During my life, I have often sought permission from others to go ahead and do what my heart was telling me. This habit hasn’t always served me well.
Consequently, today I want to suggest the following to my widow sisters. Give yourself permission to:
~ forget the stages of grief and grieve in the manner that suits you the best;
~ love yourself;
~ pay attention to yourself;
~ put yourself and your needs first;
~ run away;
~ ignore those who do not understand;
~ let go of old friends who judge you;
~ find new friends who do understand you;
~ laugh and laugh and then laugh some more;
~ cry whenever and wherever you want;
~ never forget;
~ sell your house and move;
~ redecorate your house;
~ begin dating at the time which is comfortable for you;
~ go back to school;
~ quit your job and find a new one;
~ lose weight;
~ begin to exercise;
~ welcome your new life;
~ let go of the guilt including berating yourself with “would of, could of, and should of”;
~ ignore what others are telling you to do and listen to your own intuition
It’s okay; it’s okay; it’s all okay!!!
Whatever it is YOU desire. – go for it. Please know that you don’t need my permission or anyone else’s permission to follow your heart! My widow sisters, your life is yours to live as you see fit and don’t let anyone tell you differently!!!!
It’s that time again to celebrate with family and friends, and I find myself asking, Celebrate what?????
This is my third holiday season without Ray. During the last Christmas we shared, it was all he could do to sit in a chair while IV fluids ran into his veins. The highlight of the day was when some members of our church stood outside our window and sang Christmas carols and hymns to us. As I recall this memory and share it with you, my tears are flowing.
Perhaps you’re like me – a caregiver who spent years tending to your ill husband. In this position, you spent countless sleepless nights, experienced endless hospitalizations, and attended numerous doctor appointments, all the while constantly worrying and working to pay the mounting bills. Now that your husband has passed away, you find yourself a single mother who spends hours working and caring for your children. Of course, you didn’t have any say about these situations with which you’ve had to learn to cope. And it’s just plain hard.
When you think about the holidays, perhaps, it’s not that you hate them. Maybe, it’s just that you’re exhausted – both emotionally AND physically spent.
I’d like to make a suggestion to offer you a change in perspective and to help you through this difficult time. As the holiday season picks up steam, one of the signs you’ll often notice is that of a star, which represents a light in the darkness. Maybe, if you can embrace that light, your spirits will be lifted. I know, for me, the light represents the miracle of the holidays – the joy, the love, and the peace that can come into your life, if you will allow it to do so.
Just as the three wise men followed the star to find their miracle, so you too can find your light this holiday season.
If you’re looking for something positive upon which to grasp, here’s my suggestion: follow the star; its light just may lead you to Joy.
Thanksgiving was my late husband’s favorite holiday. He used to say: “I love Thanksgiving because there is no pressure to buy gifts.” He loved to just focus on family, good food and gratitude.
Gratitude is the most important part of Thanksgiving. As I look back upon my widow journey, I am filled with gratitude for the many miracles that transpired as I cared for my ill and dying husband.
My late husband Ray was flown by helicopter to Stanford Hospital in Palo Alto, California. His lungs were starting to fail, so he was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit on what’s called a C-Pap machine, which helped him to breathe.
I rushed to be with him. I checked into a hotel and started the vigil of being by his side. Two weeks passed, and I decided I no longer wanted to pay hotel fees. I was determined to sleep in the waiting room lobby outside the ICU and just park my car in the hospital parking lot and move it every few hours so I would not get a ticket.
I had spent the last few years during Ray’s many hospitalizations sleeping next to him on cots, sleeping in chairs, or just sitting up all night helping to care for him. One time, I had even slept in the nurse’s conference room on top of a table. So being kicked out of the ICU at 10:00 every night … it seemed like a logical thing to just go to the waiting room and sleep in a chair until 8:00am when I would be allowed back into Ray’s room.
The only person with whom I shared my plan was my daughter during a phone conversation. On that same day, as I sat with my husband, a social worker came to his room. She informed me that an apartment had opened up in the family housing for $35.00 per night. This apartment was a safe place for a women who was alone; parking was provided; and it was within walking distance to the hospital. If I needed to go to the hospital in the middle of the night, a security guard would be available to transport me. This apartment was also big enough for my family to come and stay.
I think of this, and my heart fills with gratitude. My God knew my needs, loved me and provided for me. I never even asked Him. I am so thankful for His watchful eye. I count this experience as a miracle.
Have you had similar experiences? I would be surprised if you did not! Even in the pain of our loss, we can find gratitude!
Even before I became a widow, I was fascinated with Vrindavan, India, which is also known as the City of Widows . This is a city to which the shunned widows of India are sent by their family members. Here, these widows are reduced to poverty and roam the streets begging for their food. These once cherished mothers, daughters and sisters are forced to wear white, shave their heads, cannot wear jewelry, shunned by their own children and family members, and even their shadows are considered bad luck. In other words, simply by the act of becoming a widow, these women also lose all of their social rights.
