Life Divided into ‘Before’ and ‘After’ – the Language of Loss


Have you noticed your references – ‘before’ and ‘after’ your loved one passed away? It seems to be a natural default for the widowed, especially when the loss is fresh. We view the past through the lens of grief; our mourning reflected in our language.

Though the words didn’t change (‘before Robert died…’), eventually the phrase didn’t get caught in my throat. Acceptance set in, the terminology began sounding more organic. And I’ve been very fortunate to have adopted another reference:  ‘since meeting Billy…’ The words sound so lovely, that my lips can’t help but say them with a smile.

But well ‘before Billy,’ I was able to put my past into perspective. Actually, I found myself deliberately not referencing my late husband, the barometer shifting from Robert’s death to Paula’s life.

Regardless of where the road takes you and who you meet along the way, you reach a phase that’s peaceful. Comforting. (So this is what ‘moving on’ feels like.) You don’t need to have found love after loss to get there. In fact, I suspect most of us need to start with ‘me’ before finding ourselves in another ‘we.’ Robert will always be a part of my past; but I no longer need the language of loss to define my life.



2 thoughts on “Life Divided into ‘Before’ and ‘After’ – the Language of Loss

  1. This is beautiful, Paula. And very accurate. I may not have lost a spouse, but I lost a mom. And just this past week, I heard myself say, “When my mom passed away last year…,” and actually paused because it was easier to say than it had been just a month ago. (Although right now I’m crying…) 🙂

    • Thanks for your lovely words, Dina. I think it’s comforting for all of us to hear from others who have lost someone so close, spouse or parent. Your tears are a testament to your mother’s unending love and wonderful life. 🙂

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