A Rough Start to My Third Act

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Patrick Bonavitacola, actor, teacher and writer, describes the bewildering heartbreak of becoming a widower at the beginning of his Third Act.

I’ve known Pat for years and watched at a remove his wife’s decline over a long period. She was sweet as sugar, even as she began to lose her ability to communicate. One day at the coffee shop I asked Patrick how he was doing and he said, “My world has shrunk to the same size as hers.” To say nothing of the bleakness and sorrow he felt. Here’s what he wrote after her death.  

Please share your own experience with the sadness of great loss. I guarantee you’ll find an empathic community of responders at the Third Act Project.


My wife’s sickness, a long painful death, becoming a widower, emotional exhaustion, financial devastation, confusion, darkness, depression, questions… questions… questions. What now? What now?

For the last forty years, it has been all mapped out up for me… all I had to do was connect dots… husband, father, provider, etc. But most of the dots are gone now. My slate is much cleaner–hasn’t been this clean since I was a young man. I have fewer responsibilities. But I am alone, lost, and I feel a sense of urgency. I know my time is limited… you never know when sickness and death will come knocking at the door. My wife was healthy. It suddenly knocked on her door. Who knows… which brings me to that question once again… what now? Do I want a relationship? Be alone? Act again? Travel? Write that novel? Ski the Alps? Join the Peace Corp?

I wish I had the answer, but I don’t. All I can tell you is I’m pushing forward in the darkness and the sun does peak out from behind the storm clouds more often than it did.

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