Sex and the City: Desires don’t die

I was to be married. My fiancé died less than a month before the wedding by drowning in the resort swimming pool at his own bachelor’s party. He had mixed his drinks and did some risky antics in the pool. I am angry with him for his foolish actions that ended our dreams. I am very sad and miss his presence in my life. I am anxious about life without him and of having to be with someone who I may not be able to love and have sex with. I feel guilty with the thought that I may actually move on with someone else. How do I process all this? Please help. 

- The grief process exacts a heavy price and the only currency it accepts is ‘time’. Allow me to offer you both my condolences and some clarity to aid you to process these emotions. To miss those who leave us is to be human so if you need time to process your fiancé’s tragic demise – then by all means – you should take the time to gather yourself again (regardless of what anyone says to you). 

Despite the unfortunate circumstances of his passing, you need to remind yourself that there was nothing you could have done to prevent his unfortunate demise. You are NOT to blame. You couldn’t predict that this would happen. To sit around feeling like a victim may feel natural at this point but if you’re going to survive this, you’re going to have to be very direct and rational with yourself. Focus on your personal recovery with all that you’ve got. You had a life before you met your fiancé and you will continue to have a life now that he’s not around anymore.

To miss him is a part of your recovery process so don’t try and censor those emotions for now. Getting married is a secondary concern at this stage so let’s park that worry for a while. Love will find you when you’re ready to move on and that is a process you’re going to have to be patient with. Love can’t be added to cart. It has to be discovered, worked on and negotiated with a like-minded person. Currently, you’re still in a state of shock with what happened in addition to feeling many other emotions. No doubt, there is a vacuum that his passing has left. 

What you describe as his ‘foolish actions’ cost him his life and have understandably complicated things for you. This is unpleasant though not permanent. Tragedy and adversity tests our resilience and are often the best place for us to really test our grit and resolve. Human beings are a resilient species. We’ve survived epidemics, climate change, wars, genocides, natural disasters and several socio-political and economic instabilities. We survived as a species — not only because we could – but because we simply ‘had to’ if we wanted to continue living. We may spend a great amount of time groping through the dark sometimes – to get out on the other side but once we’ve had the time to mull over our lives – we realise how we’ve truly come through for ourselves. Great summits are scaled one step at a time. 

People learn to move with the times and yet time may appear to have stood still when it hurts this much. In that context, when people ask us to ‘move on’ from a tragic event, it’s not the same thing as ‘moving forward’ with it. To ‘move on’ is to emotionally relegate a memory to a ‘closed box’ almost censoring the memory. To ‘move forward with’ is to preserve and cherish the many memories and moments that you’ve lived through with the person you’ve lost. This celebrates the essence of their existence and all that they showed you about yourself and the world. There can be no better way to cherish a person’s life — even when their absence leaves a gaping void that feels horrible and choking. Let such moments come and go.  Understand that regardless of how you feel about it, all matter is transient. Kingdoms, palaces, temples, regimes and great leaders have all succumbed to the vagaries of time. What was once undefeatable was brought to its knees.

Obsolescence, death, disease and sometimes freak accidents can thwart many a ‘perfect plan’ and therefore as much as we’d like to believe that we as human beings have it all ‘figured out’ – life will often throw us a curve ball that becomes hard to anticipate...let alone catch! Your anger towards your departed fiancé can be termed as a deeply felt sense of disappointment even though disappointment sounds like a milder word when a plan doesn’t go through.

You’re free to feel that way but it would be wise to empathize with the fact that every ‘bad idea’ in retrospect may seem like ‘the fun thing to do’ in the moment.  You owe yourself happiness so that you’re emotionally and physically fit enough to go after all your personal ambitions and dreams. Your dreams haven’t ended. They are merely recalibrating based on what you’re going through. Grief counselling would be an excellent starting point for you to be able to fully process these feelings further.