When a loved one passes, it’s human nature to remember only the good things about that person. In fact, if you were to think about anything negative, it might seem dishonorable to him or her. However, the truth is that each of us is human and, therefore, we each possess human failings.
No one is perfect; no one is a saint. Consequently, one of the steps of widowhood is to readjust the picture of your late spouse. This doesn’t mean forgetting or negating all that was wonderful about him/her. It’s just drawing a more accurate picture.
Here are just two reasons why it is important to do so.
1. There might have been a certain way the two of you took care of finances, your home, child rearing, etc. Now there is only one of you and you have to do what feels right for you in your new life. If you continue to put your late spouse on a pedestal and think that “his way” or your old way of doing things is the only and right way to complete tasks, it makes it virtually impossible for you to feel good about different decisions you are making now. You have to learn to trust yourself without second guessing or thinking too much about the decisions you and your late spouse would have made in the past. Now, you only have the present and the future.
2. If at some point in the future you want to look for a new partner, any new person is going to be hard-pressed to compete against a saint, or someone who never said or did anything that annoyed you, or someone with whom you always agreed. Although you will always carry the love you feel for your late spouse in your heart, it isn’t a good relationship technique to always be comparing your late and current partner … with the current partner never quite filling the shoes of your late spouse. In reality, you are a different person now who has been changed by loss. As hard as it might be to admit it to yourself, your late spouse might not be the “perfect” fit for the new you.
If you’re having a hard time hearing the preceding thoughts, keep in mind that they are not usually ones incorporated or easily understood at the inception of grief. The process of grief is a slow dawning and acceptance of the infinite changes that have occurred in your life.
Right now you’re a moth who lives in darkness while you spin your cocoon. However, soon you will be set free to live life as a beautiful butterfly. The harder you work on moving through your grief and addressing the issues in your life, the smoother the transition to butterfly will go.
To read 10 more tips and thoughts on coping with grief, click here.
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 and finding love after loss, along with numerous other subjects. Visit her website for more information on her books and services. Books also available via Amazon or Barnes and Noble.