For those who have not experienced loss, it is hard to imagine the unbearable pain that people go through when their partner dies.
To reduce the isolation surrounding their suffering, people on Reddit have opened up about losing their spouses and the difficulty of finding love again.
While some managed to move on, with their grief being an open part of their lives with a new person, others revealed that they have not yet found a way to move forwards.
As one person writes: “I sometimes wonder if I could ever move on, if I could ever open up my heart to another love, if I could ever find someone who could understand.”
These six people have different endings to their stories, however there’s one common theme: that even in the darkest times of life, hope prevails.
1. ‘I still miss my first wife... and my wife knows that and respects it.’
“After we graduated and both landed jobs in a city 2,000 miles away, I married my college sweetheart. We bought a house, made plans, didn’t include cancer in that plan, and I lost her after six years of marriage, and an additional nine years of being pals, friends, best friends, then dating.
“Three years later I met a really amazing woman. Smart, witty, resourceful, beautiful and passionate. We were married a year later. It was her first marriage (and she’s older than me), but her parents, as they got to know me, respected and really appreciated my path in life. It’s been 14 wonderful years now. I still miss my first wife but not in a debilitating way, and my wife knows that and respects it. My wife appreciates that my first wife was part of what moulded me into the person I am today.
“Now I’ve been married more than twice as long as I was before I lost my first wife. We’ve had our difficulties, which led us to adopt our son, who is awesome. But both of our lives are better together and better because of where we each came from. It’s a beautiful thing.”
2. ‘My fiancé and I are incredibly happy and he is incredibly supportive of me.’
“My husband died five years ago in April. We had a two-year-old son together. I really struggled for [a] while, however I eventually went down the path of healing. After lots of work and raising my son, I met an amazing man. We are engaged and expecting our first baby together.
“There are still days (rare) where I feel sad, but it’s for what could have been. Every year, we send a lit Chinese lantern with a letter for our loss. My fiancé and I are incredibly happy and he is incredibly supportive of me. My son and him are very close and have a really cool bond.
“There is life after death, but you need to do the work to heal and find love again. The work is painful and gritty but totally worth the journey.”
3. ‘I don’t talk about my first wife, or even talk about anything about that past life.’
“I was married for a long time, 29 years. No kids, just her and me. Sudden heart attack. I won’t even try to described the loss. I still don’t, can’t talk much about it. Even typing this is emotional.
“I remarried after about two years and I have been married now for 12 years, so I guess my natural state is to be married. I don’t talk about my first wife, or even talk about anything about that past life. I explained what happened when I first met my second wife, but I sensed as time went on, she felt she might not measure up since I clearly idolised my first wife, so I just put it all inside and that’s where it stays. In a box inside me.
“Sometimes the grief just comes out. In the first five years or so after my wife’s death, it came out a lot. Not so much anymore, but it still does and you never know when it will happen. It’s sort [of] like a wave at the beach. You are standing in shallow water, and something happens, a sight, a sound, a song, a smell, and you suddenly recall, and then without warning a giant wave of grief just comes at you and knocks you down. You try to get up, and another knocks you down. Finally you stand, and everybody is acting normal, but for you the world looks wrong. It takes a long time to get back.”
4. ‘I keep a little part of myself reserved for my late partner, just a little corner of my heart.’
“My partner passed away two years ago. I met a wonderful and supportive woman not long after who helped me through some super dark days, we are engaged to get married in June.
“It’s still a conversation piece we try to avoid where possible as it’s hard not to make her feel a little uncomfortable about it all. I keep a little part of myself reserved for my late partner, just a little corner of my heart and my mind that will stay reserved forever.
“I also keep a cast iron ‘Love Duck’ on my work desk, the matching partner of it is clenched in her hand inside her coffin, I spend a little time every day talking to it.”
5. ‘The hard truth is, I think I will never be as happy as I once was.’
“My husband died suddenly four years ago. It was... hard. It took me a few years to pull myself together but eventually I moved to a new city, found a job and made a new life.
“I’m 33 now and I live with my SO [significant other], we’re not married but talking about it. I still think about my husband every day. I miss him. I love him. It’s hard to explain. My SO tries to understand but he can’t, which is ok.
“He doesn’t like talking about [the] past and likes focusing on the future. That’s why I keep my past to myself but I also keep it close. The hard truth is, I think I will never be as happy as I once was. And that’s also OK, because I am happy, just not so young or naive to think that things can’t fall apart in a split second. It’s bittersweet, because there’s always a bit of pain there too.”
6. ‘When I feel my heart start to move again, I almost feel like I am betraying her.’
“Next week it will be two years since the day I lost the love of my life to ovarian cancer. She was only 29, and the cancer was so aggressive it overwhelmed her in just seven months. She received her diagnosis on the day she was supposed to graduate from nursing school, and it still breaks my heart that she was never able to live out her dream of helping others. She was going to make such a good nurse.
“Life has been hard since she passed. I have not remarried, or even been on a date, and I sometimes wonder if I could ever move on, if I could ever open up my heart to another love, if I could ever find someone who could understand. I can’t imagine not having her photos up, I can’t imagine parting with her clothes, her understated and earthy jewellery, notes and letters we’ve written, and I can’t imagine not having her ashes with me.
“When I feel my heart start to move again, I almost feel like I am betraying her, and yet, I know she would not want me to be alone forever, to spend the rest of my days sad and heartbroken. I also know all too well how uncertain the future is, and that the only thing we are given is this moment. I also learned how much we should appreciate our health. No human - no matter how rich, or famous, or what high station they may hold in the world - is immune to the humbling power of disease and death. Live, and love, before it is too late.
“Thank you for letting me share, and I want to thank everyone who opened up and shared their stories as well. Hearing from others gives me hope that one day, not only may I be able to come to peace and open myself up to love again, but that there are thoughtful and understanding people out there who can love a person who has suffered a loss and without them having to hide such an influential part of who they are.”