Dealing with the Sudden Death of a Partner
In February 2006 my boyfriend died in a car related accident. The cause was carbon monoxide poisoning and I came home from work that day to find him. My world stopped spinning very abruptly, needless to say.
Dealing with the sudden death of a partner, especially one in the prime of his/her life, is one of the most traumatic situations that life can throw at you. How can your heart comprehend what your mind is almost unable to grasp?
Grief and Saying Goodbye to Your Dreams
Dealing with grief is a very individual process. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross suggested that there are five stages to grief - denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. I don't think they happen in that order necessarily, or that everyone goes through every stage. I flip-flopped back and forth through different stages. In the beginning, when my family and friends were around me, the loss hadn't hit me yet, not really. I cried and cried but the worst was yet to come I would soon find. It wasn't until after all my family and friends went back to their normal routines that I really began to feel the loss and really began to comprehend that the person I thought I would share the rest of my life with was gone forever. No goodbye, no see you later. No more hugs or kisses or smiles or phone calls.
I also worked at the same company as my boyfriend to add to the complication of my grief. I used to drive to and from work with him everyday. The first time driving back to work alone was horrible. Being at work was horrible (most found it amazing that I was even able to stay working at the same company). Driving home alone was horrible. I cried driving to and from work. I cried at work. I cried at home. For months and months my world became a very dark place. I felt some people didn't understand, as if my dog just died and I should grieve for a little while and then carry on. But he was my life, and my life just died. My life was a pile of ashes that once used to be a very alive and vibrant person.
All the dreams and hopes and wishes I had died with him. My dream of marrying him, being a step-mother to his three girls - gone. I was having to start over when I didn't want to, but I had no choice. Everything reminded me of him. I'd hear a song on the radio, drive past a restaurant we once had dinner at, or find a movie on t.v. that we had watched together and the pain flooded me, suffocated me. There was so escape. It was unbearable - the loneliness, my loneliness for him was agonizing.
Ways to Deal with Your Grief
For me, I found it very therapeutic to keep a journal. In the first 6 months after his passing I filled four journals. When the pain began to creep in or I'd recall a memory that I had once forgotten I would write it in my journal. I wrote everything about him and our life together that I wanted to remember. My journal entries were written as letters to him. Happy, sad, funny, angry, it didn't matter. I was able to tell him how I felt and what he meant to me through my journals. Writing helped me to process my feelings and release me from them, slowly. It helped me to say goodbye to him from this life in my own way.
I also turned to God for help. I never was angry at God for taking him away from me. I didn't understand why it had to happen but I never turned away from God. In fact, I actually grew closer to God and became more spiritual. I found myself changing for the better and becoming a better person. Sometimes, I learned, it's only when you are in the depths of despair that the real personal transformations can occur. If everything is going great in your life then why would you need to change? Life's difficulties help you find meaning and show you what's important - if you let it. And if you drown your sorrows with drugs and alcohol you are only delaying the grief and prolonging the pain. You have to go through the pain, there is no way around it really.
I am in a place in my life right now that I couldn't even fathom three years ago. I never thought I would find love again - or want to find love again - but it happened. If you give yourself the time and allow yourself to heal then the happiness will return to you. You will know when you are ready. I know it doesn't seem like it when you are going through the heaviest parts of grieving but time does heal those wounds.
I recently became engaged to a wonderful man and I couldn't be happier. I feel I am where I should be in my life. He understands what I've been through and listens to me and is supportive. I carry my memories with me and what I learned from the past and I have created new dreams and goals. Life is beautiful, even more beautiful than it ever was before. My eyes were opened and the veil lifted. I remember what is important in life - it surely isn't money or anything superficial. I owe this life lesson to Jack. In a weird way, his death gave me a renewed life and I am forever thankful.