Thursday, July 2, 2009

Mourning Dreams and the Future

When I was first dating my second husband, I told him that some of the grief over my husband's death was from what was lost for the future. All the dreams that we had shared, that would now not come true. For me that included retiring to Wisconsin, which we probably would have planning to do in three years when the boys graduated from high school. It was also our dream for our sons to go to college in Wisconsin.

My new husband told me that this observation had a profound impact on him. It had never struck him that you could grieve for what hadn't yet occurred. I am finding myself now grieving all of what has been lost in my second marriage - the plans, hopes and dreams we shared.

It is funny because I was doing something in the family room and an old episode of Frasier was on - a show I did not watch. This one had Frasier taking a call from a woman who had broken up with her boyfriend eight months before and could not seem to move on and get over him. Frasier pointed out to the woman that she was mourning the life she wasn't going to have and she needed to let go of that dream and move on.

I came across similar advice in a book I was reading by life coach Rhonda Britten, author of "Fearless Loving." She also proclaims that those of us grieving what we hoped for the future, need to let it go and concentrate on our lives in the here and now. She says, "It comes down to a willingness to get over what you think should have happened and accept the reality of the present moment." Very well-said, wise words but as I keep on finding, much easier to think about and agree with than actually follow.

I read books like this and I think the expectation is to be able to adapt the new way of acting right away - but in reality it is a long process. Some days are better than others. So you reflect on the vanished dreams and mourn them and then try to shift back to the present and focus on that. A back and forth, give and take road, weaving and curving instead of going in a straight line.

Today I am grateful for:

1. Still having a job (they haven't fired me yet).
2. Being able to sleep at night.
3. That I haven't had an emotional breakdown.
4. That I can still smile and laugh.
5. That I can think of the dreams I had with both of my husbands and feel tremendous loss that they will not come true but also gladness that I even had them in the first place!


  1. My husband just recently died (72 days ago..yup still counting) and today I grieved the simple act of going to the firworks with him, three kids in tow. It was not a plan we had discussed. We did it last year and it was a relaxing and nice outing. Tonight, I listened to the fireworks go off a mile away and through a glass across the room feeling all the us stuff of our future having vanished. You are so right, it's the future loss too. Thanks for reminding me of that. I feel a little bit less crazy!

  2. My heart goes out to you as you navigate your way through the early stage of your loss. You caused me to remember that the first Halloween I took my sons out trick or treating on my own was only a week after my husband died and I sobbed the entire time!

    Even five years later, I still mourn that my husband missed seeing his sons grow into fine young men and that my boys missed having a dad to nurture and guide them.

    Never think you are crazy! Since I started blogging I've found that virtually all the feelings I've had as a widow have also been felt by other widows out there. I think that time does lessen some of the pain but that there is always a piece of us that remains wounded and it hurts more on holidays.

    Please take care of yourself and your children - I'm sending you strength, healing, blessings and love.