Widow Miriam Neff talks about emptiness in her new book WHERE DO I GO FROM HERE?

“Empty is usually uncomfortable.  There are a handful of very human tendencies for filling the void when we sense that empty space, that yawning place left vacated by our loss.

We hoard.  We accumulate, often at great expense to our wallet and reducing the comfort of our living space.  Retail therapy is shopping with the primary purpose of improving the buyer’s mood or disposition.  Often seen in people during periods of depression or transitions, it is normally a short-lived habit.  Items purchased during periods of retail therapy are sometimes referred to as ‘comfort buys’.  The dangerous tipping point from therapy to hoarding is when we get stuck in depression and don’t make a healthy transition.

We hand out.  We give, hoping that we might get something in return that will make us feel better.  A better word might be bribe.  A young widow or widower may overindulge children, hoping to compensate for the absent parent with things.  The widow or widower of adult children indulges those adults with things or events, hoping to keep them even closer, filling some of the void left after losing their spouse.  That empty space is large and widowed people want more of their children rather than less.  That expectation asks for disappointment.

We hunger.  We consume our favorite comfort foods or relational fixes.  Those relational fixes are never really quick.  There are always residual regrets or strings attached.  Taking to satisfy is incomplete at best and destructive at worst.  Only mutual give-and-take satisfies.

We hide.  Rather than let others see us wounded, we withdraw.  Hiding may also be an attempt to not subject ourselves to another loss.  The risk of being wounded again is just too great.

We hibernate.  Our hiding time becomes long, not temporary.  We avoid the harsh climate of life by not participating in the human race.

Have you found yourself doing any of these things since the loss of your husband?

3 responses

  1. Every one of them to some degree or another! Thankfully it has leveled out since I “remembered” that God is the only “filling” for the “empty”.


  2. Every one of them. Sometimes moving from one to another within 24 hours. I still feel my homes is the safest place in the world. Managed to go back to work two weeks ago, finally have managed to temporary leave my safest refuge -my home. Decided today that I can interact with the world again by starting to walk hoping to shed off some pounds, gained when I constantly stayed in my nest.


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