A woman I know through work lost her husband a little while ago.

At the time I heard about his passing, I knew that it would be devastating for her, as they never had children and had always been inseparable, especially so since their retirement.

A friend and I had lunch with her last Saturday, and she’s been in my thoughts ever since.

I have only known her a couple of years, through work, but if someone had asked me to describe her in one word, the word I would have chosen would be “formidable”. And now that formidable woman has been thrust into a world where everything that made her strong is gone.

The house is empty, there isn’t even the whisper of his sleeping breath, a sound that would have filled her nights for decades. His smell would be disappearing as each day passed. Not his cologne or his shaving cream, but his smell, and eventually, the sound of his voice when she needed to hear it most.

She hopes for a time when she doesn’t feel so lost and so small, shrouded in the loneliness that is the grief of losing the other half of your soul. Very little can puncture that cloud, for unless you have also lost the other half of your soul, you cannot comprehend the depth of that wound.

The loneliness eats away at her. Friends advise her to “keep busy” and to “get out and about”, but where is she to go, and with whom?

Alone, afraid, and very lost, this woman now has to rebuild her life around the one that shattered when she lost her husband. She’ll do that, and do it well. The formidable woman she was known for being is still there, and not as far from the surface as she might think.

Spending time with her, contemplating what she now faces has made me think about the things people put themselves through in order to continue living, even when they don’t feel there’s a reason.

I feel as though she and I understand that place, though our footprints came  there from different directions.


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