Several years ago, when contemplating retirement, I published an article titled “Finishing Strong.” While this article focused on the mechanisms for preparing for life after work, it also gave recommendations for navigating the far too often experience of being both too expensive and becoming somewhat marginalized in the workplace. In some ways, if not experienced in the right perspective, our personal life can take on many of the same traits. This article in no way is an “end of life” column, but more directed at developing a healthy state of mind while moving forward in life.
For myself, I am closing in on seven years since my wife Robyn’s death. Like many others, the road has been met with its share of highs and lows. But when looking back, the most important thing I can say is that I survived, and boy, how different life without Robyn is.
So, in my mind, what does “finishing strong” look like? I’m living my life alone and focusing on family and friends, embracing the uncertainty surrounding me, and enjoying the discovery that has become my everyday experience?
I have found the aspect of discovery to be the most effective way for me. I have learned to deal with the change in my priorities and perspective over the past few years. I have talked previously about my great love for baseball. Being unable to attend baseball games due to the pandemic, I have since discovered the game has lost some of its lusters. I find myself dialing in on television and watching more casually than fanatically than I used to. My views on how I spend my time have changed as well. I spend more time reading and listening to music than I used to. I guard the level of negative information I take in.
In many ways, I have become a “kinder and gentler version of my former self. Not exactly withdrawing, but more at peace with stepping back. It has become, in many ways, my version of personal maintenance. I have a new daughter-in-law that I adore and am enjoying getting to know her family. I still maintain my fondness for travel and find myself spending time discovering new places to visit. Also, I have a new friendship to cultivate as well. This, I have found, takes a certain amount of energy that has been very different than I remember in the past. While exciting, in some ways has been a bit interesting going through the process of inviting new energy into my life. Pray for me, brothers; I am not used to being in the deep end of the pool!
So, finishing strong is about finding happiness and peace in your everyday existence. I certainly don’t seek my former life, which realistically ended with Robyn’s death. I certainly am not the same; the death of a spouse or partner changes things. But happiness, peace, and embracing change are still out there if you reach for it. If you are fortunate enough to find it, whether through self-acceptance or, if you are lucky, new love, you will find yourself “finishing strong” in life.
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 newly redesigned thedebriefgroup365.com, where you will find all my social media contacts or through the Widow Support Network.