A few months back I read a post from a widow that inspired me. There are a lot of people who write about the importance of acknowledging gratitude and counting your blessings… and this is a very good thing to do. She went somewhere I didn’t expect. She started with a gratitude jar… to record and save some things she was grateful for… no doubt reading or hearing some of the same things I have. What is special about her is she said it became her Accomplishment Jar.
She began a few months after she lost her husband. Over the course of many months, she wrote down on a little piece of paper her accomplishments and stuck each paper in the jar. She added things such as:
- I drove my car out of the driveway in the snow
- I hauled 18 bags of dirt to the garden and worked it in
- I survived tax season
- I started cleaning the upstairs
Imagine for a second you are in a horrific car accident and you wind up, God forbid, in a coma. Assuming you survive you have to relearn everything. How to walk, how to talk, how to use your arms, everything you knew and everything you were before the crash has been altered. You have to basically start from square one and rebuild yourself. Well widowhood is kinda like that. The you that was here when they were alive is not the same you that is here now. Instead of your body and your brain being broken now its your heart and your soul! You have to recondition yourself to learn or relearn all the things that were previously done for you that now fall entirely on your shoulders. That backup and support is no longer present. Much like physical therapy after the car accident joining support groups, talking with professionals, venting to friends and accomplishing new things you never thought you could before give you the emotional therapy you need to eventually heal! You have been in the emotional equivalent of a head on collision and you SURVIVED. You are bloodied but not broken. You will eventually put all the broken pieces behind as a new you emerges. Somewhat scarred but resilient and beautiful! The epitome of a true survivor and warrior!
By Bill Reich
The death of our husband sent us to a place we’ve never been before. There’s no manual to get through it, and every day we’re trying to do just that:
Get Through It!
In grief we operate in crisis mode. The rules are very different in a crisis. For example, if someone is critically injured and brought to the emergency room, the nurses and doctors may use scissors to cut through their clothing and try to save them. No one cares about a piece of clothing in the middle of a crisis. Getting this person better is the only thing that matters in that moment.
However, when we go to the doctor for our regular check-up, we would be stunned and outraged if they pulled out a pair of scissors to cut through our shirt! It would be considered very inappropriate for the situation.
Our expectations for “normal” life (whatever that is) are very different from what they are in times of high stress and trauma. Every grieving widow can agree nothing feels “normal” after the loss of our husband. Everything changes as our world as we knew it disappears and we seek to find some semblance of what we once called “normal.” We have a whole NEW normal now.
Our expectations need to change to reflect where we now find ourselves. We are in some stage of crisis and shock after this loss. The rules of crisis are very different.
Allowing yourself to understand that should also help you realize your expectations can and should be different as well. What we have to do to get through, get by and survive, especially in early grief – should not be an indication of who we are right now and it certainly doesn’t have to define us in the long term.
Be gentle to yourself. Be kind to yourself. Celebrate the small victories (like going someplace alone for the first time or cooking a meal) by realizing they are not small at all. Congratulate yourself for every single thing you accomplish in your grief, and forgive the times when you feel like you are not accomplishing enough.
This dear widow I read about has a wonderful idea. Writing down your feats… no matter how small they might seem to someone who doesn’t have a clue what you are going through… will help you celebrate your accomplishments and inspire you to keep moving forward. Write it down when you conquer the things you find difficult to do as you are healing and finding your way forward. Add the date if you want- it might encourage you down the road.
On really tough days… when it seems like you are getting nowhere… open up the jar, read what you wrote, and be encouraged! Acknowledge your accomplishments… no matter how small some might think they are… because they are really HUGE!!!!
The hope and the plan is you will eventually string enough victories and good feelings together to restore and rebuild your spirit. Hopefully, along with it, you will define a NEW YOU going forward.
The dear widow who wrote about the accomplishment jar saved her best victory for last…
- I love me 3/6/19
Talk about huge!!! When our identity is questioned and our self-esteem takes a beating, it might not be so easy to love ourselves. Our grief may cause us to feel invisible or very lost. The pain of loss leaves us feeling vulnerable and scared. This is the perfect time to consider the positive achievements you’ve made, and help you choose which battle you want to fight next. How many people do you love unconditionally, and give much grace to grow and learn. This is a wonderful time to give that gift to yourself. Love yourself for who you are… no matter what others say or think.
As a new year looms before us and many people consider making new year’s resolutions, perhaps we can choose to find our strengths and acknowledge our efforts, especially when we conquer tasks we find the most daunting and intimidating. Writing them down and reviewing them occasionally will encourage us forward in this journey of life.
Always remember this beautiful promise from God’s Word in Philippians 4: 12-13:
I know what it means to lack, and I know what it means to experience overwhelming abundance. For I’m trained in the secret of overcoming all things, whether in fullness or in hunger. And I find the strength of Christ’s explosive power infuses me to conquer every difficulty.
We can do ALL things through Christ. We don’t have to go it alone, even if we feel alone. Christ Jesus is only a prayer away.