These are my Dave’s thoughts on sudden loss, grief, and love after loss. I hope they speak to you like they did me.
Dear Dave, thank you for bravely sharing these beautiful words with me and everyone else in need. As we move forward with our lives together, I want you to know I will always do my best to honor Becky; who she was and what she contributed to your life I love you. ❤
Explain to us a little about Becky, who she was, and who you were together?
Becky was a fun loving girl, who I met in the Army a few years after my first marriage ended. She was following in the footsteps of many in her family and joing the Army National Guard to do her part and perform public service. Her parents had both served in either the military or the peace corps, all of her aunts and uncles had either served in the military, were police officers, firefighters, or nurses. She knew that she wanted this early in life.
I met her when she was 21 and I was 31. I was not sure I wanted to be married again, and told her this, so we just decided to have fun and enjoy each other’s company. We had a blast. She was not working a regular job so we would spend almost every minute of weekends together. We would also make trips to Virginia, and other things.
We dated for two years and she decided one night to ask me to marry her. We knew we loved each other, and I knew that I wanted to be with her for the rest of our lives (just didn’t know if I wanted to be married), and I said yes. She had since gotten a job on the police department and when we got married we had opposite work shifts, and she worked a lot of weekends. Often my weekend for Reserves was the weekend she had off from work.
Together we were the best of friends. When we both had time off, I would rather spend time with her than anything. I loved to talk with her, go on car rides with her, trips with her. In many ways that are important she was what I loved about life. We enjoyed each others company. At her funeral, her uncle eulegized her by saying, “Not only did they love each other, but they truly liked each other.”
This was true. She was the softness to my hardness. My right arm, losing her was like losing an appendage.
How do you think your life was affected by her sudden loss?
Sudden loss is hard to explain. You go with her, and you come back without her. Everything hurts like a knife.
When I came back to the house from the hospital, everything she was was just as she left it. Where she slept was still as she got up, a glass that she had just drunk from was on the table. The next day, her alarm went off, just as she set it the day before so she could get up in time to go to the movies.
I longed to hear her voice, but I hadn’t saved any voice mails. I wanted whatever I could have that would remind me of her.
She was gone, but I didn’t know how to cope. I posted on Facebook that I had lost my compass. I didn’t know how I could cope as everything I had ever done that I felt good about I did with her by my side, with her support. I did much of it for her, to make her happy and keep her safe.
At the wake, there were so many familiar faces from the past. My first thoughts when I would see someone is, I can’t wait to get home and tell Becky who I saw today, and then I would realize her body was lying next to me in a tasteful wooden casket. I would smile when I would greet these people, because I truly was happy to see them, then would be instantly sad because I couldn’t share my experience with her.
I don’t know about whether it was the sudden loss that did it or not, but my job suffered for a while. I couldn’t cope, but I couldn’t take time off because I was a contractor.
I know sudden loss affected me in a certain way because she didn’t think that life insurance was necessary at the time. She thought she had time, as much as I nagged at her to get it. I suppose when you have time or inclination, a good life insurance policy will give you some time to grieve without worrying about money.
I believe the sudden loss also may have made me a little more compulsive in some regards but conservative in other regards. I don’t want to wait for things that will make me happy and bring me joy. I want to spend time having fun with friends and family. I also don’t want to waste time putting up with bullshit, or doing something I don’t like, or surrounding myself with people I don’t like or cause me discomfort. It’s not worth it. I can see how quickly a life can leave a person, and I don’t want to waste the moments.
Did her loss make you view life differently? If so, how?
It did. In many ways. It made me see how quickly life can be whisked away. It made me reflect on how I treated her when she was alive. It made me regret certain things that I did or didn’t do. I feel like I didn’t tell her enough how much I loved her. How much I appreciated her. I see how much time I spent away from her and regret it. How we could have had more.
Now, I think of my health, and know that health problems are no joke. I also know that doctors are not infallible and you need to get the treatment that you need and that you’re comfortable with.
Are you different now? If so, how?
I can be very emotional. When I see or read scenes of others loss or joy I feel it more strongly. I feel like I can love more deeply knowing what I’ve lost and that it could easily be lost again.
Sometimes I have a very low tolerance for annoyances. I have had this previously, but now I tend to act on them. I had a very bad filter, which is getting better. I’m less afraid to speak my mind or try something.
What lessons did Becky teach you through her life and loss?
Becky was not one to worry so much about the future, but to enjoy the present. I liked this about her, but it also taught me that you should always think about the future.
Becky and I loved to travel and explore, she loved her family and part of her taught me to be closer to my own family.
What was the turning point for you in your grief? When did you feel you could move forward and pursue your future?
I knew that I was going to have to pursue my future. There really was no turning point, more like an arc.
I thought of many many alternatives to my future. One future where I would sell everything and live in a tinyhouse with no bills, no job, and make Christmas ornaments. One where I would just hang out with friends and date women when I needed to have some other kind of interaction.
There came a time when I knew that I didn’t want to be alone. I knew I wanted another relationship and I started a couple of online dating profiles (that didn’t work out).
The real turning point was when I met Alysha and thought I had hit the jackpot. Here was a woman who was beautiful, smart, funny, and Godly. After our interactions I realized that I wanted to be with her, to know and love her completely. My future looks bright and I look forward to sharing it with her and the kids.
What would you like to tell someone in the midst of grief after a sudden loss like yours?
Take your time. If you can take time off from work, do it.
Find others who share the pain and work with them. I found the Young Widows Bullettin Board (YWBB.org) and made a lot of friends, talked about my pain, and ultimately found my new love; not that I went there to find it.
Cry. Talk to your friends about what you’ve lost. I have a friend who listened to me talk about Becky and cried with me many a day. He is my best friend, Greg.
Some people will not like to mention your loved one to you. I can tell you I love to hear stories about Becky. It makes me remember that she lived, and not just that I watched her die. Hear all the stories, laugh, and cry, remember.
Your grief is yours, and nobody else’s. Even another who has experienced loss has a different perspective and experience. Don’t expect that what they have done will work, or that you are taking too much time to grieve or get over it. If you want to find love again, do it. If you don’t then don’t. Everyone is different.
In three words, tell us what it’s been like to find love again.
Unexpected heavenly gift