If you already have all the answers, don’t waste your time asking others for help… because you won’t be able to hear any advice that is offered, no matter how good it is.
However, if you feel lost and are ready to hear what others can share with you, then, by all means, ask for help… and the sooner, the better.
But what kind of help? Each of us has our unique way of learning. For some, it may be very verbal (a spoken exchange of ideas), while for others, it may be reading ideas by ourselves, while others may only learn by doing. So, it helps to be aware of how we learn to make the most of what is available.
Some may choose to go entirely with the self-help methodology. This might first include reading books, blogs, and articles; It might also include listening to podcasts, TED Talks, meditation talks (e.g., Eckart Tolle), or just researching online until we find something that resonates for us.
Others may dive into therapy or counseling, including grief groups or individual therapy sessions. Therapy is particularly effective in dealing with a variety of psycho-emotional problems which can emerge during deep grieving. Merely talking through your challenges during this period can relieve some of the stress you are dealing with and help you to begin to feel more normal again.
Good therapists help guide you through opening up and talking about what you are experiencing, let you know that what you are going through is normal, and help prepare you to better discuss things with your family and friends. (I always stress “grief therapy,” not general therapy, as grief therapists are better prepared to help us with our issues.)
Peer Coaching is another alternative that widowers often find on their own. This can be a group of guys who started in a Grief Group, which then evolved into a mutually supportive circle of new friends who are there for each other through all the ups and downs of the grieving process. We can all learn from the experiences of our fellow grief travelers who may have found a way through the same challenge we are now facing. And because they have survived the same awful journey, we can expect non-judgmental support rather than condemnation or belittling of your experience.
With a therapist, you might focus more on the past or present (e.g., the death of your wife), while with a coach, you might give more attention to the future (e.g., should I sell my house or take a trip). This evolution of turning your attention from the past to the future is a natural part of the healing process. Additionally, while the therapist helps us better to understand the “why” of our grief journey, the coach may be able to better help us to think about “where do I go from here.”
Overall, the most important step we can take is to allow others back into our lives as we progress in our healing. If we push people away after the first 2 – 3 months, they will likely turn away from us for good. Our family and friends are by far the best resource we have that can help us through this painful experience.
I realize that there are times when a family can seem to implode after losing a wife, mother, sister, and/or daughter. Some may be angry, others depressed, and some even fearful for their future. Longstanding differences among family members may have been suppressed while your wife was alive but are now out in the open for all to see.
When this happens, you have a choice. You can either contribute to the problems by joining the fray (this usually ends badly for everyone), OR you can refuse to accept the negativity and be a force for reconciliation. This can take great patience and willingness to turn the other cheek, but it is 100% worth the effort when it works. We all need to find the path that works best for us individually and then dedicate ourselves to it. Good luck!
© Copyright 2022 Fred Colby
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