Patrick Swayze’s widow speaks about coping with losing her “soulmate”

Patrick and Lisa who were married for 34 years.

It is hard to believe that it is one year since the death of actor Patrick Swayze. Interviewed recently in People magazine, Patrick’s widow, Lisa Niemi has been speaking about the pain of his loss and how she copes with it. She admits that she still texts her husband when she travels, just like she used to when he was alive.  

In July, Lisa Niemi sent the actor, who died of pancreatic cancer a year ago this Tuesday, a text as she got on a plane. “I just put what I always did: ‘I love you,'” Niemi,  told People in an upcoming issue. “And then I cried for a little bit to myself.”  

This isn’t as strange as it sounds. Lisa says she always texted Swayze in this way, and much like the bereaved person who still lays a place at the dinner table for their loved one, Lisa’s action is a normal part of the grieving process.  

The writer Joan Didion called it “magical thinking” in her beautiful novel “The Year of Magical Thinking,” about the sudden death of her husband John Gregory Dunne. She said she didn’t want to throw away Dunne’s shoes after his fatal heart attack because she thought he might come back. The magical thinking is that you will wake up in the morning  and find that this has all been a bad dream much like the infamous shower scene in Dallas, when Pam Ewing  wakes up to find her “dead” husband Bobby alive and well in the shower. People who lose loved ones typically go through five well-known stages of grief – denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. But how a person grieves is a personal experience and I was disappointed to read some quite nasty and negative online comments about Lisa’s action. No one should judge how someone copes and reacts to a death. Reading her interview it didn’t appear to me that Lisa was in denial, she is just engaging in some “magical thinking” to get her through the pain of losing her soulmate.  Lisa, who participated in Friday’s “Stand up to Cancer” telethon, admits the grieving process is still ongoing .”To have your soulmate leave you, it was definitely overwhelming” she says in her interview. She finished: “I know he wanted me to be OK. And I am stronger now. The fact that I’ve had some good days definitely gives me hope that I can have more”.