Divorce and Death: What Was, What Could Have Been

I imagined sitting in a lawyer’s office giving depositions to finalize my divorce would be nothing less than tortuous.

Have you been separated for more than a year? Yes.

Is there any chance for reconciliation? No.

How could such questions—monotonous and unnervingly devoid of emotion—not cause me to collapse in sorrow? Two reasons.

These final proceedings took place two years into my separation, long after I realized that my strength and identity came from my own abilities and desires, not from what I expected or received from others.

The day I sat in the cold lawyer’s office came one week to the day after my family learned of my oldest brother’s suicide.

When suffering a loss as sudden and painful as the death of my brother, all other life events tend to find their way into an obscure focus. Call is a new reality. Call it coping. Call it grief.

Death gives life more consequence and other losses less importance. Death causes some daily actions and interactions to make more sense, while others become forever insensible.

When my husband and I separated, I cried for the story I now could never tell—of a couple who met in our twenties and loved each other till our hair turned gray and our children had children. Till death do us part.

I mourned for my child’s loss—of a “normal” life where mommy and daddy live together and work together to make a good life for the family. For richer or for poorer.

I longed for a love I now realized I never had—of someone who deemed even my faults worth attention and my desires worth fulfilling. In sickness and in health.

I realized I could make a perfectly good, actually better, life for my son and I after leaving a situation that deprived me of genuine intimacy and honest partnership.

When my brother died, I had a similar experience. Again, I mourned what I thought should’ve been.

I wanted the efforts of my family and me to get him to stop drinking and love himself to be effective. I wanted our pleas for him to help himself to be heard. I wanted the light inside of him to spark again.

I don’t expect to come to terms with his suicide the same way I’ve been able to put my divorce in perspective. Going to his funeral, visiting his grave, celebrating life milestones without him is nothing less than tortuous.

I refuse to focus on what was, or what could have been. I choose to focus on what is.

Have I fully experienced love so I realize what I’ve lost when a loved one leaves? Yes.

Have I fully known sadness so I truly appreciate a happy moment? Yes.

Have I been fully vulnerable so I realize my strength? Yes.

I must focus on my now—this present moment in time—without reliving the losses of divorce or re-learning the lessons of death.

2 Responses to “Divorce and Death: What Was, What Could Have Been”
  1. Susan Sili says:

    “I longed for a love, I now realized I never had”. I was a little older than you when I learned this lesson and at the same time in succession lost most of my family to illness. The deal is to keep remembering the lesson and not let the other stuff get in the way as life goes on. God and the universe were merciful and I found my love, not a person who completed me, I am already complete but one who was my true soulmate, a match made in as close to heaven as one can get on earth. So glad I found this site, I had been keeping up with you on facebook but just found this today. Lots of love to you and Nasir!

    • Susan,

      Thank you so much for writing! I’m glad you found my blog. It’s a great place to share experiences and to realize we are not alone in the challenges we face. I always appreciated your love story and the kindness you and Jeff show one another. I agree that it’s not about finding someone who completes you but finding someone who complements you. Love yourself first and you will know when someone comes along who is worth your time and attention.

      We are well and thanks again for stopping by.


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