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Slices of Life: D-I-V-O-R-C-E

I’m not sure why these thoughts came to me this morning, but they seemed profound. We all deal with loss and grief. I truly thought the loss of my husband was worse than any divorce could ever be. I’m sorry for that.

Jill Pertler
Jill Pertler
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I don’t know if this column will ever be published. Or better put, if I’ll have the nerve to publish it.

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It’s about divorce and I have no experience in that arena. I never divorced. In fact, I had a beautiful and wonderful marriage. My parents never divorced. No one in my immediate family has (so far) divorced.

So basically, I have no experience speaking on this subject.

Still I had a bit of a eureka about it today. And when I have a eureka, I often feel compelled to share.

So share I will.

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I am a widow. Sometimes people I know have compared a divorce to being a widow, and I’ve sort of taken offense to that.

Losing someone to death is nothing like losing someone to divorce. That is the truth.

But it’s only part of the truth.

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I was seeing this truth from my own perspective. My truth was more horrible than a divorce truth because how could something be anywhere equal to the death of your number one person?

Since my husband passed 17-plus months ago, I’ve often said that grief is not a contest. No one wants the grief trophy for having the biggest, hardest loss.

But I was only seeing loss as physical death. Divorce is also loss in the truest sense.

I came to this revelation this morning while making coffee. My husband always used to make the coffee and bring me a cup, so coffee holds a warm place in my heart. Making coffee made me think of him and fun memories came flooding back. I remembered funny things he used to do and say, and I found myself being so grateful for those memories.

I often share such memories with friends and especially my kids. We exchange them like trading cards. We like remembering together. It is a gift we share through our grief.

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And then it dawned on me: my husband died, but all the good memories we made and all the fun things we did are still there for us to review and revisit. That is a gift.

The people I know who experienced a divorce (for the most part) don’t have that gift.

They don’t reminisce about the good times. They don’t giggle about the silly things or cry happy tears about the touching things.

Somehow in the process of a divorce, your favorite person segues into one of your least favorite persons. I’m sure it’s a gradual process.

Still, every divorced couple (or nearly so) started out hopeful. They made memories. They laughed together. They were intimate. They had hopes and plans for the future. They were in love.

And then, I’m guessing, gradually things change. Paths for the future no longer advance in the same direction. Tempers may flare. The love dwindles. And somehow the person in the center of your life is no longer in your life at all — or at least as little as you can make them be.

And you both decide the “D” word is the way to go.

And in your life, the “D” doesn’t pertain to death, but the end of a marriage, and that might very well feel like failure. The memories you spent years making are still there, but they aren’t the same. The photos you took of happy family moments now have the “other” person in them and that is no longer you.

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It must be hard.

I’m not sure why these thoughts came to me this morning, but they seemed profound. We all deal with loss and grief. I truly thought the loss of my husband was worse than any divorce could ever be.

I’m sorry for that.

I can’t judge your loss, just like you can’t fathom mine. Loss is loss. Devastation is just that.

We are all struggling, yet we are all succeeding, hopefully more of the latter.

And we do best when we build each other up through whatever we are going through. I’m going to try to do more of that in the future.

Jill Pertler is an award-winning syndicated columnist, published playwright and author. Don’t miss a slice; follow the Slices of Life page on Facebook.

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