grieving May 21, 2022
Mourning processed


David Knapp

 The days and weeks that followed my loss(es) yielded many obstacles – some were anticipated and some unexpected. Things like the trips and decisions regarding a casket, funeral arrangements and burial spot were a given in the process.

But other things that seemed to swell up as obstacles were somewhat unexpected.  When and how to decide on what to do with her clothes soon stared me in the face? When, if ever, do I take off my wedding ring? How do I face the empty chair at the table? How has my identity changed?

I realize that the solutions to some hurdles in grieving differ with varying circumstances.

For me, of the difficulties listed above, the one that took the longest to cope with was redefining my identity. I was no longer half of a couple. I was a whole single. Even my decision-making process changed from ‘agreeing together’ to ‘I’m on my own with this.’  I felt so ‘incomplete’ and exposed somehow. Like one person expressed it, “I felt like I was half of a pair of pliers and the other half is gone.” This also had an effect on my view of social events and even the opposite sex. A key thing for me revolved around simply realizing what I was dealing with and actually going out socially even if I didn’t feel like it. Talking to others who had gone through similar experiences also was a great aide.

The clothes closet decision was a shocker to me. It soon hit me that I would eventually have to do something with my wife’s clothes. Being a “get-er-done” kind of a guy, I chose not to wait months or years to tackle this chore. I did, however, solicit help with both of my wives’ clothes. 

A close friend of my first wife helped me by offering to do a garage sale at her house to pass on the clothes to others a few weeks after the funeral. In the case of my second wife, my sister-in-law along with one of my daughters went through her things and distributed them for me a few days after the funeral.

However, it should be noted that I’ve gotten reports from others who lost their spouses and said that they could not bring themselves to clean out the closet for months, or even years later. There is no timeline rule on dealing with this obstacle.

The simple act of taking off my wedding ring became a bigger obstacle than I would have imagined. Somehow my wedding ring had emotional ties to my love for my wife that I struggled to release. It took me months to bring myself to face this obstacle. Somehow it seemed like I would be rejecting her or being disloyal even though she was gone. Plus, I was not ready to socially announce that I was single by not have the ring on. I’ve heard of others who continued to wear their wedding ring simply for social reasons.

Each person and situation is different.  It is important to remember that obstacles to ones grief healing can be overcome.

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