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The Fog of Grief- A Widow's Essay

This morning, it was so foggy I could barely see across the street.  People appeared out of nowhere, walked by and disappeared again.  Like a scene from a horror movie, it was an uncertain, claustrophobic, potentially dangerous world.

Ah, but then the sun fought through.  I can see the old tree, its barren branches framing a plane in the distance.  More distant still are wispy clouds.  My world now encompasses thousands of people – flying, driving, working.  Everything looks and feels entirely different.  Of course, the world has not substantially changed since this morning.  It is my perception, the depth and clarity of my vision, that makes it appear so.

Likewise, when my husband died, the world closed in. The sunshine of our dreams was forever shrouded and my world went gray and cold. I  was blinded by pain, by the loss of one I held so dear.  I felt cut off, empty, and surrounded by swirling shadows, unable to envision a future.  About six weeks after John’s death I told a friend that my entire future was wiped out in an instant.  She said, “No, your future wasn’t wiped out. Your husband’s was. You still have a future; it will just be a lot different future than you had planned.”

Her words struck hard.  I wasn’t allowing myself to see the future because I didn’t want it to exist without him. Yet I didn’t want to live in a dismal fog for the rest of my life.  I did indeed have a future; it was my choice to step into it.

Burning away the fog was hard work and took a long, long time. Very slowly my future emerged from the haze and began taking shape. Eventually as the light poked through, I stepped tentatively out of the mist, and it felt good.

I know now that the world does not disappear when death occurs. It is only my perception, the depth and clarity of my vision, that makes it seem so. Though the sun may be veiled, it is not extinguished. The future may be shrouded, but it still exists, waiting to be discovered. Life may seem empty, but joy, surprises, and delight yet abound. Beyond the murkiness lie new possibilities, if only we have eyes to see and courage to follow our sight.   

© 2011, Amy Florian.  Used by permission

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