I grew up with somewhat traditional rules around grief.
When a close relative passed away, there was no dancing allowed in the house, no music for a period of time and no hosting of large celebratory occasions like a wedding for a year.
Many people of European descent, like my Ukrainian family, can likely identify with what I'm referring to.
By the time I was in my early twenties, most of my relatives had died. And over the ensuing decades of my life, I hadn't grieved the loss of someone close to me til my mother-in-law's passing once I was married and already a mother myself.
So when my husband was diagnosed with a terminal illness in 2016 at only 47 years of age, he said something to me that I often share with others.
He said, "When I die, I want you to be happy and live your life."
At the time, Adam was responding positively to treatments for Glioblastoma (GBM), a form of brain cancer. The prognosis for gbm is not favourable with the average life expectancy being only 15 months.
Because he was doing well, I scoffed at his statement and told him that he wasn't going anywhere and that he was just being silly.
Adam lived til February of 2020 and passed at the age of 51.
Prior to his death, and before he lost mental capacity, Adam spoke with me again about his wish for me and the children to not mourn him but move forward in our lives.
He gave us that permission which I feel is one of the biggest selfless acts a person can offer to their partner and family.
The pandemic occurred only a few weeks following Adam's funeral. During those quiet months, my children and I made plans to eventually travel and get back to our routines like school, work and activities.
We were making a life without him, but with him in mind.
Even years later, Adam's words have stuck in the back of my mind. And I'll always remain grateful that he has helped us to find our paths forward without him.
He has allowed us to laugh, love and live without guilt. And guilt of moving forward is what sometimes holds many widows and widowers back from discovering our next chapters.
What an injustice it is for me to meet another widow who hasn't been able to move on from their grief.
Is it because their person didn't give them permission to move forward? Hopefully they can come to a point where they can grant it to themselves and embrace exciting moments in their life again.
For those who are in a marriage or common law partnership, and haven't told your person that you'd want them to find happiness again after your passing, tell them today.
It's a gift that you will give them that they will carry forever.