“People tell you so many things when you are widowed.
Things that are meant to console you.
‘At least he didn’t suffer.’
Things that are meant to be reassuring.
‘You’re young, you’ll get married again.’
Things that are meant to prepare you.
‘The first year will be hard, but the second year will be harder.’
They’ll fill your ears with platitudes and other useless tripe.
And that’s what it all is.
A few weeks ago, I watched as another widow buried her husband.
My heart ached for her. My heart still aches for her.
When I looked at her, I could see a reflection of myself five years earlier in her eyes.
Unsteady and unsure.
And so very afraid.
It took my breath away.
Five years ago I had stood not far from that same spot and watched as my own husband’s ashes were lowered into the ground.
It was a hot, humid, day – so hot the heat was oppressive. My feet were so swollen they barely fit into my shoes; I could barely walk to the waiting car.
I was physically and mentally exhausted.
I couldn’t wait to be out of there.
I couldn’t wait for it all to be over.
As we were leaving the cemetery, I looked back at the rows and rows of headstones. And the reality hit me like a ton of bricks.
This would always be my load to carry.
And that is what no one ever tells you about widowhood.
They don’t tell you just how heavy it is.
The loss, the grief, the pieces of a broken life.
The criticism, the judgement, the widow shaming.
The crushing loneliness.
They don’t tell you how hard it is to move forward with your life when you are carrying an 80-pound rucksack full of widowhood on your back.
But you do it anyway because you must.
You have no choice, so you learn how to carry the weight, so it doesn’t break you.
They don’t tell you that death teaches you to appreciate life more fully and completely.
They don’t tell you it makes you so much more grateful for the small ordinary moments.
And that this gratitude makes the load so much more bearable.
They don’t tell you that happiness after loss is so exquisite that you want to capture it in a jar, lest you lose it again.
They don’t tell you how much courage it takes to trust love one more time.
But a life without love is a life without meaning.
And so maybe, just one more time.
They don’t tell you that you will miss your old life whilst simultaneously loving your new life.
And that this duality of loss may indeed be the heaviest brick of the load to carry.
They don’t tell you.
So, I’m telling you.
Just because I carry it so well, doesn’t mean it’s not still heavy.”
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