Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Dan Shea

2/24/2013 (2 years ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Married couples take on the world together; the widowed bear the difficulties of life alone

Those who walked hand in hand in the shadow of death find it somewhat natural to want to follow in the late spouse's footsteps.  Divided in half, the widowed are challenged to grow whole again at a time when they are mentally and emotionally distraught.  Being alone demands creativity and forces the inner being to provide contentment that is not to be found elsewhere. 

With the loss of a spouse's support one's identity is obscured and they feel disconnected from all that was familiar.  Still they frequently sense their spouse's presence, which adds to their confusion.  Widowhood has placed them in limbo until they decide who 'they' will become.  The widowed recognize some type of moral support is essential for their perseverance and stability.

With the loss of a spouse's support one's identity is obscured and they feel disconnected from all that was familiar. Still they frequently sense their spouse's presence, which adds to their confusion. Widowhood has placed them in limbo until they decide who "they" will become. The widowed recognize some type of moral support is essential for their perseverance and stability.

Highlights

By Dan Shea

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

2/24/2013 (2 years ago)

Published in Marriage & Family

Keywords: Grief, grieving, widowedd, widower, widow, mourning, marriage, love, loss, Dan Shea


FLORIDA (Catholic Online) - "Everyone can master a grief but he that has it."   -Shakespeare

The death of a spouse is a devastating experience.  Not surprisingly then, the loss of one's spouse has been described as the single most stressful life event, more stressful than serious personal illness, separation, or divorce; being sentenced to prison; or living through the death of a parent or child.  The death of a spouse, even in "loosely connected" couples, also requires the greatest life readjustment of any stressful event, and this holds true across all age groups and cultural backgrounds.

Due to the exclusivity of marriage, the loss of a spouse leaves only one widow or widower from that death, while others can offer sympathy, the surviving spouse can comfortably turn to no one who is in the same position, having lost that particular person as spouse.  The pain of this conflict is exacerbated by the recognition that the one person in whom one would have confided-the one most likely to listen to and accept it without ridicule-is gone

The eminent Fulton Sheen said, "In true married love, it is not that two hearts walk side by side through life.  Rather, the two hearts become one heart.  That is why death is not separation of two hearts, but the tearing apart of one heart.  It is this that makes the bitterness of grief."  The dissolution of a partnership, undeniably, takes the edge off living.  Being together is a magnificent gift in itself but it is never fully appreciated until it is lost.  Kahlil Gibran wrote, "Love knows not tis own depth until the hour of separation."

Those who walked hand in hand in the shadow of death find it somewhat natural to want to follow in the late spouse's footsteps.  Divided in half, the widowed are challenged to grow whole again at a time when they are mentally and emotionally distraught.  Being alone demands creativity and forces the inner being to provide contentment that is not to be found elsewhere.  Married couples take on the world together; the widowed bear the difficulties of life alone.  Eventually, they learn to accept that the uninitiated are unable to understand their grief.  Most people have a strong aversion to their status and keep their distance to preserve the illusion that death of a spouse only happens to others.  Frankly, encountering the widowed is a powerful reminder it can happen to anyone.

For this reason, many choose to remain aloof believing affable indifference is the prerogative of the well bred.  However, Fulton Sheen noted, "Because the lonely isolate themselves, others feel justified in ignoring them."  Unfortunately, indifference is one of the most common complaints from those who have lost a spouse.  The pain of being alone is made worse by denial and neglect.  Even family members and close friends often discourage them from talking about their loss and quickly change the subject if they do.  Still some widowed persons must talk openly about their loss without being stifled or judged.  They need to tell their story repeatedly because with each retelling another layer of healing is applied.

With the passing of a spouse, friends are eager to suggest one needs to consider "letting go."  For those who were deeply in love this is a foreign notion.  The widowed do not willingly let go of their spouse.  In time, they realize letting go means giving up their past way of life which had run its course.  It is time to fashion a new way of thinking.  Regrettably those who do not recognize the extent of a widower's anguish often proffer unsolicited advice.  More often than not these easy speeches only comfort the self-appointed counselors.  They never envision their suggestions may have already been considered.  They fail to grasp that grief prevents many of the bereaved from taking action, any action, of any kind.

However, many of the widowed continue to be loyal to their spouse because their love has not diminished.  This is why "letting go" is so immensely difficult because it confirms that which they most want to deny-they are alone. It is a painful and gradual process adjusting to present realities. One must appreciate Shakespeare's observation, "What wound did ever heal but by degrees."

Those who simply give advice, unknowingly, distance themselves from the pain they mean to alleviate.  Perhaps, it is naive to expect others to discern how the widowed ache to recapture life's most valued gift, another day with the one who defined their world.  Those who must expose the depth of their grief, yearn for someone who will listen and provide the healing ointment of compassion.  The truly compassionate realize their understanding does not remove the pain of loss but it does provide a salve for its relief.

With the loss of a spouse's support one's identity is obscured and they feel disconnected from all that was familiar.  Still they frequently sense their spouse's presence, which adds to their confusion.  Widowhood has placed them in limbo until they decide who "they" will become.  The widowed recognize some type of moral support is essential for their perseverance and stability.

