowhood changes so much in our lives, yet we are still the same creature deep within, always seeking relationships. We miss those years of not having to seek companionship because you had a ‘designated companion.’ We miss those years of just being able to say, “let’s watch a movie together”; in quiet companionship, you watched curled up in a couch together – not a word was spoken, but not a word was needed. You could rest in the quiet comfort of knowing you were loved, and no matter what the world threw at you, someone always had your back. It was comforting to know you could interrupt a football game, wake up your spouse in the middle of the night to tell him you were feeling sick, offer driving tips from the passenger seat, give directions to a husband who questions his GPS device, reach over and eat out of his plate, and myriad other annoying behaviors that your spouse just overlooks because he has learned to love that about you. You feel loved. You are in your comfort zone. Then, you lose it all. Loneliness becomes the hallmark feature of your existence. Fear of rejection creeps in.
Once again you feel like that neonate wanting to see a familiar face when you wake up, a toddler who wants to be tucked in bed, a child wanting to just hang out with a friend, a teenager wanting to go with someone to the movies, a young adult seeking to network with others of the same age and interest, and a person looking for that quiet, comforting love again. What’s different about this time around? Fear of the unknown is juxtaposed with a fear of loneliness. We lived in a predictable world for long enough to where the unpredictable intimidates us. We now have experience and history behind us, which colors our view of any future relationship. Most marriages are not idyllic. Even good marriages have their fair share of challenges. Many marriages can be steeped in loneliness. Some marriages are outright adversarial. In all cases, a widow seeks a nurturing relationship; either because it is what she had before or because it is what she has always dreamed of having. I suspect the same can be said of a widower. Marriage has trained us to find the intricate balance between being the nurturer and the nurtured one. Can we find that balance once again? Can a widow find that relationship which quells her fear of the unknown and remedies her fear of loneliness? Be very intentional in seeking another relationship, but also be cautious and wise; consider this – a relationship based on true friendship will stand the test of time and troubles.
Cynthia Mascarenhas was widowed on February 4, 2018, when she lost her husband of 29 years, Franz Mascarenhas, to a sudden heart attack. Following the passing of Franz, Cynthia founded Walk With A Widow, a non-profit organization whose primary focus if healing the hearts of widows by giving love and hope to widows around the world. As one would expect, much of the material crafted for widows can also be of help to widowers.
Professionally, Cynthia is a registered nurse and an independent legal nurse consultant. She is also a member of the Board of Directors of the Greater Orlando Chapter of Legal Nurse Consultants. Cynthia has served on various committees for the American Association of Legal Nurse Consultants.
Cynthia’s insightful articles will appear periodically here on WSN-MO. You can contact Cynthia at her website, www.walkwithawidow.com