Olivia Arnold

Widow at Weddings

I’ve attended three weddings this year. I’ve heard of many widows who hate or avoid going to weddings but I don’t really feel that way. That’s not a new development for me; I attended 3 of my best friends’ weddings (within my self-set boundaries) and was a bridesmaid in my brother and sister-in-law’s wedding in the three to six months after Mike died because I wanted to be there and be a witness and part of their joy (they would all have all graciously excused me).  However, it is certainly not the same experience that it use to be for me and I have a different attitude and perspective attending than I once had.

I think the expression of love at weddings is beautiful and I’m so happy I got to experience that with Mike. I feel lucky for that. I’m glad when I go to weddings that the people get to experience that too. Obviously, my love story with Mike after our wedding was not what I expected and that’s where the “different” experience comes in.

The vows the bride and groom say to one another is the part that stands out to me the most now. It also is the part that makes me a bit uneasy. The weight and promise of those words is so enormous. I reflect on my own promise I made, what I think of it now, and my future moving forward.  

I understand the thinking behind the “until death do us part” promise but I just don’t find it actually works that way. When someone dies, you don’t feel like you’re not married to them anymore. It’s not a clean break. It’s not a breakup or divorce. I still felt very much married. Death doesn’t make you stop loving them. It is just no longer reciprocated.   

Beyond “until death do us part,” I think it makes more sense when brides and grooms also often say that they will love and honour their spouse for all the days of their life. It’s an individual choice as opposed to a joint one. It is carried out regardless of the other person. I think that is really sweet and also very true. I will love and honour Mike for all of my life. It’s a beautiful, huge promise.

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  • commented on Be Present 2018-09-06 18:27:21 -0700
    You said it all so well right there Jana! A broken heart and permission to start a new fearless life with a new mind. Great words!

  • commented on Getting Older Doesn't Suck 2018-09-06 18:25:13 -0700
    Sorry to hear about both of your health issues. I did mention in the blog that I don’t have experience with health issues so I was not commenting on that hardship and not meaning to offend.
    My perspective is that it would be very fortunate for Mike to be getting older. I understand that health may deteriorate at some point but I think there is a lot to experience before and even during that which would have been better than dying at 28 years old.

  • commented on Widow's Roast 2018-08-29 04:18:37 -0700
    haha I know, so many Mikes and it’s confusing. I guess you can take solace in the fact that out of the Mikes involved in this Soaring Spirits blog you are the only one still living. Maybe we can distinguish by calling you “alive Mike” :p

  • commented on Get in the Casket and Die Too 2018-08-21 08:23:20 -0700
    I feel the same. I don’t wish the pain or loss on anyone but glad to have my perspective.

  • commented on Planning Hawaii 2018-08-01 05:59:49 -0700
    I don’t think that’s a fair question. It’s not a comparison. They’re not in competition. They’ve existed to me in 2 different times in my life. I loved what was with Mike but I also love what is with David now. I don’t have to choose. There’s so much that’s different (me and my thinking mainly) and I think I love them differently because of that. Not more or less, just different (apples to oranges). I have more of an awareness that this is not a fairytale and it both scares me (and sometimes makes me panic) and makes me love deeply. I consciously choose this relationship knowing that loving deeply can also mean hurting a lot and I appreciate the love as it is now. My values, interests and way of being have shifted after loss which makes David a good fit for me now whereas Mike was a good fit to me before. I try, as much as possible, to stay in the moment. I have to be where I am. Trying to compare the love of then and now strips the joy of today does not do me any good.

  • commented on Easy To Love 2018-08-01 05:36:15 -0700
    The insecurities are definitely difficult. I don’t know if I would call it a full heart. I don’t have a full heart to love from. My heart still has an empty space left from Mike dying. I would say it’s an expanded heart. The space from Mike is still there but my heart has grown to fit someone new and I love him with all that new space. It keeps pushing bigger. There is room for both.

  • commented on Getting Out of My Own Way 2018-06-12 05:03:49 -0700
    Karin, that’s great you have a group out there. I wasn’t planning on going to Kona unfortunately :( It would have been nice to meet up. I’m not sure how to privately send you my contact info in case something changes. Maybe find on fb?

  • commented on Vacation Reflection 2018-04-03 10:02:56 -0700
    Marybeth, Barbados is so nice! I’m glad you’ve enjoyed it too. I hope you are able to plan a vacation soon!

  • commented on And That's Why You Don't Have a Baby 2018-04-03 10:00:18 -0700
    I’m glad you could relate. You can’t enjoy the present if you’re thinking of what milestones you haven’t had

  • commented on Vulnerability 2018-03-20 09:47:38 -0700
    Thanks Stephanie! I do find it healing to write. Yes, not healed but together in the process so not alone. Thanks for your comment!

  • commented on Vacation 2018-03-20 09:57:36 -0700
    Thanks Cindy! Other than the Caribbean I haven’t traveled to the same places without Mike. However, my travelling philosophy is more so in seeing as many places as I can so I am not inclined to go back for other reasons. Caribbean is an easy relaxing vacation so I had to move past my reservations with that one. I agree, the triggers can be a reminder of what a wonderful love we had. I don’t try to stop it. I let it come; happened a few times on this trip.

  • commented on The Me Now 2018-03-07 18:39:57 -0800
    Thanks Stephanie for the warm welcome! I’m sorry for the very slow response. I realized I can only respond to comments on my laptop and it doesn’t post from my phone.

    Teresa W, that’s great you’re from Ontario! Maybe see you at Camp Widow!

    Teresa Renee, it was a pleasure meeting you too. Your words are so true! Thank you for sharing them!

  • commented on The Me in the We 2018-03-07 18:37:09 -0800
    Thanks Gayle!

  • commented on Why I Smile 2018-03-07 18:36:36 -0800
    Indira, I know the feeling of a shattered heart. I’m sorry for your loss.

  • commented on My Family 2018-03-07 18:34:03 -0800
    Teresa, I know I am very fortunate to have them. I definitely appreciate them!

  • commented on I'm Building my Wings on the Way Down 2018-01-06 11:47:25 -0800
    Loved this post. The first paragraph about not wanting to ring in the new year without him, now or never really resonated with me. Thank you!

Doing things a late twenty-something woman does...as a widow. Re-creating my life and identity, being outdoors, adventurous and active, teaching, laughing and crying, and living my new life a little less seriously.
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