It’s been four years since my husband passed away, but the journey moving forward without him continues daily. Perhaps it’s no longer a journey of healing; rather it’s simply our journey of life. After all, are we ever completely “healed” after the loss of a loved one?
Losing a spouse or significant other leaves a void that isn’t easily explained nor is it easily filled. And the journey to pursue love after loss is just as personal and unique as your grief journey. This new place isn’t for everyone, and that’s OK, too. Some may think you’re dating too soon while others feel you’re taking too long to “get back out there.” Always remember, this isn’t their journey, it’s yours. My golden rule of healing and moving forward has always been to do what is best for me and my family no matter what others may say or think.
Mindfully walking the journey
Throughout my process of healing after Jim passed, I walked thoughtfully and deliberately regarding countless situations. More importantly, I had three young kids trying to figure out the journey as well. I knew I only had one chance to help us move forward as a family and I wanted to do it mindfully rather than haphazardly. It was important to me that my children observed and understood that we would be fine no matter what. I needed them to feel safe and secure in their future and know that “We’ve got this” should it always remain just the four of us. Never did I want them to feel their mother needed to run to a man to save us. That was very personal and important to me.
When I lost my husband my children were in second, fifth and eighth grades. As the first year turned into the second and then rounded to the third, I knew one day my children would be grown and on their own. I also knew I had too much love left to give and I hoped I would one day have someone to share my life with again. Yet a nagging guilt remained that maybe I shouldn’t venture into the dating scene. Would it mean I didn’t love my husband enough? Would my children think I didn’t love their daddy? Would people think I would no longer keep Jim’s memory alive? I decided, at least for me, it meant none of those things.
Fighting off the fears and finding happiness
I can’t speak for everyone, but I think many who have experienced the loss of a significant other would say they hope to never endure that again. I am no different. I played every scenario in my mind of what might happen to the next person I let myself love. I lived it once; I’m not sure I could live it again.
But I realized I had to get real. I was either going to play it safe and possibly miss out on many wonderful years with someone special, or I was going to take a leap of faith and believe that I did deserve to be happy with someone again. I had already learned there were no guarantees in life.
Moving forward is not forgetting
Moving forward is not synonymous with forgetting. And though my children have known and loved my current significant other their entire lives, it has been important that they understand their dad will always be their dad and that no one will ever take his place. Even still, that doesn’t always make things easier. Though they might have a difficult time now and then, I know deep down children want to see their parents happy, and mine are no different. This new and uncharted part of the journey continues to take all of us through ever-changing terrain. But as a family we will continue to walk the path while honoring their dad’s memory and making new memories.