Many people -- myself included -- have said that the experience of loss in the course of a divorce is not much different than the loss at the death of a life partner.
Some widows tell me that the emptiness does not diminish with the passage of time -- it gets worse.
I guess it depends on the nature of your relationship with your lost spouse. If the relationship was contentious, as it most often is in a divorce, one is likely to feel a measure of relief to be away from the conflict. My mother, a widow who did not smile much in the last 20 years or so of her marriage, now smiles much more often. Hers was a dysfunctional marriage from the beginning.
No matter the tensions, if you have put time and emotional energy into a relationship, there is always a sense of failure when it ends in divorce. "What did I do wrong?" we ask. "What could I have done differently?" My mother might have asked herself those questions once.
On the other hand, if you've been a partner in a good relationship, one that has truly been a partnership, where life is fully shared ...
A friend said to me last night, "I don't believe in love. No man is ever faithful to me. They just lie and cheat. They take what they can and run." Then she added, "I've been with lots of men, and they are all the same." She was astounded that I could not agree with her. "You were not with the right man," was all I could say.
I thought of another friend who married a woman just like his mother. Mama was a strong woman who was always in control and used bullying to maintain her dominance in the household. Wife was the same. My friend truly believed all women were like that. I listened to his rants and thought how embarrassed I was to be a woman if that's how he saw me. Aggressive, not assertive. Then wife got herself a divorce, and my friend eventually met a new woman. An assertive woman, certainly not passive. They married. What a difference she has made in his life! He is happy, positive, assertive, and no longer paints all women with the same evil brush.
Then I thought about the title of this blog. Going on. Alone. It is import to go on. Not just survive in the midst of aloneness and despair, but truly Go On. Stand up. Look ahead. Move forward. We can carry the treasured memories forward with us, but we cannot let them become burdens dragging us back into the abyss.
We cannot move forward by ourselves. It takes time. Not weeks, not even months. Years. It takes a community. It takes friends. Sometimes family help, sometimes they are a hindrance. They are embroiled in their own hurdles. Those hurdles become obstacles in the way of our healing.
Stepping out is essential. Finding your own place where you feel you are making a difference is essential. Having an understanding listener is vital. Someone to hold your hand, give you a hug when you don't think you need it, someone who cares. Several someones. Perhaps you can be that friend for someone else.
Make a friend. Be a friend.
Don't forget to pray ...!