Are you floating in a sea of grief with only a life vest of memories and past love keeping you afloat? If you are not careful, that life vest can instead become a weight belt of anger, regret, and fear that drags you down into depression.
Grief during the early stages can be both physically and mentally painful to the point that you are desperate for it to end. But you might eventually find yourself welcoming the grief as a way to be close to and honor your wife.
At this point, you may begin to avoid healing because you fear losing touch with your grief, and therefore with your wife! Sometimes when we are in pain, we become accustomed to it to the point where we would prefer the pain to the unknown that lays before us.
This unknown, a life without her, a life that is different in so many respects, may scare us after so many years of contentment and knowing exactly what to expect. You completed each other’s sentences and knew each other’s habits, schedules, emotional states, and more. You could count on each other for support when things went unexpectedly. Now, you have no one to do that for or with you.
The black void that lays before you is scary! And when we are fearful, we tend to hold on to what we know… even if it is bad for us. At this point, you may bury yourself in innocuous chores, hide in your home, drink too much, or take drugs, or do just about anything to avoid confronting the challenge which lays before you… that is to reinvent yourself and learn how to live again, now as a single widowed male.
The first step towards healing is to admit that you are afraid and then reach out for help from others, including grief counselors, family, friends, and others who care about you. Tell your (and your wife’s) story to anyone who will listen, honor her by being the man she helped to make you into, and give gratitude every day for having had her in your life.
We all need to find ways to help others, as our wives would have wanted us to do. Every time you help others, you begin to feel like you have a purpose again, a purpose that gives meaning to your life and why you are still here.
It is not like a football game that can be won with a single hail-Mary pass. It is more like a marathon where you have to stick with it and keep pounding through the pain and exhaustion. It takes consistency and persistence to break out of the grieving into a healthier healing journey.
It will still hurt, and there will always be moments when you cry and want to be alone. But you will gradually find yourself able to laugh again, to return love for love, and to feel that life is worth living again.