Author Topic: Childless Widower  (Read 5795 times)

w1d0w3r

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Childless Widower
« on: August 30, 2015, 07:00:54 PM »
Hi everyone. I?m so sorry you?re here reading this. I?m new, and want to thank all of you for the inspiring and supportive things you?ve shared here that have helped me and everyone else here. I hope one day I can return the favor.

I?m in my late 30?s; two months ago, I had a family of three. Me, my late wife, who died suddenly without warning six weeks ago ? on our 3rd Anniversary, no less ? and our dog. Due to the complications of very old age, mini-strokes, and undoubtedly the loss of her ?mom?, these circumstances had rendered our little ball of fur and love unable to do anything on her own. So with the agreement of family and the vet, I had to put her to sleep exactly one week after losing my wife, whispering messages of love for her and for my wife to take to the other side as she fell still in my arms.

In the span of 1 week, I lost my whole family.

The loneliness is so unbearably heavy, but I guess if you?re here you know exactly what I mean. I need to tell you all about my wife.

When we met and expressed interest in dating, one of the first things that offered a view into the astonishingly beautiful soul that was my wife was the way she wrote to me.  Her writing was beyond eloquent; the intelligence, attitude, nobility of character, and pure wit woven throughout her prose was undeniable.

I spent the most enjoyable hours of those magical days on the phone with her in our courtship leading to our first date, and each time we regretfully agreed that it was time to say goodnight, I was always struck with the same two thoughts:  1) I have found a kindred spirit that I?m fairly certain is my soul mate, and 2) I am going to win her heart.

It's easy to elucidate the theme here - we were two galaxies, each with our own spinning worlds of circumstances, which since the beginning of time had been on a high-speed collision course that nothing could stop.  When galaxies collide, there are fireworks of astronomical proportions and I have no words to describe how beautiful it felt to fall in true love with my soul mate, knowing that the same thing was happening to her.

One of the few things that has been keeping me together since losing her has been a LOT of help from my friends, and the entire family that we created through our marriage.  The outpouring of love and support has been wonderful and reminds me that no matter where we are in life, we are never alone.  If I?ve learned one beautiful thing through losing my beloved, it is this: The greatest gift life gave us is each other.

The other thing is the memory of my wife as I knew her; the woman I married. I hope my words bring justice to the beauty of her soul.

Although I only knew her for just under 4 years, it?s evident from the decades of photos I went through (to create a video slideshow to honor her memory and show those who attended her funeral the story of her life in pictures) and hilarious family stories confirming my experience was that she had a remarkable zest for life; she was so kind to people ? treating them as we should all treat one another - she would go out of her way to stop and bring a moment of kindness into the life of a stranger, and was deeply empathetic for others. Now imagine that that level of benevolence focused on a friend, or someone she loved. Or her husband.

She was more than I ever could have asked for.  She was a joy to be around; fun, and very, very smart.  I was lucky to marry such a breathtakingly beautiful nerd ? we would spend hours talking about biology, medicine, philosophy, society, music, the arts ? anything ? especially the deep discussions about the meaning of life and how we could strive to be our best selves in this flawed world; I will always treasure those conversations.

She loved music, had such a beautiful voice, and loved to sing. She found physical and spiritual strength in practicing yoga.  She was absolutely hilarious. She had such curious fascination and a thirst for learning about the myriad cultures and places on our small blue planet, and loved to travel; not as a tourist in a walled resort shut off from the true destination, but as a traveler to witness and understand the ways of the culture she visited.  My wife also had the same thirst for knowledge in other intellectual pursuits.  She was in many ways an erudite renaissance woman, but in a circle skirt dress and high heels.

She was the sharpest wit I've ever met, and a writer so talented with the gift of prose that she really could have written the next great American novel.

She was a wonderful companion, dropping everything if I had a bad day or knew that I just needed to talk to my best friend.  She made me feel like the most wonderful man and most loved husband in the world. That alone is more than I could ask for. She was the yin to my yang ? she perceived so much, and we often spoke of how we balanced one another; her silliness to my seriousness; her singing and dancing like no one was watching to me knowing people are, in fact, watching; her emotion to my logic; yet the dots in yin and yang are planted in the center of their opposite as these attributes are meaningless in the absence of their counterpart.

