We are born into a life with definition, with an identity—we are sisters, daughters, Christians, and friends. As we grow, we develop our own definitions as well—we become students, animal lovers, and perhaps art enthusiasts. We get married and redefine our lives yet again—we are wives, aunts, in laws, and maybe even mothers.
Life changes and, so must we. All of the sudden, life handed us another definition—we are widows. It’s a harsh word, isn’t it? A word that we probably never envisioned would define us. While we probably enjoyed most of the definitions handed to us, this one feels awful. This one comes with heartache beyond measure and an uncertain future.
Who knows how to be a widow anyway? Our parents taught us how to be a sister, a friend, maybe even an art enthusiast. We watched their relationships and we learned what pieces we wanted to keep and what pieces we would discard. But, how do we learn what a widow should be? Most of us didn’t have someone to watch—and if we did, it’s likely they were older widows and their lives much different than our own.
Whether we knew it was coming or not, here we are alone and flying by the seat of our pants. No rulebook, map, or examples to follow. We just do the best we can with what we were given. No one can ask more than that. I don’t know about you, but I had a lot of questions. I wanted answers—no, I needed answers.
Now that I am more than a decade removed from that terrible, horrible day, I have some perspective.
Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary defines widow as “(n.) A woman who has lost her husband by death and usually has not remarried.” (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary) Here is what I say—good effort, MW, good effort. We know life is never that simple. That definition does not come close to defining what it really means to be a widow. Being a widow changes everything, not just our marital status.
We are taught as children that we should grow up and become husbands and wives, mommies and daddies. We did as we were told, and we were happy. We found our other half. How does one go on missing half of itself. My life turned into a nightmare—I was alone. Suddenly, I had a big hole where my identity, the definition of me, once was. So, now what happens? I had to redefine my life. You have to redefine your life.
When I lost Randy, it felt like I lost everything. I didn’t know how to be without him. Our lives were fused together. He was more than a paycheck and father. He was more than a lover and a friend. He was my confidant when I needed to share the darkest parts of me. He knew my limits and was my boundary when I needed one. Randy was the person who always reignited me right before my flame went out. He was my entertainer and my soft place to fall. And, there I stood, alone, riddled with holes.
I had to find a way to glue the pieces together so I could be whole again. I had kids who needed all of me, not just what was left. It wasn’t complicated, but it was the biggest challenge of my life. It took work and a lot of time—piece by piece, I did it. If I did it, you can do it.
It sounds cliché, but you just take one step at a time. Over the next week, I will share with you the path I took to become a whole person again. Just know this is my journey, and what feels good to you, and what works for you, might be different. Please use this as a guide, not a rulebook. If you think a step sounds great, feel free to use it. Whatever you do, please do not think the way I did it is the only way to do it. Change it up and make it a guide you can follow.