I'd like to introduce you to a German word that I think could help you to understand some of the confusing emotions you're experiencing in response to the loss of a partner.
The literal translation of the word SEHNSUCHT (German pronunciation: ze nzuxt) is longing, yearning, or craving.
However, it has a wider meaning, too.
According to Wikipedia it represents thoughts and feelings about all facets of life that are unfinished or imperfect, paired with a yearning for ideal alternative experiences.
The loss of your partner, and most especially if it was unexpected, has left you feeling unfinished … that this is not the way your story was supposed to go. As you address your grief and the new landscape of your life, you search to fill the void or complete your picture with alternative experiences. This can include trying on new hats and discovering the "new single you."
Sehnsucht has also been referred to as “life’s longings” or an individual’s search for happiness while coping with the reality of unattainable wishes. Such feelings are usually profound, and tend to be accompanied by both positive and negative feelings. This produces what has often been described as an ambiguous emotional occurrence.
Consider this thought, if you harbor feelings of guilt that you're moving forward or when you simply feel good while completing activities that bring you pleasure. In essence, you’re torn because moving forward might mean to you that you have to leave your late partner behind, which is not necessarily true. You can still carry him/her in your heart, which allows your deceased loved one to be part of your new experiences. After all, the love you shared is an integral part of you and helped to shape the "who" you bring to every new experience.
Sehnsucht is also defined as the inconsolable longing in the human heart for we know not what; a yearning for a far, familiar, non-earthly land one can identify as one’s home.
This “home” was your love-filled comfort zone that you shared with your partner and oh how you long to return to it – or at least recapture the safe loving feelings you experienced there. As you move through your grief, you continue to search for new experiences where you can repeat these feelings of home. I call it a place where you feel you can actually breathe.
Understanding and, subsequently, examining your feelings are both important steps for you to take on your journey through grief. Without taking the time for introspective thought, it will be difficult for you to determine who you are after loss, what you want, where you want to go, and how you intend to get there.
Ellen Gerst is a grief and relationship coach who uses both her personal experience as a young widow and her professional expertise to help clients and readers experience a change in perspective so that they may move successfully from the darkness of loss to the light of renewal. She is the author of several books on grief, as well as many other subjects. Visit her website, Amazon author page or Barnes and Noble to learn more. Join her on Facebook for tips and thoughts on coping with grief at Words of Comfort (which is also a book) and for tips on finding love after loss.