“You don’t heal with time, you heal with intention.”

I remember reading this line in another widow’s blog post early on in my grief, and it resonated so deeply with me that I took it upon myself to start intentionally healing from that point forward.

And I did. And I still do.

I dove deep into the dark shadow work. I went to trauma therapy every single week, sometimes multiple times a week. I journaled, I meditated, and I prayed to whoever would listen that I just wanted to heal. I wrote letters to my childhood self, my parents, and even to my late husband…knowing that I would be the only person who would read any of them. I tried every method from EMDR to Reiki to hypnosis to just good-ole-fashioned talk therapy. Each one brought a new level of healing and personal growth, and none of it was easy. Some days all I could do was eat a graham cracker and cry myself to sleep. I would beg the Universe to lighten my load and make this grief a little easier. Let me tell you… they didn’t. I had to sit with sadness, anxiety, anger, and depression, and I had to face all of them individually. I still do.

This road has been anything but easy, and you’ll never catch me saying that I’ve got everything handled from here. I will tell you, though, that I am beyond grateful that I started this journey of healing with intention so early on. It makes widowhood, grief, and even just life a heck of a lot more manageable.

Lately, I’ve found myself not really associating with that early grief mentality. It just isn’t me, and I don’t live there anymore. I live with the attitude that, “it might get easier, it might not, but either way I am resilient enough to handle whatever life throws my way.” I choose to be happy. Not just for my late husband, but for me, too, because that’s what I deserve. And not only that, but because I am hyper-aware of just how quickly everything can change. So, I choose to eat healthy, stay active, work hard, and say no to activities and things that don’t match my vibration. Sometimes, my choices mean that some people are disappointed. For a long time, that was my hardest pill to swallow. I didn’t want to let anyone down, especially those close to me. I now understand that if I don’t put myself first, then nobody benefits. I can’t be the woman I am meant to be if I don’t choose to honor who I am right now.

I am consciously aware of how my present self continuously affects my future self. I want to be the best version of me that I can. I know that this means continuing to take care of my mental well-being. It means keeping some relationships, gaining several, and losing others. I’m okay with all of this.

I can’t live in the deep grief anymore because that’s just not where I’m supposed to stay. I’m not supposed to be the grieving widow forever. What a prison that would be! I want to make something incredible of my life, and I fully intend on using my experiences and past traumas to not only help myself succeed, but also to help others not feel so stuck. I view life with a very realistic lens. I know not everything is going to go as planned, and the sooner we all let go of the expectations of what life should look like, the sooner everyone will become a whole lot happier.

So when people I haven’t seen or talked to in a while come up to me and say, “You’ve changed!” I respond politely with, “Thank you. I was always supposed to.” This is how I survive… this is how I continue to live in a way I can be proud of.

So to anyone reading this who is early on in your grief journey, I hope this gives you inspiration and hope. You have to do the work, and you have to heal with intention. Not because I told you to do so or because it will fix everything, but because you deserve to live a life you are proud of, too.

Be well.