Most of you who will read this article have lost someone whom you love in your lifetime. Whether that be as a result of a failed relationship, divorce or death, there is always emotional pain when that occurs … pain which, for some, never subsides. They may end up living a very reclusive lifestyle filled with memories of the loss and perhaps a good deal of guilt over the manner in which they may have treated the person who has left the relationship.
A woman came to me who was having a particularly difficult time mourning the loss of her husband. She described him as being her “best friend”, confidant and advisor upon whom she depended greatly. As she described her dependence on him it seemed that it went to an extreme and now that he was gone, she was completely lost. It had been over two years since he passed and her lifestyle approximated that of a recluse. She didn’t go out except to shop for food, had essentially no social contact except for occasional dutiful visits from her two grown children, was an overeater and spent her days and nights watching TV.
When I asked her what she believed that she was missing in her life she was startled and replied “Well, my husband of course.” I interrupted her and said “no, that’s not it … take another guess.” She looked puzzled, confused, overwhelmed and somewhat aggravated with me for pursuing the point but she became thoughtful and finally said “I really don’t know what I am missing.” I first calmed her down before responding. I started by talking about how it was obvious that she missed her husband but I then entered the point that I wasn’t sure, based on what she had shared with me, whether she loved him or was more dependent on his roles in her life. We talked about her dependence on him for almost everything in her life and that one of the considerations that she might need to make was to become a more independent person now that she is living by herself.
“But,” I said “the most important thing that is missing in your life now … and perhaps even while your husband was still alive … was and still is love.” She appeared startled but she gave some thought to whether her dependence on him was really love. Furthermore, she began to question whether she had ever really experienced a sense of loving and being loved since she had always been a very dependent person even prior to meeting her husband many years previous. We talked at length about the importance of living in a world filled with love and how that love needs to be replicated and replaced should something like death take it away. It didn’t necessarily have to be a replacement of the person. It could take the form of making new friends, seeing and having a more loving relationship with our children or grandchildren, or even bringing a pet into our home that we could care for and love.
She left my office in what appeared to be a changed state of mind as well as being imbued with setting out to develop a new lifestyle for herself. She admitted that she was tired of feeling sorry for herself and really didn’t realize the importance of many of the facets our meeting. Truly, living in a world without love is living alone even if other bodies take up space in our lives.
Both as a consultant and author, Charles Bonasera’s story-telling have motivated people to change patterns and resolve problems in their lives. All of his books contain valuable, practical lessons that people can easily apply to bettering and managing their lifestyles. He has also written a myriad of articles which can be found on his website at www.charlesmbonasera.com.