TIME

When we loose someone very close which in this case is a spouse, our days become longer and the nights sometimes daunting, as it feels quieter and empty.You are left in a silence with your reality and thoughts.

So It’s important to plan your days with much precision.While l was off work l would drop my daughter at school,come home, tidy up for less than an hour and ensure to step out of the house by 9.30.am to go for my walk.

During my walk l listen to praise and worship Christian music,pray and meditate on scriptural affirmations addressing my specific fears and concerns in that moment.

I reserved moments of silence to listen to my own thoughts,get clarity on potential decisions and also bask in the sheer peace of being by myself.

When l return home l feel refreshed and energised.Sometimes l would have arranged to meet a friend for lunch or plan my walk with a friend on the agreement not to talk too much but focus on brisk walking quietly.

By the time my daughter is due for school pick up l feel l have had alone time and l have a reserve of energy to give her the attention required.

Walking daily improved my sleep/rest at night and made me much fitter,I also spent time reading other people’s testimonies on how to cope being widowed and understand the grief process.This encourages and enables you to see there is hope after your loss

I also went back to swimming which was always a sport l enjoyed.I found each time l swam felt l had a body massage as it is gentle on our joints and strengthens your whole body.You leave relaxed and more focused.

I decided also not to watch to much mundane TV only films or programmes that made me laugh or i could learn from.

I also tried to keep a daily dairy to log huge milestones,this enabled me to measure my progress generally.

For the first year l found it very difficult to go to places that l enjoyed going to with my late spouse so l made conscious efforts to avoid them.However anytime l stepped into those settings without hesitating l felt l had achieved a milestone.

One of my flaws though in the first year was spending time shopping on line to buy luxuries or replace worn out clothing.I focused on maintaining the style l would have lived if my spouse was here or he would afford me.

Thank God l could afford it.Perhaps it would have been wiser to reserve all spending until l was emotionally stronger.

I also reviewed my career and decided to make further strides in professional development in areas of my work that l enjoyed the most.

I applied to study,got interviewed and was successful,but deferred the offer until a year later when l was sure this is what l needed.Grief can affect greatly how you view things. Spontaneity is something you must try to avoid in the first year as you will save yourself money.

If i had just lost a spouse in this period of the Coronavirus pandemic,lock down and social distancing i wonder what i would replace my swimming and outgoing activities with.

I guess i would have to use apps that will enable me to engage with others in small groups.I am sure mobile face time would be invaluable.However i can’t contemplate my late husbands funeral only being attended by a limited few.

It must be devastating and double distressing for those going through this at this time.My deepest Condolences to you and family.

‘Grace to you and peace from God our Father’ 2 Corinthians 1:2

Signing off now,there is always hope after loss.

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WRITE YOUR PLAN

What is your plan

In our loss it is so easy to get stuck in the depth of sorrow and different waves of emotion that typify Grief. However to avoid being stuck in this time space,

after a year l began to write my expectations for the future.That is reviewing what was not perfect in my past and decide on fine tuning my future.

You can decide to remain single or not in the future it is a choice you can rightly make.

If not what would you like your new spouse to be like – writing the personal qualities that a man can bring into your life to add and build you up,and complement what you have.Plus vice versa. (My reference is marriage between a man and woman).

You write down spiritual qualities you want in the individual’s personality.For example integrity,confidence,self control, not self seeking,patient,generous, focused for the future and career destination.

You can divide your written plans of expectations into different categories that are important to you.For example – spiritual and physical qualities etc.

Then perhaps take a closer look at yourself and write down what you would like to improve in your attributes.

For example managing your finances better,being a better organiser of time,improve your professional skills,or more self disciplined.

A written plan gives specific focus and goals to achieve for yourself/ family.Each day choose which one to work on.Try to be consistent at refining that quality daily.Perhaps practice on a friend or Mentor?

You measure change by the milestones you achieve – your reaction to a specific event last month might be different on how you will react today.E.g perhaps you are not as sensitive or you are more courageous to speak up when you do not agree with another person’s point of view.

You even start to sense other peoples positive comments or observations.Each day you are one step closer to your goal.

It is important to take time out quietly to meditate on where you are emotionally and review your written plan intermittently.You should set one month goals,3months,6months and 1year goals – review what you have achieved.I believe this takes you closer to being emotionally open to change.

Your expectation starts to become closer in sight- your optimism becomes higher and so do your energy levels.You become more open to engaging in social interactions and going to new places. Do try to enjoy each day you have!

