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Mourning the End of My Marriage

Mourning the End of My Marriage

Is it okay to grieve the dreams you'll never realize?
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Do I have a right to grieve the loss of dreams I was never promised?

As my marriage withers to an unceremonious end, that's one of the questions with which I now wrestle. Depending on the day of the week, I waffle between mourning the dreams that will now never be realized—feeling at times justified and at other times guilty for what could be perceived as entitlement—and feeling pretty grateful for the life I've led.

The days my emotional boat stays afloat, I'm grateful for all I've enjoyed. My physical needs have always been met. I share life with three incredible kids. Now 12, 13, and 15, I marvel at how remarkable each one is. (They're actually sort of delightful.) I was afforded an incredible education. Professionally, I love the work I get to do as a writer, editor, and speaker. Many days I do it in the comfort of my pink and green polka dot pajamas. I have steadfast friends who've walked with me for decades and ones who've joined the journey and supported me during this most recent bumpy season.

The days I'm sinking, though—the days when I'm pushing a grocery cart toward the checkout line and am suddenly gripped by a sadness that takes my breath away—I do mourn the future I'll never see.

I won't press shoulders against my husband as we sit together in a pew when our kids get married.

If and when grandkids visit, I won't turn to my husband and recall the way the baby's father also did that funny crawl with one knee and one foot, or how her mother also used surprisingly big words that no three-year-old should know.

I won't celebrate my 50th wedding anniversary with someone who remembers me when I was 23.

I won't celebrate my 50th wedding anniversary with someone who remembers me when I was 23. And for that matter, I won't whisper and giggle with someone beside me in bed about how crazy it is that we're those old people that our grandparents used to be.

On my difficult days, I grieve that I won't share life with a partner who's shared my life.

The bigger picture

Yet as someone who cares deeply about the suffering of a larger world in need, I'm aware that the death of my Norman Rockwell fantasies aren't as tragic as they feel. In a world where mothers struggle to feed their babies and fathers' strong bodies are attacked by cancer, I haven't forgotten others who suffer.

And, in fact, this season has softened my heart to many in my own web of relationships whose lives have also not unfolded the way they'd once imagined:

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Margot Starbuck

Margot Starbuck is a TCW regular contributor. Follow her on Twitter @MargotStarbuck.

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From Issue:
Today's Christian Woman, 2014, July Week 1
Posted July 2, 2014

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Dream Big

Dream Big

You never know where God will lead you.

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JENNIFER Kegler

July 07, 2014  3:10pm

Your question is so similar to mine. I had always wanted to have children, but when the door firmly closed, it wasn't UNTIL I realized I could and should grieve that I could even begin to heal. I felt guilty that I was grieving for something that had never existed, yet in reality, the dream had always existed if only in my head. When a kind Christian friend told me that I needed that time to grieve children who would never be born, it really allowed me to voice my hurts and to bring them to God. I still grieve at times, and sometimes it hits when I least expect it, but I also have learned to be thankful for what I do have, similar to the many other situations that you listed. Thanks for putting this into words.

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norma

July 05, 2014  10:53pm

I found that during the ending of my 32 year "Christian" marriage, that Griefshare was an excellent way for me to process the loss of a dream, as I termed it back in 2004. The devotionals were so comforting to me, the group empathy and just being with others was helpful. So many sat in judgment of the hardest decision of my life as there had been no adultery. Idols come in all forms and my husbands addictions that pushed me out of his life just got the best of me. Blame was a familiar tactic he used to remain in his sickness. I had just had enough. Loss of a dream and grieving? Yes! As long as we don't get bitter.

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Suzanne Burden

July 05, 2014  4:38pm

All so very true. I was reminded recently by a friend that the words "you need to get over this" are never helpful. Never. We all need to grieve loss—and that grief and loss is so tailored to an individual and her circumstances—that I have found myself allowing a wide berth. Redirection, new goals, gratitude for blessings, yes, of course. But grief must have its season for the health of our souls. May healing rain down, my friend.

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