The lingering pain of widowhood

Another year has passed without my beloved husband and my heart aches from his absence these 14 years. Yes, the pain is softer now. But it is still there, lingering below the surface ready to stab at my emotions without warning, reminding me of my loss and the “amputation” at my heart.

Last year, I shared that I felt quite adrift in the world as if I had no anchor, no place of belonging. Those feelings remain and have been especially strong in recent weeks. And I am so frustrated that I am still here in this no man’s land a year later… 14 years later.

The frustration is made worse because I feel disappointed with myself for not “doing better” on so many levels. I’m disappointed because I know Paul would want me to be happy, and to find a second love, and life just doesn’t seem to work out that way. I’m disappointed with myself because I have so many wonderful things in life, but I still feel like something is missing. I am grateful for what I have, really I am. But I want more.

Before Paul died, we had dreams. He had dreams, I had dreams, and we had dreams together. And when he died, most of those dreams (his, mine, and ours) died with him.

It’s hard sometimes because the life I have now is (in part) the life we dreamt together: We dreamt of my completing my PhD (with his support and encouragement) and then I would get a great lectureship in Scotland and we would spend our summers in America together.

Instead, I completed my PhD without Paul’s earthly support and encouragement. And I did get a good lectureship in Scotland, and I have been spending a lot of time (summers and winters) in America lately. But what’s missing is Paul. Paul, and the children we were meant to adopt together. (Oh, yes. They were a big part of our shared dreams.)

I should be happy. I have so many things that people want. I live in Scotland. I have a great job and an excellent education. I am active and relatively healthy (for a woman with two major medical conditions). I travel, I have friends, I have a good income… but I am alone. I am alone in a way that you can’t understand if you haven’t experienced it.

So, here I am. I have survived 14 years without the love of my life. And I have many years left before my time on Earth is done. And with some pretty big life changes expected in the coming year, I know I will miss his presence that little bit more – because he won’t be here to celebrate the wonderful things that are waiting for me.

I don’t know so many things about my future and what it holds, but I do know I have Paul’s love. And that gives me hope and the courage to carry on…

Paul, I will always miss you and you will live in my heart forever. I luv ya, luv. X

This was the first dance at our wedding. I knew then, and I will always know, that his love is mine forever.

8 Replies to “The lingering pain of widowhood”

    1. i just happened upon your blog after searching the phrase about keep living until you learn to live sgain. I lost my husband 2 1/2 years ago.. just 21 days after we moved to a new state to start living our dream. Your words hit deep. I imagine this pain will never go away completely, but im trying to learn to live. trying to learn to smile again. I loved him and im so grateful for the fact that i had someone who loved me back just as much. one day at a time i guess.

      1. I wish I could tell you that the pain goes away, but in my experience (15 years now) it still lingers… but it is more manageable now and I am generally happy in life. Moving forward isn’t easy, but as you say, one day at a time, one little step at a time, and you will find joy in life. All my best to you!

  1. I’m sitting here approaching 10years of widowhood after 33 years of marriage and wondering where these ten years have gone. Disappointed in myself that I haven’t made more of them, done more with them, forged more of a life alone.

    1. It’s hard to look at the widow years and think we’ve stalled or are simply treading water. But you have probably made a lot more progress in these 10 years than you imagine. I’m at 15 years now, and it’s a lonely road. But I have had so many wonderful encounters along the way that help to break up the loneliness. From walks with friends to time with family… and even a rewarding career. I expect to live another 15, 25, 35, or more years, so I must believe that the loneliness can’t last forever!

      Keep going, Anne. Each step you take forward should be a celebration of a life well lived. No disappointment required!! All my best to you!

    1. I’m at 15 years now (April) and just hit 50 after being widowed at 35. I feel less of a young widow now, but I am still a rarity in my age bracket. However, all of my neighbours are now widowed (ages 70-85) so at least I am surrounded by women who understand, which helps!

      All my best to you!!

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