I was like a speeding locomotive with no brakes. A few months after my husband went to Heaven, I was forced to quarantine at the onset of the pandemic. My speeding locomotive crashed and crashed hard. It’s taken me a long time to fight my way back. I was so focused on doing everything I could for my precious husband I neglected my health, sleep, and nearly everything else… telling myself there would be plenty of time for all that later.
I spent the last five plus years of my husband’s life as his full-time caregiver. Before that I spent my time as a full-time caregiver to my daughter, challenged with a form of autism. I was always juggling family, job, church, and a host of commitments. Moving forward I want to choose what I want to do to fill my days. I want to feel more like I have a choice and a sense of control of my activities. I want to channel my energy deliberately to feel flexible to change direction or be spontaneous without creating chaos. I want to be resilient!
Widowhood is sandwiched between before his departure and after.
Widows face a whole new self we never expected… at least I didn’t. As we begin to realize how profoundly our world changed in the absence of our husband, we notice we are not the same person either. Defining and establishing our new self gives us an opportunity to carefully examine who we want to be now. We can explore our options and set clear boundaries. It’s a good time to scrutinize priorities and establish new goals.
Of course, we all make choices everyday about what we want to do. Sometimes it doesn’t feel like a choice. Sometimes we find ourselves moving on a path where we lose sight of our needs and wants because we are focused on our family, a loved one, a job, or a crisis. This is usually manageable short term. It can become a problem if it goes on indefinitely.
It’s not healthy to let our commitments have so much priority we don’t leave room for rest or flexibility. Do you struggle with saying “No!”? I always did. My nurturing and caring nature made me tend to over-commit to help with the needs of others. I am glad to help everywhere I can. I enjoy helping people. I get a lot of satisfaction from being able to lend a hand and help out where I see a need. It takes intention and planning to keep in balance and avoid obligating ourselves beyond reasonable limits.
Defining the new me and a new life.
As I analyze my life to define the new me going forward, I am trying to take a good hard look at what I want to keep the same from the life I had and what I want to change. Clearly, I am not the person I was before my husband went to heaven. That life I lived will never be the same without him beside me.
The magnitude of change because of this life upending event isn’t comprehensible to the average outsider. It’s left its mark on my relationships, health, identity, family, faith, and every other aspect of my life. Moving forward I want to be deliberate to set myself up for success and avoid the pitfalls that tend to send me rushing through my days, getting sidetracked, and/or consuming all my energy and strength.
I want to choose my “busy.”
Resilience comes from taking charge of your life after a profound and consequential event. It’s finding the buoyancy to adjust and recover readily from illness, adversity, major life changes, etc. As widows, we are strong and resilient. Let’s choose our path forward. This will differ based on our age, family dynamics and circumstances, health, passions, needs, and desires.
No matter where we find ourselves, we can choose how we want to spend our time and energy. Perhaps, like me, in the early stages of this new life, you might need to slow down to almost a halt and take time to start to heal before you can adequately consider your options. Young widows with children at home have the new responsibility of being a single parent and all that entails. Widows with chronic and/or life-limiting medical conditions must weigh these factors into their planning. Some of us experience a dramatic change financially… some receiving new resources and some losing a significant amount. Each of us face significant change that will factor in your plan as you take your next steps.
We feel a new sense of empowerment when we take charge of our choices and objectively evaluate our priorities and needs. It may not be easy, but you are worth the effort! Allow yourself to try new things and don’t be afraid to switch direction if something is not a good fit. Your bright future, full of promise and new adventures, awaits. Take a deep breath and tell yourself you are going for it!