Dealing with Grief
Meeting Her Soulmate
Walter, there will never be another man quite like Walter. I still remember the first time I laid my eyes on him, what a sight he was. I had just returned home from college for the summer and was spending it working at a local book store. One warm afternoon, I had stepped outside some fresh air, and there he was. Two handsome looking men are walking down the street in the military uniforms, smiling and laughing. It was Walter and his best friend, Dave. As the story goes, we locked eyes for what seemed like an eternity, before Walter leaned over to Dave and said: “see that girl, I’m going to marry her”. He walked across the street, and my life changed forever.
Flash-forward five years, and we were celebrating our second wedding anniversary. I was working as an elementary school teacher, and Walter was now out of the military and working as a manager for his father’s private security firm. We were happy and had our whole lives ahead of us. We were hunting for our first home and talking about starting a family.
When Her Life Changed
But then, just like the day I met Walter changed my life, so did August 29th. It was a lazy summer afternoon, and we were spending the day on the lake at Dave’s cottage. Looking back, the day still feels like a blur. One minute he was getting pulled behind the boat on a wakeboard and the next we were rushing him to the hospital.
All in one instance it felt like my life had been taken away from me, my soulmate was gone, and it felt like my future was too. Even in a room surrounded by people, I had never felt so alone. The loss of someone you love is never easy, but when your dreams revolved around life with that person, the pain is even more debilitating.
When I thought about Walter’s death, it wasn’t just the loss of the man I loved. It was the loss of our two story dream home – a colonial with blue shutters and a red door. It was the loss of future family, two boys and a girl. It was a romantic trip to Paris, an early retirement spent traveling the world, and watching Walter teach our grandchildren to ride a bike or throw a curveball. It was my life.
Recovering & Moving On
It has now been three years since Walter has passed and over time, I’ve learned how to keep living. I was heartbroken for the first couple of years and honestly did not think I would ever feel better. Today I am happy again, but the sorrow of such a significant loss will never be forgotten.
The biggest thing that helped me was diving into my other passions in life. In college, I loved to paint. I was thinking about doing it full-time, but I stopped after I got my degree and became a teacher. Today, I am still teaching, but I have been keeping up with my painting. I have even sold some of my paintings and had a couple of expositions with some other prominent artists.
5 Keys to Recovery
While it has not been easy, I have found what I believe are the five keys to dealing with grief and recovering from the loss of a soulmate.
1. The first is to immerse yourself in your other passions. For me, painting has always been something I loved to do. A rainy summer day spent painting is one of the times I feel the most at ease and relaxed. It’s my escape, if only for an hour or two. Teaching is another passion of mine. The joy of seeing a young mind solve a problem and overcome challenges is something that makes me proud. While I may not have any children right now, my kids at school have helped to fill that role for the time being.
2. The second key is to take your time to grieve. There’s no timeline, so don’t feel like you need to follow one. You need to grieve, and you need to work through all the emotions and heartache. This won’t be easy as you will never truly be over your loved one. But in time, you learn how to love them but also love yourself again.
3. The third key is set new dreams, and date again when you’re ready. For some people, you may never be ready, and that’s ok. I have slowly started dating again. I feel like no one can replace my husband, but I want to share the rest of my life with someone. I think everyone deserves to feel the love of a significant other. No one can replace my soulmate, but that does not mean I should carry out the rest of my life without romance.
4. The fourth key is to learn to accept the loss and live in your new life. While Walter may be gone, his memory will never fade. In the three years since he’s been gone, I’ve grown and transformed. A life without your significant other may seem scary or impossible, but when you learn that this is the beginning of a new life, you can start living again.
5. The final key is to keep their memory alive somehow. Walter was a major part of my life before and after his death. The impact he had on me has shaped me into the woman I am today. I think of Walter every day. When I drive to work in the morning, it’s in the manual transmission car he taught me how to drive. When I go to the beach, it’s to the hidden one off the back roads he showed me. What many people don’t realize is that the little things others do stay with you. It’s not until they’re gone that you begin to realize how much they shaped you. Walter taught me so much during our time together that I never really appreciated until he was no longer here. It’s now that he’s gone, I think of him and appreciate all of them simple things he taught me that seemed so meaningless at the time.
I know that Walter can never be replaced, and I will never try to do that. It’s important to understand that the pain you're experiencing has been experienced by millions of other people as well. There are two ways to deal with it; sit and feel sorry or learn to move forward but never forget. If you can do the latter, I promise that you can begin to start living a rewarding and fulfilling life once again.
You Aren't Alone
While the experience of grief can be very isolating, we would like to help you take steps to counter the feelings of loneliness and disconnection. Should you need additional support, please don't hesitate to call us at (603) 883-3401. We will do our best to ease your bereavement and, if requested, provide a referral to a local grief counselor or therapist.