We fell in love instantly; we later both confessed that we both knew - just from our first glance at one another on our first date - that we had just met the person we were going to marry.

Together, we tried to be students of life, and the most important lesson we taught each other was of unconditional love; it is essential to the soul ? it forgives - it never gives up ? unconditional love is the ultimate representation of trust when it is given out of will and not out of obligation. We loved each other this way ? no matter how our days went, we had a rule that we would always hold hands as we fell asleep, and we refused to let the things made irrelevant by the passage of time intrude upon our sacred bond. We would often say that before we found one another, we didn?t realize it was possible to love someone as much as we loved each other. The old adage may be trite, but I can say with absolute honesty that I feel better to have loved her and lost her than to never have known our love at all.

Most of all, we were each other's best friends. Life isn't fair; we hear that at a young age. It's true.

She was my dream, my best friend, my true love, my refuge, my soul mate.

Every day with her was a living valentine. No matter what life threw at us, despite the flaws that accompany human life, I was so lucky that I was able to share my life with her. She was everything I could ever have imagined and more - in love, companionship, romance, friendship, family, and in marriage.

Because of her, I had more love, hope, and peace than I could have ever imagined.  If I were thinking this having lost her when we were both old and grey (we often joked of being able to start a cleaning business if our sexy parts sagged low enough in our old age), I?d be sad but at peace, waiting to meet her on the other side in due time.

But now I?m in this strange undesired bachelorhood, feel the ghost weight of the wedding band I can?t bear to put back on, just turned 38, have no children, no pet (nor desire to be responsible for one at present), and as I read somewhere (here maybe? I can?t remember ? you understand not remembering sh!+, right?) a quote that went something like: ?You marry and pledge to spend your entire life with someone. When they die early, you don?t know what to do when you realize you get a partial refund.?

I?m doing my best to follow the advice of the widows and widowers (or others who have suffered great loss) who were kind and wise enough to learn from their experience, write something constructive, and share it somewhere on the internet ? I?ve got a lot of grieving ahead ? and I know I cannot and do not want to replace her. The wound to my heart is large, barely showing signs of healing, and will leave a permanent scar. That I cannot control.

Every morning, by the time I?m awake enough to process why my life is so very - permanently different, I?m crying in the shower and pull it together by the time it?s time to face the world and go to the office. When I come home to an empty place, on the worst days the tears come as soon as I have privacy, or on the best days they inevitably begin when I lie down in an empty bed and feel that newly familiar palpable absence.

I am starting to understand what it means to be a young widower. Your soul is married, your heart is broken, your body is single, and your brain is understandably incapable of reconciling all of this cognitive dissonance and screaming WTF whenever it gets a break.

I know all of our circumstances are different, and I know everyone can learn something from anyone. I feel like I?m in a very small demographic and hope to find my way toward rebuilding a happy life. If you?ve read all of this, thank you so much. I?m sorry you lost your beloved, too. Maybe we'll have a chance to talk about it. Until then; One day at a time. One foot in front of the other.

w1d0w3r
"Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it." - Helen Keller

Wheelerswife

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Re: Childless Widower
« Reply #1 on: August 30, 2015, 08:27:59 PM »
Thank you for taking the time to tell your beautiful yet awfully bittersweet story.  My heart breaks for you.  I can place myself in the midst of your story, even though some of the details don't quite match up.

Your wife was a gem.  Your connection brought you both more fully to life.  The loss of her is heartbreaking.  You so eloquently speak of her.  I hope you can continue to tell your story, speak of her so lovingly, grieve her fully.  You have been forever changed by your relationship with her and you are forever changed by her death. 

For now...do what it takes to survive, to breathe, to mourn.

I'm glad you have found us.

Hugs,

Maureen
Life is short.  Love with all you've got. 

Barry 11/29/55-9/22/09       John  1/16/57-1/11/14

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DavidsKtBeth

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Re: Childless Widower
« Reply #2 on: August 30, 2015, 09:29:07 PM »
I am starting to understand what it means to be a young widower. Your soul is married, your heart is broken, your body is single, and your brain is understandably incapable of reconciling all of this cognitive dissonance and screaming WTF whenever it gets a break.

