You can clutch the past so tightly to your chest that it leaves your arms too full to embrace the present. – Jan Gildwell
Grieving is a necessary passage and a difficult transition to finally letting go of sorrow – it is not a permanent rest stop. – Dodinsky
Grief is the price we pay for love. – Queen Elizabeth II
We know that grief from the loss of your wife can be a deeply painful and challenging experience, but there are seven ways I have found through which you can spark the healing process. Even if you will never forget, you can begin to move forward with these seven tips:
Grieve: Too often we don’t allow ourselves to grieve. It’s important to acknowledge that the loss has occurred, that the pain is real, and to process your emotions after the loss you have experienced. Give yourself permission to feel and express your grief in whatever way feels most natural to you. Don’t be afraid to cry or even take a walk in the woods and scream at the top of your lungs.
Seek support: Surround yourself with loved ones and seek out support from friends, family, or a therapist. Most important, seek out those who have experienced similar losses and can “get you” by joining a grief support group.
Take care of yourself: Even though you may be feeling more responsibility than ever from your children, family, friends and work, it’s important to not put everyone first, but prioritize your physical and emotional well-being during this time. It is key to put your oxygen mask on before helping others. Try to eat a healthier diet, exercise regularly, and engage in activities that you like. And even though almost all widowers report challenges in this area, get enough rest and try to grab much needed sleep.
Create a positive mindset: What you listen to and read can help to change your thoughts, and what we think most about we ultimately become. An important part of my healing process was to listen to growth mindset podcasts and audiobooks, learning from others who have overcome trauma and struggles to succeed greatly. These examples provided me hope, and helped me to realize that there would be setbacks and mistakes, but that moving forward and continually improving and growing through the struggle were key to coming out better and stronger through this painful experience.
Seek therapy: It can be hard to work through the grief journey without a guide to help, and provide the tools needed to succeed. Consider seeking professional support from a therapist, particularly one experienced with or specializing in grief. They can help you process your emotions, work through any difficult feelings, and develop coping strategies. Through your loss you may have experienced trauma, which warrants specialized treatment like EMDR to help you recover.
Find purpose: Finding a sense of meaning in your life can be a powerful way to move forward. I reconsidered my career, creating a foundation to help fellow widowers, while other widowers have created foundations in their late partners name to not only honor them but help others. Your new purpose could be a new mission based career or second job, volunteering to teach or help others, or even a new hobby or passion that brings you fulfillment.
Remember, healing from grief is a gradual process, and it’s okay to have days where you just get by, while there will be other says where you will indeed experience joy again. Take things one day at a time. Be kind and patient with yourself, in grace, and know that it’s possible to find peace and joy again, even after such a profound loss.
Growth Through Grief is a personal story of healing, a community of fellow widowers, and a resource site to help you on your own personal journey through grief, to become better in mind, body and spirit.
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