I have not mentioned this prior to now, but one of my current love interests (the one who has recently asked me for space) is a widower who has also experienced some other deep losses in his life.
In an attempt to find ways to understand him more, I have spent the better part of the last year reading about grief. In the course of my research, I have come up with many insights and learned quite a bit on the subject, but it has never seemed obvious until now why it might be so incredibly difficult for him to move forward. Especially given the fact that his desires are to find love and marry again.
But after hearing a personal story from a man who lost his father (with whom he was very close) it all seemed to just fall into place, and I feel like I understand more clearly. This guy was explaining that he put up many emotional walls during the 3 years after his dad’s death largely because he was trying to protect his memory. He went on to say that he did not want to let anyone get close enough to make him feel as good as his father had. He was unable to let go of the feelings of grief because they were all he had left. The thought of giving up that last piece of his dad terrified him to the point that he could not stop the grief cycle.
He went on to say that what ended up happening was that he became more and more self-involved by wallowing in grief and therefore unable to move on towards happiness. It had nothing to do with anyone else but him and his inner-most thoughts and feelings. As a result of this emotional paralysis, he did not give the women he dated a fair chance because he was just plain emotionally unavailable.
What finally turned the tide for him was when he decided to become a better man. He spoke about how necessary it was for him to realize that his father’s death was a part of life and that he could not allow it to keep him locked in a dark and lonely room with just four walls and his grief for the remainder of his life.
Instead, he chose to celebrate his father by embracing all that he had taught him and by becoming more like his dad had been. He became a better son and brother. He began spoiling his family and not taking for granted the chances he had to love. He finally found his peace when he realized that the best way to honor his father’s memory in his heart and the hearts of others.was to lead a life that was well-lived. A life that his dad could look down on and nod approvingly of. That is the gift he gave his father, his family, and most of all, himself.
After hearing this guy’s story, it made me realize how much strength it must have taken for him to take such an action to let go of his grief, and I believe that a decision like that would be very difficult to come to without having friends and loved ones around offering support and understanding.
Never having been through a loss such as this, I am ill-equipped to understand what I can do to help (if anything) to show my support and concern to a man I care about.
If you or someone you are close to is experiencing paralyzing emotions because of grief, I would love to hear from you.
What has worked for you? What hasn’t worked for you? How can we help the ones we love when they have shut us out?