This. Is. Everything.
?Be kinder than necessary, for everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle.?

"You could meet somebody tomorrow who would have better intentions for you than someone you?ve known forever. Time means nothing, character does."

SoVerySad

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Re: Childless Widower
« Reply #3 on: August 30, 2015, 09:43:57 PM »
I am so sorry for the loss of your wife (and your dog as well). Thank you for giving us a glimpse of the clearly amazing relationship you shared with you wife. Your words so lovingly describe her. I, too, was privileged to share a wonderful marriage with an amazing partner. I feel very blessed to have had someone who loved me so deeply and added to my life so richly. As such, I also know how devastating the void that is left behind when you lose the love of your life whom you are so deeply connected to. The loss of my husband has been very hard as he was my best friend as well. I adored spending time with him, even after 27 years of marriage (we were high school sweethearts).

Finding this forum (actually its predecessor first) truly helped me retain my sanity. It has offered a safe refuge from the storm of confusion, anxiety, and sadness that I've been trying to find my way through. I hope it will be a helpful place for you as well.

Sending you hugs of support...
Without you, Baby, I'm not me.

mo12

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Re: Childless Widower
« Reply #4 on: August 30, 2015, 11:09:44 PM »
A beautiful post, thank you for telling us your story.  I lost my then-27-year-old husband a year and a half ago, he was my best friend and I'm sure one of the best souls that's ever made an appearance in this world.  My whole world, my family, my identity was shattered.  I still feel close to him, although much of the pain has softened (which continues to surprise me.)  I'm so sorry for the loss of your family.

Jess

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Re: Childless Widower
« Reply #5 on: August 31, 2015, 12:37:57 AM »
Thank you for sharing who your wonderful wife was and is to you. I am so glad that you decided to share your story here with us. It is moving, heartbreaking, and beautiful.

I was 35 when my husband had a sudden seizure, went into cardiac arrest, and died. There was no history of seizures and no known medical issues he was battling. Just gone. Like you, we had no children. Despite the incredible challenges widowed parents face, I find myself at times so jealous of them still having a piece of their loved one- a family that remains, however broken. When it is just you and your spouse, they are your entire family and when they are gone, the sounds of emptiness become deafening.

I remember bits and pieces of the first few months. Shock is a beautiful, warm blanket that I sometimes sincerely miss. I couldn't bear to sleep in our bed so I lived on the couch for the first 4 months. I was luck enough to be able to work from home for while, which allowed me not to have to contain my tears to the shower before before heading to the office. As a bonus, it also made it so I didn't have to put on "going outside" pants.

It has now been  little over a year and I am about to turn 37. So much has changed in the past 13 months it is incredible. My heart is still so wounded, but surprisingly my heart has grown so it is more than just pain. I had to move from the home we shared and changed work locations so I no longer had to go to the office we shared. And I have relearned the art of smiling. The smile falters still, and I think that may always be my reality, but I know it is there and real.

Take care of yourself as best you can and please, keep writing and sharing. Your words resonated with me and I am thankful to have read them. I am wishing you peace and comfort.
On particularly rough days when I'm sure I can't possibly endure, I like to remind myself that my track record for getting through bad days so far is 100% and that's pretty good. - Unknown

Don't be concerned about being disloyal to your pain by being joyous. - Hazrat Inayat Khan

Joe: 1979- 7/2014

Lost35

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Re: Childless Widower
« Reply #6 on: August 31, 2015, 12:57:59 AM »
Very simply, if I could ever sum up the past six years and nine months, it would amount to this; (and only to this!)

"Your soul is married, your heart is broken, your body is single, and your brain is understandably incapable of reconciling all of this cognitive dissonance and screaming WTF whenever it gets a break."

Wise words.  So much ahead.  Hold fast and breathe as deeply as you can.  You have at least found a good place of wise and good people who can be there when the rest of the world is unable...and that is a greater something than it seems, sometimes. 

-L.

Mizpah

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Re: Childless Widower
« Reply #7 on: August 31, 2015, 09:14:39 AM »
Your post is so beautiful and moving.  It's clear that the love you shared was extraordinary.  I said so many times in the early days that I was the luckiest woman alive and still was, and so many people thought I'd gone bonkers for saying that, because I so obviously wasn't so very lucky or else he'd be alive, but I knew what I meant, and you do too. 

