I just read an article that brought tears to my eyes. Entitled, “You May Want to Marry My Husband” by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, it is about the author’s imminent death. That’s heartbreaking enough, but then it goes on in poignant detail about how wonderfully amazing her husband is. The amount of love she has for this man is evident, and clearly she wants the best for him, and can no longer give him that bright future herself.
But what chokes me up is that I know exactly what this man is about to go through, having lost the love of my life myself. And the last thing he’s going to need, for at least a few years, is to be bothered by a lot of women looking for love. His wife is not like a car. She can’t simply be replaced because she’s been totaled.
The fact is, his entire life is about to be totaled. He’s about to experience devastation of nuclear bomb proportions. For a good year, his ears will still be ringing from the sound of the explosion. He isn’t going to be able to emotionally hear anyone else.
After that, he’s going to have to figure out how to rebuild from the ground up. That isn’t for sissies. He is not going to be the same person. There will be scar tissue. There will be completely different perspectives.
For example, his wife talked about how he loves live music, and how they’d go to listen to it all the time. Well, now doing that may be too painful for him. He may never want to go to a concert again. Or maybe he will. That’s something he’s going to have to figure out for himself. I’m just saying that expecting him to be the same exact person he was pre-apocalypse is asking a bit much.
In time, he may discover that there will be changes he’ll be happy to make. None of his relationship compromises will be required anymore. One day, he’ll realize he can put the toilet paper on the roll any direction he darned well pleases. Another day, he’ll think, “Why am I still eating lima beans? I hate lima beans.” Or maybe it’s time to start growing the beard he always wanted, or shave off the one she always preferred. And yeah, buddy, convert that room into a man cave!
He’s also going to have to map out a whole new future. Whether we admit it to ourselves or not, most of us take comfort in the thought that we have a pretty good idea what the road ahead is going to look like. The author even describes that in her article. Well, now the road, for her grieving husband, is completely obscure. Trust me when I say that’s scary as hell. He’ll have to redraw all his charts.
This emotional and physical makeover can take years. It can’t be rushed. There are no shortcuts, as much as his late wife would like to give him one. And there are no deadlines. Everyone is on his or her own schedule when it comes to grief.
I do strongly urge people who are going through this to seek out grief support groups, however. The Healing Center here in Seattle has been a godsend for me. At a time in your life when you are the most alone you have ever been, it’s important to know that, well… you’re not alone.
So ladies, please do not pounce on poor Mr. Rosenthal just yet. Yes, from what I’ve read, he’s infinitely lovable. I’d go for him myself if given the opportunity. But give him time. Give him space. Give him a chance to recover and figure out who he is post-explosion. He’ll thank you for it. Eventually.
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