"As a widow you will learn that the only choice that ultimately brings peace is walking the path of grief that has your name on it. The only way to walk with grief is to meet it head on and know that those who have walked before you have survived." ~Linda Perrone Rooney
I found this quote over the weekend, and instantly wanted to share it with all the widowed people I know. I used it right away as my facebook status, posted it in my office, and planned to use the quote as the opening of my blog this week....funny thing is I think I would have HATED this quote about four and a half years ago.
When I first realized that the word widow applied to me I wanted to run screaming away from the reality that came with that label. I also was seriously annoyed by the idea that I was not only expected to face the fact that my husband was dead, but somehow own a journey of healing that was horrifying to me. Heal? On purpose? For what reason again? Did you not hear me say that my husband is DEAD?! When a person whose husband was alive and well talked to me about how I was going to overcome this loss and find new joy in my life, I wanted to throw up on them. Or jab their eyes with a pen. Yep, I was willing to own the consequences of those actions.
I guess the trouble I had with taking ownership of my grief journey was the fact that no one asked me if I wanted to embark on this crazy expedition. It is one thing to take ownership of your actions, these are things that you presumably did with intention (or at least acted out due to horrid widowed rage!), but I found it really difficult to accept the idea that healing the wound left by the unexpected loss of my husband was also my responsibility.
Then I began meeting other widowed people, and I could no longer say "You don't understand." Instead I observed where their lives had taken them. I discovered the ways that they honored the love they had for their husbands, and still lived a full and happy life. I witnessed time and time again the courage with which they faced the challenges that life continued to drop on their doorsteps. And then I realized that the only way out of this pain was to walk through it.
Today I still look to my fellow widowed friends when life throws me a grief curve ball. I also have the honor of witnessing hope bloom in the hearts of people who have all lost so much. I no longer resent the fact that my grief journey is my own. In fact, I now welcome the opportunity to leave my mark on the route I must walk, so that the people who come after me on this path will know that hope lies ahead.