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Moving on Without Billy
Nov 29, 1996

My life-partner Billy died of AIDS two years ago today. We were together for six years and they were the happiest days of my life. I loved and respected him more than anyone that I have ever known. I thought by now I would be able to move on with my life, and I am going through the motions, but I think about him every day. Knowing that the best part of my life is over, makes it hard to understand why I am still here. My lover is dead, most of my friends are dead. I'm wondering how to figure out what God wants me to do now?

Response from Rev. Pieters

I'm terribly sorry for your loss. Grieving the loss of a love can be one of the hardest challenges of anyone's life. There is no time line for when you should be "over it." Grief heals in very individual ways.

It sounds as if you're experiencing "survivor's guilt." Questioning why you survived when everyone else close to you has died is a natural and common reaction that many folks are experiencing because of HIV and AIDS. I certainly relate to the feelings. All of the people with whom I was diagnosed in the early eighties, all the people with whom I took experimental treatments, all the people in support groups I attended, and even some of my caregivers have died. I have often asked "Why me?" when contemplating my own survival. You're not alone.

I'm not sure any of us will ever understand why we were spared when so many around us have died. Personally, I try to make my life a living and loving memorial to those I've loved and lost to AIDS. I find meaning and purpose in keeping their spirits of love and urgent activism alive.

No one can take away the six years you had together. No one can take away the love which you two shared. Billy gave you the most precious gift of love and intimacy. You have a lot to be grateful for, as well as to grieve for. Try making your life a living memorial to the love and joy you two experienced.

I believe that even though his body may have died, the essence of Billy is still alive. Through my faith, I believe in life after death, and that means you will be reunited with Billy one day.

You still have the gift of life, and with that gift, Billy's spirit is alive through you. Don't give up on life because he died. Engage in life because he lived, and loved you. Honor his love by living fully. You know the treasured gift of love, which many people never do experience. You know how hard it is to have your loved one torn away from you. Your experience can help other people. Too many others are going through the same process you are. Try to reach out and help others in your situation. You may experience an emotional or spiritual healing you never anticipated.

Jesus said "I am the Resurrection and the Life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, they shall live." Have faith, my friend, and be fully alive, even while you're grieving.



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