I recently began to follow a guy named John Polo. John lost his wife to cancer in 2016, and shortly after, began to write and post about his grief journey. In the 6 years since, those that have followed him have probably noticed an evolution. He recently shared that he was changing the name of his page and that change clearly reflects his evolution. He says that “a page that started off with so much pure, raw emotion has slowly been building towards one more focused on helping others through everything that I have learned.” How wonderful when you can use a painful experience to help others.
The other evening, my husband and I started to talk about our shared experience of losing our partner in life. We go there sometimes. We are never sure what starts those conversations, but there we were, segueing from the events of the day to some memory- and soon after, we are, pouring our hearts out.
During these conversations, we say things that others, if they overheard us, may not understand. We share how we felt at a scary or frustrating moment, or those times when we were in a really dark place either before, or after our partner’s death. We share our worries over how the experience of watching a parent fade and die has affected our children; and our fears that our way of handling things also could have affected them negatively. We pour out the guilt. The relief. The feelings of judgment some people had seemingly imposed on us. After those conversations, which have each of us wiping our eyes more than once, I feel a bond and closeness that is hard to describe. And I bask in the relief of gratefulness that we have found in each other, someone who can truly understand our completely this unique experience. I guess that’s why support groups work so well for people. That you know people there feel a lot of what you are going through.
John Polo posted something that really spoke to me. I didn’t include the entire post, and if you want to see it you can find him on Facebook and at this link to his website.
“Here’s the truth.I will always be a widower.If I live to be 100.I will always be a widower.If I fall madly in love next month and spend the next 50 years of my life with that person.I will always be a widower.The love that I was able to experience.And the heart-wrenching, soul-crushing loss that I had to endure.Neither of those things.Is ever going away.No matter what the future holds for me.I will always love, miss – and in some form -grieve my wife.And yes.I will always be a widower.For those that think the only thing I can speak about is grief.It’s not.Today marks a new day& the truth is,I have SO much more to say.”
It never escapes me, especially after following the grief journey of others, that I am indeed fortunate. So many experience judgment of others in the handling of their grief. Isn’t it time to move on? Are you moving on too quickly? Blah. Blah. But like John, I know my loss doesn’t define me. And it doesn’t define my relationship with my husband. Being widowed changed both of us for sure, and I’d have it no other way (as if there is a choice). I don’t really like all the cliches about how the rough stuff makes you stronger because there sure are lots of times I never felt strong at all, but I’ll take great grief for the price of great love.