Moving On From Grief and Loss

Taken from From One Widow to Another, ©2009 by Miriam Neff. Used with permission of Moody Publishers.

While we are grieving the loss of our mate, we also grieve the loss of our friends. They seem so insignificant compared to the huge loss of our husband. In a sense, however, it’s like the last tiny straw because losing them was unexpected. AND they’re still here. Yes, our paths do cross sometimes and we start to feel the pain of the old wound.

However, we have some new wisdom to lean into. We know that the real friends, the ones who loved us are still our friends.

We know that the friends that have exited were our comrades or users not our friends. We have not lost our real treasures.

In discovering the true nature of the ‘friends’ who have left, it is normal to feel bitter and/or angry and/or betrayed. In our anguish of feeling bitter, angry, and betrayed we are in the perfect spot for God to do one of the works He most specializes in: forgiveness.

Forgiveness is the single most important thing we can do to move on.

Learning about the three kinds of friends and being real was a great help to me in forgiving. I recognized that we are all humanoids—my word for ordinary people with clay feet. I am one myself though my ‘clayness’ sometimes creeps upward. There were many other humanoids in my original mobile.

We’re letting go of a comrade or buddy, not a dear friend. We’re letting go of someone with whom we shared interest, not a dear friend.

Forgiveness frees us to let go. The void is no longer painful but rather an available space for either new people, or new projects and adventures.

I hiked beneath the snow-laden pines of woods where deer had hunkered down the night before. The indentations in the snow marked their presence. The evergreen scent was pungent and exhilarating. Carol, our hiking leader, came beside me to get better acquainted. She seemed to know every type of evergreen we passed and what kind of bird was creating each song. ‘Aha, another woman who loves the out of doors,’ I thought. An athletic, triumpher of cancer, effervescent individual, she seemed intimate with nature. ‘This is a person I wish to know better.’ We talk. I’m thankful for my new hiking hobby.

I pour over the manual she assembled about our upcoming hike in Acadia, Maine this fall. A sense of anticipation creeps in my spirit, a feeling I have not felt for four years. It feels good. Shall I check off whale watching or sea kayaking? I opt for whale watching because just last month I already experienced sea kayaking. On my solitary trip to the Dominican Republic that was one of my adventures. Will the other 8 hikers be as interesting as Carol? I hope so. I’m eager to find out.

I pause to reflect. I’m caught off guard by my awareness of the richness of this new life. I never wished for it, I never dreamed it would be so different. But I’m facing forward with new opportunities for friendship. Smells like hope to me.

While we are grieving the loss of our mate, we also grieve the loss of our friends.