What do I do to get on with my life after my husband of 52 years passed away? It has been over 4 yrs & I hate my life the way it is..
I’m so sorry for your loss, not just the loss of your husband but also the loss of the life you had. If there’s one thing I’ve learned about grieving, its that it is never as simple as just missing the person you’ve lost. As social beings, we build our lives around other people and none so profoundly as our spouses and our children. So what happens when the person we knew the best, the person we have framed our life around, leaves us?
Grief is complicated. We deal with a mix of emotions, feeling guilty when we feel good and lost when we don’t. Joan Didion wrote a book about her husband’s death entitled The Year of Magical Thinking and in it she talks about waves of grief. I never completely understood that concept until my grandmother passed away last year. I felt grief in waves (and still do). Some days I was fully functional and some days I was absolutely inconsolable, consumed with grief, drowned by it. My mother, who was the primary caregiver for my grandma, and I started going to a grief support group and it was easily both the most painful and helpful thing I’ve ever done. Hearing other people’s grief makes you see your own in a new light. Sometimes it sharpens the pain, but it also makes it impossible to see yourself as alone with your loss.
After 52 years of marriage, its not surprising that you are struggling. It’s not easy. You are faced with the task of redefining yourself without your husband as context. What you do next depends a lot on you as a person. But don’t let anyone talk you out of your grief. You own it. It is yours and it is a necessary part of your healing. People sometimes think we should “just get over it” but grieving is a process unique to every individual. Instead, I would suggest that you find a grief support group in your town and start talking about how you are feeling, the good and the bad. Talk about the things that you hate about your life and also the things you love. Use the time to think about how you like to spend your time, the type of people you like to be around and don’t be afraid to think big. Is there anything you’ve always wanted to do?
Instead of trying to put your grief aside, embrace it as part of your journey. The road ahead is full of change and change can be scary and difficult, at any age and in any situation. But the fact that you are reaching out to me, tells me you are ready to start heading in a new direction. You can re-envision your life, and, while you can’t go back, you can make moving forward full of possibility.
My heart is with you and I hope you will reach out again as you work through this process. I’m here to listen, anytime.
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