Today is the 3rd anniversary of my wife’s death.
“Grief is not, as I thought, a state but a process: like a walk in a winding valley which gives you a new landscape every few miles.” (C.S. Lewis Letter to Dom Bede Griffiths, O.S.B.)
I find this insight accurate to my experience. It has knocked me down this month as the thought of this anniversary has dragged me down memory lane.
Part of this is feeling adrift. Sometimes you think you have life figured out and are just going along for the ride. I just never imagined being without her and when I thought of death I was certain it would be me first. So when I now think of my vocation I feel like I am in vocation purgatory. There are many examples from scripture of widows opened up to live a life for the Gospel. Historically lots of widow-saints and even consecrated widows in the Canon Law for Oriental Churches. For widowers – not so much. Although I am sure there are examples historically, just none that come to mind. Sometimes walking around my parish cemetery where my wife is interred I always seem to notice those graves of both the husband and wife and how almost always the husband died first. So this makes me feel out of order, even as I know other men in the same situation as I. Plus my parish has a group for widows, but not for widowers. Maybe I should identify as a widow.
Still, the last thing I need is to constantly think of myself and my current state. So I have been concentrating more on praying for others and opening myself up to others. So there have been opportunities along this route. There are events I now participate in not so much for what I am able to gain from it myself, but more regarding what I can contribute. Often tempted to just stay home and read and such and so I have to be vigilant against this self-centeredness.
Chesterton also constantly reminds me to have gratitude. To see those things in life to be grateful for even those events following the cross. So I am grateful that she was in my life and that I am all the better for that.
the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away: as it hath pleased the Lord so is it done: blessed be the name of the Lord.
I am naturally ebullient and not prone to depression. Although I realize that depression is something that can happen to anybody. I believe my current feelings lead more to the reflective and the real feeling of loss. This morning when I woke up I decided to take a day off. So went to Mass at my parish followed up by a public recitation of the Rosary in our Eucharistic Chapel and then a Holy Hour there. Then I walked out to where she is interred and sang the Divine Mercy. Trying to spend the day in thankfulness. I am also not the type to ask God “Why me?”, I figure “Why not me?” since I am not exempt from the realities of life. Plus recently I have been drawing strength from a daily reading of one of St. John Henry Newman’s meditation.
“Therefore I will trust Him. Whatever, wherever I am, I can never be thrown away. If I am in sickness, my sickness may serve Him; in perplexity, my perplexity may serve Him; if I am in sorrow, my sorrow may serve Him. My sickness, or perplexity, or sorrow may be necessary causes of some great end, which is quite beyond us. He does nothing in vain; He may prolong my life, He may shorten it; He knows what He is about. He may take away my friends, He may throw me among strangers, He may make me feel desolate, make my spirits sink, hide the future from me—still He knows what He is about.”
Yes, He knows what He is about.