I was shopping at a local health food store recently. The owner is aware I am a widow and am in the process of writing a book about my experience. While I was there, she mentioned the book to the charming white haired woman working behind the counter. The woman had been widowed twice – once at age 36 with three young children and again later in her life. We were talking and she reminded me of an experience I had. My guess is that many of us widows and widowers have this same experience. She said at first, you think of your spouse every second. Then, you think of them every five minutes. Then you think of them every hour. One day, you realize that you didn’t think of them at all. When you realize this, you feel guilty. We actually said “then you feel guilty” at the same time. We both laughed as we realized our common experience.
With five years having passed since my husband’s death, I can now laugh at those guilty feelings. If that conversation took place several years ago, I probably would have cried. For me, that day was both surprising and upsetting. I guess because it is the first sign that you now have a life that no longer includes them. When that truth really sets in, it is quite sobering and sad.
For those of you, who are recently widowed, take heart. When that day comes, and you feel guilty, know you join the ranks of many who have walked in your shoes. Don’t be too hard on yourself. It is a necessary, although painful, step in the process. You are working through so many emotions on the road to your new life.