Something that I had not thought about but suddenly found that I had to adjust to was the fact that I was no longer a part of a couple. Everything from now on would be I instead of we or me instead of us. I had friends of my own who were single, but almost everyone that Eddie and I had been friends with together were couples. Although they all told me that nothing would change, that we would still be friends, that we would still do things together, I knew it wasn't so. There was no way things could be the same because half of me was missing.
Eddie and I had been together for almost 30 years, and losing him left a huge hole in every part of my life. There was emptiness everywhere I looked. He wasn't sitting in his recliner anymore. He wasn't in the car beside me. He wasn't with me when I went out to eat. He wasn't on the other end of the phone when I dialed his number. He wouldn't be there for our annual summer vacation to the beach. I had no idea how to fill this void in my life. I hadn't just lost Eddie - I had lost everything that we were and did together.
I also lost what I had always assumed would be our future together. Our plans for what we would do when we retired were gone. We would never celebrate another anniversary. I thought I had the rest of my life planned, but now those plans were gone. I suddenly realized that I didn't have anyone to grow old with, and that scared me. As a result of all of these changes, the uncertainty, and the fear in my life I went through a period where I "removed" myself from everyone around me. I didn't see the use in continuing other relationships because they might end just as suddenly as my relationship with Eddie had. I never wanted to experience this kind of pain again, so wasn't it better to start protecting myself now?
Of course I finally realized that it's not possible to live completely isolated from everyone. I found over time that as expected my relationships with other people changed. Some of the friendships that Eddie and I had together gradually disappeared, but in their place some new, closer, and stronger friendships were formed. I have gradually learned that while I'll never be the same person I was before Eddie died, I can be a different person now, possibly even better and stronger than I was before. It doesn't happen quickly, though. There are still times when I feel the loneliness and the emptiness, and I get scared again. It's during these times that I try to remind myself of all of the good I still have in my life - my family, my friends (old and new), a secure job, a home, my pets (who are part of my family), and faith that my life will continue to get better one day at a time. Despite how I may feel at times I know that I am NOT alone!
A Consolation Meditation
On the wings of death and sorrow
God sends us new hope for tomorrow -
And in His mercy and His grace
He gives us strength to bravely face
The lonely days that stretch ahead
And know our loved one is not dead
But only sleeping and out of our sight
And we'll meet in that land where there is no night.
All who believe in God's mercy and grace
Will meet their loved ones face to face
Where time is endless and joy unbroken
And only the words of God's love are spoken.
-Helen Steiner Rice