I write in a journal to Lou (my husband) since he has been gone and it has been very therapeutic. When he was alive we talked all the time about everything. I’ve found that writing to him has helped appease that need for conversation, so I write.
When you experience a death of someone very close, your whole life changes. So much in the day-to-day was incredibly painful. Slowly, I found ways of dealing with challenges that started to help. I think many people experience the changes I faced …
Here are some things I allowed to get me down at first, and a few things I found helpful:
1. Being alone too much: To suddenly be alone at 67 years old took time to adapt. At first I hated it and went around in a fog. Now after a year, it is getting better, more enjoyable and allows me to accomplish things.
2. Meals alone: My friend insisted I come for dinner several nights a week for the first few months. What a blessing! I helped with groceries and did dishes and it was great.
3. What to do with weekends?: Working the week with all my emotions stuffed often made the weekend not much more than a time of tears. I was kind to myself and accepted the pain, and it has gradually diminished.
4. Making all the decisions: The cars broke down, the computer crashed, the printer died, the wiring to the electronics went bad, the roof in Michigan leaked, I forgot to pay bills, one of the dogs died, and on and on. How to handle it all???
5. Not enough sleep: I dreaded going to bed, then couldn’t sleep. Too little sleep made my emotions worse.
6. Too much to do and only me to do it: At first I did not accomplish much. Now I make lists and do at least one thing a day.
1. Journaling: Writing out my concerns to Lou and then sleeping on it helped me come to the answers I needed often right when I woke up.
2. Prayer: I look to God to heal my heart and to give me purpose. Things that are too much for me, I give to Him in prayer.
3. Walking: Making myself go for a walk with the dogs clears my brain. Often it seemed to be a safe place to cry and talk to Lou while I walked and came back refreshed.
4. Accepting all invitations at first. I took every opportunity to socialize and be with others. Even if I didn’t feel much like talking, I absorbed the liveliness around me and it lifted my spirits.
5. Remembering to eat: When I forgot to eat or ate poorly I felt worse. When I ate more nutritiously: salads, vegetables, meat and fruit, I coped better.
6. Music or Television. Background noise comforts. Unless I am reading, praying or meditating, I usually have music going.
7. Spending time with family: My daughter is very thoughtful to plan family time that includes me. This grounds me and helps me realize I still have a family.
8. Have a goal: I decided to attack the lofty goal of paying off the mortgage. It is daunting, but I put every extra dollar towards it and it gives me purpose and direction and keeps me from overspending.
9. Hugs, human touch: When I needed a hug, I gave a hug. When I needed to hear “I love you”, I said it to a family member or someone I was close to.
10. Remember: I have allowed myself to remember. I have embraced the pain. I stood out in the dark beneath every “Annie’s Moon” for the past year and probably always will. I watch the videos Lou left me. His chair is still on the sidewalk. I still go to Dana Point when I can and sit on our bench with our dog Bella. We even celebrated his birthday last month with a party.
You want to feel better, but not if it means losing any of the memory. You have to do positive things, mindful, productive things to move into a healthier place. You have to want to become useful again to yourself and others.
And yet, since Lou’s “Babe” is who I was for 73% of my life, it will never be something I can forget or lose. So I try things, see what does and what doesn’t work. I mostly try to be kind to myself. The one thing Lou said repeatedly in the short videos he left was: “Be Happy! Do it for me, Babe”
So, that is what I am trying to do.
Can you relate to any of these good or bad?
Has your journey differed from mine? What has it looked like for you?