I was 32 when DH died, and we had had 3 years together only - he's now been gone longer than we were together (how is this possible?!).  (Some who'd been married long and were older felt that it would be easier, or that the amount of time was diminishing in some way, but the impact he had on me and my life, the long long future we looked forward to so much....  I have no point but to state that I suppose.)  Our dog died less than a week after DH.  We had been about to start a family, but hadn't yet.  And we too lived in a world of blissful devotion/obsession/adoration.  I wrote compulsively after he died, beginning the next morning, and filled tens of journals with memories and stories and pieces of him, and other journals with my feelings and "process."  My current boyfriend and the father of my daughter is a widower - he was in his mid-30s when his fiancee died.  Her children, that he'd been raising with her, were taken from him when she died.  He too had a family and then suddenly nothing. 

We have been tasked with bearing the unbearable.  The pain in the beginning does not feel survivable.  And even once years pass and the pain is something that you learn to live with and necessarily lessens, it remains incomprehensible, the fact of their non-existence. 

My advice: grieve hard.  I think it's the best way to, as you put it, rebuild a happy life.  I think we reemerge more healthy and genuine and able to truly embrace life again when we allow ourselves to hit the lowest of the depths.  Thinking of you, wishing you moments of solace. 
widowed 2011 (DH 28)

w1d0w3r

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Re: Childless Widower
« Reply #8 on: August 31, 2015, 09:45:49 PM »
THANK YOU!!! I just ate dinner after working late, sat down and logged in. I couldn?t believe my eyes. As I read all of your wonderful replies I slowly melted into the *best* ?group hug? I?ve felt in a long, long time. I just shed the first tear of happiness since I lost my late wife. Thank you. Thank you all so much. It feels so good to have so much support and encouragement and warmth ? I am so glad I found you all!

I?ve had no one to lean on that really understood. And now you wonderful strangers have just made me feel for the first time like I?m not alone. I must sound crazy; I?ve read many posts here and so much resonated, but this is exactly what I need. Thank you for joining, thank you for reading about my instance of our common circumstance, thank you for reaching out ? thank you for sharing your story and your pain.  My heart goes out to all of you ? anyone and everyone here.

Thank you for your wisdom. Thank you for your kindness. Thank you for your bravery.

I am humbled by your compliments.

When it is just you and your spouse, they are your entire family and when they are gone, the sounds of emptiness become deafening.

Well said. I feel better when I?m with people, especially people I know or love, but they don?t know you the same way. The hardest part of this is the loneliness. I keep telling myself I lived by myself quite successfully and happily as an adult, and if I did it then then I could do it now. But it?s easier said than done.

I had to move from the home we shared and changed work locations so I no longer had to go to the office we shared. And I have relearned the art of smiling. The smile falters still, and I think that may always be my reality, but I know it is there and real.

In order to survive without moving, I had to paint all of the walls (which would have never happened if my family hadn?t come over in the days following the funeral to help). I've since rearranged the furniture, bought new sheets, donated or otherwise removed the things that were ?us? - basically trying to hit restart when it comes to home and all of the things that we associate with home. I am in the midst of making ?home? completely new, as if I had just moved in. I have little projects here and there, like replacing the old bathroom mirror with one I'm making myself ? I have the frame built, mirror ready to go in once the frame is ready, glass tiles, chrome paint, Ikea LED strips, heating element (mission: no fog after a shower), grout & spacers, and everything else (I think), and I?m slowly but surely making progress. I think about moving but I won?t know if that will help until I at least try to reinvent this space. There?s no way I could be here if it went unchanged; I?d be unable to move an eyelash lest another memory trigger a huge wave of grief. May I ask how your move affected your ability to grieve?

I?m glad you are smiling again. My humble request is to consider the possibility that it may not always falter. Thank you for your wonderful message.

Our dog died less than a week after DH.

What are the odds?!? I am so sorry we had the exact same circumstance. The night before I had to put our dog to sleep, I let her snuggle with me in bed and she spent the whole night against me (on my head, actually), as if to say ?Dad, I?ll always be with you.?

