most men and women will ever do!!!
And I think the length of the marriage
really doesn't matter.
There are so many "firsts" and secondary losses
it is impossible to list them all and, frankly,I am still discovering them after nearly 10 years!
If you have been married a short time,
there is so much shock because death is out of order;
there is so much dreamed of future lost;
there may be young children to raise alone
and help through grief while navigating your own.
If you have been married for many years,
there is so much shared past and knowledge;
there are the habits and comfort of decades of oneness
that are changed in an instant;
there are the grandchildren who may not remember
or ever know their grandpa or grandpa;
there are the retirement dreams left dangling, unfulfilled.
In any length of marriage,
the widowed may have to go back to work
or get a second job to replace the lost income.
(Very often long before they are ready,
while still in the midst of deep,
widow/er fog causing,
He or she will have to find help to do or take on
the tasks their spouse always did.
They will discover they are not the same person any longer
because when two become one and one half dies,
it is akin to having your literal body sliced in half
and being asked to function normally.
He or she will likely discover that many of the things
"they" enjoyed, he or she no longer does,
either because it isn't enjoyable without their spouse
or because they discover they really only enjoyed it because he or she did.
They will find that couple friends fall rather quickly away
because they are no longer part of a couple and it is painful to them
and awkward for everyone to be together.
They may find that friends find their grief
overwhelming and frightening
and stop coming by or...
...and we finally come to the point of this post...
they begin to apply pressure to...
...whatever encompasses that friend's idea of what grief looks like
and how it should be handled.
Widowhood is confusing!
Widowhood is hard!!!
And widowhood is permanent -
even if the widowed remarries because
they will always be the widowed of their late spouse -
and, oh my, the opinions and pressures
that are spoken around that subject!!!
I have two dear friends, fellow widows,
one who is a published author, Rachel A. Moore,
recently and joyously remarried,
and one who should be published but isn't and wishes to remain anonymous,
and, at the moment, is single and pleased to remain that way
unless God specifically directs otherwise.
Recently they each wrote similar but different perspectives
on the pressures they encounter/ed regarding remarriage.
I thought they were both too good not to share!
So with their permission, here they are:
Greg and I have been married for almost 5 months now and I would like to share something that has hit me profoundly.
After ten years of being alone, Greg and I both shared with each other that we would be so grateful for one another during our marriage, and this has proven to be true. Yet over the weekend I discovered a deeper truth.
I was lying in his arms and I felt a depth of love, honor, and respect for him that I never felt for my late husband. Tears streamed down my cheeks as I began to realize something profound and amazing.
When Gary died my world was shattered. There were far too many pieces to ever be put together. Too much suffering for the pain to ever fully heal. I was completely broken and ripped apart.
Eventually, I knew that I would love deeply despite the pain. I knew that my heart was large enough to love again. I had hope that the broken pieces would be put back together and my life would be a do over and I would love with the same capacity as I did the first time.
But now I see that I love more deeply because of the pain and....along side of the pain.
The pain of loss hasn't disappeared. The pieces of my heart are only taped back together but the rips and tears are still very visible and real.
I now realize that the depth of the hole of death did not heal but instead was created to be filled.
There's so much more to who I am than who I was. For so long I thought the change in me was because of the books I read and knowledge of marriage that I had studied.
But now I see that the suffering itself has enlarged my heart. The pain has given me overwhelming respect for Greg. The agony has given me the delight of honor for Greg. The searing loss has given me the capacity to love Greg beyond any measure that I ever experienced with Gary.
And this isn't because Gary was insufficient for me but because my heart has more capacity to feel love, to feel honor, and to give, than it had before the depth of loss.
I now see the pain as a gift. the pain has given me something that I never could have had without it. And...the loss has given Greg something that he could have never received from me without the pain that I have gone through.
So what if the phrase “moving on with your life” doesn’t mean what we think it means? What if it’s just living life? I think we widows have preconceived ideas of what moving on is supposed to mean. I think for many of us it means we’re supposed to remarry and find out “happily ever after” (which by the way, that phrase is completely false). But what if it’s not supposed to mean that? Those who have been divorced and widowed are often told by “well-meaning” people that we need to “just get on with our lives’. They never tell you what that’s supposed to look like!!! What if it’s just supposed to mean that we go on and live life. Can’t that be enough? Can’t we just be content with the status quo? Where is this written rule that we have to “have a partner” and find someone else? Do you realize how difficult that is?? Nobody will ever compare to the loves we once had, nor should they. A new mate brings with them their own baggage and experiences in life, some of which may not mesh with our new life. We all have our own things at this age so why do we have to settle just because the world thinks we have to be married? It’s simply not worth settling. I think we just need to learn to be content. Notice I didn’t say happy because nobody is happy all the time. There’s a peace in contentment. Our surroundings may not be peaceful, but that’s just the surface junk. The deeper stuff in our heart is what counts. So, I guess here’s my takeaway from this revelation as I was crafting this morning – just be content. We don’t have to be a couple in order for us to be whole. We don’t have to have a mate in order to count in this world. Don’t force a relationship just because you think people expect it from you or you’re guilted into it. Don’t settle or compromise your beliefs or standards just to “be with someone”. Again, it’s just not worth it. Just be content being you and if you're supposed to be a couple with someone, God can make that happen. It's all up to Him anyway. Again, just my thoughts.
I identify deeply with both these women's posts!!!
I am in the same position, a few years down the road, as Rachel.
I was in the same position as anonymous.
You cannot imagine the pressures that surround remarriage in widowhood!
And they continue regardless of how God chooses to move you down the road!
"Thank goodness you're finally over the grief!"
"You have to move on! He'd want you to remarry!"
"You must not have loved him if you want to/have chosen to remarry!"
"Well, now that you're widowed and don't have anyone stopping you, you can..."
And many, many more!
We are faced with anger, disrespect, disbelief, disagreement either way we go.
Even from fellow widows who have chosen a different way.
Widowhood is hard!!!
The expectations of others can make it harder!
So, what's the take away here?
For the widowed
listen to God, let Him guide!
Remember, they mean well.
("After Job had prayed for his friends,
the LORD restored his fortunes
and gave him twice as much as he had before."
And, please, please, please,
we depend upon each other,
we understand things those who haven't been here can't,
we need one another's grace, love, ear!
Please, don't harshly judge another widow for her actions and choices!
Even if they are poor ones!
listen, don't advise unless asked!
Pray for them,
listen to them,
sit with them,
don't abandon and avoid them!
("Do to others as you would have them do to you." Luke 6:31)