“Every experience, no matter how bad it seems, holds within it a blessing of some kind. The goal is to find it.” ~Buddha
Experiencing life after the loss of your spouse is a journey I never thought I would walk in my late 20’s. As I take time to reflect on my journey walking down the sandy beaches of the northern coast of Colombia I find that I have arrived in this beach-surfing paradise to not only soak up some sun, but for another beautiful reason.
I met my first young widow while traveling through the coast. She is the first young widow I have connected with on my journey and it brought me a great sense of peace and connection. This other woman also had a very youthful presence, and she also didn’t have children with her husband, but like me, we found it doesn’t minimize our grief.
Let me preference by saying I am not a fan of the label “widow“. If you google the term you mostly come across older women, lots of black and to be frank a sense of hopelessness, but it the most common term I know to describe a woman who has lost her spouse. Some days it does feel strange to label myself as a widow, because deep down my love still feels so alive.
I have found in “widowhood” it doesn’t matter how long you were married, if you did or didn’t have children, grief is grief. There are different social situations you come across depending on your age and while the experiences may be different being young doesn’t necessarily make it easier. It’s just different.
Life is very different for the both of us now. After talking with each other we found another commonality-we are both yoga teachers. Through our yoga practice and act of teaching to others, we both agreed that yoga has held us together. Sometimes it is the only thing that gets us out of bed, but most days it keeps us inspired able to appreciate the beauty of sharing such a sacred practice. We’ve had to carve out a new routine. No longer do we wake up next to our loved one or fall asleep next to him.
Becoming at a widow in your 20’s is a unique experience and it has challenged me in ways I never thought about (i.e. How do I still wear my wedding ring in a way that brings me peace and helps me move forward, but still honors my passed husband? Do I choose to uproot my life, the life that we had planned together? How do I talk about being a young widow to others?).
When you lose your best friend, your partner, your spouse, your lover, your significant other (whatever name you give it), it is a huge adjustment. Your life has forever changed, especially realizing that you may not grow old with the person you love. You grieve for what you thought your future would be as a couple just as much as you grief for the physical loss of your spouse.
In many aspects I am still in love with Jake and I’ve learned to to accept that I may always feel this way, but I can also bring a new partner into my life who is willing to not only accept, but appreciate the love I will always hold in my heart for Jake. I also have to accept that my emotions come and go like waves of the ocean. Today I may feel happy and tomorrow I may feel sad, but it’s all part of the experience. Instead of judging what I feel or resisting feeling my new “normal” I sit with my feelings when they arise.
It’s not that I look different on the outside being considered a widow, it’s that I feel different inside . As I walk my healing journey I’ve taken the time to reconnect with life, with the earth, with my heart and have taken the time to integrate the last 2 years of my life.
Although it feels like it flew by, here I am at 27 years old still young in my body, but feeling old in my heart and soul. I feel like a different woman and loving again will take time and knowing that not everyone has the strength to be with a woman who has loved so deeply and intimately at a young age. Who married the love of her life and also buried him in the same week.
Loosing a spouse is not the same as breaking up or getting a divorce because the love is still there and sometimes very intensely. Jake and I didn’t fall out of love rather we grew deeper and deeper in love as the cancer spread throughout his body. It wasn’t a story of falling out of love as it was of growing more deeply into love and that love never goes away, but I am also learning that with time my love will continue to grow for myself and one day someone else. This just takes time.
My healing journey has been about learning to hold space for myself again, learning to care and love for myself just as Jake would, but not depending on his love for my growth. It is my own love I need to transform and embody me. I’ve had to accept that everything is different now, especially how I look at love.
My life will never be the same and that realization along this journey is what has healed me most. It’s okay that is different now, it’s okay that life will never be the same. I have a lot to look forward to, but just because I lost my husband young doesn’t make it any easier. I have a lot of life ahead of me, but it going to take a lot of time to embody the new woman I have become.
If there’s one thing I wish people would know it’s that rather than say “I’m sorry for your loss” reframe it by saying/asking:
“What was your partner/spouse’s name?
What was he like?
I appreciate the love you continue to hold for him as you heal.”
If there’s one thing I love talking about it is the love Jake and I had together. It doesn’t upset me, it excites me to share his energy with others because he impacted so many lives and I know he wants to be remembered by the man hew grew into.
I still don’t know how living as a young widow really works but I do feel it’s important to talk about and share, because I know I’m not alone in this process. Love has changed my life in so many ways and I am grateful I had the opportunity to love someone so deeply.
I may be a widow, but I am also so much more. I’m a yoga teacher, a daughter, a sister, a friend, a writer, a traveler and a lover. I don’t know what to expect next on this journey, but I know whatever form of love finds me next it will be just as special and unique. I am also completely fulfilled with the love I found within Jake so I no longer seek love, rather I find love everywhere I go from the plants and flowers around me, to being aware of my breath and remembering why I breathe.
Every moment I get to tap into continuing to live from my heart. Day by day, minute by minute, one breath at a time, my life continues to flow and my experience of being a widow is slowly integrated in a way that brings me peace and closure. At the end of the day healing for me is about remembering the good times and smiling for the love I have for Jake, but continuing to leave my heart open for new experiences.