The days following the death of my husband was like a major reunion. There was a constant flow of people in my home. Some of these people I had not seen for many years. Others I had just seen the day before. But they came and they came and they came. Sometimes one group would overlap with another.
It was so wonderful. The visits did so much for me. First and foremost, I was so pleased that people respected my husband enough to get in a car and drive to my house and spend time with me, honoring my husband. It takes energy to visit someone. You have to carve out time in a busy schedule. You have to drive to our house which is not on the beaten path to anywhere. Then you have to go into an unknown environment. Will this be a group of crying people or will you feel uncomfortable? It is not easy to be a visitor.
The visits were a great distraction for me. I could focus on the people coming through my door. I was meeting new people. I was reconnecting people of my past. Friends of my children, colleagues of my children, friends of my childhood, persons that we worship with at our church, neighbors, friends that we partied with as my husband and I were a young couple, friends that I went to school with and people that we had known forever.
Having people to focus on allowed me to move off of the sadness and the sense of loss. We told “remember when” stories. We updated information about jobs, children, homes, hobbies, retirement and activities. We laughed, joked and had a good time. The visits were a great time to breathe, and act as if nothing had happen.
The visits were also a glimpse of my new world. I was entertaining guests without my husband. Something that I had not done for almost 53 years. My new social group was myself and my adult children. I was reconnecting with people that would properly play a role in my new life. I did not grasp that at the time but it was a gentle introduction to my future.
The visits also let the time move by rapidly. I cannot imagine sitting alone after a tragedy and counting the hours until a memorial service. At a time like this everything stops. Your regular routine does not exist anymore. Appointments are cancelled, and daily activities are not conducted. Time hangs in the air. Visits keep you occupied and moves you through the days.
I am so thankful to people for the decision to visit me and my family. I was very surprised at the number of people that came. But I was so happy when they came. I was reconnected to people of the past, and I was connected to new people. I know how much energy and effort it took to visit and I want people to know how important it is to visit. It is therapeutic for both parties.
God made us to be social. We know that babies will not develop if they are held in isolation. And especially when our world is threatened or destroyed, we have a need to be social. Reaching out and connecting pulls us through the worst of events.