More than half of American adults are single, numbering over 124 million. Many young people are choosing to remain single for differing reasons, but not everyone chooses that life. According to the US Census Bureau, 800,000 people are widowed each year. 700,000 of those are women who will live as a widow for an average of 14 years. I am one of those who didn’t choose to do my life solo, but find myself in that place.
When a spouse dies, your whole world collapses. Everything changes. You can’t understand unless you’ve walked in those shoes and I don’t wish that on anyone. Your spouse takes their last breath and, suddenly, you find yourself in the widow’s club you never asked to join.
As a widow, I have made it part of my mission to reach out to others who find themselves in that same spot. Although it is a good thing for me to do that, I also find it brings up memories and feelings that woo me back into the throes of grief and loneliness. Looking into the eyes of that new widow does something deep inside of me. Their questions and their fears niggle in my thoughts and land me back in the bleak wilderness of grief.
This past week as I visited with one such widow, she asked me if I felt incomplete after Les died. YES! That is exactly how I felt then and even now sometimes. Now I know I am complete in Christ Jesus, but this isn’t about spiritual things. This is about “one flesh” being rent into separate pieces. This is about not knowing what to do with yourself. This is about doing life solo after so many years of doing it as a couple.
As I near 4 years of widowhood, I have days I fail to even think about Les. Then there are those days that his absence looms huge all around me. Life continues to be a roller coaster of emotions. For the most part, I believe I have accepted Les’ death but my struggle continues in this new “normal” I am supposed to be living.
Doing life solo is just plain lonely!
Weekends are the hardest. I remember Les’ grandmamma used to tell me that she disliked Sundays because they were so long and lonely for her. Church fills a good part of my Sunday, but going home after church alone makes for a long afternoon. Before my best friend moved to Raleigh (I love you, Jo!), we would sit together in church and then have lunch together afterwards. Now that she is not here, I am having to readjust. It is harder than I thought it would be.
Saturday nights are no fun alone. I am sure I will be reminded that I can change that by inviting someone over, but what I’d really like is for someone to invite me!!!!! Not that I have kept a record, but I’m pretty darn sure I’ve asked a lot more times than I’ve been asked. (Yes, I am having a little bit of a pity party, but it’s allowed on occasion, so let me do it!!!!!!!!!) If there are 24 million single people in America, then I can’t be the only one who would enjoy some company on a Saturday night. I guess we are all waiting for the other one to invite us to join them!
The fact that people think I’ve got it all together was confirmed this part week. NO. I. HAVEN’T. Yes, I am what you would call a strong person, but even strong people struggle. Strong people long for companionship. Strong people have the same needs as everyone else. They just aren’t very good at sharing those needs. Strong people are expected to be…..well, STRONG.
That’s one of the things I like about this blog. I can express my heart to you. My heart still aches. My life is still adjusting. I am doing the best I can with where I am. Walking into church alone is still one of the hardest things I do each week. Walking out alone isn’t far behind. When Les traveled, I did lots of things alone, but I knew he would be home soon. Now he’s not coming back.
Please don’t think I am sitting here hysterical as I write this. I’m not. This blog is for being totally transparent and honest. It helps us to know that others struggle just as we do. It’s not about misery loving company but rather about reassurance that you’re not crazy. Grief can make you feel crazy.
I will continue to reach out to widows because I believe that is what God would have me to do. God comforts us so that we might comfort others. When I put my thoughts toward others, it helps me get my thoughts off of myself. Let’s face it, a pity party only happens when we are thinking of our self. Unfortunately, thinking of ourselves before others is what most of us do best. It’s the nature of the beast, as Les used to say.
Lots of love, Sharon