Sunday, September 26, 2010

Widowhood: A Puzzle

I heard a speaker at a conference today who made me think about widowhood in a new way. He said life is like a puzzle. Until the end of life, we’re all unfinished puzzles. How are we going to put the pieces together?

After we lose someone we love, the pieces will never fit together in the same way again. A piece we used to have will forever be missing. So we have to find a way to reassemble the parts that are left.

Some of us begin looking for a piece to replace the one that’s gone by entering a new relationship. It won’t be the same as the one that’s gone, but for some, it may be a good fit. Others don’t even want to think of replacing that empty space, but they still must struggle to build a life around that hole. How? I met a widow recently who fills her life with activity—day trips, bridge games, lunches—yet though they fill her time, they don’t seem to heal the emptiness. Another widow I know stays at home, unable to push herself back into the world. She’s unhappy about it but she can’t make that leap into single life, at least not yet. Others accept that life won’t be the same but rearrange the pieces of their puzzle to make the best of it. Who else is part of each widow’s picture? Children? Aging parents? Friends? Other family members? Are they supportive or unsupportive? Do they add responsibilities or make life easier? That, too, will influence the way a widow shuffles the puzzle pieces to come up with a new design.

I wonder what each of you has done with your unfinished puzzle. And what does your puzzle depict? A lone tree with bare branches? A butterfly slowly emerging from a cocoon? A garden beginning to bloom? An empty house? I think mine is a turtle peeking out of its shell and creeping forward.

May all of us keep working at our puzzles until the final moment, when the design is complete.

Comments are always welcome, so please leave one.


Widow in the Middle said... [Reply to comment]

Thelma, thank you so much for sharing this. I really like the imagery of a puzzle and the pieces being put together. I have never heard of this idea and it is so fitting. What is really strange is that for a couple of months now I have been wanting to get some jigsaw puzzles to put together. Just an interesting connection. I've been hoping to find a pretty fall design - there is something very appealing and healing about working on such a puzzle right now.

Widow in the Middle said... [Reply to comment]

Maybe completing such a puzzle will inspire me to believe that my world can be rebuilt and reconfigured, one puzzle piece at a time. Even those ones that are so darned hard to find a place for!

thelmaz said... [Reply to comment]

What a wonderful thought.
Surprisingly, the speaker I heard was a young man in his twenties at a dyslexia workshop who said as a kid he always felt he was a part that didn't fit into the puzzle.

I hope you'll come back Thursday. I'm going to review a book that really is inspiring.


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