I have tried (and I think failed) to describe the feelings of loss that surrounded me after Chad’s death. I have found a much better explanation so I am borrowing it to post here. This from a message board that I frequent. It does a wonderful job of explaining the depth of loss a widow/ers go through and the challenges they face. The original post can be found here.
Unique and Devastating Loss (by WifeLess)
With the death of our spouse (which here includes fiancée, significant other,
partner, etc.), we grieve the loss of so much more than someone we merely
loved or were close to, like a parent, grandparent, sibling, friend or pet. We
grieve instead the loss of: The one we loved most deeply, cherished and felt
the very closest to. The one we swore commitment to in that unique human
bond of marriage, which many consider sacred. The one we shared the
ultimate partnership with to live as one and perhaps bear children with. The
one who embodied our true sense of home. The one who was our best friend
and who was to be our companion for life. The one we confided in, depended
on and trusted most. The one who really knew, understood and accepted us
as we were. The one we felt safe and protected with. The one we shared
private moments and intimate feelings with. The one we mated souls with.
But it is not just that this most precious person has been torn from our life,
as unbearably heartbreaking as that alone is. With the death of our spouse,
and only of our spouse, many additional profound losses must be grieved as
well. For we also suffer: The loss of who we ourselves were while with them.
The loss of the couple we were once half of. The loss of the life partnership
we once formed. The loss of the husband or wife role we once embraced.
The loss of the life we once lived. The loss of the plans we once made. The
loss of the dreams we once shared. The loss of the future we once envisioned.
Amidst all this, we are also suddenly confronted with many hardships we
never expected to face at this point in our life. Besides financial survival,
increased domestic burdens and perhaps single parenting, additional
challenges less apparent to others but all too real and terrifying to us. We
must now find it within ourselves: To create a new identity. To redefine
our role in life. To establish a new connection to the world. To build a new
network of social relationships. To discover a new sense of purpose. To
formulate a new set of goals. To decide on a new direction for our future.
And we must accomplish these without dishonoring our former life, but while
suppressing bittersweet memories of that life, so that they not hold us back.
Memories of happier times mostly, but also those of our spouse’s death,
either sudden and shocking or after prolonged illness. We must further
endure the feelings of guilt and disloyalty that follow us as we attempt to
forget and move forward, but with our heartstrings tied so tightly to the past.
And all these tasks must be taken on at the lowest possible point of our life in
the worst state imaginable. When we are the weakest, most vulnerable, most
insecure, most isolated, most heartbroken and most emotionally exhausted
we have ever been. Without that one person we long ago became accustomed
to relying on to help get us through life’s greatest challenges. The one who,
just by being there, would have provided us emotional comfort and moral
support to draw upon, as well as the strength and confidence we need to
complete those tasks and so much more. But now we face all this alone.
Profound indeed is the death of our spouse. Unique and devastating. For
nearly all of us, much more catastrophic to our life than the loss of any other.
And truly comparable, many of us widows and widowers often feel, to one
other death only. Ours.