Editor’s note: this was written in response to the essay “The “D” Word by Peggy Amler published by AfterTalk on July 20th of this year. Here is a link to the essay:
“I Lost My Wife…”
by Rick Drew
I really understand your complex feeling. I lost my wife just over two years ago. Lost… passed way… I, too hate the D word, in part because actually writing it down or seeing it in print makes it so inescapably real.
Yet I know in a realistic way I must find a way to face that reality. I surround myself with memories and photos, yet I know I cannot live in a memorial museum dedicated to our over 35 years together. I can’t live in the past, the present feels meaningless and the future holds no promise.
I have finally found a good therapist. The other day we talked about what I am ‘getting’ out of my extended grief. Is feeling sad all the time my way of still conveying my love for her? Does feeling good or god forbid, ‘happy’ become a kind of betrayal? Though my world was unalterably shattered by her – I have to say it – death – I must come to terms with what cannot be changed, or I will be inevitably trapped in this paralyzing mire of sadness. I know she would want me to be happy. To embrace the years that I have been gifted – years she had stolen from her by a relentless and unforgiving disease. We had no children. It was just us.
Late last year I donated her clothing to a shelter store that supports Battered Women. I gave her art supplies and books the art college that she attended. I have tried to share what was precious to her with others who would truly appreciate them, not just dump her treasures in some roadside thrift bin. The other day I found the courage to take down one of her paintings (not one of her favorites, or mine) and replace it with a print I like. I tentative step toward making what was our place ‘my’ place.
Yet I still cannot move her toothbrush. I can’t watch the movies we loved together, or listen to songs we used to sing along to together in the car. Each sleepless night, her ashes still rest beside me on our bed. There are no rules for how we deal with this. We all have to find our own way out of these dark woods by carving our own path toward the dawn of future days. We owe that to them, and to ourselves.
My deepest sympathies to you. I hope you find your way.