Monday 23 July 2012

How do you mend a broken heart?

I met a woman recently. She was beautiful, in all ways – with the voice of an angel. But she was also sad, so terribly terribly sad.   Her husband had died just over a year before and she couldn’t stop talking about him. When she remembered him her eyes became soft and her voice lowered. Her hands touched the silver necklace she wore like a talisman.  Yes, he’d given it to her.

‘He was the love of my life,’ she said simply. ‘He was everything I ever wanted.  Everything I ever needed. We were just so…right, in every way, on every level.’ 

She told me that her friends were losing patience with her and telling her she should start dating, find somebody new.  ‘But how can I?’ she said. ‘How can I find someone to take his place?’
‘You can’t,’ I said. ‘You won’t. How could you?’ 

But then?  What do you say to someone in that position? How do you comfort them?  That time heals?  Does it?  Maybe it numbs. A little.
‘It’s just so cruel,’ she said. ‘So unfair. We didn’t have that long; we didn’t have long enough.’  

For some loves, there is never enough time. For some, there is no time at all.

When I told her that my last remaining work as a journalist is to write an agony aunt column for Natural Health magazine each month, she smiled. ‘Answer my question,’ she said. ‘Please.’ 

And so, today, on this bright beautiful sunny day, I am sitting here with a heavy heart.  Thinking about loss, about time, about separation, about broken hearts, about lost love.

What would you say to her?  What advice would you give?  How do you live with a broken heart?  How do you cope with the cruel vagaries of Life and Time?  


Beth said...

You could tell her the horrible truth, sometimes you just don't get over it. You carry on, you "learn to live with it" but you are forever diminished, never whole again.

I lost the other half of my heart three years ago. On the outside I function well, I achieve a lot, sometimes I even laugh. On the inside I am torn, broken. It is the price we pay for opening ourselves to love, it is the cost of sharing our souls. It is a terribly high price but I'd pay it again in a heartbeat for another day with him.

Tell the lady it does get easier but it never stops hurting. Oh, and tell her not to go out without tissues, damn, where did I leave the Kleenex?

Rachel Selby said...

You can't mend a broken heart but you do learn to live with it. And living with it does become easier. The truth is that many many people are carrying such a loss inside - it's a part of humanity.
You don't have to start dating again until you want to (or never if you don't want to). You certainly aren't looking to replace the person you lost. You do have to get on with your life in any way you can and strive for some sort of happiness again. This is possible. Go for it.

Exmoorjane said...

@Beth - I thought so. And I am sorry, so sorry. xxx

@Rachel - Wise words, as always. :)

Rebecca Alexander said...

I lost my husband and eight year old daughter ten months apart, a number of years ago. The pain is always there, like a bruise, and anniversaries are still painful. But life grows up around the loss, and now I remember Steve with love. He is part of my life now and he taught me how to be truly happy. Meanwhile, I have raised my other children and fallen in love with another man, who also understands that Steve was part of a younger me, and will always be important. But the rest of life is bigger and includes the older me. Their deaths changed me, and I love my life now.

Unknown said...

I am quite a bit older than my wife, the love of my life. One day she will be alone. Sometimes I think it would have been kinder of me to have not pursued her those many years ago, that perhaps she would have found a younger man with whom she could have shared more years. But then I reflect on the deep love and happiness that we have created together and I consider that many never touch souls like we do. Every day is a blessing, every moment a passing joy. When that day comes that lovers are forever parted, I believe that something precious and unique is gone forever. It’s the price we have to pay.
The word crisis comes from Greek word krinein, which means to separate, decide, judge. One must choose a new path and go onwards. The old road is behind you, the new one stretches out before you. New meaning has to be found, forgotten sides rediscovered.

Exmoorjane said...

@Rebecca - Hell, that was harsh...I'm so sorry. I'm so glad you found new love and life.

@Brian - You just don't never know. We could have years ahead of us or only moments. I say grab life and love while you can... You have been hugely blessed and I love that you appreciate that. I'm pretty sure your wife wouldn't have been too keen on your idea of self-sacrifice. :)

Quilting Cat said...

You do not get over it, you learn to live with it. If friends loose patience, they are not real friends, best make some new ones with your new life. I used an online forum some years ago when my husband died and no-one understood that your lifelong partner dying is worse than losing parents, siblings or the cat, it totally different and horrible. You have to learn to live a different life and most of all, be Yourself, no compromises. Good luck.

Zoë said...

Sometimes you don't get over it - Kevin's cousin Jackie is still mourning Richard 10 years on, and I doubt she will ever look for love again, although maybe one day it will find her. She fills her life with things that make her feel good. Helping others, teaching, charity work and so on. Kevin's Mum is much the same, she lost her Tom after 70 years together - can you imagine the hole that leaves in your life?

Thing is I don't think there is an answer. We all have to find our own way. A year is still quite soon in my opinion if you have lost your one and only to be thinking about finding a new mate - her friends should back off. Its not going to happen until she want it too. Until she has found herself again, and not as par of a pair.

The old cliche time is the greatest healer is true, it will get easier.


Anne Wareham said...

The other comments are absolutely right. The fatuous remarks from friends have probably most to do with their feeling stuck for anything to say or offer with a problem that isn't going to go away.

Maybe the best thing would be for her to talk to her friends about how hard that is for them, so that they can find better ways of being together and of comforting her?

janerowena said...

My sister lost her husband 7 years ago. She barely spoke to anyone for a year - nothing anyone said was the right thing to say. It was best just to be with her and say nothing. She moved up here to be nearer to me 2 years ago, and has filled her life with gardening, chickens, and lots of new friends. She was made redundant just after she moved, so has more time that she had to fill and I can't believe how much she fits in. She started a 'merry widows' club, that was her first venture. They meet up once a week and have all become firm friends. Within three days she had 8 ladies who replied to her advert in the paper. She barely has time to see me, now! She does lots of charity work. She is so pretty, she is always rejecting interested males.

Elizabeth Musgrave said...

I agree with Zoe that a year is no time at all. My mother lost my father many, many years ago and remarried after two years to my stepfather whom I love dearly. She once told me that she should not have done that. She thought it had been at least five years before she began to function anything like normally. We want people who have lost someone to recover faster than they can so that we can feel better. We don't want to share their grief, in however distant a way, so we push them to move on. Her friends should shut up and back off.

sppman said...

cant believe i am reading all this at this timeor how i found this blog! anyway,here goes. i lost my wife of 35 years three years ago tomorrow and i saw a broken heart in my daughter, i had never seen such pain and desperation so close at hand and i then understood the term" broken heart". we all carry the burden of loss and grief in our own different ways but however we try to deal with it its always just under the surface and never goes away. saying this does not mean that we cant move on with our lives, i have tried and met someone who i felt i could be with for the rest of my days, but unfortunately it has not worked outand the feeling of loss is nearly as great as thee loss of my wife!. i think this is because i know my wife has gone but the new person is still around! so what i think i am trying to say is its down to the individual who has had the "broken heart"to try and understand it in thir own way and to be strong enough to ignore any negativity from people who should know better. i think quilting cat has hit the nail on the head, but its not an easy way to deal with it.i think the positive attitude of the posts here are great and will give some comfort to others in similar situations. at first i felt guilty for searching for a new partner but in reality i feel we all need someone to be with just to share the simple things like talking about your days events etc. that your immediate family are not allways interested in.