My sister was married to a wonderful man 8 years ago. They’d dated for two years before getting married and the future seemed bright..until he died while serving overseas.
My sister was absolutely crushed. 8 years have passed the issue that I have is that she refuses to let go of him. She still celebrates his birthday, she still celebrates their anniversary, and it’s like, to her, he is not really gone. She dated a guy about a year ago and things were going well until she made such a point to celebrate the birthday and anniversary. He couldn’t handle it and left.
How do you recommend I help her start living life again?
There is a part of the movie “Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium” that I really think explains my philosophy on this.
Here it is:
Magorium: When King Lear dies in Act V, do you know what Shakespeare has written? He’s written “He dies.” That’s all, nothing more. No fanfare, no metaphor, no brilliant final words. The culmination of the most influential work of dramatic literature is “He dies.” It takes Shakespeare, a genius, to come up with “He dies.” And yet every time I read those two words, I find myself overwhelmed with dysphoria. And I know it’s only natural to be sad, but not because of the words “He dies.” but because of the life we saw prior to the words.
[pause, walks over to Molly Mahoney]
Magorium:I’ve lived all five of my acts, Mahoney, and I am not asking you to be happy that I must go. I’m only asking that you turn the page, continue reading… and let the next story begin. And if anyone asks what became of me, you relate my life in all its wonder, and end it with a simple and modest “He died.”
It’s really a great scene.
I believe life is a series of connections and that we are all here to improve as many lives as we possibly can. Once we’ve connected with enough people, and they’ve connected, and so on, we move on.
Your sister seems to be focusing on the loss rather than realizing that the man she loved connected with her and made her feel loved, but also helped many others along the way. I don’t know the circumstances of his death, but he may have even died saving others. He died. I say celebrate the life before the death and move on with your own life.
As far as the celebrating the anniversary and the birthday, it may be because she feels it’s the only thing she can control in all of this. The “new guy” may have left because she didn’t explain what was going on with her deceased husband. She had obviously moved on enough to let someone else into her life, so it may just take some effort on her part to communicate that this is something she is working on getting past.
Death affects us all in different ways, but it’s the refusal to let go that will limit how far your own life can go. Drop me a line (or have her drop me a line) if you need anything else.