About two months after my husband died, I became filled with an intense desire to travel to the City of Widows. I felt the pull of sisterhood, and I just wanted to walk with them for a little while to, perhaps, feel their pain alongside of them. I never got to go – at least, not yet.
Sometimes, we widows also feel shunned by our families and friends. We feel left out, and, often, it seems as if our whole identity evaporates with the loss of our husbands. Like our widow sisters in India, I have even felt that my shadow is considered bad luck by some.
So, what is left for us? Something really great – lots of hopes, dreams, and even miracles. Despite what losses we’ve experienced, we always retain the power to change our own lives and, thus, create our futures. We are free to live without self-imposed restrictions. If we choose to, we can go back to school; travel; lose weight; date; re-marry; create loving extended family relationships; forgive; practice kindness; and a million more things.
Our pain can become our fuel to create our life. I know it’s not the life we planned, but it IS the life we get to have. So we might as well embrace it with the most enthusiasm and joy that you can muster!I
After the death of your partner, have you been left with a never-ending stream of paperwork? Furthermore, have you spent many weeks or more looking for important paperwork, phone numbers of people you need to contact, or been generally frustrated by messy recordkeeping?
When your mind is foggy with grief, it’s especially difficult to concentrate and remember the necessary details of bank accounts, life insurance policies, safe deposit boxes, etc.
So, if this has been your experience, when it’s your time to go, I’m sure you would want to spare the rest of your family from this same confusion and stress. As you well know, that’s often exactly what you’re handed, if something unexpected happens and you haven’t shared your most essential details and decisions ahead of time.
I’m not talking about just the big stuff like whether or not you have a will. It’s a lot of the little things … the “I never thought of that” details that can really put your loved ones in a spin.
Even though you may have been in this situation, it’s very easy to “forget” to let your family know about certain items. For example, to you, the place where you keep your safe deposit key may seem logical. However, even if you told family members where it’s hidden, in the midst of grief, it’s doubtful they’ll remember.
I was recently introduced to a woman who can help you avoid this situation. She’s conducting a free webinar on Thursday, June 19th at 8:00 P.M. central. You can click HERE to register for it.
The webinar is set to explain the following and more:
How to give your family the gift of knowing exactly what to do if the unexpected happens
What information is critical to document
Why it’s so essential
Five things you can do immediately for yourself
How to talk to your family members about making sure they understand your full picture
How to talk to your aging parents about their situation
One of the presenters, Kristi Curry, is the Founder and CEO of Survivorship Now for over 10 years, she has provided a modern twist on getting your affairs in order and executor assistance to those who’ve been left with a mess by their loved one. The following is an article she wrote, which I believe gives her much credibility in this field.
What Everyone Can Learn from Three Widows
Back in the 1990s, I was in financial advising at a major firm, working with clients to create plans and helping them move closer to their investment goals. My two favorite parts of the role were learning how to work money and getting to know my clients and their families as friends.
Three of those clients were widows whose husbands had died and left them in various states of mess. Two husbands died suddenly and one died from a lengthy illness. The widows were in their 40’s, 60’s and 70’s when I met them.
The emotional toll on each widow was the same. These ladies, who had not participated much in their financial planning, were now meeting with me to try to put their lives together and understand what their futures would be.
The oldest of the three ladies had to learn how to write checks to pay the bills. Her husband had always written the checks. She had to learn how to balance a checkbook, understand what income she had coming in and how to budget for her expenses that she’d never been aware of. I became her cushion to break the fall and helped get her back to functioning on day-to-day tasks.
My other two widows were younger and had a better working knowledge of the finances, but the emotional toll of taking over the house, the finances and the planning for their future was devastating (to put it mildly). I even had one of them call me to ask if I knew a good mechanic because her car was dead and her husband had always taken care of the cars. It’s those types of nitty-gritty details like what mechanic to use that can really cause stress to those left behind.
In my time working for that firm, I learned that even though people are in a family, there are silos of life information that aren’t shared with loved ones. It’s a natural course of life, but not necessarily a good one. It’s been over 20 years since I worked in that position and the lessons I learned from those three women left a permanent impression on my life. I sometimes think of them and wonder if they made changes that would protect their own loved ones if something unexpected happened to them. Did they take their experience and prepare information for the “just-in-case-this-happens” day?
Our lives are complex and keeping up with life information is critical to us now and to our family in the future. Everyone can learn from these three ladies:
Document your important details
Have your legal documents current and executed and
Communicate that plan with your loved ones
To learn more about how to give your family the gift of knowing exactly what to do if the unexpected happens, join her for a free webinar. You can register for it by clicking here.