“After losing Renee I did what most semi-sane people do; Apart from diving headfirst into several bottles of dark spirits, I joined numerous social media groups dedicated to widows and widowers.
These groups serve a fantastic purpose in providing a non-judgmental platform for recently bereaved folks to unload all that torment and heartache whenever and however it comes; no matter the current state of mind. This is invaluable in the first weeks and months after a loss.
Because of the surreal nature of losing a loved one, the option to phone a friend or relative at 3:22 a.m. on a Tuesday after 27 glasses of wine, just to unleash a tirade of invective that can encompass the entire so-called 7 stages of grief in a single breath, is not only impractical but almost assuredly unwanted, no matter the compassion of the sympathetic ear on the other end of the line. Hence these awesome pulls of the free-for-all social media channels.
Now, most of the conversation that transpires in these groups is beautiful, raw and honest. It really is heart-warming and comforting to both read, write, and respond in kind to the pleas and outpouring of the fellow bereaved. And naturally, the feeling of community and support is a godsend when you are at crisis point.
Over the last few years that I have been party to these threads of misfortune and woe, there is one particular subject that not only seems to be a common topic, but one that gets the veins in my temple throbbing and my urge to ‘debate’ to the fore. And from a general perspective, this is how it goes:
‘It has been 17 months since I lost the love of my life. I have been dating someone else for the last 10 months and, to be honest, I’m not happy. They are just not what I had, and although they are caring and loving, I can’t help but…Blah blah blah.’
This is where the hackles on my neck start bristling, the blood in my veins starts boiling, and my brain starts to go into incomprehension overload.
I think I have deleted more responses to these types of posts than I have written articles for my blog. As much as I want to slap these people in the face, several times, and point out the short time frames between loss and a new beau, but I don’t want to be the one who drives yet another nail into their already hopeless feelings of despair. So, I refrain…
But not in this article…
People. Please…You have lost someone very recently that was a major part of your life; that was so intertwined with you that nothing right now is making sense. This will take some time to process. And yes, ‘some time’ very well may be many, many, many months (if you’re lucky), if not years (most likely).
I get that you are lonely and wish for the comfort and familiarity that you had. I understand being alone is f*cked up and totally not what you feel like being or doing right now. I know this is not how things are meant to be and it is ridiculously hard to even find a reason to smile right now.
But DO NOT, I repeat DO NOT try to fill that void with another person just yet. DO NOT think a new relationship is going to wash away all the pain and sorrow. DO NOT assume for one second someone else in your life right now is going to replace, f*ck, even replicate, what you had and wish to have again.
THIS IS NOT HOW IT WORKS!
There is no way you will ever have what you had, nor should you want that. If you find yourself trying to emulate your past, be assured you will fail. Because what you had was exactly that; something you had. Unique and special. It would be an absolute travesty to both the memory of your lost love AND to the new person in your life if you tried to make it so. It is unfair to all parties concerned for you to try and manifest your desires based on your past.
You can’t make love, you can’t manufacture a mutually inclusive relationship, you can’t force happiness. It is or will be because it’s meant to be.
I tell my kids something all the time that relates directly to this issue. I tell them this when they say they’re bored. I tell them when they’re upset. I tell them when they’re pissed off at the world. And I’m telling you now…
YOU are in charge of YOUR happiness. No one else, nothing else. If you aren’t happy with yourself, there is nothing and no-one else in this world that can make you happy.
You will never have a loving, caring, mutual relationship with another until you are happy with the person that you are inside, warts and all. Damaged and all. Broken or otherwise.
You cannot move forward (note: not ‘moving on’) until you have reconciled your feelings, your heart, your situation. You simply can’t progress with a new future until you have made a sense of peace with what has happened and how it has left you.
You need to know and love the new you.
I am nearly 4 years into life since my loss. I am closing in on my peace. I am beginning to sense the first blossoms of happiness. And I’m getting excited. Excited because I know there is a huge, beautiful world out there that is ready and willing to take the new me into its welcoming arms and show me, once again, that there IS love for me. That there is happiness again.
So I implore you; if you are not at peace with your loss; if you are not happy with the person you are inside; please, please do not hurt yourself and others even more by trying to make something from your past that isn’t right in this moment.
You, and everyone else, deserve the real you. The total you. The best you.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Chris Martin of Australia. This story originally appeared here. You can follow his journey on Facebook, Instagram, and blog. Submit your own story here and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
Read more from Chris here:
‘She should be here to watch them grow up. I want the love of my life back.’: Widowed single dad creates new normal, ‘I’m different now and that’s OK’
‘I went into my late wife’s inbox and found some humbling words she wrote about what I meant to her.’: Widower thanks late wife after finding lost emails, ‘You helped me all these years’
‘She told me, ‘Find someone who loves you as much as I do.’ Raising children on your own is no easy task.’: Widower says ‘I will not look in the mirror one day and see a lonely old man staring back’