Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Dan Shea

2/24/2013 (1 year 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 (1 year 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'


2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for July 2014
Sports:
That sports may always be occasions of human fraternity and growth.
Lay Missionaries: That the Holy Spirit may support the work of the laity who proclaim the Gospel in the poorest countries.



Comments


More Marriage & Family

European Court of Human Rights: Europe CAN NOT be forced to recognize same-sex 'marriages'

Image of Marriage IS between a Man and a Woman ONLY.

By Adelaide Mena

Is the disordered homosexual lifestyle destroying our great American culture? Strasbourg, France, (CNA/EWTN News) - The European Court of Human Rights ruled that the refusal to recognize same-sex "marriages" does not violate the European Convention on Human ... continue reading


Are You a Ready or an Unready Catholic?

Image of

By Andrew M. Greenwell, Esq.

There are many Catholics who are "unready" Catholics, that is, operating under ill advice or bad counsel.  They have adopted the counsel of sophists, satanists, or doubt-sowers, and have departed as a result from the teachings of the Church.  Their ... continue reading


Andrew M. Greenwell on Same-Sex 'Marriage': Framing the Issue Right Watch

Image of

By Andrew M. Greenwell, Esq.

The first step for a Catholic to recognize his obligation to oppose same-sex "marriage," if he does not see it or comprehend it, is to rid himself of the flawed moral heuristic (a moral rule of thumb or short cut) some ideologue has chosen and which may be blinding him ... continue reading


Pacing a New Online Relationship

Image of Pacing an online relationship is different for each couple.

By Catholic Match

Every couple that meets on CatholicMatch moves at their own pace. For some, it's important to move from online connection to a face-to-face date as soon as realistically possible. For others, it's important to let things grow gradually. Matt and Katie fell into the ... continue reading


The example of the Holy Family: Do you follow it?

Image of The Holy Family is the ultimate example for us to follow in our daily lives. We need a daily reminder of this.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

There is no community as sacred as the family. When we reflect on the Holy Family, Jesus, Mary and St. Joseph, we see modeled for us how to be as a member of our own family. Whether we're a father, a mother, or a child, the Holy Family shows us how to be. It is ... continue reading


Michael Proposed With A Video

Image of Michael and Laura.

By Catholic Match

Laura was tired of the dating scene or at the very least the relationship scene. By the time the 24-year-old from Maryland got to CatholicMatch, all she wanted was to go on some dates with nice guys, but to keep it casual, just have dinner, and maybe hear that she was ... continue reading


Children: The Crowning Glory of Marriage Watch

Image of

By Deacon F. K. Bartels

The American cultural lens of late has warped the way in which children are viewed to the point that they are seen not as gifts but as burdens. Many people no longer recognize children for who they are: precious jewels of indescribable beauty and worth whose growth, ... continue reading


How One Couple Met, Fell in Love, and Met the Pope

Image of Deanna and Michael with Pope Francis.

By Catholic Match

Deanna, 24, and Michael, 28, had never dated before they meet each other on CatholicMatch. Michael had been discerning the priesthood for four years, and it seems God had placed a bubble around lovely Deann a saving her just for Michael. They were married on October 5, ... continue reading


June is Global Heartbeat of the Family Month, but what is it? Watch

Image of What is the heartbeat of your family?

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A few readers have messaged Catholic Online, asking about Catholic Online's "Global Heartbeat of the Family Month" celebration, what it is and how it works. We wanted to take a moment to share our vision with readers so each family can participate. LOS ANGELES, CA ... continue reading


An Engagement Built On God, Country & Star Trek

Image of Alex and Emerald.

By Catholic Match

Alex and Emerald are both idealistic young people, dedicated to serving others. At the young age of 23, they have already made self-sacrificing decisions in the service of others. Alex, currently stationed in Norfolk for the U.S. Navy wrote on his CatholicMatch profile ... 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, Jeremiah 2:1-3, 7-8, 12-13
1 The word of Yahweh came to me, saying,2 ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 36:6-7, 8-9, 10-11
6 your saving justice is like towering mountains, ... Read More

Gospel, Matthew 13:10-17
10 Then the disciples went up to him and asked, 'Why ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for July 24th, 2014 Image

St. John Boste
July 24: One of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales. He was born at ... 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