Friday, February 14, 2014
Not a pleasant topic but one that is on my mind since I’m working through the grief process and have been the last couple months. My ex-husband, Pat, passed away unexpectedly the week before thanksgiving. Now while grieving for an ex-spouse might sound weird, it has been and continues to be painful and confusing. My hubby, Steve, has been a bit bothered by this sudden outpouring of grief for a man who has not been in my life for a long, long time; however, Pat and I shared a life, dreams, and children.
The actual grief came in spurts before I realized that even as an ex-wife, I had to process the stages of grief. I went to the funeral to support my son. The funeral was just the beginning of the process. I had not even seen my ex-husband since our grandson had passed 5 years ago. But sitting in front of his urn is an eye-opening; heart wrenching awakening to lots of emotions that I thought were long buried. So many things unsaid that should have been said to provide both of us closure.
Stages of grief defined by ElisabethKubler Ross are denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. I don’t want to get into a basic psychology class here but each of these stages are necessary to go through successfully the grief process. How one goes through the process and the order of the various stages are as individual as the person experiencing the grief. The grieving process is unique to each person depending on his/her personality, circumstances, and emotional state, but grieving is a necessary process.
The other side of the coin to this dilemma is that I remarried 11 years ago to a wonderful man who I love to pieces! Our marriage has seen lots of great times as well as hard times. Divorce is so common in our society today that this situation is becoming more common as we, the baby boomers, are reaching the age where death is dealt with more often. Current spouses are being called on to be supportive and loving while their partner grieves for a lost ex-spouse. Lots of questions arise that I nor my sweet hubby can answer:
1. Is there marriage in heaven?
2. If we are married, who will we be married to since we have both been married before?
3. Do you love me as much as you obviously loved him/her?
4. Is our marriage going to survive this loss?
5. How long will you grieve for him/her?
This process is both confusing and unfortunately so necessary. There is no set deadline on grief for anyone we lose to death. Each person experiences emotions differently than another so grief is a personal thing that can’t have a set time of duration. Be good to yourself and your current spouse!
When we marry we give a part of ourselves to that spouse that is left with that spouse when divorce occurs. There were shared dreams, children, experiences that might have been happy, sad, angry, etc., but they are shared and can never be part of another marriage. Truly when we marry, part of our heart is filled with that other person. Perhaps that is what is meant by becoming “one flesh” (Genesis 2:24). I could go down so many rabbit holes on this train of thought but won’t today. It’s enough to know that grief of an ex-spouse is normal even if life with that person was no longer possible. Feelings and emotions are not controllable but our reactions to them are. Allow the grief and process all the stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Then follow Mary’s example while she watched Jesus grow into a man; treasure all the good memories and ponder them in your heart (Luke 2:19). While your ex-spouse is your past, and you have history with him/her; remember your current spouse is your present and your future. Go create history with him/her!
For your reading pleasure:
Religion Quotes. http://www.religionquotes.info/religious-quotes/cure-for-grief/
The death of an ex-spouse raises wrenching questions. The Globe and Mail.
When An Ex-Spouse Dies. Heartache to Healing: Compassionate Grief Support to Heal Your Heart and Soul. HeartHhttp://heartachetohealing.com/when-an-ex-spouse-dies/
Grief.com: Because Love Never Dies. (2014). The Five Stages of Grief. Retrieved from http://grief.com/the-five-stages-of-grief/
Meyers, R. E-Sword Bible Software. (2008) New International Version. http://www.e-sword.net