Losing a partner at any age is devastating and life changing. However, losing them young can feel like a robbery of time, memories and dreams. When we marry, we do so because we want to grow old with our loved one, and having that opportunity taken away from us can seem impossible to recover from.
Below, we’ve put together some ways to help you move forward while you navigate this heart-breaking and isolating time.
Let yourself grieve
It might seem obvious, but if you have children or financial responsibilities, it’s easier to go into ‘survival mode’ and forgo your emotional needs. Although this is natural, it’s vital that you allow yourself the time and space you need to grieve for what you’ve lost. There is a wealth of support for young widows out there. Support groups can be amazing for meeting people who’ve gone through the same ordeal, and never forget to ask your family and friends for help. They might not understand what you’re going through, but they will want to be there for you. Let them comfort you and remind you you’re not alone.
Honour the past
Although we want to shut out the painful memories, many widows regret this as the years go by. Honour the time you had with your spouse by writing down all the things you remember about them. Do it when they’re fresh in your mind so you don’t miss a single detail.
Creative endeavours can be cathartic, such as scrap booking, journaling, painting, writing or singing. Let your creativity be an expression of your grief and a way to honour the time you had with your loved one. Remember all those dreams. They are no less valid because your partner can’t be here to share them with you. Make them come true in their honour and let their memory give you hope for a brighter future. The pain you’re feeling now will eventually pass. Taking control of it and channelling it into something that helps or distracts you can be the kindest thing you do for yourself during this period in your life.
Look for the collateral beauty
The world is going to seem like a dark place for a while. It’s going to feel impossible to see the sunshine through the rain. But it hasn’t stopped shining just because of the storm, and even in your darkest moments, there is still beauty surrounding you. Try to focus on even the smallest thing, such as a child laughing, a dog barking at a squirrel, a joke your friend tells you, or anything you see that makes you smile. The collateral beauty is your anchor to the world, keeping you steady and sane while you learn to live again in the wake of such a tragic loss. Remember that grief is just love with nowhere to go. It’s still love and it’s still beautiful.
Forgive your yourself
This is the most important aspect of moving forward. You’re going to feel guilty for forgetting details you once remembered. You’re going to have moments of crushing anguish, rage, fear and regret. You’re going to cry when you smile at a stranger or flirt with a colleague. You’re going to feel bad for laughing, living, and loving again, and it’s going to hit you in the moments you least expect it. It’s so important to forgive yourself when they do. You are allowed to feel angry, sad, and lost. It’s all a part of grief. There is no one defined way to move forward, and you’re going to make mistakes and say harsh things to those closest to you – and you’re going to do it more than once. It’s okay. People will understand, and you have to give that same compassion to yourself.
Re-enter the world
Although it felt and may still feel like it sometimes, the world hasn’t stopped turning. Your world might have for a little while, but life goes on and you deserve to be a part of it. Let yourself re-join it, one step at a time. Go back to work, catch-up with friends, take up new hobbies, and let your heart slowly open again. There’s no rush and you can take all the time you need to find value in the world again. You’ve survived one of the most difficult losses, and however long it takes you to heal is the right amount of time.
For further information on how to move forward when you’re a young widow, visit our help page here.