This is a letter from my broken heart to yours.
I see you.
You, who lost their husband when you were only in your 30's with small kids to raise.
You, who lost their wife when you were both in your 70's.
Here we are. We've all lost the one that we promised our hearts to. And how do you really get all of your heart back after that person dies? The answer? You don't. They forever have a part of our hearts but your heart still beats and it still works and it can still love.
I see you. The widow whose husband died in a car accident and he was only 27, you 25, and you never had any children together. You grieve for him. You grieve for those children in your dreams. And you grieve for yourself.
I see you. The man who lost his wife and you're somehow raising your children by yourself. Everyone says you're so strong but it's not like you have any other choice. You roll over each morning in bed and she's not there and your babies cry for their Mama and you feel lost sometimes because your wife knew how to handle it all and now it feels like it's all crumbling.
I see you. The woman in her 60's whose husband died. After awhile everyone thinks you're "ok" but there's so much you hold inside. How do you get through each day without this person who was around for 20 or 30 or 40 years of your life?
I see you. I can't list all of you but I see you all but the point is it doesn't matter if you were with your spouse for one year or 60 years. The pain of losing them is still there. We are different ages and at different stages in our lives but we share a common bond. We share the bond of losing a spouse and it's a unique wound and it never fully heals over. I used to want my wound to just go away and for my grief to be completely gone but then I remembered. I remembered that if I wiped out the wound and erased all the grief........Would I be erasing him from my memory? And I don't want to do that. He belongs in my memory because he was important to me. And those grief pains that I still feel from time-to-time? They only remind me of the great love we shared and that it's still there in my heart.
I see into your hearts. I hear what you don't say. And I know that your spouse could have died yesterday or 40 years ago and you still hurt. And you still hear their keys in the door. And you still wish they could come back. And you don't always have someone to talk to about this. You might be in a new relationship so people assume you're ok or they think your grief is over. I see you. I am you. And I know you still miss them. I know sometimes you open that drawer and you sit on your bed with their photos and you cry. I know sometimes you think you see them in a crowd. I know sometimes the world just gets to be too much and they are what you need because they were your home, your safety net, your love, your best friend, your everything.
The big grief emotions fade in time. My husband died 849 days ago. 849 days that I have breathed without him. 849 days of parenting our children without him here to help or ask advice to or for him to just give me a hug. 849 days that I have missed my best friend. And I'm doing good. Ya know? It gets better and it gets different and we learn to live again. But I see you. You still miss them. You cherish the memories like each one is worth a billion dollars. You try so hard to conjur up the sound of their laughter and the feeling of their arm around you on the couch.
I see you. My heart is your heart. I still wish I could jump in some magic time machine and go back 848 days and save my best friend. I wish I didn't have to hear our babies cry for him. Tonight our little boy asked if I would snuggle him until he fell asleep and I told him that his Papa was a big snuggle bear. I told him that his Papa snuggled me all of time. And he smiled and fell asleep and I cried. My tears fell on his little blonde head and I could hear my husband say, "Thanks, Nik. Thank you for always telling them about me. I can't believe I'm not there. I'm so sorry you're having to tough all of this out alone. You deserve the world, Nik. Take care of yourself. Don't settle. Go see the ocean. Be wild and free. I love you."
So, dear widow/widower. I just wanted you to know that I care. I just wanted you to know that I too lock up my grief sometimes and don't tell others about it. I wanted you to know that you are amazing. You're waking up every day without the one who promised their heart to you and it's so hard to explain to others what that's truly like. It's like missing your arm. It's like turning around at a party to see if they caught that joke and then you suddenly are bolted into remembering that they aren't here. It's like stepping into and out of new dating relationships and it all just making you feel like............"Why did my spouse have to die? Why mine? All of this dating is so confusing and so complicated and I just wish to go back when I had my person and life was simple and they were here to hold my hand on the couch."
We are going to be ok. It's not easy. We're doing it all on our own. We don't feel strong like people say we are. We cry in the shower and we get so overwhelmed and we get so lost on the right way to raise our kids.
849 days ago I last seen my husband at 9:30 am. I play it over and over in my mind. 849 days ago my family was intact, my heart was not in pieces, and my life was simple and cozy. But inside of those 849 days I have been filled with grace. The universe, or God or whatever you call it....has saved me over and over and put self-love and purporse into my heart.
You're going to be ok. Maybe not today. Maybe not tomorrow. We will always have our wound. We will always miss our spouse. Our grief will change as we change and change as the years go by.
I will miss my husband when our son first drives his 1975 Nova and when our daughter firsts hikes the mountain her Dad wanted to climb. My heart will feel a pain when I see others celebrate their 15 or 30 year wedding anniversary. I will miss my truest friend for the rest of my days. And I don't think he's sitting on some cloud waiting for me. I believe he's doing his own work where his soul is now. He's guiding me in my life and always whispering, "Listen to your gut, Nik."
I see you and I'm sending you a big hug and so much love. You might not always feel strong but I think you're very courageous and brave. I know you miss them and that's ok. That's real. That's honest. That's life. Say their name. Continue their traditions. Stay in contact with their friends. Tell your children bedtime stories about them. They never truly leave us and they are always close by when we are speaking of them.
I'm here for you. I'm here to just listen. Share this blog post. Comment on it with the name of your spouse, their picture if you'd like, and how you're doing now.
We are going to be ok and our hearts are more compassionate and aware and loving in brokenness than they ever were before.
Life is a beautiful dance of joy and pain and it's ok to feel both. It's human to feel both. One nothing without the other.
The sun shines again for all those who feel the rain.
Reach out anytime. Anytime.
All my love, Nik