None of us truly knows how we will handle loss. In my case, I was capable of living on my own, handling my finances, getting through the final arrangements and all that follows the loss of a spouse.
I didn’t count on not being able to take a deep breath for what felt like months.
I didn’t expect to completely lose my appetite and my sense of humor.
I didn’t count on the paralyzing loneliness that overwhelmed me.
In the first few months most days I didn’t get dressed or even walk outside to get my mail. Days I spent almost entirely in bed, covers pulled over my head and tried to sleep so I wouldn’t have to think. I took a lot of bubble baths and basically hid out. I desperately missed my husband and our happy life. Every memory, even the good ones, caused me pain. Not surprisingly, I cried a lot during this time. And though, intellectually I knew I wasn’t the only person in the world dealing with loss and sadness, it felt as though I was.
There is no time-table, no book, no one else’s advice that can tell you how to navigate your new normal. This is where self-care comes into play. Being retired, I didn’t have to return to work for which I was grateful. Instead, I allowed myself to just….exist. No judgement, no guilt, no pressure to speed the process along. Losing someone you love is the most intimately personal experience you can have and you’re entitled to feel every emotion that comes at you.
Be as understanding and kind to yourself as you would to others.
It gets better but it takes time.