Disclaimer: Before I write about this movie, I do want to say that the movie is rated PG13 with good reason. I certainly do not endorse many things in the movie nor do I see them as healthy grieving. Read the reviews before you see the movie. Also, what I write will spoil the movie for some of you. You know who you are so read no further.
Grief, like childbirth or other life experiences, is unique and different for every single person. Even so, sometimes we are encouraged by another person’s story. When we hear stories of similar reactions or responses, we began to realize that we aren’t crazy and that life will get better. The movie, PS I Love You, made me think back to my grief when Dale died.
I would have loved getting random letters for a year! As it was, I reread all of the letters that Dale sent me for two years while I was in college. I reread them in the first few months after his death and tried to discipline myself to only read a few per day. I was so grateful to have them! It was also a strange coincidence that for Valentine’s Day and our anniversary, I got flowers given to me for the first several years. They were not from the same friends. The givers did not realize how special their gift was to me. One time I was just in a grocery store on Valentine’s Day and they were giving out roses! I pretended that God was caring for me and reminding me that I had been loved.
In the movie PS I Love You, I related a bit to Holly watching old love movies. I had a song on a cassette that I played over and over. It was called, He Who Began a Good Work in You. One line said, You are His treasure and He finds pleasure in you. When you are a widow, you feel like no will ever treasure you again and find pleasure in you. It was good to hear that God loved me and I wanted to believe it so I played the song over and over and when I was alone, I sang the words.
Holly felt Gerry’s presence and then grieved for that feeling when it was becoming dimmer. For maybe up to a year after Dale died, I still felt his presence. I didn’t talk to anyone really about sensing it because I knew they would think it was weird. Much later, I talked to some other widows and realized that they had the same experience. It was assuring to know that I was not crazy.
I liked wearing Dale’s t-shirts as night shirts and I kept his last bottle of cologne and put it on night shirts to smell him and remember him for a very long time—years. I understood in the movie that Holly would want to wear Gerry’s jacket.
I sometimes had trouble receiving and rejoicing over others good news especially pregnancy, or birth of a baby but not always. It hurt my feelings though if friends hid their good news from me because they thought it might be hard on me. I was not predictable.
Fantasy was a relief from the present. It wasn’t anything serious as I always knew reality from fantasy. Before I went to bed, I played a game with myself. I would try to decide if I could have Dale back for one day only this week or this month, which day would I choose? What would we do? What would I wear? I liked to fall asleep imagining the day. I also read novels for escape. I read books from cover to cover because for a little bit while reading, I could forget everything.
I remember how hard it was to do daily chores because no one cared and no one was coming home. There was no joy in cooking because no one thanked me and raved on how good the food tasted. Fortunately for me, a college girl moved into the house with the boys and I needed to force myself to keep going. Still I often felt like I was drowning.
I heard Holly say, “I am old.” I felt old. Everything good in life had already happened to me.
I knew that I needed to grow up. Learn to do things—bills, yardwork, put gas in the car, put a chain on a bike. I felt sorry for myself. It sometimes made me angry. However, afterwards I got a sense of accomplishment.
Like Holly and her mother, I remember feeling like my situation was so different from women that were divorced. At first, I wanted to separate myself from them. It wasn’t long though until I discovered precious friendship in those relationships. Some of my friends that were divorced, best understood my grief. They were also grieving.
Eventually, I began to think that I changed. I was different than the person that I was when Dale died. I was more independent. I could make decisions and I even liked making some decisions. I began to feel more like a person that had abilities and something to offer. I felt more adult and more creative.
If you are a young widow, I recommend this movie. You will find a few areas that you identify with. You will know you are not crazy. You will cry but it will give hope as well.