I’ve always used the saying not my circus, not my monkeys. But what happens when it is your circus, and your monkeys are running amok? So are the elephants, lions, tigers and bears. The ringleader is crying in the corner and the tent is on fire. This is how I felt during my husband’s illness and death. There is also a numbness that sets in when you watch, find or find out your spouse is dying or dead. When it’s all said and done, your life now resembles a war zone and you’re looking for what remains. So how do you go on?
Its cheesy but self-care is the backbone to all of this. I’m not talking about bubble baths and mani-pedi’s. Selfcare is also protecting yourself from all the other outside forces. I did not take care of myself during my husband’s illness. I gave into all his wants because he was dying, and I justified putting my needs last. My first breaking point was when he was in the hospital after having his 2nd stroke. He had terminal cancer, I worked/homeschooled full time, the help I did have had their own agenda and I was running on more ounces of coffee than hours of sleep. I’ve had several catastrophic moments since his death, but I protect my needs and my daughters needs above all else due to this.
Take care of the basic needs. Eating, showering and sleeping will do a lot for the soul. Find a new routine that helps you the most. It may not make sense to anyone else, but it doesn’t have to.
If you have kids, be open and honest with them as much as you can. This topic may be controversial. My daughter was more aware of what was going on than what I told her. I didn’t do her any favors by trying to protect her from her father’s death. I’ve had to walk her through our life changes and be willing to hear what she has to say. Sometimes it’s not always pleasant and its heartbreaking. Their life changed also, and sometimes their journey is bumpier than ours.
I cannot stress this point enough but get the right kind of help. For most widows, we cannot afford to hire any kind of help. I bet most of us barely afforded to pay for a funeral let alone hire a plumber. Not everyone keeps their friend and family circle through grief either. You must learn to utilize your resources. It could be church groups, resources through your employer, neighbors and Facebook groups. Pick the kind of help that will be beneficial to you, not what makes someone else happy.
Create a comfortable space in your home. This looks different to everyone. I decided to completely remodel my house. For others it may be a shrine to their loved one or moving or no change at all. Your home must be your sanctuary. You cannot fully heal if you are not comfortable with your core foundation.
Learn to find the happy moments in the sadness. I’m 1000% sure not everyone appreciated me laughing during my husband’s viewing over some of the stories I was told from one of his old bosses. Those stories got me through that day, the day after and the week after that. Doing little things that brought me joy helped me be able to get out of bed the next day.
Eventually we will all put the pieces of our lives back together. It may look different than it did before, but our journey may be the strength someone else needs to take their first step.