In this next writing, I am continuing with the theme of letting go. During the initial months following Roy’s death, the focus was not only on saying goodbye to his personal effects, it was also about saying goodbye to his physical presence in my daily life. I needed to understand, without his presence, all of our investments, finances, home upkeep, and the many legal aspects of our living trust and wills. I was faced with finding the inner wherewithal to devote time each day to my personal responsibilities, to Roy’s affairs, as well as stepping away from commitments that I could no longer honor at that time. I had to let go of a daily rhythm that I was familiar with and find balance in the chaos of losing Roy. I was faced with tending to my broken heart and an unfolding depression that was complicated and exhausting. Many days I didn’t want to get out of bed. I did not want to make all the decisions that I faced each day. I lost confidence in my sense of self as I didn’t know who I was without Roy.
I didn’t know this Kathleen who was so depressed and scared of life. I felt incompetent. In reality, a part of us also dies when we lose someone we love. I thought I was very strong and resilient and I learned that I was in the context of being with Roy, but not so much without him. For the next three years, I confronted the absence of Roy and slowly teased apart the threads of our enmeshed lives. I worked diligently to birth Kathleen A. Barry-widow and single woman-in order to come to a place of knowing who I aspired to be without Roy.
I was tasked with discovering what I wanted. We had so many dreams together and I didn’t have any that didn’t involve him. The dreams I had created for close to 25 years always included Roy. This part of the letting go journey was the hardest and longest part. It demanded that I adjust to the presence of his absence every day and somehow internalize him into my inner world-to create an inner Roy whom I could talk to when I was lonely and afraid. And at the same time I was creating a new inner Kathleen who had her own dreams and plans. So one year and a day after his death, I sold our home and moved to my own place.
In my next post, I will tell you how I created my new life and identity as a single woman.