A departure from the usual upbeat me, I wanted to share with you the sadness I am feeling watching a friend suffer from acute loneliness.
She’s a very social and sociable woman, so on the outside you’d think she has it all together. But I see her as painfully lonely. You see, her husband died a couple of years ago, died much too young from a cancer he fought but couldn’t overcome, she always at his side, day after day, being his cheerleader, his best friend, his one and only love.
Their love was deep, pure, and real. They were cut from the same mold, finished each other’s sentences, worked side by side to attain financial freedom for their old age, then he was gone. They had the same passions in life – music, gardening, travel, and a love of faith – a faith that would be tested as cancer took the husband.
I’ve watched my friend struggle without her husband, even though she’s out and about every day, signing up to run this or that or to host parties at her home. I’ll never forget the day she told me she fell apart crying in an airport on the first trip she took without her husband – she said he was the one who made all the arrangements, took care of every detail. I ached for her loss.
Now don’t get me wrong, this woman is made of brick. She’s outwardly strong, smart, and more than capable of handling everything on her own. She has family and friends where she lives who see she gets out, and she does, but I see a different side of her- I see someone who is filling the void by doing so much and doing things to please others, and herself too, who think she should be busy when all the while she’s falling apart inside.
Last week during the PGA event at Baltusrol, I was on the phone with her and innocently asked her if she and hubby ever played that course (they lived nearby). She said yes, hubby played it several times. Then she began to cry. God, I felt like a heel, me being the one to ask a question that would send her into tears. I didn’t know what to say or do, so she suggested we chat another time. Little did I know I might have done the best thing ever by asking that question.
She emailed me the next day to say she’s started going to grief counseling, more than two years after her husband died. She said that there are things she’s dealing with that she can’t get past. Of course of course of course – totally understandable. These two were one person. I am relieved and happy for her that she’s seeking help – it has to be next to impossible to lose the one and only man in your life after thirty+ years of truly happy marriage – a man who was not only tall in physical stature, but tall in moral standards, tall in his devotion to his wife, tall in his dedication to church and God, and tall in how proudly he carried himself as he died. Loneliness is real and it is painful so I pray my friend can get the support and help she needs from counseling. It’ll never replace her husband but perhaps she can put him in a better perspective.
We all want happiness for our friends who suffer such a loss but first we have to see that they find some inner peace to go on, despite the loss.
Hope this wasn’t too much of a downer post but I felt it was important to share. We all have friends who we think need us but who we really can’t help until they help themselves.