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Starting Over: A Widow’s Life After Death

October 20, 2014

 

     Several years ago, on January 15th, my life changed completely as I became a young widow. One part of my life closed and another began. Although I did not think of it as a new beginning at that time—I just looked at what had ended.

 

     Looking back today, I think of it as a season of life that has been completed and now a new season has begun—a season filled with happiness. And I think I have learned a few things along the way.

 

1. You do not get over it; you get through it.

 

     As a new widow, I attended a grief support group for a while because I needed to know that there were people like me who went on to live normal, happy lives. You do have to get through it, and that means facing the grief as well as learning to live a new life. There is no such thing as getting back to normal.  But there can be a new normal, and it’s still good.

 

2. It’s okay to enjoy life.

 

     While my husband, Paul, was sick, I would never consider going on an overnight trip (unless you count hospital visits). However, soon after his death there was an opportunity to go out of town with a group from the church. I was pretty excited about going, but I felt guilty that I was happy about the trip. In reality, would Paul have wanted me to grieve his departure forever?  Of course, when you’re gone, you hope your loved ones will find happiness again. So, I had to give myself permission to enjoy life again.

 

3. You can live alone and like it.

 

     When my husband died, I had my 15-year-old son at home with me. It wasn’t until he moved away to college that I had to live alone for the first time in my life. It was a big adjustment for me.

 

     But I learned a thing or two about living alone. For instance, you can stay out as late as you want and no one will be upset about your late arrival. (Although I have never done that—but I could.) You can also eat in your bed if you want, but I don’t do that either.  These next few are some of my favorites! You have only yourself to feed, so you can eat whatever you like whenever you like! You are in charge of the TV remote, always! The toilet seat is always down in the bathroom and you never have to fight for the mirror. The house will be just as neat, or messy, as you left it when you return home.

 

     Living alone is not always perfect, but it has its perks.

 

4. Memories will not always be painful. 

 

     There is only one first-Christmas, first-anniversary, and first-birthday without your spouse. And though memories seem too painful to think about at first, they eventually become sweet. Now, it really can be pleasant to remember happy events.

 

5. Happiness returns.

 

     In the middle of grief, happiness almost sounds impossible. But happiness with return, it is true. Of course, we can choose to spend our lives grieving over what we have lost, or we can be glad for the times we had and look forward to what the next season of life has to offer.

 

Sharlene Howell

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