For many of you, this title strikes you as a bit rhetorical. For others, you may take one look and discount this notion entirely. My brothers welcome to one of the many complex aspects of being a widower.
Early in my widowhood, I found myself completely unprepared to deal with the difficulty I had with convincing myself that I alone was enough of a reason to move forward with my life. While not at all suicidal, I found it difficult to get on with the business of healing.
As I have shared many times in my writings, one of the wisest decisions that I made was to seek grief counseling. While I know that is not a palatable thought for many of you brothers; it was the answer for me. Without it, I may have eventually come around to be motivated to do the work necessary to begin the process; however, having someone to talk to, structure my thoughts with, recognize my feelings, and simply just listen helped me tremendously.
During these sessions and with my dogged determination, I found that my life still had a purpose. Let me share with you three thoughts that I have on this matter.
I Learned to Master my approach to my thoughts and feelings.
While I know “master” is a strong term when it comes to emotion or grief, I feel comfortable in using it. Why, you ask? I believe we each will experience a wide range of emotions for an individually based period; we eventually gain some clarity of what we are feeling and why we feel that way at the time. Of course, there are no absolutes, but we often grow with time or circumstances in this area. In my book The First 365, I recount how there are certain songs, events, and memories that may cause me to emote for the rest of my life. When I experience these thoughts and feelings, over time, I have become armed with the coping mechanisms to make it through these periods.
We Often Model Behavior to Others
Whether you know it or not, you are modeling behavior to others. Take a moment and remember some of the awkward conversations you have had with other people. They are fearful of saying the wrong thing or asking inappropriate questions following the death of our your spouse or partner. I honestly feel that this is a significant contributor to why some of our “friends” vanish into thin air after our loved one passes away. While they may not engage you in conversation, they are often watching you for signs of how you seem to be coping with your loss. These observations sometimes lead to those “you seem to be doing well, Terrell” conversations I have had with others over the years.
One of the groups that we almost universally model to is our family. For those who still have children at home, recognition for your modeling may be expressed in the unsolicited hug or the head resting on your shoulder. Being an empty nester when Robyn died, I could have used a head on my shoulder!
We Often Times Mentor to Others
By writing my book, serving as a podcasts guest, and having shared my thoughts with you, I find myself being sought out by friends, former classmates, and by individuals that acquaintances just have people to call me when they experience loss. On occasion, some of these conversations have led to short-term mentoring relationships. However, because I am not a grief professional per se, I will only allow these conversations to progress so far before recommending a more formal relationship with a trained professional.
So, my brothers, We still have a purpose. Brokenhearted? Yes! But alive none the less. We learned to find times of comfort where we find them, friendship where they manifest themselves, and a new purpose wherever it can be found.
As always, I welcome your feedback. Know that I never take these opportunities for granted and enjoy the interchange we have from these articles. Until next time.
Terrell Whitener is an author, motivational speaker, and coach. Based in St. Louis, Missouri, Terrell is the author of The First 365, Learning to Live After Loss. Terrell can be reached at his website thedebriefgroup365.com: there, you will find all his social media contacts or through the Widow Support Network. His insights appear here every other Tuesday. His second book, From the Heart to The Heart, will be released soon. More details soon.