When we think about the grieving that happens after the death of a loved one, we often think about the suffering those left behind are left to face. And certainly, that is what’s talked about most. We talk about our pain; we talk about our changed paths; we talk about what we lost and we’ll miss out on. Because when we grieve, we’re not just grieving the loss of our loved one; we’re grieving the loss of the life we had; the life we planned.
Me? I lost a lot. I lost the first and only person in this world who made me feel truly wanted and treasured and loved. I lost the man who opened my heart to love. I lost the man who helped me to find myself. Or, at least, helped me to feel truly happy with the me that I am. (Or was. Widowhood changed me and I don’t like this new version of me as much.)
But Paul lost out, too. He lost the chance to run his first marathon. He lost the opportunity to be a father to the children we were meant to adopt. (And he would have been an amazing father!) He lost the ability to follow his dreams. And he lost the chance to grow old.
I speak of my loss in terms of all my shattered hopes and dreams; in terms of my shattered heart and loneliness. But that’s not because I don’t realise that Paul lost even more than I did; it’s because every time I think about what he lost by leaving this world I remember that his dreams of a happy future were tied up with my dreams for a happy future.
Our lives were intertwined and whilst we enjoyed occasional solo pursuits, we were one couple. We lived our lives together. We shared our hopes and dreams; we shared our sorrows and fears. And so when I speak of my losses, I am keenly aware of his losses, too. Because we were one. Our joys were shared, our sufferings were shared, and now, oddly, he shares in my grief even though he is no longer here.
I lost so much when Paul lost his life. But the loss that hurts most of all isn’t the loss of my hopes and dreams. What hurts is that he no longer gets to pursue his own hopes and dreams. And worse, we no longer get to pursue those hopes and dreams together, as we had planned
Yes, I lost a lot. But Paul lost even more. And that is what breaks my heart the most.