I have felt across the widow community that 2018 was a rough year. I can speak for myself when I say that 2018 rocked me in unexpected ways. I became a widow in June 2016 and had no idea what this journey would look like. For the most part, I had been focused on breathing and finding ways to survive. I tried to focus on gratitude in 2018 and can say that joining Hope for Widows Foundation has been the greatest step in my healing journey. Finding a like minded community has been so life giving.

I’ve learned a lot about myself this past year – the greatest lesson was realizing that grief has shifts. Through reflecting on my own journey, and connecting to the journey of so many other widow, I’ve come to understand these shifts. When grief entered my life, a heavy fog that I couldn’t navigate set in. I couldn’t see my hand in front of me never mind what was coming next.

Throughout the last two and a half years, I’ve come to anticipate the grief shifts. I was telling a friend that it’s like being in a maze not of my making (I don’t like mazes much, because it reminds me of the terrifying scene in The Shinning…..anyone else picture Jack Nicholson?). It’s terrifying at first because you didn’t want to be in the maze in the first place and you kind of don’t even know where you are. Then you start to walk, in any direction because you know intuitively that you need to start walking. And each step feels excruciating because it takes you deeper into the maze but it also feels like it takes you away from your previous life. The life you had. The life you want back so badly.

Then, what feels like out of nowhere, there’s a corner. Some corners only go one way –  either right or left which leaves you little choice. While others allow you an option between right or left. These corners are the shifts of grief. I have found that these shifts can be a change towards some lightness. And at other times, the corner greets me with another dark wave of grief.

This past year, I took a lot of corners. Some exciting ones where I discovered a new version of myself. A version born out of courage, pain, hurt and bravery; discovering a deep well of strength that I didn’t know existed. However, some other corners were brutal and robbed me of my breath. For some reason, I had hoped that I’d be done with the hard shifts. Lesson learned. I’ve read many posts from my fellow widow sister writers and know that we’re all taking our own corners in the grief maze. It doesn’t matter how long we’ve been at this, whether it’s 6 months or 10 years, we’re all doing the best we can to navigate the maze.

I used to set a bunch of intentions for a New Year. And I’m still drawn to setting intentions for 2019. What I’m doing different, is that I’m going to honour my journey and take the corners with courage. I intuitively feel that 2019 is going to be a shifting year for me. I can’t say why I feel this way besides that my gut tells me to be ready for change.

My intention is to make courage my partner. I know that grief will continue to play a role in my life, but it’s going to have to compete with courage. I’m going to leap when the opportunity arise. I’m going to use courage to allow myself to live fully again and kick guilt in the ass. Courage is going to help me live big and stop apologizing.

What will your intention be for 2019??