Nov 3, 7:53pm – Today was my last session and last day with Haven.

It was about three months ago that I searched out and found Haven on the web.  From their website:

Six-Week Widow/Widower Bereavement Support Group – This group is open to persons whose spouse has died. The death of a spouse can be numbing and devastating. You may have feelings of sadness, loneliness and abandonment. No one can heal your pain, but this program will help you learn ways to cope with this difficult experience.

Words cannot express completely what I now feel after having spent the last six weeks with the Haven facilitators and, especially, with the very special twelve spouses who recently lost their mates.  Being able to spend quality time together in a very safe place among people who are wounded like me was difficult but also empowering.  While I continue to harbor sadness tonight, I also am finding new hope in that we have permission to move on and can keep taking things a day at a time – and survive this.

To Dave, Alison, and Anita:  Your sensitivity, personal understanding, patience, refereeing, guidance, and wise counsel came at the perfect time for me and us in ways that demonstrated your personal qualities of fairness, empathy, and healing.  You are truly care-givers.  I aspire to be like you someday.

To the sons and daughters of parents lost:  We hurt deeply for not only the loss of our spouses but for your loss as a son or daughter.  Unfortunately, we don’t have many good answers, either.  This will be hard for all of you.  But always remember that we love you dearly and we hurt not only for you but with you and we intend to do everything we can – even as we hurt and grieve in our personal loss – to help you come to grips with this tragedy – your loss of a parent.  You will forever be a different person compared to what you were before the passing of your mother or father.  Talk to us.  Tell us you love us and that you will walk with us during this exceptionally hard time.  Cry with us but reminisce and remember the good times, too.  And make sure you grieve well – don’t be afraid of it or run from it.  Grieving will bring healing and make you feel better.  You are special and we – right now – are aching terribly for you and want to help you through this difficult time.  Be with us while we will do our best to be with you.

To the brothers and sisters of the ones lost:  No, you can’t fill the role of our lost spouses.  And while we love you and appreciate your attention (we really do), understand that you will never fill the shoes left by our spouses.  We go a long way back, don’t we?  But we who have lost our spouses also go a long way back with our spouses – intimacy, secrets, laughter, sadness, hurts, wins.  We and our spouses had a special relationship that can never be completely filled by someone else.  Have patience with us – we need that.  And be there for us – that is important, too.  Thanks for being our brothers and sisters.  And thanks for hurting with us.  

To friends who lost their close friends – our spouses:  Friendship is a wonderful thing, isn’t it?  It has an element of fulfillment but also an element of risk.  In friendship, we accept others even as we open up and give to others – it is an even exchange of the good and the not so good.  That’s why a strong friendship is about the most special relationship that a person can have – perhaps special enough to be just shy of a spousal relationship, in many cases.  You have lost a friend – we have lost our spouse.  Thank you for reaching out and being there.  Thank you for understanding and showing sympathy and taking care of us.  Thank you for having been a friend to our spouses.  You made our spouses happy and better than they already were – and if not for any other reason that makes us appreciate you a great deal.  Understand we will never be able to fill the shoes of your lost friend.  We won’t try.  You lost and we lost – they’re gone now.  The relationship between us and you may evolve and change now – we understand.  It isn’t the same, is it?  So, we look forward to knowing you were a special part of our spouses’ lives.  And if we can maintain our friendships now and into the future, then that is great.  If, however, we all need to move on, then that is part of being able to live beyond this tragedy, too.  May we all go well and be well.

To those who have lost their spouses:  I know.  I understand.  Your sharing, tears, laughter, and stories have echoed and reverberated in my soul these past six weeks.  They will continue to do so for many months and years out.  I’m glad our paths crossed – there could not have been a better group of individuals to come together and walk just a short time along this path of loss together.  I will remember your stories of loss, your aches, your adjustments, your having to continue to raise your children at home, your dealings with families and friends, your physical hurts and pains, your memories, the pictures you shared, your recipes, your kind words, your stuttering words between sobs, your heaving breathing.  Because of you, we regularly met in a holy and sacred place.  My faith tells me that our time together was a series of God-moments that we were and will continue to benefit from as we keep taking one day at a time into the future.

I know.

It has been a good six weeks.  This is just the start, of course.  Six weeks, for me, has been almost a third of my time since Regina passed – a considerable amount of time in this new life.  I’m glad that you were apart of it.

May you all go your way with strength, hope, and courage.  I know (because you told me) that you desire the same for me.

And the basil is doing fine.

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