Whether widowed or divorced, it takes time to become single again. It was several years after the Mister died before I – not unlike Punxsutawney Phil – stuck my head out to look around at how much dark weather was still ahead. I learned a fair amount about grieving in those years.
We had done everything together for three decades, including home decorating. About the first thing I did when he was gone was get rid of the dishes we had chosen together years before. I bought a very girly, very flowery set that he would have disliked very much. They didn’t remind me of him every time I set the table. They were MY dishes, not OUR dishes. It was a different mindset, and I found that it helped me to deal with aloneness as a positive. MY sheets and MY television shows and MY paint colors began replacing the things we had chosen together.
I started doing things WE wouldn’t have enjoyed as a couple. Binge watching The Walking Dead. Owning a parrot. Eating meatless pizza. Writing books. MY things, not OUR things.
Grieving is a natural function of life, one of the unpleasant ones like nausea or constipation. You feel awful, but you WILL live through it. I discovered that it is also a very selfish business. It’s easy to use a friend who you wouldn’t help through some future depression of his/her own. You could hurt someone in the process … and it will haunt you.
At some point along the grief timeline, I finally admitted I was deeply angry. It felt disloyal. But I was furious that I cared for him so long and lost so much when he did so little to help himself. It was years before I could actually say that to myself, much less to you.
Facing it was my final step in Becoming an Unmarried Woman. And I now like that status a lot.