Signing off now,there is Hope after loss

THE FAMILIAR

Loss shakes all things we are used to and more.So holding on to what is familiar is crucial.Perhaps when you decide to return to work it is best not to change jobs yet until after the first year of loss.

In the interim you could explore how to improve your skills and generate more income or flexible working.Do not make any drastic commitments until when you are feeling emotionally stronger.

Going back to work with familiar colleagues and systems means you do not have the added complication of going to a new work setting.When returning to work ask to be weaned gradually back in.

The routine will strengthen you as you engage in some form of normality.Also go to clubs or groups you were members of before your husband died. E.g Parent groups,neighbourhood support networks or church gatherings.This will give you some form of stability and security. As you grow stronger so will your children.

Drastic or sudden changes to your day to day routine can make you insecure as you are still emotionally fragile.So stay with the familiar as much as possible,keep your children in the same school as having the same friends will strengthen and support them.

Signing off now,there is always hope after loss.

TIDYING UP

Loss also requires physically tidying up what needs to be removed from our present vicinity or dwelling.Returning home each day you are faced with all things your loved one has left behind.As my husband’s death was so sudden, many things featured as a stage in which he was on and abruptly exited.

In the car his mobile phone ear plugs were left as if he would return any minute to continue using them,his computer/laptop was left on the last screens he worked on,his shoes were in the hallway as if he had just stepped into another room and so where all his clothes hung in the wardrobe as if he was returning to pick what he shall wear for the day.

Having to see this daily can be quite tough.You have to move on gradually by going through each section of things he owned and decide on what to keep, who to give and where to donate items.

The process of clearing out will bring moments in which to reminisce in tears and in laughter,memories of silly things he did or would like to wear.

Closure for you is to tidy up these items and see it as making room for the new ( that could mean for you, facing gradually that he won’t be sharing that space with you any long.

I cleared stuff out gradually after 3 months as l was aware his possessions can become a shrine or idol that l might unhealthily hold on to.I kept key items for my children e.g. his ties, some shirts etc my girls could use in plays.

Part of clearing out sets you on the path to finding closure and embracing to a certain extent your current reality.The numbness you feel starts to gradually subside when you start this process.

The kids should be involved in this as it allows them some closure and they can take items they want.Be award the process of grief takes you through a rollercoaster of emotions from anger,tears,fear,etc. These emotions can shift at any given time – especially within the first year of loss.

When l cleared out l found some strength to donate his clothes to charities that could sell and raise funds for their cause.I also gave stuff to people l know where in need of certain items.

The process of clearing out is painful initially but when you have done it you feel an element of accomplishment,as you have faced successfully one of the many hurdles ahead.

Signing off now – remember there is always hope after loss.

THE DAY AFTER

Once l laid my late husband to rest the reality of his loss hit me.The busyness of arranging the funeral took my mind off things.What do l do with self? Where do l start planning my life and future?

The first thing you have to do is take each day as one step at a time.I had to ensure l had time to my self .So l enquired about how much time l was entitled to be off work and applied for time off.This enabled me to wake up each morning and walk for 1 hour.

During these alone times l set out a plan for my future goals – simple, practical and realistic ones.One thing l was certain of was l did not want to spend the rest of my life alone.I prayed constantly for my future to be secure in God’s hands and I gained clarity on time scales of milestones l wanted to achieved.

My first priority was to contact my children’s schools and get the emotional support they will need at least in the first year.I also contacted local charities that offered bereavement support for children etc

The next thing is your finances.If you are in debt it’s best to contact immediately free agencies that will negotiate with your creditors.You need to set a written budget of your Income and expenditure.You know exactly what you can and can’t afford.Get free advice on money you might be entitled to when widowed.This is crucial to do within

3 months of loss.This will ease the emotional pressure financial problems can create.

If you have older children over 18 encourage them to help and support you in the above.Though grieving as well it distracts them momentarily too from present loss.

Get friends and family to help with collating paper work.Find out also if you have life insurances or other etc

At this time it is important to get enough rest and good night sleep.Loss makes us exhausted and emotionally drained.Talking openly to family and friends regularly on how you are feeling is very important.

When people came to visit me especially in the early months l used to thrive on talking and singing worship joyful songs.

Bereavement counselling will be an important service to explore – known to be more effective a year after your loss.

You should not make any life changing decisions in the first year of your loss.

Signing off now – remember there is hope after loss.Feel free to ask questions or make comments.

Please share if this has encouraged you!