Grief is a sobering experience.  It forces the bereft to focus on the purpose of living.  In isolation, they are often moved to seek Divine guidance.  It is a belief in God that provides a reason for the existence of pain and suffering.   They open their hearts and minds to the power of God's grace hoping it will provide the way back to wholeness.  Through prayerful meditation they are exposed God's mercy. His mercy can help them to turn their loneliness into insightful solitude.  Nevertheless, many are attuned to Gibran's observation, "Love is timeless.death does not separate the lover from the beloved."  Hence, they may accept the reality of the situation, but not the permanence

.--------

Dan Shea lives and writes from Florida. Long active in his parish and in the Right to Life movement, he has written two books Beyond Banter & Banalities and Breaking Father Down.


 

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


Copywriter 2015 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for March 2015
Universal:
Scientists: That those involved in scientific research may serve the well-being of the whole human person.
Evangelization: Contribution of women: That the unique contribution of women to the life of the Church may be recognized always.


Rosaries, Crosses, Prayer Cards and more... by Catholic Shopping .com


Comments


More Marriage & Family

Distracted teenage drivers caught on camera in horrifying accidents Watch

Image of

By Hannah Raissa Marfil (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety analyzed about 1,700 takes of footage involving teenage drivers and the moments just before they crash. The videos are horrifying and disturbing, as the common cause of the accidents is distracted driving. MUNTINLUPA, PHILIPPINES ... continue reading


Children's coloring book tackles gender stereotypes with 'Super-Soft Heroes' Watch

Image of Super Soft Heroes shows young boys it's OK to not always be strong.

By Hannah Raissa Marfil (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Linnea Johansson became worried after seeing her usually emotional 3-year-old son do his best not to cry, saying he wouldn't cry because Spiderman doesn't. As a mother bothered by how gender stereotypes are affecting her child and a fan of comic books who believes that ... continue reading


'Kill it, give it away or leave it at home' Woman rants and complains about child's behavior in shocking viral video Watch

Image of

By Hannah Raissa Marfil (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

An upsetting video of an older woman ranting, giving disgusting suggestions about a misbehaving child she witnessed at a grocery store has gone viral. Identified as Kathleen Smith from Tomball, Texas, she suggests the mother could have done something so the child ... continue reading


Destined by fate: New Jersey couple discover something incredible in a home video Watch

Image of Married now for eight years, the Spencer's discovered they actually crossed paths in 1988.

By Hannah Raissa Marfil (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Jourdan and Ryan Spencer from New Jersey were shocked to see that they crossed each other's path 16 years before they officially met. Watching a home video, taken during Jourdan's family trip to Sesame Place in Langhorne, Pennsylvania, they saw someone familiar appear ... continue reading


A woman's life in numbers: The 'ultimate female life timeline' highlights the ages women experience change in life Watch

Image of

By Hannah Raissa Marfil (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

As women grow from little girls to adults, the endure certain life-changing events. From being the girl-turned-woman after menstruation until she is on the age of the peak of female life expectancy, here are the significant ages women can count on being important. ... continue reading


How to find your way back to your spouse: Tips on what to do when conflicts become too much Watch

Image of

By Hannah Raissa Marfil (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Couples should learn to relate with one another, in order to conquer challenges they cannot fully anticipate, according to David B. Hawkins from crosswalk.com. Some people assess that the individual person gets along more with others than their spouse. Hawkins ... continue reading


Woman with two mothers comes out AGAINST gay marriage, and the reason why is not what you think Watch

Image of

By Hannah Raissa Marfil (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Heather Barwick is a gay marriage advocate who was raised by two lesbian mothers. However, she recently published an open letter entitled "Dear Gay Community: Your Kids Are Hurting" in the Federalist. She stated she loves her two mothers and the gay community, but now ... continue reading


Don't just stand there, DO SOMETHING! Viral sexual assault PSA shocks viewers by asking #WhoWillYouHelp Watch

Image of

By Hannah Raissa Marfil (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A new campaign, in Ontario, directly asks people who they will help: the perpetrators or the victims. The video shows the way bystanders are being "accomplices" and also guilty of the sexual assault when they opt out from doing something and keep their silence. ... continue reading


Breastfed babies make more money Watch

Image of

By Hannah Raissa Marfil (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The intelligence developed by babies from stable breast-feeding carries on into their adulthood and makes them earn more money, according to research. MUNTINLUPA, PHILIPPINES (Catholic Online) - Although there are existing studies that establish correlation between ... continue reading


Amazing message from God stops YouTube star from having abortion Watch

Image of

By Abigail James (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

"People remember dates for birthdays, and anniversaries. Well this date is forever burned in my brain. It's a day that I will remember and I remember every single detail of that day," stated Kimberly Henderson, 26-year-old mother and viral YouTube star. LOS ANGELES, CA ... continue reading


All Marriage & Family News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Isaiah 50:4-7
4 Lord Yahweh has given me a disciple's tongue, for ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 22:8-9, 17-18, 19-20, 23-24
8 'He trusted himself to Yahweh, let Yahweh set him ... Read More

Gospel, Mark 15:1-39
1 First thing in the morning, the chief priests, ... Read More

Reading 2, Philippians 2:6-11
6 Who, being in the form of God, did not count ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for March 29th, 2015 Image

St. Berthold
March 29: Considered by some historians to be the founder of the Carmelite ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter