My best friend, lover, co-parent, business partner, and husband died of liver cancer on February 12, 2007 — 11 weeks after his diagnosis and shortly before our 19th wedding anniversary. Tom died in my arms, at sunset in our home. Back then, I felt it was the end of my life, too.
Half of me was ripped off and thrown away at Tom’s death. I felt that I had lost my identity with my partner’s departure. Life would never be the same again. Yes, friends and family were there to support me, but my life partner was gone forever. I wanted to crawl into the casket with Tom at the funeral.
In my less than stellar state, I had to start taking care of all the necessary stuff after my husband’s death. Sure, as a professional financial advisor I had helped other new widows with these same tasks, but that was different. It was me now. The work seemed overwhelming. I hated doing all these necessary things at the same time I was starting to accept the fact that my love was never going to walk through our front door again.
During the first weeks after Tom’s death, I functioned in a daze. I cried a lot. Sleep was fitful at best. I couldn’t figure out which side of the bed to sleep on without his strong arms around me. I would wake up in the middle of so many nights, certain his death was just a dream. But then the truth always came crashing in on me again. I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t concentrate and was forgetful. Where did I put my keys?
Suddenly I had new roles to perform that had always been Tom’s responsibilities. I was clueless about how to get our car serviced, use the gas grill, adjust the lawn watering equipment, and so much more. I was mad at myself for not learning how to do these things while my husband was still alive.
As silly as it may sound, even though I’m a Certified Financial PlannerTM professional, I experienced a few temporary fears about money. Without his social security check and his other consulting income, I also knew I would face greater expenses in the future when I looked at my reduced income and the bills piling up. Plus, I had lost my business partner. But when I started taking control of my financial future, I felt better. It helped a lot to develop a new financial road map designed around my much-changed situation.
I’m now in my fourth year of widowhood. Tom’s death certainly was not an experience expected to happen shortly after my 60th birthday, but I have grown and continue to learn on my journey of widowhood. I can’t go back to my former life and the man I loved.
“I will keep moving forward, and I’m here to encourage you to do the same as you make progress in your new life ahead.” ~Kathleen M. Rehl