All widowers… you, me, the guy down the street… we 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 loving marriage.
We can support each other by sharing that which was common in our experience, as well as by sharing that which was unique to us. By seeing the different ways in which we meet our challenges, we learn that we don’t all have to do it the same way. We also learn there are many different paths to healing and to 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.
BUT, 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, together with our shared experience help us to identify with and learn from each other’s experience.
We all feel as if a huge part of us has been torn away as if our very being is now incomplete. We have pain, we cry, we feel disoriented, and we have 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 wife back in our lives and to feel her 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 that 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 each to focus on gratitude for this wonderful woman who was in our lives, for the lessons we learned from her, and for the love she shared with us. As we struggle with redefining who we are we must hold on to what she instilled into us and honor how she made us a better person.
And finally, we need to discover 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 negative, angry, and helpless thoughts, and turn to gratitude for the good in our lives while celebrating the wonderful memories of our past lives with our wives.
Our time left on this earth is now less than before, so the importance of 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 make it better for my children, grandchildren, community, and world? What can I do that would make my wife proud of me and what I accomplished after she was gone?”
I hope you will join me and many of our fellow widowers on this journey to healing.
Inquires can be directed to Fred Colby at firstname.lastname@example.org.