When Your Husband Dies
One typical Sunday afternoon as I was out walking and thinking about how my husband Bernard and I would spend our retirement which was fast approaching, a picture flashed through my mind of the chequered pattern which is on a police-car. Discounting it as ridiculous I shook the vision from my head and continued down the path of planning our first holiday away footloose and fancy-free. However, the impression of the police-car markings turned out to be warranted and an officer was waiting at my home to deliver the shocking news of a double fatality of both my husband and grand-daughter I was raising in a light plane crash off the coast of Caloundra at Kings Beach. Plans of our future stripped away in a moment, an instant, a millisecond.
Shock, anguish and bewilderment set in with the first stages of intense grief and alone-ness. I felt utterly alone without my closest friend to comfort me and confide in. The dynamics in the home were completely altered. One minute it was four in the home and then it was reduced to two. The thought of being a widow and a single mum was overwhelming. Who is going to fix the smoke alarm when it goes off in the middle of the night? Who can I share my day with as we sit on the verandah at the end of the day? Devastated and demoralised, intense anguish and loneliness resulted. This acute loneliness was excruciatingly painful as my body reacted to the harrowing affects of the trauma and loss of my soul-mate that I had married in my teenage years. For as long as I can remember it was “Bernard and Roma.” We had been married for thirty-four years and weathered many a storm to date but were stronger and more in love than ever. To face the blatant truth that my husband had died was devastating and confronting to say the least.
The shock of trauma and loss affected my body to such a degree that the natural instinct of crying was absent during the initial stages of the loss. This is my unique case and may be different for others in a similar situation. I can only relay my experience in the hope that it eases the burden of someone else who may be in this situation at present. Know that there is no “one-size-fits-all” grieving process and each person reacts individually.
When someone experiences extreme loneliness after loss, it mimics a physical wound where your cortisol levels skyrocket because of the high state of anxiety present in the body. We are built for relationship, so social connections are extremely important to one’s mental health. When a soul-mate dies the body’s reaction is massive. Loneliness affects the health and body to such a degree that severe sickness can result. After my daughter was murdered the trauma went to the weakest part of my body and as a result, pain in the joints were tested by my medical practitioner which came back positive to osteoarthritis at the early age of 48. My doctor was shocked to think it occurred at such a young age. Other contributors such as shock and grief also had a starring role in the illness.
Loneliness an also result in depression and anxiety because we have the innate desire to connect with people. It’s inherent and ingrained in our DNA. Right from the beginning a soul-mate eased Adam’s need in the garden and nothing has changed today. Death of a partner is one of the hardest adjustments we have to endure in our lives. Nothing seems to prepare us for it even though we know it is inevitable at some stage of our lives. When it occurs unexpectedly the shock is distressing and heart-rending for the partner left behind.
If you are experiencing the death of a husband or loss of a partner, my heart goes out to you. It is never easy regardless of your age at the time it occurs. My advice during this taxing and wearisome season is to keep well-trusted friends close by, friends in which you can confide, cry and let it all hang out without fear of judgement or indiscretion. Too much time alone can exacerbate the fact that your spouse is no longer with you. Joining a group of like-minded people is wonderful too. An art group to activate the creative, right side of the brain, a ladies church and coffee group is great, a tennis or golf group is also beneficial for the endorphins to kick in and restore you cortisol levels. In fact an exercise or water- aerobic class will do wonders for you if you are walking the journey of grief. I used to say I could feel the blood pumping through my brain because it felt so good to get outside and appreciate the day rather than staying cooped up in the four walls of my house. Spoil yourself and get a massage.
So, today get creative and get on the phone and call a friend. You deserve it and your day will be so much brighter for it.