Monday, April 22, 2019

Voices of Experience: A Glimpse of Life After Loss

By Sharon McCuistian

All the art of living lies in a fine mingling of letting go and holding on.  ~ Havelock Ellis

After the sudden, unexpected death of her husband, Sharon Ellis McCuistian found herself a widow at the age of 48. With two grown children in college, Sharon had to find a way to live in her new reality. She turned to the things she loved to help in her journey through grief: faith, family, friends, and her love of words. Writing became the cathartic venue by which she began to process her loss. That writing grew into her blog, Now Choose Life, where the following post first appeared. It is reprinted here with her permission.

Every so often something happens, and I think to myself, "This is just part of living life after losing R." It is hard to explain to someone who hasn't experienced the death of a spouse or someone that they love.

Life after loss is full of small triggers that can put you in a different state. The goal of living with loss is to get to a point where you just learn to live with it all. You learn to live with being blindsided at times by memories. You learn to live with the void that is always present. You learn to live with the subtle reminders of him in your children. You learn to live with the tears that come when a song plays. You learn to live with bittersweetness that is life. You learn to live with the reality that you will never "get over" this loss.

In fact, I don't want to ever "get over" the loss.

I feel like I have learned to live with my loss in a healthy way. I am very happy in my new life with Dr. T. I have learned that when I go back to the house in Texas, I need time to adjust to being in our house with so many beautiful memories. I have also learned that when I return to New Mexico, I need a little time to adjust as well. All of this- the happiness, the sadness, the ebb and flow of adjustments is my reality now.

Early in the summer, my daughter texted me from a wedding she was attending. The text simply said, "Will I ever be able to go to a wedding and not be sad?" Her reality is that she doesn't have a dad to walk her down the aisle someday. That is a sad reality to live with, but it is her/ our reality. I reminded her of what we have talked so much about-- everything from here on out is going to be bittersweet. That's just the reality of living life after loss.

I choose to LIVE this life to the fullest!! I choose to move forward and not dwell on the tragedy of the loss. I had someone ask me the other day if I still cry over my loss even though I have remarried. I answered, "Yes, I do." This person didn't mean anything by the question. She really wanted to know, and I totally respect that. She needed a glimpse into my life after loss to see how it works!!

Here is a glimpse:

My son's sweet girlfriend texted me a video of my son throwing a frisbee for her dogs. I was so touched that she thought of me and wanted to share it with me. As I watched the small screen on my phone, it washed over me. He looks so much like his dad!!! Every movement. The way he threw the frisbee. The way he ran to meet the dogs. It looked just like R on that small screen.

I immediately teared up. I didn't sob. I just teared up with emotions. It was unexpected. I was able to have a great conversation with her. I told her how my son looked just like his dad. Being the wonderful soul that she is, she told me that she wishes she could have known R. I wish she could have too. But that isn't our reality. I told her how much he would have loved her- and he would have. She is such a sweetheart!!

So, there you have it. Life after loss 6 1/2  years later. I have a feeling it will still be like this 16 1/2 years later. And, that's OK. The bittersweetness of living life after loss means that someone significant that I loved very much made a difference in my life. He mattered very much, and his memory will never go away. He will always be with us. He was there in the movements of our son throwing a frisbee. He is there when we all gather for a meal and tell stories. As I've said in earlier posts, he will never be a stranger in our home!!

So I will take the void of living without him because he mattered so much to our lives.

It's these moments that make up my life now. It isn't every day. They are just moments throughout my days. There is a big difference. Do I wish the moments didn't occur? No way.

About The Author: Sharon McCuistian now lives in the beautiful mountains of New Mexico where her love of exercise, hiking, and writing has been the catalyst to rebuild her life with her second husband, Trent. She strives to help others deal with grief and hardships through her writing, church work, and grief support leadership. This article came about while she was watching a video her daughter-in-law had sent, with her son doing an everyday activity that his late father had always done.
Email Sharon at Visit her blog, Now Choose Life, and find her on Facebook and Instagram.

© by Sharon McCuistian

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