What I Wish Someone Had Told Me When My Wife Died
Updated: 4 days ago
There are things that people say after your partner (or any loved one) dies that make you just want to slap 'em. Things like "you'll always have your memories" or "they'll always be in your heart." And that's if you're lucky, because there are a lot worse things that people say, like "you need to let them go and move on with your life," or the really horrible "you're holding them back." Many here, whom this site serves, have also heard, "you're still young, you can find love again" as if your toaster went kaput and you need to order another one from Amazon.
The funny thing is, those first two, about your partner being in your memories and in your heart, actually hold some profoundly helpful information. It's just that the information is hidden by the way they mean those phrases and the way we usually interpret them.
What I needed when Irene died was for someone to tell me how to start accessing her again in a way that would be real, meaningful and emotionally, psychologically satisfying. Something I could do on my own that was simple and straightforward, something I could easily understand, that didn't take years of practice and effort.
In other words, how could I connect with her again right now?
It's really very simple. When Irene died, I was already connected to her through two very powerful conduits: our memories together and her presence in my heart. These are real connections. These are actual places where we can actually be together right now. I didn't figure this out until many years down the road and after trying many methods and techniques.
Of course, in the beginning there's a great big, terrifying grizzly bear guarding these two conduits, and that bear's name is grief. I couldn't access any memory of Irene without triggering a flood of pain. If I felt my love for Irene, her presence, in my heart for a second, it would break all over again and send me into a pit of despair.
But, that's exactly where she was, and still is. This is where I can easily find her any time I want. I just had to get past the scary wall of grief.
Our world of memories is not a dead world, like some old film I can look at from time to time; it's a living world. We create new memories there all the time. They guide me like touchstones back into her presence and into our real, inner world, what we call our shared mental world. I use these memories to find my way into our world, which I can feel in my heart like a radiant atmosphere that washes all over and through me. It is satisfying, fulfilling, exciting and incredibly fun.
If only someone had told me about this when I started, I could have made sense of what I was experiencing much quicker, and I would have understood the sensations and synchronicities. As it was, Irene had to spend months trying to get my attention through the grief, and then after that had to practically beat it in to me over several more months that yes, that really was her in that mental world with me. Eventually she made the signs and synchronicities explicit and shocking enough that I realized that I had to set aside my doubts.
Where was she? Right here. How could I interact with her? Through that which I already had immediate access.