What I've Learned

Losing my husband unexpectedly and learning to live with that loss has taught me so much. I’ve been thinking about this off and on for quite awhile…and while the sum total is far too long for one blog post and the learning process is ongoing probably for the rest of my life, I think there are a few pretty solid bullet points to share. What follows is in no particular order…just stream of consciousness…


I’ve learned that grief is ongoing, constant, never-ending…and yet also up and down, back and forth, in and out..different, it seems, one day to the next, one moment to the next. I’ve learned not to expect it to ever end…I don’t expect the process to ever heal me completely; it has become a part of me…I’ve had to learn to make friends with it. I also don’t expect to always be in a state of devastation, but I do expect to always be missing him. I’ve learned how to speak to others in grief…what to say, and what not to say. THAT is something I believe more people should be informed about, for sure.


I’ve learned how widowhood changes other relationships in my life. Some people who were friends with us when he was alive are now distant, and I’ve forged new friendships too, a lot of them being other widows and widowers who have been rocks of support and sharing (like here at Widow’s Voice). Sharing in our grief is SO important, and I’ve learned never to take that for granted. I’ve also learned a lot about the ins and outs of a new relationship after a loss. I’ve learned I cannot replace Mike, I cannot compare, and I appreciate this new love and companionship with as much balance and understanding as I can muster in that regard. I work hard not to allow little things to bother me like they used to - much of it seems so unimportant now, and yet, I am more fragile and sensitive too so I find I don’t have time for any bullsh*t either. 


I’ve learned how drastically different this strange new normal is, this life without Mike. I’ve had to learn to live with the fact that he is not around to share life’s little joys, he is not here to chat with about a new movie or some news tidbit or share a meal. Life without Mike is a very different place indeed…and yet, I’ve learned that the memories I carry with me about the life we had, the way he was, and the wisdom he shared with me over the years did not disappear. Having been married to this incredible man will lend a certain flavor and texture to the rest of my days.


Mike wasn’t perfect. None of us are, and he was the first to admit his own mistakes while he was here. But he had his own brand of unusual, eccentric, and amazing. He taught me so much about life, love, spirituality…how to react, even if he didn’t always take his own advice. I realized the other day that I had completely forgiven him his faults; those little things that upset me here and there as in any marriage, I now never think about…do I regret ever being upset with him about things that seem so silly and irrelevant now? Yes, but it doesn’t keep me up at night. I know no marriage, no relationship, is really ever perfect, and I feel above all else a deep gratitude that I had the years I had with him. Wherever he is, I feel he has forgiven me too, for not being perfect. My relationship now with my dead husband is only about love, and an overwhelming sense of peace. 


I’ve learned to treasure my own life, the days I have left, and the people around me now in a way I was never aware of before. I’ve learned how short life really is and how important it is to express love to others and work to make the world a better place, even if only in small ways. I’ve learned not to be self-centered or to take things too hard, or too personally. Time is too precious for petty and negative, and the world most certainly does not revolve around me.


I’ve learned that life really is change. It’s as if that little magic bubble of marriage and life I shared with Mike burst when he died, leaving me exposed to the reality that people  - including myself - get old, we die, and in between are many instances of moving and shifting…nothing stays the same. 


But despite the feeling of emotional fragility I’ve discovered on the heels of my new relationship, I’ve also learned how strong I really am. That I can conquer my fears, or at least learn to live with them. That I can be my own independent individual and rely on myself - and that I can survive incredible pain. While it’s hard not to have Mike around to share the burden, the experience of having been married to someone like him and then losing him has made me my own unique person, with my own unique traits and brand of wisdom, strength, and eccentricity. 


I am Stephanie 2.0, updated daily.


Showing 8 reactions

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  • Steven Jenkins
    commented 2017-04-13 20:23:43 -0700
    In life we have to face some things which are so unexpected and heart breaking. In https://topaussiewriters.com/aussiewriter-com-review/, there are some blogs written by my friends which will inspire you to move on in life with courage and good will. I appreciate you for having a brave soul and to make yourself strong enough to fight the sadness. Do follow the blogs and feel the change in you.
  • Jeannie Hershey
    commented 2016-04-06 12:05:00 -0700
    Stephanie, your post is so appreciated by me, I feel like I could put my husband’s name in place of your husbands and mine in place of yours. You have shared my heart today. It has been almost 6 months since I lost my husband in a tragic car accident and yesterday a dear friend of mine lost her husband to a massive heart attack as they were preparing to leave on a mid week vacation to celebrate her birthday today. As I have been search for the right words to say to her when I visit her later today I have come across this post on my facebook page from widow wednesday. Thank you for your blog and this post. It is a blessing and a comfort to know that how I have been feeling and the journey I have been on is common ground for some of us. Thank you for sharing Jeannie
  • Patti Graham
    commented 2016-02-28 07:30:15 -0800
    Thank you so much Stephanie I feel the same about my wonderful Kenny he’s been gone now 14 months and it is really hard everything you said is what is happening to me our friends are not around as much and is something I’m trying to adjust too again thank you 🙅😊
  • Stephanie Vendrell
    commented 2015-07-20 00:50:49 -0700
    Oh Jennifer I am so terribly sorry for your loss…those first few months are so, so difficult. I am glad you’ve found Widow’s Voice and Soaring Spirits, it’s a wonderful community. Hugs to you.
  • Jennifer Hicks
    commented 2015-07-19 19:14:08 -0700
    I am a widow of one month and one day. So much of what you said in your post has brought me to tears. Especially the part about a normal life being drastically different without him. This is and has been a horrible realization for me. Everyone says time will heal. So far time has only made me feel worse. I so lost, but somehow reading some of your posts have helped me realize I am not alone with my emotions. Thank you.
  • Stephanie Vendrell
    commented 2015-07-09 20:26:45 -0700
    Thank you Linda and Dawn, for your comments and support. Not a fun boat to be in but nice not to be alone. Hugs to you both.
  • Dawn Gordon
    commented 2015-07-09 19:28:20 -0700
    almost a year ago my husband passed. These bullet points are right on the point. So many feelings everyday a different from the day before. And the learning the new normal without my husband well at times devastating.
  • Linda Tevebaugh Keeling
    commented 2015-07-09 17:28:25 -0700
    Stephanie. …I am 3 years out..also in a new relationship. .all these bullet points are exactly what I have been thinking about. ..just could not put in words..thank you!