Irene McGoldrick is a Horizon volunteer, author and blogger. Her new book, “Two Chai Day” is available on amazon.com and you can read her blog at www.mysaintedeadhusband.blogspot.com.
People are funny, especially when it comes to grief. Most people are uncomfortable with the raw emotions that can accompany such a tremendous loss. I will admit there was very little pretty about my grieving after I lost my husband to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma when he was just 39. I was 36 and our boys were 5 months and 3 ½ years old at the time. I felt stripped of any protective cushion that love gives you in this world. I felt hallowed out, raw, exposed, ungrounded. I lost my filter; I was walking emotion ready to emote to anyone who came my way. People around me simply wanted me to stop crying.
The solution for many of these well intentioned people was for me to date, marry again. Seriously, I had people at the memorial service tell me not to worry, I was young; I would marry again. As if finding a new man might be the answer to all my troubles.
Initially I thought;
What? There is no way I am going through this kind of grief again, no thank you. That guy will just die on me eventually too, no way.
And then I thought;
It was a miracle I met the first one, what is the likelihood of that happening again?
I eventually moved on to;
Who would be interested in me with all this baggage? A dead husband, two small children….
I never wanted to be a widow, I don’t think anyone does. The first time I went to the doctor after my husband died and was asked to check the box for single, married, or widow, I started crying and left all the boxes blank. After a time it became easier to check the widow box; I even became a bit proud of my label. The word widow symbolized strength and courage and independence to me.
Then I went and fell in love again. I got married again.
People were so happy for me! I was better, I was happy, I wasn’t crying anymore. I was finally done grieving.
What? Not quite. The grieving didn’t end when I married again. Not by a long shot. In fact it might have even complicated it just a bit. Now when I’m at the doctor’s office I struggle with the urge to check both the widow and married box. I can’t be both a widow and a married person at the same time I guess, can I?
Being a widow may no longer define me, but the experience of being widowed will always be a part of me, and it has shaped who I am today. My live husband understands that I although I do wish that my late husband were still alive and that I miss him still that fact does not change how I feel about him and how grateful I am to have him in my life now. He should not think of himself as my second choice, but my first choice for this life, my widowed life.
Am I glad I was widowed? Heck no. But after clawing my way back from the depths of grief and regaining some of those layers, I am glad that I came to the conclusion that life is short, and also long, and the bigger tragedy would be to not have anyone worth grieving over.
When people question my live husband and me about how we manage this marriage, this marriage with a sainted dead husband involved in it and pictures of our life together still on the walls, I always think of the time I met an elderly woman with a hyphenated name. I asked this lady about her hyphenated name since it is an unusual event in that age group. She turned to me with a broad smile on her face that lit up her eyes with fond memories and said simply;
“I had two husbands and I loved them both.”
Not everyone can say that.