Dear Dr. Archer,
I lost my wife last year to breast cancer after 36 wonderful years of marriage! I am seeing a therapist and I also go to a weekly grief-share support group, but I still have trouble not thinking of her constantly, and wishing I had done some things differently before she passed!
I'm not suicidal, but I am so very lonely without my best friend.
Please accept my deepest condolences on the lost of your beloved wife. Your sorrow and anguish come across through your letter, and I have no doubt you loved her deeply. You were both very lucky and blessed to have had each other 36 years.
Hindsight is always 20/20, Rex. After an event, especially when it involves the death of someone we love, it is always easy to look back and say 'I should have done this,' or 'I should have done that more often.' It's natural.
You have loved ones telling you that you must move on, while you simply find it so difficult making it through the day. Again, that's normal, healthy and part of the grieving process.
I'm glad to hear you're in therapy and a member of a support group. These are invaluable and you're with people who are going through the same thing. A year has passed, and it still hurts. Another year will pass and it will get easier. Time is the best healer of all and each person grieves at his own pace. There is no magic time limit. Just be patient, and allow yourself to heal.
I advise my patients to think about what their deceased loved one would want for them, so I ask you would your wife want you to live every day, make the most of your life and be happy and productive or would she want you to mourn her to the point of in-activity?
You know the answer to that and I will tell you that a year of full time grieving is enough. Time for you to start living again, one day at a time. I know you can do it.
Move through your days, and remember your wife with fondness and love. Reflect on those good times, while at the same time, do not being afraid to enjoy the present. It's okay to laugh and it's okay to take a walk and enjoy a beautiful day. I know she remains in your heart, and it doesn't mean you love her any less.
The main thing I can tell you, Rex, is to always remain true to yourself and remember your wife while embracing your future. We all get so few years in this life, maybe 80 if we’re lucky. Make the rest of yours count. I wish you peace and joy in your life.