My Identity

I was a widow. This is a very small part of who I am.  My life consists of so many other adjectives: mother, wife, daughter, woman, adoptive mother, mother of a handicapped child, writer, dreamer, weight lifter, runner (kind of), reader, poet, child of God,  gardener, friend, strong willed, first born, blond (fake), flaky (I do have 7 kids!), cook, and the list could go on and on.  It seems that often when a spouse dies, the remaining spouse gets caught up in a one dimensional identity of being either a widow or a widower. This becomes the first and foremost way of identifying themselves when talking to everyone; “My husband (wife) died,” or everything they do is devoted to the memory of this one person, even years beyond their passing, or they constantly continue to dwell on pictures, memorabilia, and videos of the past with this person in them, and they talk about this person 95% of the time with anyone who will listen to assuage some guilt? Regrets? Attention seekers? I’m not sure what exactly it’s about but it doesn’t fit with my personality or how I choose to deal with my life or my grief.  There is nothing wrong with remembering a deceased person; however, I would argue that it is hard to move into the present when you force yourself to dwell on something that is now part of your past.  It’s hard to be respectful of your present (example, a remarriage) when you choose to live in your past as well. That person’s present and future ended, and why should yours have to end as well with their death?  What if instead, all of that time, energy, and identity could be put into those who are still here?  Your children? Your friends?  Your coworkers?  Your family? Your new spouse? What if they all had the opportunity to have you need them as desperately as you cling to the one deceased person?  I understand yearning for and missing someone, but there is a difference between this and in being so entwined in the past and longing for the past that it suffocates your present life.  This idea of the past can fall under many categories, and it is not just limited to the death of someone; like a divorce, a traumatic event, or even a disappointment.  By living in this situation or by allowing yourself to wallow in it you will never be able to move forward into something awesome that God has planned for your life in the present.  Paul talks about his desire to put aside his past, not wallow in his regrets or pains, but to instead, “Forget what is behind and strain toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” Phil 3:13-14. He of anyone could have beat himself up over regrets and guilt as the biggest persecutor of the modern church, but we never hear him rambling on and on about this for he would have never accepted his identity as being wrapped up in who he was prior to Christ.  He instead chose to move forward in who he was as a new creation in Christ!  There is a season for sadness but then there is also a season to rise above the sadness and laugh, dance, sing and live!  “A time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance,” Ecclesiastes 3:4. I would challenge anyone living in the past or anyone caught in the pain of a lost loved one to give it to Christ, thank Him for your life, and thank Him for the time He gave you with that special person and start living for your own identity in Him.
 Just Keep Livin!!

6 thoughts on “My Identity

  1. Jess, I so wish my Mom had taken your attitude in her remarriage after my Dad died. We all love and miss Dad, but I think she (and her hubby) missed out on what could have been a very good thing because she chose to dwell in the past.

  2. A lot people just seem to have the inability to move on past a traumatic events whether it’s the death of a loved on or a bitter or painful divorce. It’s sad because life is indeed for the living and while we don’t want to forget those who meant so much to us you had it pegged about those who do everything devoted to a memory or to Keep a memory alive for others. I dated someone with this issue. Widowed over 15 years and we were involved in a 3 yr relationship, however, so much about what he was for the sake of keeping the memory alive for his daughters – for a mother they never even knew. It was a difficult position and I don’t necessarily fault him and he did what he thought was the best to honor his late wife. But in reality they all really lived their lives in reference to this one singular event – the wife/mother dying. IMHO it was long past being healthy with pictures all around (until he moved a few yrs back and finally just took them down) the memorial gravesite visits that included Christmas wreaths, birthday, mothers day, Easter and I am sure other occasions. So much memorializing that it was passed down to a THIRD generation. His daughter who had a baby recently now takes this infant to gravesite rituals. Having just lost my father I do understand the gravesite visits to some degree, but I also am VERY aware my father is not at the cemetary. Sure we will take flowers out on occasions, but I cannot see myself ritualizing these trips or insisting every special day be observed in this manner. The cemetery gives me no real comfort. Thinking of my father joyous in Heaven with the Lord does….

  3. I feel the same way Elaine about the gravesite. I don’t personally receive any comfort from sitting by a pile of dirt trying to make myself sad and neither does my husband. We don’t see the need to make this a ritual that is part of our family. We would rather remember their lives, remember the good times with the kids, and do something life giving (like plant a tree or something symbolic of their lives) rather than all trek out to the gravesite and stare sadly at a pile of dirt. Thanks for the comment.

  4. Your blog is incredibly uplifting and a wake up call to people who live in a past they cannot change. The future, however, can be changed for the good if we allow ourselves to be open to it. Be a healer rather than a dweller. -T

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