By Michael Longo
What do I do now?
After the loss of a loved one, this question is the most imperative to ask oneself. Whether it is your wife, husband, parent, child or sibling, the impact is the same. Once the grieving and adjustment process begins, it is the answer to this question that will be the most momentous of your life.
I see two available paths. One is to do nothing, isolate yourself and continue to be alone. The second, more productive, response is to attempt to understand what happened, try to accept the loss and start the healing process. You will never be able to understand why this has happened. You must also realize and accept that your life will never be the same. Every day you wake up will be a new challenge, but also another day you are moving forward.
When I lost my wife almost two years ago, it was the most earth-shattering day of my life. Events happened so quickly I did not have time to process. Every moment, big and small, was a blur. If it wasn’t for the support of my children, their spouses, family and friends, I probably would have chosen the first path; do nothing and retreat.
Instead, I decided the second path was the direction I would take for myself and my family. To help with this, I adapted a three-step approach to keep my life moving forward.
First is to live my life one day a time. Second is to surround myself with the people I love and care for. Third is to always keep the memory of your loved one front and center, even in the smallest of ways. My children and I have done this by establishing a memorial fund to aid the children at the school where my wife once taught.
By being disciplined in sticking to these three principles, I have been able to compartmentalize my life. I had 34 wonderful years of marriage which I will always cherish. Now, the next phase of my life has begun. Where it will take me and what I will do once there is a scary yet exciting unknown.
Speaking to many people over the last two years I have found each person in this situation approaches things differently. We are all unique individuals and it is up to each individual to decide how to move forward.
Taking that first step is the most important one. The second step starts you on your new journey toward renewal. With the urging of my closest friend, I decided to reach out and joined a tremendous support group for widowers. This group and these gentlemen have a very wide range of experiences dealing with the loss of their loved ones. They are supportive in many ways, from dealing with the loss, the grief afterward and their path toward healing.
With their support and interaction, I have been able to be more open with myself about my life after experiencing the death of a loved one.
I have posted articles, participated in focus groups and contributed to helping the children of widowers to cope with their loss. My children have graciously volunteered their time and experiences to help other widowers’ children by making themselves available via phone, text or email.
If you are lucky enough to find a person who understands this arduous process, you are truly blessed. It makes the day-to-day journey more manageable.
Michael Longo, of Amherst, has found fulfillment in a widowers’ support group.