10 Tips I have discovered during my travels on this Journey
Updated: Jan 7
One size fits one. This thing called grief is unique to me. As I meet with others that are grieving, I am beginning to appreciate their pain, but recognize that each of us experiences this pain differently and uniquely. The depth, the length, the way that it plays out, the way that I process it, all of these actions are mine and mine alone. It helps to share with others that are experiencing this, and we can take comfort in each other. But in the end, it is my path; mine alone. It is your path; yours alone. Our similarities are in the grief that we are feeling. Our differences are in the grief that we are feeling.
Real men cry. I would like to think that our culture is changing and becoming more accepting of this. In fact, from my experience it has. I can’t count the number of times I have cried. Not only when I am alone, but when I am in a social setting, too. I have never had somebody express any negativity towards that. In fact, I have always been embraced and surrounded by the love and companionship of others. For some, it may be awkward. This is natural, because no body can truly understand what I am going through, and it is in our nature to feel awkward when confronted with something we don’t understand. But, everybody I have around me has accepted this new path and continues to love and support me.
There is no space between me and the love of God. I have to admit that there were times that I questioned this. But, when I do look back, I can see that God does love me. God loves Terry, too! When I have moments and memories of her, I am often reminded of the loving, caring, peaceful nature that surrounded her. This all in spite of how she must have been feeling. To have suffered through all that she did and to have had such a beautiful, peaceful, calm about her speaks loudly of the love of God that filled her. I don’t need anything but that to keep me reminded that God loves me, no matter what.
Remember to take some “Me Time”. During this past year I have taken several trips; my Me Time. During these trips I was able to get alone with my own thoughts and not be immersed in all the daily things that tend to push in on us. I went to the ocean a couple of times to remember the times there with Terry. I went to our old “stomping grounds”. I went to her old school to experience the vibes that she felt while attending. I am going to go away for a couple of days during our upcoming anniversary and her birthday. All of these are Me time. Not only can I reflect on our life together, but I also can use this time to get alone and work on things that I need to work on. Every time that I have done this, I come back stronger, and better.
Seek out and build a support network. I have to admit that I have built a bit of a wall around me. I have been somewhat selective in who I get together with. These are people that I feel comfortable around while in certain “grief” moods. This isn’t to say that I am “unfriending” the many of my other friends. I still value them and our friendship. But, as I wrote Tip #1, I am reminded that this is something in me, and my own personal issue and comfort space. Now, as I travel further down this new journey, I am opening up a bit more to more friends and people. But, one thing that I am now realizing is that I have a support network (of men, especially) that I can talk with, share my true feelings with. And, they will not judge me, they will pray for me, and I can always count on them being there.
Embrace the new. As I have shared, this is a new journey. While it is easy to try to hold onto the past, and I still do, it is also important to embrace the new. When I was learning to ski, I was taught to lean forward. When you are leaning forward on your skis, you are able to maintain better control; contrasted to lying back and having the skis slip out from under you. Likewise, in this Journey I am finding that if I lean in, Embrace the New, I am able to travel this path better.
Triggers Happen. It’s OK.
Find a grief support group. I joined Griefshare at my church. I am currently going through this the second time. I am not finished. Each time I attend, I unpack something new.
Connect with others in your path. I have been blessed with so many friends and family and all are supportive. In particular, the men from my small groups have been especially supportive. There are others, too. I am a tech geek. So, I do like social media. There are blogs and websites that I connect to from other widows and widowers that I participate with. If nothing else, these give me a sense of grounding and community. In connecting with those that are on my same path, I know that I am not alone.
Seek the new purpose in your changed life. Terry and I were together for more than 45 years. When she passed, my whole life changed. I have all of that we shared together, but the very fabric of me is being changed. You may have heard the analogy that God is the potter and we are the clay. Well, this new chapter in my life is a new lump of clay. Today, the old things no longer motivate me. There are newer things in my life. So, I am reading, I am listening to podcasts, reading blogs, seeking the counsel of others. Everything is done with the mission of re-establishing my new purpose. This doesn’t mean that I am throwing away 45 years of my life. I am not moving on… I am moving forward. Moving forward means that all of the past serves as a foundation for the future. God is scripting this new chapter for me, and it is up to me to use His script and set my own journey according to where He leads me.