LIFE OR DEATH

Walking out of your widowhood requires making a choice to grab life or to give up on life.You ask what does that really mean.Well grief has a way of sinking us into depths of pain,despair and darkness if you are not careful.

To avoid this you get to a stage or time of grief where you have to consciously have to fight to regain your life back – a new life as we know it won’t be the same without your spouse but it will be a stronger life.

With this desire to step out – though initially in little steps you are claiming your life back.You ask how do you do this.You have to have a plan of action.

You decide today to wake up perhaps earlier than since your loss,have some me time before the kids,shower,go for a walk,have breakfast perhaps something different and later read a book or search for one that will occupy your thoughts for half a hour or more,preferably something you enjoy reading of personal interest.

This engages your mind for a while,the next day or time your carry out the same exercise it becomes a good habit – repeated 21 days it should be a formed your routine.

Doing this gives you some refocus and strength to take another step.The idea of doing things for yourself ,pamper self and the constant emotional drain of Grief is released when we gradually take time to do things for ourselves.

The next thing could be to arrange to have a one to one out in a cafe just for 30/40 minutes with a good friend.Coming out makes us see that life has still continued in spite of your world being temporarily stopped by loss.

The conversation you have with the friend might initially be awkward as people around us do not always know how to react or know what to expect from us when we grief, so people tread carefully.However as you gradually regain strength and confidence people become more comfortable around you.

It is always important to focus on one personal routine at a time.As you commit to one,the confidence you start building will encourage you to venture out to the next thing to do for yourself.

Grabbing back your life gradually gives your children and close relationships hope for you and the future.You start to notice that little steps become bigger strides.Keeping and recording your strides in written form allows you to compare and measure your successes.

I recall working everyday while l was off work for a hour.Immediately after the school run and breakfast l disciplined myself to get out of the house before l got distracted by endless chores etc

Going out daily gave me a clearer perspective of my self and circumstances,to think much clearly,to make wise decisions and choices.

I come back home refreshed,energised,calmer ,with much hope to coup for the day.I kept a note book of how l felt daily and how grateful l was after each milestone achieved.

Grab a piece of your life back each day please!

Those who sow in tears
Shall reap in joy.

Signing off now – there is Hope after loss.

GRASP A BREATH

A clear out and redecorating your home means you are creating new space and new memories.As this fills the physical vacuum left by loss.You create a new story in the physical space your late spouse occupied.Yet keep value things for memory,for your children.

After a clear out there is a temporary reinforced awareness that your loved one is absent,but this feeling passes gradually as you utilise the space for other things.

My late husband worked from home so he had an office area which after the clear out was ominously empty and silent.So l decided to redecorate the whole of my lounge which his office formed a part of.Picking warm and specific colours that created the space into a continuum not into petitions as previously designed.This immediately removed the feeling of the office not being used.

I also redecorated the whole house – this you find easier to do when you feel much stronger,perhaps after a year of loss.This makes your home fresh/new and this breathes an atmosphere of new beginnings.Your memories are still there but this allows you to see that you can make new memories.

You should start accepting invites to socialise in small circles again.

Perhaps for one to one meals with close and good friends,to family events – this allows you to start breathing again.Breathing means being free from being smothered by loss and all the baggage it brings.

When you start reconnecting with friends you start to hear yourself laugh and smile,this makes you feel that you can begin to hope again.

Being away from the crowd will still bring moments of sadness- this is part of the grieving process, this will pass with time.People grieve in different ways and at different lengths, l can reassure you this will pass.

Signing off now,let me reassure you there is hope after loss.

TIME

When we loose someone very close which in this case is a spouse, our days become longer and the nights sometimes daunting, as it feels quieter and empty.You are left in a silence with your reality and thoughts.

So It’s important to plan your days with much precision.While l was off work l would drop my daughter at school,come home, tidy up for less than an hour and ensure to step out of the house by 9.30.am to go for my walk.

During my walk l listen to praise and worship Christian music,pray and meditate on scriptural affirmations addressing my specific fears and concerns in that moment.

