Independence Day Grief

4th of July 1I spent the 4th of July on a boat party hosted by John,* a recent widower.  My brother in law, Dennis,* is one of John’s best friends.  Here is what I noticed that gave me insight about grief-work.

The Best Friend

Best friends of grieving men are invaluable to the bereaved IF they are men who are willing to BE present with another man in his emotional pain.  My brother in law, Dennis, is one of those men.  He and John joked and retold stories of crazy shared passed experiences.  Dennis listened when his friend circled around to include stories of his beloved wife.  John told tales filled with nostalgia, pride for her accomplishments and influence, tenderness for her suffering, and choked up with tears when his emotions needed release. My brother in law simply listened and let his friend BE what he needed to BE at the time.

The Widower

The courage it took to invite not only his best friend, Dennis, my sister, my niece, my husband and I, was a sign of adjusting to his loss and different position in life.  After being married for 40 years, one becomes naturally identified as a couple, not a single person.  So as a single man, hosting a 4th of July event on his boat, John was purposefully taking steps to thrive again.  John explained that he chose to spend the 4th with all of us instead of his kids and grand kids because he needed to venture out on his own and avoid emotional dependence on his family.  Grieving is hard work.  It requires intentional decisions and actions that will move one towards healing.  John did that kind of hard work this 4th of July.

Elements of Healing

Know who is emotionally safe for you

Surround yourself with these friends

Take steps towards adjusting to the absence of your spouse

Anticipate that it will feel awkward or different for a while

Trust that you are supported by Divine love, grace and comfort to do the work of grieving

Allow yourself the freedom to feel the loss and pain, even in the presence of your friends

Journal about the event, including what worked and what you might do differently next time

Write a letter to your spouse as a release for unfinished conversations that need to find a resting place for your own needs.

Independence Day

If your marriage was close, bonded and loving, the love for your spouse will never fade like fireworks dissipating in the night air.  While you didn’t desire independence from your spouse, you have found yourself living independently by the very nature of his or her death.  Independence is now a new way of living day to day, yet your heart will ever be touched with explosive memories that will dazzle and sparkle in the night sky of your soul.

Just as a new country was made, a new individual is being formed.  That is you.  Will you be courageous to grieve well, make choices that lead you towards adjustment and healing, and reach out to others to be with you as you learn a new way of life?  I hope you will.   There is a lot of life after loss that is waiting to be lived by you.





  1. Anonymous


  2. sandykcamp

    Wonderful words of wisdom and thought. Thank you for sharing this experience, it will help me as I am becoming adjusted to my new independance, after a long, loving marriage. Thank you


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