Feeling Small

When you have a long-term relationship with someone, you are involved with something that is both you and bigger-than-you. By definition, love and a deep connection to another makes you bigger than you are, expanding your self beyond the barrier of your skin. After he dies, your grief is so enormous that it, too, expands beyond your self, filling some of the empty space he left behind.

And then one day, your grief shrinks into the confines of your body, and all you are left with is you and the unfilled empty space around you, and you begin to feel very small. Doing something to fill in that empty space doesn’t really help because you can’t replace something you were, such as being part of a couple or feeling grief, with something you do, such as volunteer work.

That’s where I am right now — feeling small — as if I am wearing clothes way too big for me. I miss being part of something that expands beyond my self, miss feeling as if I am part of something important.

I still have importance, of course. I am important in my 95-year-old father’s life — he needs someone to stay with him so he can continue to maintain his independence. I am important in my siblings’ lives since my being here with my father gives them peace of mind. I’m important to those who find comfort in my words. I am important to those I do volunteer work for. And yet . . . and yet . . .

My whole life has been a search for meaning, and somehow the importance of the quest is eluding me. I hope life has meaning — I’d hate for my mate’s death to be the end of what he was — but I no longer have any great desire to find out what that meaning is. If there is meaning, it’s there whether I search for it or not.

I sound as if I’m feeling sorry for myself, don’t I? But I’m not, or at least, not very. One day, this shrunken me will feel normal, and I might even forget that once I was more than I am. But until then . . . I’m just me, and right now that doesn’t feel like it’s enough.

11 Responses to “Feeling Small”

  1. Deborah Owen Says:

    “My whole life has been a search for meaning, and somehow the importance of the quest is eluding me.”

    The goal isn’t the goal. The journey itself is the goal. It will form one day at a time.

    “I’d hate for my mate’s death to be the end of what he was… ”

    It isn’t. He lives on in you and those whose lives he touched. I wish I had known him.

    “I sound as if I’m feeling sorry for myself, don’t I?”

    No. You sound like a woman in pain, surviving in the only way you know how. You’re doing good.

    “One day, this shrunken me will feel normal, and I might even forget that once I was more than I am.”

    The pain will be more tolerable over a period of time. Like a woman that suffers the pangs of childbirth, after a while, you’ll remember that it hurt terribly, but the pain will be more distant. You will live again. You may even love again, but no one will take his place. He was a lucky man to have a wife like you. You’re going to make it because you’re a fighter.

    Hugs during these terribly hard times. Deb

  2. joylene Says:

    After reading Deborah’s reply, I don’t think I could add anything else. Well said, Deborah. Thank you. Because even though you’re speaking to Pat, it feels as if you’re speaking to me too.

    • Deborah Owen Says:

      Actually, I was speaking to every widow – not just Pat. I don’t have to be a widow to know that certain patterns of life hold true in all circumstances. The darker the hour, the harder it is to see. Sometimes the obvious escapes us at times like that. Blessings to all. Deb

      • Pat Bertram Says:

        But the fact is, you are not a widow, so you do not know what it feels like. With a bit of luck, you will never know. But it’s a bit presumptuous of you to offer advice about something you have never experienced. I don’t mean to sound harsh, but the problem with having lost a mate is that everyone thinks they know what you are going through, but the only people who have a clue are those who have been there. If you haven’t been there, you cannot understand the tsunami of physical and emotional horrors that beset you. It has nothing to do with rationality or reality. It happens at a level you don’t even know you had in you. And it eases in its own time.

  3. AnnNoE Says:

    I am a widow, and I don’t remember feeling that way. Maybe because I had to carry on for my children. But I recognize the feeling – I have it right now. What I lost was my youth, and I’m feeling very small indeed. I feel like this very old person who means very llitle, and I no longer feel the urge to raise my head find a higher purpose.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      Having dependent children makes a difference. You have to continue on for their sake, and it gives you a purpose. Those without such responsibilities, such as those whose children are grown, are left feeling rudderless. I’ve noticed that most women who go to grief support groups are those without small children.

      People think it’s easy to continue when you’re no longer needed by those close to you, but it isn’t. I hope eventually we adjust to our new size and circumstances.


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