This year will mark the twelfth Christmas without my husband. I think one of the things that made his suicide so unbelievable was that he had always been so incredibly strong. In mind and in body. Even the strong and the brave, the gentle and the good can lose hope and the will to live. I would not have been so shocked if his heart had given out though a brain is no more indestructible than a human heart. In a way, his heart did give out first though not without a long and hard-fought battle.
I never say my “late” husband. I don’t think of him as gone or late. If anything, he left too soon. And the influence his life had on mine was so powerful it is still there. Seeing the world through his eyes is something that continues to be a part of me. In many ways, he made me who I am. People have that effect on one another, and I don’t expect that to change. We grew so close that when he died, part of me died, too.
I suspect it is that way with each of you and the ones you loved. For those of you who are in the early years of loss, know that you are not alone and that you can survive. For you who are further from your deepest grief, know you are living proof that it is possible to go beyond just surviving to thrive and rebuild a life, “to have happy, meaningful and contributory lives,” as Ronnie Walker, Alliance of Hope’s founder says.
I like to read about the history and mission of the Alliance of Hope, where I volunteer. It makes me feel that my small part in something that makes a difference in the world is a worthy tribute to my husband. It helps me face the holidays (and every day) with joy as well as memories that are bittersweet.
I lost my beloved husband but not what he means to me. He is always present. Always loved. Always an influence for good.
The people we have lost are not defined by the way that we lost them, and neither are we.