You are, of course, permanently changed, but do not need to be permanently disabled. Some lose their partners unexpectedly and some after a long illness. Whatever the circumstances of your loss, I assure you that your future holds possibilities for peace and happiness. Not because you’ll “get over it” but because God has planted in you strengths you are not aware of and offers assurances of a continuing connection to your partner. He also promises a reunion with your spouse in the next life. This temporary separation includes opportunities to prepare for rather than just wait for this reunion.
“I will not leave you comfortless” says the Lord. (John 14:18) He provides this comfort through other people and through our own prayers and efforts.
“The Lord does good to everyone mainly through people, but in such a way that the person hardly recognizes that it is from the Lord through them.” Swedenborg
The Lord is the source of all that is good and true.
When we talk about the spirit of a person, we are not talking about something we can see or feel with our senses. We are talking about their character, nature or essence. Those qualities in them that we love or that affect us. When people die they take with them everything they are and leave behind their natural bodies. The teachings of the New Church tell us that the spirits of those we love remain with us. This is especially true of married partners who love each other deeply.
As we miss their daily presence we may wonder how we might experience this. In my widow/widowers group some speak of feeling the presence of their partners or of special dreams about them. They also speak of learning to know or understand their partners better by focusing on those things they took with them to the next world and stripping away things they left behind. In doing this they gained a deeper appreciation and love for them.
Some of the things they leave behind might include fears or attitudes or “baggage” that limited them. Also acquired family or cultural traits that may have interfered with their abilities to communicate or show affection. We all know people who have a gruff exterior and a heart of gold. The heart of gold is who they really are while the gruff exterior was a learned behavior that will be discarded.
By yourself or with others, fill these in –
Qualities you believe to be the true spirit of your partner in the spiritual world.
Things he or she left behind as part of their natural life.
“Conjugial love joins two souls and two minds into one.” Swedenborg
REFLECTIONS ON CHANGE
We can look back on our lives and recognize people or events that changed us. Things that changed our direction or changed who we were. Your life changed when you met and married your spouse and has now changed again in dramatic ways. Not a change you welcomed, but a change that can lead you to higher awareness and growth. You may feel diminished, that you have lost a part of yourself. The truth is that because of this change you can become more then you were, not less. Your marriage can continue if you wish it to, because bodies die, but love does not. There can be a continuation of the developing relationship you had with your spouse. True marriage is the joining of body, mind and spirit. When we first marry we experience a taste of what it could be like to be joined on all three levels. We feel the joy of doing good for the object of our love and putting their happiness above our own. Then cares and demands of the world intrude and our our selfish instincts sometimes rob us of these feelings of self-sacrificing love. The death of our spouse requires us to return to and depend on the conjunction of our minds and spirits. Not only in our memories but in a recognition of who they are and who we have become because of our marriage to them.
When your spouse dies you lose more than their physical presence. You may also lose your identity, security, companionship, circle of friends, daily routines or other things that you must adjust to. This changes what you do and where you go and how you live your life. There may be rocky times as you sort out these changes and find a new normal.
Your relationship with God and beliefs may be challenged and changed. Your interest in the afterlife may be heightened. When someone we love is there it makes us want to know more about it and what we need to do in anticipation of being reunited.
The most important marriage work we can do is to regenerate. To do everything we can to follow the Lord’s lead.
CONSIDER THESE TEACHINGS
“To spiritual eyes it is plainly clear that they cannot be torn apart by either’s death.” Conjugial Love 321:6
When away from one another, while both in this world, we may have missed each other or have been worried or sad, but we were not “torn” apart. When we are separated by the death of one it may bring pain that can be likened to a tearing or severing. This is of course is because we know they will not return to us physically. It takes time and effort to look at this separation with our “spiritual eyes” and realize we are not severed. We are still linked.
“After death, we enjoy every sense, memory, thought, and affection we had in the world: we leave nothing behind except our earthly body. “ Heaven and Hell 461
Try to imagine your partner as he or she awakened in the spiritual world. His or her memories, thoughts and affections must have been with loved ones on earth. Most certainly with you. Know that he/she was tenderly cared for and led to see the bigger plan – the eternal plan for you both.
“Everyone knows that a married pair who love each other are intimately united and that the essence of marriage is the union of spirits or minds. People might therefore realize that the essential nature of the spirits or minds determines the nature of the union and the nature of the love the two have for each other. . . . the union of minds depends entirely on the quality of the true and good elements that constitute those minds.” Heaven and Hell 375
In the next life we are reunited and discover the quality of our love and whether we will remain married partners. We may also come to realize this on the death of our partner or prior to this.
“Whether to contract matrimony again after the death of a married partner” depends on a number of things Conjugial Love 317
There is no civil or church law that prohibits remarriage. This is a personal decision and can be an appropriate choice. However, caution is advised in the first year on this and other major decisions.
A suggestion from my book “Comfort & Hope”
Find a quiet time and place to complete these sentences to you spouse.
I am grateful you have been a part of my life because . . .
A quality of yours that continues to affect me is . . .
A memory I treasure about us is . . .
I regret that . . .
I hope you know that . . .
The most difficult part of life without your physical presence is . . .
I think you might want me to . . .
I am trying to . . .
My prayer for today is . . .