THE FAMILIAR

Loss shakes all things we are used to and more.So holding on to what is familiar is crucial.Perhaps when you decide to return to work it is best not to change jobs yet until after the first year of loss.

In the interim you could explore how to improve your skills and generate more income or flexible working.Do not make any drastic commitments until when you are feeling emotionally stronger.

Going back to work with familiar colleagues and systems means you do not have the added complication of going to a new work setting.When returning to work ask to be weaned gradually back in.

The routine will strengthen you as you engage in some form of normality.Also go to clubs or groups you were members of before your husband died. E.g Parent groups,neighbourhood support networks or church gatherings.This will give you some form of stability and security. As you grow stronger so will your children.

Drastic or sudden changes to your day to day routine can make you insecure as you are still emotionally fragile.So stay with the familiar as much as possible,keep your children in the same school as having the same friends will strengthen and support them.

Signing off now,there is always hope after loss.

TIDYING UP

Loss also requires physically tidying up what needs to be removed from our present vicinity or dwelling.Returning home each day you are faced with all things your loved one has left behind.As my husband’s death was so sudden, many things featured as a stage in which he was on and abruptly exited.

In the car his mobile phone ear plugs were left as if he would return any minute to continue using them,his computer/laptop was left on the last screens he worked on,his shoes were in the hallway as if he had just stepped into another room and so where all his clothes hung in the wardrobe as if he was returning to pick what he shall wear for the day.

Having to see this daily can be quite tough.You have to move on gradually by going through each section of things he owned and decide on what to keep, who to give and where to donate items.

The process of clearing out will bring moments in which to reminisce in tears and in laughter,memories of silly things he did or would like to wear.

Closure for you is to tidy up these items and see it as making room for the new ( that could mean for you, facing gradually that he won’t be sharing that space with you any long.

I cleared stuff out gradually after 3 months as l was aware his possessions can become a shrine or idol that l might unhealthily hold on to.I kept key items for my children e.g. his ties, some shirts etc my girls could use in plays.

Part of clearing out sets you on the path to finding closure and embracing to a certain extent your current reality.The numbness you feel starts to gradually subside when you start this process.

The kids should be involved in this as it allows them some closure and they can take items they want.Be award the process of grief takes you through a rollercoaster of emotions from anger,tears,fear,etc. These emotions can shift at any given time – especially within the first year of loss.

When l cleared out l found some strength to donate his clothes to charities that could sell and raise funds for their cause.I also gave stuff to people l know where in need of certain items.

The process of clearing out is painful initially but when you have done it you feel an element of accomplishment,as you have faced successfully one of the many hurdles ahead.

Signing off now – remember there is always hope after loss.

THE DAY AFTER

Once l laid my late husband to rest the reality of his loss hit me.The busyness of arranging the funeral took my mind off things.What do l do with self? Where do l start planning my life and future?

The first thing you have to do is take each day as one step at a time.I had to ensure l had time to my self .So l enquired about how much time l was entitled to be off work and applied for time off.This enabled me to wake up each morning and walk for 1 hour.

During these alone times l set out a plan for my future goals – simple, practical and realistic ones.One thing l was certain of was l did not want to spend the rest of my life alone.I prayed constantly for my future to be secure in God’s hands and I gained clarity on time scales of milestones l wanted to achieved.

My first priority was to contact my children’s schools and get the emotional support they will need at least in the first year.I also contacted local charities that offered bereavement support for children etc

The next thing is your finances.If you are in debt it’s best to contact immediately free agencies that will negotiate with your creditors.You need to set a written budget of your Income and expenditure.You know exactly what you can and can’t afford.Get free advice on money you might be entitled to when widowed.This is crucial to do within

3 months of loss.This will ease the emotional pressure financial problems can create.

If you have older children over 18 encourage them to help and support you in the above.Though grieving as well it distracts them momentarily too from present loss.

Get friends and family to help with collating paper work.Find out also if you have life insurances or other etc

At this time it is important to get enough rest and good night sleep.Loss makes us exhausted and emotionally drained.Talking openly to family and friends regularly on how you are feeling is very important.

When people came to visit me especially in the early months l used to thrive on talking and singing worship joyful songs.

Bereavement counselling will be an important service to explore – known to be more effective a year after your loss.

You should not make any life changing decisions in the first year of your loss.

Signing off now – remember there is hope after loss.Feel free to ask questions or make comments.

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DRAWING ON STRENGTH (PT 2)

The strength l gained from taking time out to pray and meditate on the word of Scripture,equipped me with an inner resilience that l could not have fathomed.

Arranging the funeral involved negotiating with people with ease and on the day of the funeral l had prepared a personal tribute to my late husband which l found the emotional strength to read by myself.This enabled me to start my initial stage of finding closure.

The next thing l did and still do is to strengthen my physical body.A loss of a spouse immediately reduces your finances into half.Also does havoc on your physical strength and body.

So l decided to plan my meals better and also prepare and cook meals from scratch (closest) to their natural form and reduce drastically takeaway meals.This requires discipline and managing family time better.

I wrote my menu and then knew what to buy.This has saved me a lot of money and l have seen my body transform into a fitter and trimmer version of self.Also l feel much lighter,able to do more in my day and react more positively when confronted with daily stress.

When you find yourself alone it is almost tempting to find easier ways to get through the day e.g. order an evening take away, hide away by sleeping longer,or working longer hours to avoid the pain you are going through.I find it is best to deal with the challenges in small chunks,if not it has an adverse effect sometime in the future.

Improving my food intake and making more meals has meant l always have something for my lunch hour at work and save money by doing this.Open markets l find are best places to get a variety of vegetables and ideas of what to add to your menu.Before you know it you become a connoisseur of your local community.There is always a silver lining in every adversity- it is very difficult to see this when it first happens.

I also incorporated a daily get out of the house clause to go walking in the first two years of my loss.This puts you in touch with nature,you can pray or get clarity on your mixed feelings.Such as fear,doubt, uncertainty and a directional future. You get clarity in your thoughts and also get fitter.

I read the prayer of Psalms from the Bible at night, as the night time can be your greatest challenge.You are left alone with your thoughts.

Signing off now,feel free to ask questions or comment – remember there is always Hope after loss.

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DRAWING ON STRENGTH (PT 1)

I have worked and empowered many in the field of Mental Health for over 20 years.I did not know at the start of my loss this will be an invaluable resource to draw on.The knowledge / information l gave support groups to facilitate ,equip,empower and others became my source of reference.

I recalled that the first thing to do when your body goes into any form of shock is to find ways to nourish, maintain your health and body.l would need it at its peak, both physically and mentally to perform and manage the present and the future.

For Mental strength l drew solely on my faith,literally calling out to my Heavenly God/Creator to equip and empower me to stand.Some will define it as the spirit in them,that enables you to survive any trial.

I prayed for 7 days and after l felt my inner soul was equipped to face laying my late husband to rest.Praying for me meant reading the words in the Bible and repeating words from it that affirmed me and shifted my fears and doubts.I also fasted in this period – only able to from 12 midnight to 12noon,drinking just water and fruits.Some will call this a detox.

I am signing off now join me next time to learn how we are able to hope and love in spite of the most difficult loss.