I was recently shocked and quite frankly disgusted when I found out that a military widow insinuated rather bluntly to another widow, still in the first few weeks of her unwanted journey, that her loss was somewhat less important because of the different ways that their husbands died. First of all, it hurts my heart that someone, who knows the deep pain of sudden loss, could react to another person who is grieving this way. Second, it angers me because this person knows all of the things this new widow will face, and she deserves nothing less than love and compassion, but instead was made to feel inferior. Third, it makes me sad because I wonder if I ever failed another widow in this way (I am sincerely sorry if I have) and I wonder how many widows are let down by the people they believe will understand.
If I have learned anything from my own loss, and from meeting countless others who have lost their spouses, it is that it does not matter how someone’s husband or wife dies. It is painful. Especially when it is sudden and unexpected…or when their spouse is young. Regardless though, it is painful. It was painful for my Grandmother to lose my Grandpa when they were in their 50’s. It was painful for me to lose Michael when we were in our 20’s. And it continues to be…for both of us. It is painful to wake up everyday and look at all that the person we love so much left behind. Children, special occasions, potential memories, the list goes on. It is painful to watch first steps, hear first words, and see our children (in my Grandma’s case grandchildren and great-grandchildren) blossom into little adults without the person we always thought would be there. And for those who never got to have children when they wanted them so badly…that is painful too.
There are a lot of people like me who have found new love…the ability to love again is a blessing of its own. For me, finding Frank, means more than I can ever express in words. What I can say is that having someone who loves ALL of me and is there in the most important moments to hold my hand is wonderful. I honestly don’t know how I would make it without Frank in my life. He doesn’t get the same person that I was 5 years ago, when I was completely untouched by my personal tragedy. He gets the person that was wrecked by losing my best friend and soul mate. He gets the Amy that went through a period of time so rough that she did not even want to live. He gets the person that locks herself in the closet and cries in the most unexpected moments. He loves me, the me that I have become, despite all of those little things that would make a lesser man run away. Having him in my life helps…but it does not erase the deep ache in my soul that I live with day in and day out. In fact, loving me means that Frank lives through pains of his own. He knows where my mind and my heart is when I cry, and he holds my hands anyway. He attends plays, concerts, and games with the full knowledge of what I am missing in each of those moments. He faces daily the fact that he cannot erase my heartache, regardless of how much he wants to. I believe Frank would give me back all that I lost if he could (even though it would rip his heart out). This love I experience with him is a whole different kind of unconditional love that I did not realize existed until I met Frank. It is a love I am glad others don’t experience, but in the same breath one that I am glad I do. I would be a miserable human being without it.
I say all that to convey that what I go through is not lessened because I have someone in my life. The grief process is not lessened by HOW someone dies. It is simply wrong and unfair for anyone to imply as such. Maybe I am sensitive because the man who died was my friend. A friend that accepted me into his circle with open arms, and one that stood up for Frank and I when others condemned us, that was genuine and caring towards my pain, and was a trusted confidant. Maybe I am sensitive because others judged me, so I refuse to judge the entire situation, especially when he chose to take the time to get to know me. It is possible that the personal loss that I feel without him in our lives makes me more sensitive to his widow. However, I think that it is more. We are all human, and we all die. It is a fact of life. When we die we will leave behind others, and they will grieve and hurt. This notion that my husband’s death matters more than another person’s death simply because of how he died is sad to me. People matter, period. The loss of them matters, period. I implore ever person, every widow or widower especially, to remember your grief next time someone reaches out to you in pain, then be loving and compassionate. Your husband or wife’s death is not “better” or more real than their husband or wife’s death. Sure it might be more real to you…but that doesn’t make it more important. Don’t punish others who are grieving because of how their spouse died…and if you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all.
On a final note…
3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
5 Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
7 Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.