During this time of hustle and bustle and the most wonderful time of the year, my widow’s spirit is not as jolly or as calm and bright as it used to be. Christmas seems to spur on a tangled web of grief sentiments. I feel like a Christmas package that arrived on my doorstep; all damaged, tarnished with grime and bent out of shape. Nevertheless, despite its condition, the package reached its destination and inside was a glorious gift. I posted this Hope for Widows Foundation blog a while ago; however, I seem to need the constant reminder to be gentle with myself, especially during this season. How about you?
After my husband’s funeral and my home was quiet, way too quiet, I sat down with the intention of reading my pile of sympathy cards. With my heart leaping out of my chest, tears staining my cheeks, numerous thoughts of disbelief thrashing through my being, I grabbed the first one. The second sentence said, “Be gentle with yourself, Lisa.” I reread it, as my widow fog was definitely taking over. I pondered-what did that really mean?
As I was missing the other half of my soul, I became disoriented. In the process, I literally forgot how to emotionally take care of myself. In the dredges, at my lowest point, I recalled that sentence, “Lisa, be gentle with yourself.” I came to the realization that I needed to make a grace infused commitment to myself.
Each of us as widow warriors process our loss in individual ways. Your idea of being gentle should be tailored to your grief journey. The following ideas are just suggestions that I have learned about being gentle with myself during these past 2 ½ years. Not that I have all the answers; I stumble, I fall, I get up, and I try again. Please let me know what being gentle with yourself means to you. What has worked for you?
1. Simply Just Breathe– I appreciate the words of Fulton J. Sheen, “Time is so precious that God deals it out only second by second.” In the days following my husband’s death, breathing was really all I could muster the strength and energy to do. I existed…I breathed, second by second.
2. Allow Yourself to Grieve– Grieving your own personal way is the only way. There is no wrong or right as long as it is healthy. I have screamed, cursed, vented, ranted, stomped, kicked, and cried, oh how I have cried. I found if I speeded up the process, then I became numb. If I detoured it, I became anxious, if I buried it; it always manifested and erupted later. You have to digest and assimilate your loss in the manner that is therapeutic for you.
3. Let Go of Unnecessary Demands– I had to literally train myself to filter and simplify my life from all the bombarded, extra duties. I had to be brave and sometimes say, “No.” I also had to learn to allow others to carry some of my load.
4. Carve Out Me Time – If you are like me and you can’t block out hours for yourself…maybe you can find minutes? I decided to start writing again. Do something just for you to rejuvenate and transform your soul. Find a Passion- “Get absolutely enthralled with something. Throw yourself into it with abandon. Get out of yourself. Do something.” Norman Vincent Peale.
5. Allow Peace in – My mantra every day since my husband’s death has been: “Peace in, peace out, God in, God out.” Please claim the inner peace that is your birthright no matter what your faith or belief system.
6. Dive Into Prayer, Meditation, Devotion, and Visualization – As I have been seeking discernment and purpose for my new life, I have found that these avenues provide clarity, renewal, and sustaining strength.
7. Speak Affirmations to Yourself– Invest time in daily reminders such as, I am_________ I can do this___________, use positive, revitalizing, descriptive words.
No one can do all the above at once. “Start by doing what is necessary, then what’s possible, and suddenly you’re doing the impossible,” St. Francis of Assisi. My hope for you is that you can implement ideas to restore and be gentle with yourself during this Christmas season and always.
Blessings to You,
Lisa Dempsey Bargewell
My blog topic for next Wednesday: Tears and Wonder