A few years ago, I read the book Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. The author tells the story of divorcing her husband, quitting her job and traveling the world in order to find herself. As I read her book, I remember thinking that was a very selfish act on her part. Personally, I would never leave my family to go find myself. Who does that?

Then my husband of thirty-five years died. My children were grown with families of their own. I was alone for the first time in my life. I instinctively knew that in order to survive I, too, would have to go in search of myself.

I began to – not just grieve but – really grieve. By that I mean, I let myself descend into the depths of pain, which before the loss of my late husband I had never experienced. I wrote and wrote in my grief journal about my thoughts, my life, my love and my pain. I began to pray like I never had before, and I called on God for help and comfort.

Next, I began to eat. For the first time in my life, I had no need or worries about feeding anyone else. I just had to take care of me. What a weird feeling it is to just be responsible for yourself, especially after so many years of being a wife and mother. I got to drink all the green smoothies I wanted, and I even had popcorn for dinner if I chose.

Soon, love came into my life and from a very unexpected source. I embraced that new love, knowing that it was a part of the path I desired to follow in order to find my spirituality and my new life. In essence, it was a gift from my God.

This morning, I woke up thinking about Elizabeth Gilbert and her book. Then I realized that I had, in fact, gone on my own journey of self-discovery. However, unlike Ms. Gilbert, I did not travel to Italy to eat, or India to pray, or Bali, Indonesia to find love. I stayed in my own country while I prayed for my healing, ate to care for myself, and learned to love myself and others.

Has your widowhood put you on your own journey of self-discovery? Throughout my journey, I was (and still am) spurred on by the memories of my late husband and his love of life, his constant search for new adventure, and his willingness to accept and love others. The fact that I take time for myself is helping me to become a better person while honoring his memory.

Feel free to comment and tell the group about the path you’re traveling.