Story: Theresa Campbell
A new year can be exciting, yet for widows like me, it’s the start of another year filled with an unexplainable feeling that’s hard to put into words.
“We are dealing with an emptiness that we never could have planned for. We don’t have what we thought we might have for the rest of our lives,” says my friend Cindy Brewer.
She’s right. We both assumed we’d live the golden years with the men we loved.
This month would have been the 25th wedding anniversary for my sweetie and me. Tim talked of going to Hawaii to celebrate; yet neither of us expected pneumonia to claim his life in 2015. I threw myself into my work after his death, found support through GriefShare offered at First Baptist Church in Leesburg, where I learned I needed to embrace a “new normal.”
Traveling and time with family and friends has been very rewarding, yet there are a few moments when I have felt alone in a crowd. Several Facebook friends echoed they understood.
“Don’t know that this feeling ever goes way…I wish there was an easy answer for this,” says Doug Green, a widower of five years.
Rhonda Murray-Carpenter lost her love and soul mate two years ago. She says the grief was understandable. “After all, you just lost half of your heart…You just learn through faith, prayers, friends, and family to move forward the best you can.”
“Learning to live alone and being comfortable with myself was a challenge I faced in China,” adds Marc Slayton. “I was no longer ‘defined’ or ‘labeled’ by my significant other. I learned to love myself as I was. I found peace within my soul during that period. I had the time to become quite introspective of what and who I really was. While we were not meant to live alone, many do not find the real self that only solitude can provide. When I learned to love and accept myself as I was, I became a better person.”
Widowed for 12 years, Brenda Raney notes, “You never forget or stop missing what once was your life—finding new life and meaning is through the next open door.”
Vanessa Goodknight makes an effort to stay positive and prays for guidance; Cynthia McCorkle advises to smile even if a little tear comes through.
Adrienne Wilhelm lost her husband more than 11 years ago when she had one semester of left of nursing school. Her son was 25 and daughter 11 at the time. “My world stopped but my children’s did not so I had to face each day for them,” she says. “Over time you realize you are resilient and stronger than you ever thought you could be.”
“Everybody says it will get better, and it does,” adds Donna Erickson, “but you never forget what you had.”