[Editor’s note: Every week, New York City’s own Andrew W.K. takes your life questions and sets you safely down the right path to a solution, a purpose, or — no surprise here — a party. Need his help? Just ask: AskAWK@villagevoice.com]
Dear Andrew W.K.,
My fiancé, Chris, died very suddenly on the night of June 17. He was only 24 years old. One moment he was OK, then the next moment he collapsed. An hour later, he was dead. I still don’t know why, but they think it was a blood clot.
He was my strength and my happiness. He was why I got up and faced every day. Now I feel like life is just something I have to endure until I can see him again. I don’t necessarily want to die. I just want the pain and waiting to be over so I can see him again. I want to be wherever he is. I miss him so much.
Now he’s gone and I’m alone. I don’t know what to do. I don’t know who to turn to. I’m lost. How do I get through this?
Words cannot express the depth of my sympathy for you. No extension of my own deepest pain can come close to resembling what I imagine you’re feeling. And yet, vast waves of empathy are pulling me and many others reading this toward you right now. It’s something that can be felt and understood only on a level beyond language or emotion, a level where everything other than pure human compassion and love is disregarded in favor of a fellow human in need. I cannot explain it; I can only tell you that I’m thinking about you and sending you all the strength and power I can summon, right as I type these words. And so are many others reading this whom you’ll probably never meet. But we are all connected in situations like this — and even though that connection is invisible, it is real.
When someone close to you dies mysteriously and unexpectedly, everything is changed, everything is altered, everything is broken and then put back together again incorrectly. There is suddenly a different tone to the air, a different texture to the way things look and feel, a new and indescribably painful transformation of how it feels to exist without that other person’s presence.
But when your soul mate dies — especially without warning — there is a total and complete shattering of the very foundations of life. Nothing feels as though it can be reassembled. Nothing appears to add up or fit together anymore. Everything is skewed and distorted and somehow bound to the ever present wrongness of their being gone. This level of pain and dismay is only intensified when your soul mate is as young as Chris was. Everything about what made life work was undone in a single day. But you can’t blame yourself; you did not end Chris’s life. In a way, his death ended yours. Your life as you knew it ended when his did. Now you have a choice. And it is a beautiful, frightening, and challenging choice: the choice to live again.
You suddenly have more of a reason to live than ever before. Your life can be a tribute to Chris. You can start to use the incredible aching pain inside of you as a source of motivation to keep on going. You now have a purpose that is larger and clearer and more powerful than any purpose can be: to live on in honor of the one you love. You can make every moment of your life into a mission — a mission for Chris.
It won’t be easy. It will take the kind of strength that many people never even dream of needing. But it will bring out the best in you. You will have access to a newfound strength through your devotion to Chris’s spirit and your love for him. You’ll meet new challenges and difficulties, but you will overcome them through your tireless focus on having this incredible reason to live.
Allow yourself to feel every feeling you’re feeling — even when it’s extremely difficult to do so. Every one of those feelings is connected to the power of your new purpose and connected to Chris. And to feel them is to feel Chris. Turn every feeling of pain back into a feeling of unending and all-encompassing devotion to him. That feeling of pain is the feeling of love, and that pure love is what real Truth is made of, the kind that hurts to feel all at once. Hold on to that feeling and use it. It is your source of infinite strength and courage. That aching love is the gift that Chris left you with, a gift of raw feeling and pulsing clarity that you can build from as you keep going forward.
Chris is not gone. He has moved into your heart and soul. Keep him there and make your life count for him. You are not alone. Every person who has ever lost anyone is with you. You are surrounded by angels. You are surrounded by love. And that ever present love will show you the way forward.
You can still keep loving Chris, and still keep living for Chris. He can still be the reason that you get up and face the day. He can still give meaning to your life. Your devotion hasn’t stopped. In fact, it is stronger than ever.
More:Ask Andrew W.K.