I reserved moments of silence to listen to my own thoughts,get clarity on potential decisions and also bask in the sheer peace of being by myself.

When l return home l feel refreshed and energised.Sometimes l would have arranged to meet a friend for lunch or plan my walk with a friend on the agreement not to talk too much but focus on brisk walking quietly.

By the time my daughter is due for school pick up l feel l have had alone time and l have a reserve of energy to give her the attention required.

Walking daily improved my sleep/rest at night and made me much fitter,I also spent time reading other people’s testimonies on how to cope being widowed and understand the grief process.This encourages and enables you to see there is hope after your loss

I also went back to swimming which was always a sport l enjoyed.I found each time l swam felt l had a body massage as it is gentle on our joints and strengthens your whole body.You leave relaxed and more focused.

I decided also not to watch to much mundane TV only films or programmes that made me laugh or i could learn from.

I also tried to keep a daily dairy to log huge milestones,this enabled me to measure my progress generally.

For the first year l found it very difficult to go to places that l enjoyed going to with my late spouse so l made conscious efforts to avoid them.However anytime l stepped into those settings without hesitating l felt l had achieved a milestone.

One of my flaws though in the first year was spending time shopping on line to buy luxuries or replace worn out clothing.I focused on maintaining the style l would have lived if my spouse was here or he would afford me.

Thank God l could afford it.Perhaps it would have been wiser to reserve all spending until l was emotionally stronger.

I also reviewed my career and decided to make further strides in professional development in areas of my work that l enjoyed the most.

I applied to study,got interviewed and was successful,but deferred the offer until a year later when l was sure this is what l needed.Grief can affect greatly how you view things. Spontaneity is something you must try to avoid in the first year as you will save yourself money.

If i had just lost a spouse in this period of the Coronavirus pandemic,lock down and social distancing i wonder what i would replace my swimming and outgoing activities with.

I guess i would have to use apps that will enable me to engage with others in small groups.I am sure mobile face time would be invaluable.However i can’t contemplate my late husbands funeral only being attended by a limited few.

It must be devastating and double distressing for those going through this at this time.My deepest Condolences to you and family.

‘Grace to you and peace from God our Father’ 2 Corinthians 1:2

Signing off now,there is always hope after loss.

WRITE YOUR PLAN

What is your plan

In our loss it is so easy to get stuck in the depth of sorrow and different waves of emotion that typify Grief. However to avoid being stuck in this time space,

after a year l began to write my expectations for the future.That is reviewing what was not perfect in my past and decide on fine tuning my future.

You can decide to remain single or not in the future it is a choice you can rightly make.

If not what would you like your new spouse to be like – writing the personal qualities that a man can bring into your life to add and build you up,and complement what you have.Plus vice versa. (My reference is marriage between a man and woman).

You write down spiritual qualities you want in the individual’s personality.For example integrity,confidence,self control, not self seeking,patient,generous, focused for the future and career destination.

You can divide your written plans of expectations into different categories that are important to you.For example – spiritual and physical qualities etc.

Then perhaps take a closer look at yourself and write down what you would like to improve in your attributes.

For example managing your finances better,being a better organiser of time,improve your professional skills,or more self disciplined.

A written plan gives specific focus and goals to achieve for yourself/ family.Each day choose which one to work on.Try to be consistent at refining that quality daily.Perhaps practice on a friend or Mentor?

You measure change by the milestones you achieve – your reaction to a specific event last month might be different on how you will react today.E.g perhaps you are not as sensitive or you are more courageous to speak up when you do not agree with another person’s point of view.

You even start to sense other peoples positive comments or observations.Each day you are one step closer to your goal.

It is important to take time out quietly to meditate on where you are emotionally and review your written plan intermittently.You should set one month goals,3months,6months and 1year goals – review what you have achieved.I believe this takes you closer to being emotionally open to change.

Your expectation starts to become closer in sight- your optimism becomes higher and so do your energy levels.You become more open to engaging in social interactions and going to new places. Do try to enjoy each day you have!

Signing off now,there is Hope after loss

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.