I will heed your advice. When the grief comes, I let it tear me apart. I?ve had to take a few breaks just writing this reply. Thank you for your kindness and for sharing your strength and your story.
________________________________________
I am full of gratitude for having found this place, which is but a tool to connect us; that connection is the true gift you ALL have given me, and to each other, I'm sure. I will keep writing and sharing, and I will write each and every one of you back who have sent PMs. I have to get some rest.

I look forward to my future; I look forward to new friendships and I feel so lucky to be welcomed here.

If I?ve learned anything in my years, it?s that love and forgiveness are as essential to the soul as air and water are to the body. Every day I am grateful that my broken heart can still love; every day I forgive the unfairness and injustice of the world as I seek peace. Today I am reminded that all we need to defeat the loneliness is each other. Thank you for being here for a complete stranger who came with his broken heart in hand and giving him hope.

w1d0w3r
"Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it." - Helen Keller

Jen

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Re: Childless Widower
« Reply #9 on: August 31, 2015, 10:41:52 PM »
Oh, dear heart... it's late, it's been a long day, so maybe that's why your post has moved me to tears... but I don't think so. Your love for your precious wife is evident in every word. I am so, so sorry that she was taken from you too soon. My own beloved husband-- my best friend from childhood, my soulmate, the other half of my heart-- was only mine in the eyes of the state for four years, but we were each other's from the first minute our eyes met. We were ten and eleven years old. He died very suddenly, three days after his 40th birthday. Now I'm a month from my 41st-- in 30 days I'll be an entire calendar year older than he ever got to be. Reading your post... it makes me think of what he might have written, if I'd been the one to go. I wouldn't wish that pain on him, or anyone, and again-- I'm so sorry you had to look for us.

But I'm glad you found us. There is so much pain and struggle in this journey, but the wise and wonderful souls here have also shown me, over and over, that there is a vast store of love in the world. Hugs to you, and peace...

Jen
I have love in me the likes of which you can scarcely imagine and rage the likes of which you would not believe. If I cannot satisfy the one, I will indulge the other. ~Mary Shelley, Frankenstein

"Dying is easy. Living is hard. ~George Washington, Hamilton

donswife

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Re: Childless Widower
« Reply #10 on: September 01, 2015, 10:39:13 AM »
what an amazing post and tribute to your love story
we are so lucky to have had the love of our lives and married our best friends ( I wish i didn't have to write had in that sentence)
so not only did we lose the love of a life time but also our best friends
you have a gift in your writing and knowing how to say what we are all feeling
thank you for you post

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Jess

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Re: Childless Widower
« Reply #11 on: September 01, 2015, 10:04:54 PM »


In order to survive without moving, I had to paint all of the walls (which would have never happened if my family hadn?t come over in the days following the funeral to help). I've since rearranged the furniture, bought new sheets, donated or otherwise removed the things that were ?us? - basically trying to hit restart when it comes to home and all of the things that we associate with home. I am in the midst of making ?home? completely new, as if I had just moved in. I have little projects here and there, like replacing the old bathroom mirror with one I'm making myself ? I have the frame built, mirror ready to go in once the frame is ready, glass tiles, chrome paint, Ikea LED strips, heating element (mission: no fog after a shower), grout & spacers, and everything else (I think), and I?m slowly but surely making progress. I think about moving but I won?t know if that will help until I at least try to reinvent this space. There?s no way I could be here if it went unchanged; I?d be unable to move an eyelash lest another memory trigger a huge wave of grief. May I ask how your move affected your ability to grieve?

I?m glad you are smiling again. My humble request is to consider the possibility that it may not always falter.

I really feel like as that project progresses on your mirror or when you complete it, we need pictures because it sounds really neat.

As for my move affecting my ability to grieve, first you are always welcome to ask anything you want. That's why we are here. Moving was a very emotional thing for me. It was a necessary step in my case because although I am employed, our home was too much for me to afford on my own. I had to scale back from a 2200 sq ft home to a 1450 sq ft home. That is certainly not easy when your husband was a pack rat. It was very difficult leaving, but I must say I feel lighter in my new space. I have simplified a lot and am continuing to try to keep simplifying. As a result, I am starting to get to the core of what I want to keep to remember my husband. If anything, I would say the move helped as it forced me to face a lot of my grief head on, but it was a significant step for me moving forward into the life I am left with that I never wanted. I am not sure if any of that makes sense but I hope that it does.

