About a year or so before my husband fell ill with pancreatic cancer, I was beginning to feel rumblings of discontent in my spirit. I wouldn’t call it a midlife crisis, but more a sense that something was missing in my life.
I thought that maybe I needed to think about redoing my home, making lifestyle changes. I felt my apartment could use a fresh coat of paint, or the addition of moulding to the ceilings to add pre-war character (it’s a New York thing). These were all ideas that I knew would not go over well with my husband as he was anathema to change. I also began to think about ways of re-igniting my creative juices. I was after all, an artist, and I had once designed jewelry, but now I was feeling that maybe painting would be something that I might want to explore. Writing was not something that I thought about doing, although going back into independent television production, which involves writing, were ideas that also came up as I gave serious thought to my life and tried to quell the “uprising in my soul”. At some point, I began to feel that something was missing in my life, not our life, just mine. I would spend a lot of time thinking deeply about life and my purpose in it. I had the “what’s it all about Alfie” blues. A lot of deep thinking occurred as I thought about why I was having these strange and uncomfortable feelings. These were my intimate thoughts that I did not share, as I did not want my husband to misinterpret these feelings as my being unhappy with him, us, our life. Chuck was a black and white guy and he would not have heard the gray if I’d tried to explain what I was going through.
One day, a few months before Chuck became ill, it hit me like a ton of bricks: life was passing me by. I began to feel that my life lacked meaning and I was beginning to explore ideas on how to make it a more purpose driven life. It was an ongoing process, this period of self-exploration, interrupted, unfortunately, by an event that would change and shape my future in ways I could not have imagined.
Long after my husband died, as I faced my new life alone, I soon came to know that I was being given a new opportunity. I could stand frozen in time waiting for life to happen to me or decide to explore new interests and see what ideas emerged from my soul searching.
Moving one’s life forward after loss is not an easy task. It takes a willingness to wake up from the sleep of sorrow and grief and continue to do things that move a life forward. If we linger too long in our grief it becomes a security blanket, there with you when you wake in the morning, a shadow throughout your day, tucking you in at night. You can become so comfortable in that place that the longer you remain there, you block yourself from moving on and beginning your life anew. It is important that one take responsibility for the obstacles that we place in our lives. We may be dealt a hand that we feel is unfair, but it is how we play that hand that will help us to decide whether the glass is half empty or half full.
Many people, even those who haven’t lost a spouse or loved one, let life pass them by. They think about the things they would like to do, dream about them, wish for the opportunities, but then do nothing to manifest these dreams, hopes, and ideas. Eventually they will conclude that true love eluded them for example, or other secret desires will just never be theirs. People feel powerless when really all the power is within them.
No one can move past the pain of grief except the person who grieves. Going to a grief group, or getting individualized counseling , developing a new interest and spending time with friends are all good starters for rebuilding a life that has been impacted by loss. We are essentially, if one can look at loss this way, after a time, being given an opportunity to be reborn. Everything that was familiar is no longer and nothing is the way it once was.
I remember that I felt as if I was learning how to live all over again. The shock from the loss was so intense, that I would see people on the street and wouldn’t recognize them. But with perseverance and the will to move my life forward, I began to regain my footing in the new world I now found myself in. I thought that I, the sensitive one, would never be able to get through the intensity of the pain at that time.
Getting back to the rumblings in my spirit, the feeling that I needed a change, all this occurred before my husband became ill. I’ve asked myself this question : Was that period in my life an omen? Was it a sign that a change was about to take place? I don’t really know, but I do believe that our spirit is the place where our intuition is housed and it is ever guiding us and sometimes can warn of danger ahead.
I have decided that however brief my life with Chuck, I am grateful for his presence in my life. What I learned, our experiences together, can never be duplicated or erased from my memory. His illness and death, an intimate time between only him and me, would be the ending of our life together. After his passing, and after a time I was given an opportunity to be reborn.
I’ve since revisited the rumblings of my spirit that I had experienced a years before and decided to look at them more closely. I resolved to take my circumstance and choose to be a part of the world again. As a result, I rediscovered my love of writing, sewing and singing.
When we lose a loved one we do end up with a choice. We can sit on the sidelines and watch our lives drift along and live in the past with regrets, or we can take the occasion to allow ourselves be reborn and claim our new life with gusto.
It has been said that many people die with their music still in them. Why is this so? Too often it’s because they’re getting ready to live. But before they know it ,time runs out. I would suggest that we don’t risk dying with our music still in us, take off the earphones, be reborn, take risks and fly.
Read more about rebuilding life after loss my in book Brave in a New World: A Guide to Grieving the Loss of a Spouse at Amazonhttp://tinyurl.com/qghzw3e or Barnes and Noble, and all other e-booksellers.