Widow. You've lost your spouse of 33 years and you are widowed. Part of a vulnerable class of women and feeling it more and more every day. Once a part of a "Mr. & Mrs." you find yourself suddenly bereft of that companionship and all the intricate ways that the partnership worked. He took out the trash, you did the dishes. He did the home repairs, you kept the beds made and the laundry clean. All those years of working out a system of give and take, push and pull, supplement and complement - and suddenly it is all gone. Not only are you missing a chunk of your heart but you are now also feeling the lack in every other area where the two of you had worked out a system of living. He's been your conscience and you've been his, your checks and balances, the strong one or the weak one depending upon the situation. You've held each other up and sometimes brought each other low. The unthinkable happens, (yes, the inevitable but perhaps unthinkably soon?) and suddenly there is a rip in the very fabric of who you are.
Two became one. One flesh. One existence. Bound together by name, by love, by struggles, by every intricacy of life. People try to be helpful and encourage you through their grief by identifying with their own losses. The loss of the spouse is not the same as the loss of a parent, as the loss of a child, or as a divorce. This is not at all to reduce the gravity of those horrible catastrophes nor to disrespect or diminish them; they are simply not the same. I've lost both of my parents, my sister, my nephew who I once raised like a son. I know very well the pain of those agonies, as well as the loss of two mother-in-laws, two father-in-laws (my husband was adopted, we found his birth parents), a brother-in-law, and a dear friend. These were all extremely painful, they were all difficult and terrible in their own right. Becoming a widow is simply a different beast entirely. This is a losing a part of one's own flesh because God made you one entity.
“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail” (Lamentations 3:22).