Your Late Husband’s Blessing

 

Crash Widow Lady Mary of Downton Abbey has an emotional scene at Matthew’s grave.  “I will always love you,” she vows.

The inevitable questions persist:  Would they approve? Would they be happy for us? If circumstances were reversed, would they do the same?

Like many widows who have had the good fortune to meet someone, Lady Mary declares: “The truth is I love him.”

Love after death can be fraught with complications, but letting your heart be your guide is perhaps the best way to move on and love again.

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Death Anniversaries

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We remember our dearly departed throughout the year, but on death anniversaries we can count on the calendar to trigger our emotions. Similar to remembering where we were on 9/11, a death anniversary of a loved one is steeped in our psyche because of its tremendous impact on our lives. On anniversaries loved ones may visit the grave, light a candle, say a prayer, raise a glass in toast.

That initial anniversary in widowhood was the most powerful, having survived the Year of Firsts. As each anniversary presented itself, life was a little different. I was different.

Today marks seven years since Robert passed. I once stumbled upon a morning ritual of Robert’s during a challenging time in his life after he lost his mother. Before he left for work, he queued up his favorite Aretha Franklin song, closed his eyes and listened.

Robert, I hope you’re at peace. I hope you’re with your mother and father (and I hope they’re getting along up there!). Thank you for all the wonderful times. Please know that I am happy and that…I Say A Little Prayer for you.

 

 

Saying ‘I Love You’ After Saying Goodbye – Love After Loss

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A widow friend of mine is in a wonderful relationship, but the “L” word hasn’t been uttered. To put a little more pressure on the couple, their one-year anniversary is in the neighborhood of Valentine’s Day. What’s a widow to do?

Similar to grief, love has no timeline. There’s no schedule or guidelines, no formula or rules. Just as everyone’s grieving period is different, people fall in love at varying degrees. Some relationships are quick-starts, immediately passionate and intense; others warm up slowly, segueing from affection to love; some turn unconditional seemingly overnight. Love grows, love changes. It’s a complicated emotion, difficult to track and impossible to predict. Our brain triggers chemical signals and our body responds.  One partner may be in the Tom Cruise-couch-jumping category, while the other is sitting quietly contemplating. Be patient, whether you’re the one waiting or catching up. Every love story is different.

My “L” word experience after widowhood was easy. About three months into our relationship, I found the word on my lips, at the tip of my tongue, almost tumbling out in conversation, as natural as a ‘thank you’ – but I held back, not wanting to say it first. Billy burst out with it, declaring his love just when I was ready to hear it.  We’d been in sync, no awkwardness.

Some advise against initiating that dialogue. George Costanza, impatient to declare his love to his girlfriend, ignored Jerry’s warning: “Are you confident in the ‘I love you’ return?  Cause if you don’t get that return, that’s a pretty big matzo ball hanging out there.”

But that’s sitcom love where life is scripted for cringe-worthy optimization. The rest of us on the other side of the screen, have experienced loves of all types throughout our lives: puppy love, first love, unrequited love.  And now widowed, we’re navigating the world of love after loss, which has its own distinct challenges. But it’s so worth the risk! Love always is.

For those of you emboldened, ready to speak those words – that once spoken cannot be unheard –  I applaud you; and for those waiting to hear those words – be patient.  To all my widowed friends, be brave and let yourself love and be loved…again.

LoveAgain