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Beacon Senior News

The widower’s effect—surviving a broken heart

Jan 25, 2021 04:09PM ● By Wendell Fowler
A Broken heart

I now understand how a person could die of a broken heart. 

On the first day of spring, a year after her cancer diagnosis, kissing her forehead as I held her hand and surrounded by family, the love of my life exhaled for the last time. Her energy followed the light of love to shine where she’s needed elsewhere in the star-filled universe. Her mission in this realm, complete. 

Yes, writing this was hard and the tears were flowing, but it’s good for me to get it out. I’m shattered, empty, incomplete, isolated and alone, fighting depression and living in a vacuum. A “drug” I took for 30 years is gone and the withdrawal is indescribable, gut-wrenching grief. Her toothbrush, cotton balls, hairbrush and robe that remain in our bathroom—my bathroom, now—are remnants of a life that no longer exists. 

No fluffy platitudes can ease the heart-shattering pain. The truth is, my Angel Eyes is gone forever, and I’ll never embrace her physical vessel again. That alone is enough to send one down the rabbit hole of depression and futility. There’s no vaccine for grief.

Add the no hugging, social distancing and isolation of the pandemic, and we have the perfect conditions for a storm of depression, immune suppression, poor nutrition, self-care apathy, drug and alcohol abuse and, potentially, death. Responses of grief and bereavement due to the loss of a spouse increases vulnerability to psychological and physical illnesses. 

The increased probability of a person dying shortly after their long-time spouse has died, known as the widower’s effect, appears to be far more prevalent in older married couples. Research shows that the risk is highest in the three to six months after the death of the spouse, as widows are forced to go through often unanticipated changes.

My personal practice for not yielding to the widowers effect is accepting the truth that everything’s a choice and I co-create my reality. So I’m shedding old paradigms and putting the intention out to the universe that this will not happen. (As ye think, so shall ye be.) I’m determined not to give up on or neglect myself: to eat well, not fall into unhealthy habits, exercise, take my meds, meditate, breathe, stay divinely connected, balanced, bathe in family love and welcome community support. 

After 30 years of our oneness, my twin flame doesn’t want me to give up while she patiently waits for me beyond the veil we cannot see. She wants me to go on and live life to the fullest. Life’s a miraculous precious gift, in which suffering and change are certain. But it takes all the energy, intention and coping mechanisms in my emotional toolbox.

I recognize grieving is an expression of love and the intensity of grief is proportional to the love we have for each other. Because we’re internal and love is eternal, her physical vessel is all that died. Her energetic essence lives on eternally. Why would I seek closure? I’d prefer to bathe in knowing that her energy field from another unseen dimension accompanies me wherever I am. I am Sandi, and she is in me.

She sees the world through my eyes, interested in what I eat, wear, think and feel. I love knowing we can still have fun communicating on another level. When I need her, all l need is to think of her, be a receiver, tune into the frequency of her unconditional loving energy, and she’ll always be there. Sometimes when I’m quiet, totally present in the moment, a knowing takes over and I can sense her soft, gentle essence as I align to the frequency of our eternal love. Like Sir Issac Newton discovered, like energies are attracted to like energies. But it’s not easy.

In the year prior, I endured the double jeopardy of caregiving and then home hospice. A study by researchers at Harvard Medical School and the University of Pennsylvania shows the impact of a spouse’s illness on his or her partner’s health can be as bad as or worse than it would be if the spouse had died. So far, I’ve physically recovered, although the stress took its toll and aged me.

I’ve read that stress can induce illness and depression. The resulting poor health can further decrease the effectiveness of the caregiver, and in some cases, even cause premature death. One study found that the caregivers of Alzheimer’s patients had a 63 percent higher death rate than the control group. So, if you are a caregiver, make sure to ask for help.

Kind folks comment that I’m doing remarkably well...considering. I credit my spiritual journey in life, the one Sandi and eagerly I traveled together. We grew in leaps and bounds. Sitting on the porch, we’d often muse, “Wonder what’s beyond death? Well, we’ll never know till it happens.” Little did I know she’d cross over first. 

I wait for the time we can soar together again. Until that day, I’ll tune in to your gentle whispers. Fly on, Angel Eyes.