You learn to become an independent person, who can care for themselves and their children, while continuing to wish they were by your side.
Editor’s note: This article was originally published on September 19, 2019. It has since been updated.
When you lose a spouse, whether it is untimely or expected, it hits you hard. The first few months, you are just reeling with sadness and the grief takes over everything. Gradually, the fog of grief clears to show you that nothing has changed for the rest of the world. Slowly, you start picking up the pieces of your life and learn to get through each day. Eventually, it hurts lesser and lesser each passing day, and you begin you to heal. Once that happens, you realize the only way forward is to make some changes in your life, so you do that.
You learn to do many things for the first time, just by yourself:
You had different responsibilities as a couple. He took the garbage out while you did the dishes. He bathed the kids, while you made their food. The list is infinite, but you have been forced to do both roles. You learn to care for your children all by yourself because there is nobody who can help all the time. So, you buck up and learn everything that he did and do it yourself. It might be hard in the beginning, but slowly, you get used to it. Eventually, your older children become just as capable of helping around the house and you don't have to do it alone anymore.
You can't do everything on your own. Initially, you might feel reluctant to seek help because you don't want to be pitied by others. However, you realize your close family and friends are not there to judge but to help you. They will step up when you ask them to be there for you. You learn to create a circle of trust with the people who are your real family and weed out the rest because you no longer have time to suffer fools.
While you may be used to being taken care of by a partner, you learn, after they are gone, to care for yourself physically and mentally. If you fall sick, your entire family could face difficulties so you learn to pay as much attention to yourself as to your children. From keeping up with doctor's appointments to eating better, you don't ignore these crucial things anymore.
There were many things that your partner took care of that you didn't have to think about. It is different for each couple. It might be that he was more aware of the major finances while you were better at creating the monthly budget. Now, you have to take care of both, which might seem daunting initially. You learn to mow the lawn, change the oil in the car, and many other things that probably only your partner knew of. However, finally, when you do manage to do it all on your own, you feel a sense of achievement.
All the beautiful plans you had with your partner, for which you thought you had a lifetime together, you start doing on your own. All the countries you wanted to see together, the business you wanted to create or the book you wanted to write and kept delaying, you learn to do it sooner than later. You realize that there is no tomorrow and just like your partner, you might not have a lifetime to achieve everything. You realize that there is no infinite time to keep delaying your plans.
Disclaimer: This article is based on insights from different sources. The views expressed here are those of the writer.