Friday, May 29, 2009

Our "Invincible Summers"

Last week when I was posting to this blog I saw the following quote in the right hand column of the Widows Voice website.

“In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.” Albert Camus

Albert Camus died in 1960. His life was not easy. His father died when he was an infant and he was raised in extreme poverty. Camus’s mother was deaf and according to his writings, she was in a state of almost continuous melancholy. Camus himself contracted tuberculosis at age 17.

There lies all of us an “invincible summer”. We all have resources we do not know we have until our lives change in such a way that we must find them.

My life, before I was widowed was a good life no matter how you look at it. (Husband, dog, child, fence, job, friends, etc…) I was grateful.

But something else was true also. Since very early childhood, I struggled with a low-to-medium-to-high grade depression. Sometimes it was hardly noticeable, and other times the struggle consumed me. This depression was the result of both growing up in a very disconnected family and genetics. Regardless of the cause, my life was intimately entwined with depression and I came to see it as my cross to bear.

When Mike died I was afraid I would finally be consumed by this relentless affliction; afraid that my 40-year dance with depression would end with me slowly, quietly disappearing into the black vortex. Ironically, at this lowest of times, I found a strength I did not know I had.

Although there were a good many days when I really was worried for myself, I ultimately discovered deep within me that ‘invincible summer’ that that Camus speaks to; a desire to live that was more powerful that the depression that seemed to want me to disappear.

So the fact that I am a good mother, that I have good friends, a successful business, brothers and sisters who love me and whom I love, and a blossoming intimate relationship, and the fact that I made it through grieving my husband, and that I experience joy on a regular basis, is nothing short of miraculous.

Through the uninvited experience of widowhood, we really do get to see more of who we are. I found out who I really was and as it turns out, I am far more than depression. I rather like who I am. It is nothing that I can take credit for, any more than I can take credit for my brown hair. It is all God given. Our capacity for joy and humor is directly related to our capacity to experience the more difficult side of life. The more I let myself grieve, the more I get to experience joy. I am still watchful for depression but it very rarely shows itself. Amazing.

So, do the work of grieving. Cry. Talk. Cry and Talk. Go to the people who can hear you rather than those who want to fix you. You know who they are. And, be willing to look deep into your heart and see the glimmers of your own invincible summer. Even the most hurting widows among us have an invincible summer. I promise.

Warmly, Mie Elmhirst Widows Breathe Coaching


  1. Mie,
    Again, thank you....I feel our lives were and are somewhat parallel..I have suffered thru the depression for many years, yet, when Larry passed away, I felt and still feel all the pain that goes with the death of a spouse, but, knew that I had stepped out of one world into another, and it was to be a new beginning.
    So, here I am 10 months later, doing okay, financially, physically, and too, have a loving new relationship with a wonderful man.
    I only thank God, great friends, and family, not only for their support, but the love they have all shown me.
    I have learned so much from all of them, and a lot about myself along the way.
    Yes, their is Joy again, and that has come from the valleys that I have experienced.

    Blessing and Peace,

  2. Thank you. I needed reminding today tht I am going to survive this and now I'll keep my invincible summer in mind when my soul continues to rage in winter storms. I've seen glimpses of the sun and I'll continue looking for it, knowing that it is out there. Again, thank you.

  3. I wish I could feel this way. I looked at this quote because it seemed so ironic to me. Only winter, winter winter and I don't want to survive...and I don't want to know how.