One of the biggest hurdles after loss is trying to reassemble one’s life without the lost spouse or loved one. So many people find this to be the greatest challenge after a loved one has passed away. In my book, Brave in a New World: A Guide to Grieving the Loss of a Spouse, I discuss the various stages one goes through when they are grieving after loss. The very first thing that I felt when my husband died was shock, then numbness. I felt as though there was a flurry of activity around me and although I was at the center, I was not really a part of it. It was a surreal feeling, as though I’d been struck by lightning.In the beginning, I was going through the motions, making funeral arrangements, meeting with family and friends.I was a part of the world and removed from it.The next few months I experienced gray days ahead. The world was whizzing right by me while I remained fixed in place crying my heart out, and longing to see my husband for one last time.
My husband had died in the dead of winter. It was a cold, gray and dreary period, like many Northeast winters, which added to the gloomy pall that had suddenly overtaken my life. Every day was the same as if I was asleep but awake, a walking dead, no longer full of life. In the beginning I did believe that this would be my new normal and I did not know if I would ever wake up. Then as spring approached and I felt ready to sit with others and talk about my loss, the world seemed a bit brighter and less gray.
As I became more alive I also began to notice the colors of the blooming flowers, pink cherry blossoms on the trees, the verdant grass. I, like the earth, was beginning to come to life again….just a little. I would note, when I’ve thought back on that time, how Mother Nature never fails us. We can be assured that we will see the sunrise and the sunset each and every day and on clear nights we can view the moon in its familiar place in the sky. Plants will grow, some will die only to have the cycle repeated as the seasons change: day, night , life, death. All of these transformations and changes mimic the seasons of our lives. Every new birth is full of beauty and life and this adds to our sense of hope, love, expectation and fulfillment.
I would suggest that those of us who’ve lost a loved one take a closer look at nature’s life cycles. We are, after all, a part of nature even though we are a higher species. The various stages that we experience throughout a lifetime consist of change. Nothing lasts forever, not even the great times. As long as we’re alive we can count on highs and lows as we ride the waves of life. Remember that you were once full of life and vibrant, which, when you’re grieving, is sometimes hard to recall. I promise that you can feel that way again, after a time, with conscious efforts made on your part to move your life forward.
Several years ago, the building that I lived in decided to install more energy efficient windows. They were certainly better looking than the old ones and were a welcomed change. After the windows had been put in they did look great but some were rather difficult to open and close. My husband usually took care of that task so I didn’t think about it much. When he was no longer around to do that, I would try to lift the windows as high as I could, which was not very high. It hurt my hands to try and pull the windows up, but eventually the more muscle and effort I put into it and the more I pushed I managed to open the windows wider, which allowed more air in.
Whether we start to grieve right away or delay the process, embarking on the grief journey is essential to one’s healing process and well-being. We want to be able to maintain a healthy state of mind, body and spirit.We do not want to have the residual sadness of grief become a shadow companion and interrupt the rebuilding of our lives. There will always be a part of us that will hold onto our memories, and the experiences we’ve had with those we have lost. While it is okay to revisit those memories whenever we like, unless we feel that we’ve had our ONE, as many do, eventually we want to be able to be ready for all that life in our new world has to offer.
The vibrant green of the trees, the beautiful reds and pinks and yellows of the blooming spring flowers, this is what we’re aiming to experience again, life in HD, in the new Spring of our lives.When this new Spring occurs, even if it’s in the dead of winter, we want to be able to shake off the shackles of grief and numbness and come to life again. In time,as odd as this may sound, some may be able to think of the experience of loss as a chance to do something different, even though it is an opportunity that was neither asked for or expected.
There are many who would like to be able to start over again, and simply don’t know how. I recommend that you treat yourself gently, take each day at a time, and attempt to do something every day that honors your lost loved one, but also create new routines that will help to move you in the direction that you want to go. Even though you may not know what direction that is just yet, you will in time. Remember, as we move forward, we may have times where we feel emptiness and maybe even depression. However as we ride the waves of grief, we will also experience good times, joy and a sense of well-being. Therefore, we should try, when we are ready, to begin the work to heal, to push ahead with a resolve to push on, so we can move out of the numb stage , through the grief tunnel and into the light.
As I continued to push on the window I found that I was able to open it more easily with time, patience and determination. Chuck was no longer here to help me, so if I wanted more air I had to push that window open on my own. You will find that as you make your way through the tunnel of grief, whether it takes months or years, one day you will want to breathe new air into your life. When you see that pinhole of light, inhale deep and release, as this is a sure sign that you’re being reborn, and coming back to life……again.
To find out more about how you can heal after loss read Brave in a New World:A Guide to Grieving the Loss of a Spouse available on Amazon http://tinyurl.com/jnjs5fu