The end of the year can be a tricky time for many people. The current state you are in may, at times, give way to the propensity to judge your entire existence by your present circumstances. Among the many teachings, I have been affected by is Dr. Eric Stoltz’s teaching “The Adversity Quotient.” When I attended Dr. Stoltz’s workshop, there was a statement he repeatedly referred to that has stayed with me over the years. That statement was, “what makes you think it is always going to be this way.”
Yes, my journey has been quite a ride. If there is anything that defines my experience with grief, loss, or widowhood, it is that it has been a very fluid experience for me. Marked with highs and lows, smiles, tears, sadness, and moments of enjoyment left unexamined.
I took time to reflect on this experience as I planned this year’s approach to the holidays and the end of the year. During this time of reflection, I thought about how I have been able to manage my life since the death of my wife nearly five years ago. While doing so, I settled on the following truths that have helped my survival evolution.
- It’s OK to sit some things out. While we are grateful for the invitations we receive from others, there are times when we don’t have the energy to follow through. Like so many wounds we experience, it takes time to heal. Recovery is not a race; it is a destination. While it is natural to benchmark your progress with others, collect the nuggets of wisdom from their words and deeds. These success stories are fuel for your future progress, not a judgment of your current state. Remember, any effort you take is a worthwhile endeavor.
- When ready, endeavor to start new activities and traditions. When the time is right, think about exploring new interests or returning to the ones you previously enjoyed but ceased doing. Trying new things can change our routine, help us gain new friends as well as give birth to new talents and skills we had not previously explored. I joined a Toastmasters Group and, as a result, entered several local speech contests and won four.
- Surround yourself with your favorite memories. In time for many of us, the pictures of our loved ones brought more smiles than tears. When the time is right, you may want to strategically set out a few of your favorite photos to fill the house with gratitude and not despair. After a while, it may lighten the air in your home. But everything is in the proper season.
- Surround yourself as much as possible with positive people and experiences. I will forever be grateful to my son and a co-worker I was mentoring for encouraging me to take a cruise by myself. While I thought I would look like the creepy old man lurking around the ship alone, I found it was one of the most uplifting experiences that I had had since my wife’s death. I met many great people and had many great experiences during that trip. I am glad I went.
Putting together our game plan for a better tomorrow begins with deciding today. While the decisions you make may be completely different from mine., make an effort to put together a plan. Without a plan, we can find ourselves drifting. Be intentional, conscious, and determined to push toward a more comfortable tomorrow as you heal. You will learn so much in the process. As always, I welcome your comments and feedback.
I look forward to you sharing your game plan. Take care.
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 my newly redesigned thedebriefgroup365.com; there, you will find all my social media contacts or through the Widowers Support Network.
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