When I turned 30 years of age I went through a life crisis. I hated my job, had no clear goals, and did not know what I wanted to do. Consequently, I was drinking too much and was probably not much fun to be around for my wife and kids.
One day after a particularly bad night I was driven to take a hard look at myself and where I was going. It was not a pretty picture. After some deep thought and prayer, I came up with a clear purpose statement to guide me going forward:
“I will strive to be the best possible expression of God’s man that I can be.”
Our non-religious brothers might have said something like: “I will strive to be the best possible man that I can be.”
This simple statement became my daily mantra. Over time I not only became a better person, husband, and father, but I also found many new opportunities opening up to me including better jobs, places to live, and future prospects. This in turn led me to add some specific and clear purpose statements to my mission. The most important one was to be a great father and husband.
So, how does this relate to us as widowers? It relates because so many of us feel lost and abandoned after our wives pass away. Our sense of purpose is often taken from us and we feel like a rudderless power boat spinning aimlessly on the ocean of life. It is scary, and for many of us, there do not appear to be any answers.
As a 40+ years nonprofit executive and consultant, I can tell you that any organization that does not have a clear mission or purpose will fail, and often dramatically so. Even a poorly thought-out mission is better than no mission. WELL, the same holds true for us. We need a clear purpose to escape the deep grieving we find ourselves in after our wife’s death.
As we struggle to regain our sense of purpose, we might consider a personal mission statement. Develop your Purpose first, some Goals second, and possibly some objectives third. Your mission/purpose statement might be something like:
- To come out of this stronger than I was before,
- To honor my wife by continuing the good work that we did during her life, or
- To continue working to be the man that my wife knew I could be.
And we might back that up with some goals needed to accomplish our mission, such as:
- I will survive this grieving process,
- I will re-engage with life again in a meaningful way, and
- I will enjoy life again.
And then we might develop specific objectives to help accomplish our goals, such as:
- Reach out to old friends and family to maintain relationships that are important to me
- Join new activities (e.g. hiking, biking, dancing, etc)
- Make new friends
- Join at least one volunteer activity to help serve my community
Each of the steps identified above can help you to heal and feel whole again. Take your time, and think each step through until you have something that really feels right for you. You will find the process itself is therapeutic. This can help calm the troubled waters you experience during early grieving.
© Copyright 2022 Fred Colby
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