Dear brothers, like many of you, I celebrated that we have reached the 1900-member mark in the Widowers Support Network. Wow, we have come a long way. Upon reading that news, the fact that this also represents 1900 broken hearts, countless tears, and dreams unrealized.
As I sit down to exercise the privilege of deciding what to share with our brothers, I could not help but remember that with our growing membership comes the reality that we collectively are in various places in our journey. Some brothers have already found love again and have re-married. At the same time, another brother may recoil at the thought and seek the safety of the room’s corner.
Like many others, I believed love did not owe me anything else. I had experienced a great love with my late wife. I can honestly say I have a good grasp of what love looks, acts, and feels like in my life. But, just when I thought I had it all figured out, love comes again.
In my book, The First 365, I introduce my ten tenets of grief. These guidelines helped me navigate the deep hurt I experienced because of losing my wife, Robyn. One of those tenants is, “Moving forward is not an act of disloyalty; it is an act of love.” Over the years, how I look at this tenant has evolved. Initially, I viewed it through the lens of honoring Robyn’s memory. As time has gone by, I now consider it to give myself the grace to love myself on a deeper level. Recently it allowed me to find love again without a modicum of fear or guilt.
Moving forward has given me the courage to begin anew, a loving relationship with an amazing young woman and receive her love in return. I have learned to navigate the varied reactions from friends and family, plan a move to a completely different city and state, and see and live life in a whole new way.
This new love is remarkably different from anything I have ever experienced before. It has caused me to grow in ways I could have never imagined before and turned back the clock in more ways than I could name. I am alive in so many ways I have never been, feel things that have laid dormant for many years, and made how I look at the future unbelievably different.
To take on such a change takes trust, faith, and courage. It brings clarity of thought and sometimes even forces you to take a few steps without the safety of the emotional net we build up over the years without even knowing we have done so. How has love changed so much? To be asking myself these types of questions at this age is exhilarating.
With this type of change comes questions from others sometimes. I certainly have had many surprisingly intense conversations over the past few months. In responding to these conversations, I have begun to follow these personal guidelines when engaging in these conversations.
- Listen for understanding. Please do not be dismissive. It is counterproductive to minimize the feelings of others.
- Redirect or clear up improper thoughts or assumptions
- Share your vision of happiness. Tell your love story. It can clear the air.
- Openly model your happiness. It may be hard for some to accept the change in your life, but model and share your happiness; over time, this practice may help.
In the end, people who care about you only want the best for you. Keep that in mind and try not to take any hesitancy personally.
Finding the courage to love again is worth the effort. Personally, it has changed my life. My dear brothers, I highly recommend it; if life offers, you are the opportunity to do so. As always, I welcome your feedback. Sharing my thoughts with all of you is an honor, and I hope you find it helpful. 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 my social media contacts or through the Widowers Support Network. His second book Speaking from the Heart of Widows and Widowers, will be released soon. More details to come.