I did it and so can you!
How do you start again after losing a partner?
Posted Aug 03, 2009
If you have lost the love of your life and are wondering how you will be able to move on without them, I can tell you from my personal experience, that you will. Having lost my husband to dementia after 42 years of marriage, what I know is that it will take time and patience with yourself, and above all, compassion for the difficult journey you are on. Giving ourselves the same kind of care we would naturally extend to another is key to being able to move through today and into tomorrow. There are certain steps that I took, baby steps in the beginning, to work myself out of the anxiety and depression that came along with my loss. When my husband and I received the diagnosis of his rare form of dementia, called Pick's Disease, my life slid into a black hole. Everything changed. Everything! And I kicked and screamed to avoid the truth that my life would never be the same and that trying to keep it that way was a ridiculous impossibility.
Over the next days, weeks, months and years I worked with myself in a particular way to find my passion for life again. I kept notes of what I was doing and feeling and eventually they became my book: Moving to the Center of the Bed: The Artful Creation of a Life Alone.
I had never lived alone. Like many women of my generation, I had gone from my father's house to my husband's. I love solitude and need it to do my creative work, but I had never experienced the stunning silence of aloneness before the door closed on life as I had known it. For the first time, I was without my husband and alone in a small apartment where I'd gone after he entered a dementia facility. It was in that place that I learned how to live again, how to deal with what had come to me and to make my life purposeful and rewarding again.
My plan in this blog is to outline how I did what I did and to invite you to ask questions so that I can be of help. Today I want to suggest that you do what is perhaps the most difficult thing you will have to do: sit still and feel all the feelings. Let them happen. Cry, rage, do whatever it takes, but don't run from them. We all try to avoid the pain and sorrow, the depression and anxiety that come from such a loss. But, there is no avoiding the dark places because eventually, no matter how hard we try, the feelings, not dealt with, will remain. I am not a psychologist. My personal experience is what has taught me everything I will tell you here. You will have to decide if what helped me will help you. I had help; therapy; supportive family and friends, but so many of the 'friends' and colleagues I had shared with my husband walked away when he was diagnosed and never returned. It was the most terrible time of my life and I knew that I would have to find the courage and strength to live my life alone or not survive.
Moving to the Center of the Bed is a metaphor for finding that courage and strength, which is in all of us. Yes, it's in you as well. You will find it. And I'll help if I can.