Jason Rosenthal, author of "My Wife Said You May Want to Marry Me: A Memoir" (HarperCollins), on overcoming the isolation and sense of tremendous loss that have become familiar states during the pandemic crisis:
I was married to an amazing woman for 26 years: Amy Krouse Rosenthal. She was a prolific author and memoirist. She also wrote a "Modern Love" column for The New York Times that went crazy viral. It was called "You May Want to Marry My Husband," and was a creative play on a personal ad – for me. Ten days later, Amy died of ovarian cancer.
There I was, feeling devastated with grief and undeniably alone. I imagine many of you are feeling that way in the face of this global pandemic.
Anything can trigger the feeling. A while back, when I went to my doctor's office for an annual check-up, I was asked if the information contained in my medical file was still accurate, things like emergency contact and marital status. It was such a routine exercise, but it overwhelmed me with the sheer sadness of everything hiding beneath the surface, and the reality that I was alone now.
But Amy wanted me to fill that blank space now part of my life. She wanted me to find joyful moments, seek meaning in this complex life we live in, and discover love with someone else. It took me years to come to that realization; I learned that grief has no timetable.
Through this current crisis, you may suffer extreme hardship as a result of many losses in your life – from your normal routines, to the pain having someone close to you gravely ill or gone forever – then you might feel okay for a while and slip back into anxiety. That's okay. That's normal.
After my loss, many people reached out to me with their own stories, and I came to an epiphany of sorts that I am reminded of today: that loss is loss is loss, unique to each one of us, yet a shared story for us all.
We shine brightest when we need each other. I am managing now because so many stepped up to guide me.
As you are isolated, feeling a sense of tremendous loss and grief, know that those are normal feelings as we manage this crisis.
We can be alone, together.
For more info:
- "My Wife Said You May Want to Marry Me: A Memoir" by Jason B. Rosenthal (HarperCollins), in Hardcover, eBook, Large Print and Audio formats, available April 21 via Amazon
- Amy Krouse Rosenthal Foundation
Story produced by Young Kim. Editor: Chad Cardin.