real life

'My best friend died. Three weeks later, her husband started dating again.'

You know those people who journey through grief with grace and thoughtfulness?

Yeah, that wasn’t me.

When my best friend died early last year, my grief was everything but graceful.

I was angry. Really f**king angry. I felt like the world owed me an explanation — or at least some sympathy. I couldn’t bring myself to be happy for anyone or anything around me.

To make matters worse, less than four weeks after she died, Henry, her widowed husband, started dating.

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She had warned me about this.

She knew Henry wouldn’t do well alone and would struggle to find his footing as a single dad of two once she was gone. I remember telling her he wouldn’t jump right into dating because he was far too cautious for that approach.

I was wrong. Grief had silenced his otherwise thoughtful brain and turned him into a total horn-dog.

He sent his kids away for weeks at a time to stay with their out-of-state relatives. He pranced women in and out of the house he had shared with his wife only weeks before — a house that was only a block from my own.

I promised her I would support Henry and the kids equally, but I found that more and more difficult with each woman he brought into their previously shared home. One night when I brought the kids home after spending the day exploring a local nature reserve, we all walked in on him making out with yet another nameless woman in their living room.

Their youngest child couldn’t process what she had seen and took off back down the street to my house. Their oldest slammed his door and refused to unlock it.

I snapped.

I was just barely holding it together and had been in that grief-stricken, frustrated, angry space for weeks. I couldn’t keep my mouth shut any longer.

My anger erupted, and Henry was my target.

I attacked him for moving on too quickly, for not loving Amy enough to keep his d*ck in his pants for a few months, and for being a selfish father.

I let him have it and then just turned around and left.

As I stomped my way down the street towards my own house, I felt the sadness of grief and the overwhelming high of white-hot rage surging through my body. Grief made me feel hopeless, but anger made me feel alive. I clung to that anger like a lifeline.

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I wish I could say I realised at that moment I needed to be understanding of the choices Henry was making. The truth is, I didn’t realise anything, and my anger was only solidified by letting him have a piece of my mind.

I hated him for what he was doing to her memory and the complications he added to his young children’s grief. I still can’t understand how he moved through his own grief so quickly and why he thought it was appropriate to bring other women into their home less than a month after her death.

I hate him, but I promised her I would support him.

Shortly after I lost my mind on Henry, the COVID-19 lockdowns began. I’ve sent messages and called to check-in, and I’ve remained part of the kids' lives — but we still haven’t talked about what happened.

He has continued to date, even during the lockdowns. Their kids still come over multiple times every week and talk about their dad and the different women he’s been dating.

I try my best to just ignore it.

We spend our time together playing, exploring, and talking about how amazing their mum was.

I still feel guilty for letting Amy down and not supporting her widowed husband the way we had both envisioned, but I’m trying to cut myself some slack.

For now, supporting their kids is the only way to help him and maintain my own sanity.

I think Amy would understand.

This post originally appeared on Medium and was republished here with full permission. 

You can read more from Bradlee Bryant on Medium. 

Feature Image: Getty.

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