I will keep that in mind about my smile. Thank you. :)
On particularly rough days when I'm sure I can't possibly endure, I like to remind myself that my track record for getting through bad days so far is 100% and that's pretty good. - Unknown

Don't be concerned about being disloyal to your pain by being joyous. - Hazrat Inayat Khan

Joe: 1979- 7/2014

w1d0w3r

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Re: Childless Widower
« Reply #12 on: September 03, 2015, 06:14:20 PM »
Thanks again to everyone for the warm welcome. The gift of your kindness, wisdom, and support has filled an empty place in my life that was so incredibly heavy for a void. When filled with the fellowship and positivity and unity we share in our loss, that emptiness - the solitude, the loneliness, the silent void of a widow(er)'s grief - that burden my heart didn't know how to carry isn't as heavy. I suppose that means that this community, in its collective abundance of grief, somehow creates love through sharing our emptiness. How wonderful it is that by combining our voids that they diminish; I guess in the mathematics of a widowed heart, -1 + -1 = 2.

Hope & Love to you All,
w1d0w3r
"Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it." - Helen Keller

canadiangirl

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Re: Childless Widower
« Reply #13 on: September 03, 2015, 06:36:57 PM »
So sorry for the loss of your lovely wife and for the loss of your dog.  Thank you for sharing your beautiful insights. 

w1d0w3r

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Re: Childless Widower
« Reply #14 on: September 05, 2015, 03:53:36 PM »
I really feel like as that project progresses on your mirror or when you complete it, we need pictures because it sounds really neat.

Thanks - I put everything together to sort of outline the plan, and have attached a photo. I'll post it when it's finished; this sounds so cheesy when I think of saying it out loud, but I for the sake of groan-worthy puns (and healing): I think by the time I complete my mirror I will be seeing myself and my life in a new light.

I must say I feel lighter in my new space. I have simplified a lot and am continuing to try to keep simplifying. As a result, I am starting to get to the core of what I want to keep to remember my husband. If anything, I would say the move helped as it forced me to face a lot of my grief head on, but it was a significant step for me moving forward into the life I am left with that I never wanted. I am not sure if any of that makes sense but I hope that it does.

Thanks for sharing this. I've done a great deal, but I'm not yet done with the process of sending all of the things that I don't want to (or can't bear to) keep to their new home, be that Goodwill, a family member, the trash (I don't think anyone wants a half-empty bottle of makeup or Veet), or a buyer for the things of significant monetary value and little or no sentimental value.

I may be judged for this, but there are some relatively expensive shoes and dresses that I'm perfectly comfortable selling that is such a difficult necessity. Other things, well...for example, I wept and grieved so much when I found her wedding veil nestled safely in a box in her dresser that she had put back in its box, folded in tissue paper along with some of the rose petals from our honeymoon bed. I ensured the veil went with her to her resting place. I'm glad I found the thread here about wedding dresses.

I'm not done yet, but I know I'll feel so much better when I'm down to only the things that I should or want to keep (although that's up to me, and I've done all of the "right" things - returned "family" jewelry and photos to family; let family take their time to look and think about and look again and take any and everything they may want to keep before I did ANYTHING with her belongings).

I of course have my "widower's box" with all of the cards we ever gave each other, photos, the various wedding mailings, all of the photos that aren't still in frames, every love note, journal, and all of the special tokens of love unique to every couple, the stack of sympathy cards I got after she died, her funeral program, and the other priceless sentimental objects I will never part with. They're all in an ornamental box in a waterproof/fireproof safe. If I ever share my home with another woman (and I hope I will; I couldn't imagine living alone for the rest of my life), she'll have to be OK with the safe and the fact that I may privately choose to open it when I need to.

I will keep that in mind about my smile. Thank you. :)

You're welcome :)
___________________________________
Thanks to all for your support and kindness. I'm so glad to have this place to share my story, my experience, and thoughts about my past, present, and future with people who understand.

w1d0w3r
"Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it." - Helen Keller