How Purpose Helps You Heal

Besides experiencing overwhelming and sometimes terrifying loneliness, for a widower, the loss of their wife can often leave them feeling lost and without direction. As husbands from an earlier era, we often feel that providing for our family (our wife in particular), is our first and most important purpose.  With her gone, you cannot help but ask, “What is my purpose now?”

In my book, Widower to Widower, I explained it this way,

“I would sometimes compare my life to a chair with four legs: my wife, my faith, my job, and my family. I was soon to find out what life would be like with two of those legs (wife and job) gone, and one (faith) in crisis. Trying to keep a one-legged chair upright was about as impossible as keeping my life from collapsing after her passing.”

In our men’s grief group, we often speak of the need to re-invent ourselves as a part of the healing process. A key component of this process is finding new purpose in our lives, a purpose that makes us feel valuable again, makes us feel like we have clear direction again, and most importantly make we feel like we have a reason to live again.

One widower found solace and healing by writing out his mission/purpose to help guide him from going forward.

The following was submitted by Larry R.

My personal mission is to provide for and support my family in all their life choices and honor Leona (1942-2018) in every way. The highest calling and mission at this point in my life is to be a mentor, a role model, and a stabilizing force in the lives of my grandchildren.  I have a responsibility to my family, my community, and my country to continue to be an informed and active citizen who displays the utmost integrity in all activities, including personal and business interactions. I will carry out my mission by being a listener and helpmate. I will shape the lives of my grandchildren by teaching them to be grandparents. I will be a multiplier.

My faith-based mission is to share the heart of Christ and to love all people unconditionally, regardless of social status, ethnicity, creed, or gender, without the burden of validating lifestyles or behavior.  It is my responsibility to affirm the worth and value of everybody.  I will carry out my mission through the organized church and my personal ministries. 

My servant leadership mission is to help individuals, groups, and entities to find their potential.  I will fulfill that mission by being a loyal servant leader.  A servant leader walks beside to build spiritual, relational, economic, and experiential capital; and, the capacity to hold knowledge, develop the aptitude, increase capability and potentiality, and hone critical thinking skills.  I will help them build a life and organizational model that supports a resilient lifestyle.

My professional mission is to facilitate learning, mentor students and peers, and create new knowledge.  I plan to fulfill that mission (1) by training students to be decision-makers (2) by pressing knowledge frontiers, (3) by making my knowledge and service available to all, and (4) by active participation in professional societies and organizations.  I plan to fulfill my mission as a servant of all. My professional mission now includes mentoring young professionals.

Writing down your thoughts can be both therapeutic and kick start your healing process. You honor your wife, reinforce your core values (that she helped you to establish), and provide yourself with some key points to live by as you move forward. This helps to reestablish your foundation, which gives you strength and stability to help deal with the challenges ahead.

Fred Colby’s thoughts can be found here on WSN every other Thursday.  Fred is the author of the book, Widower to Widower.  You can write Fred c/o [email protected].

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