Categories
Grief/Dispair Uncategorized

A Widow’s Perspective: Grief Talk

Cynthia

The Phantom Spouse-myth or reality? It has been said, “Losing a spouse is like losing a limb.”; let’s explore the validity of this statement. Drawing from my personal experience, the similarities are uncanny. Both situations leave you without something or someone vital to your survival; that is unequivocal.

After an amputation, an amputee continues to feel pain/sensations in the missing limb; it appears this pain comes from the spinal cord and brain. During an MRI or PET scan, portions of the brain that had been neurologically connected to the nerves of the amputated limb show activity when the person feels phantom pain.

After an amputation, areas of the spinal cord and brain lose input from the missing limb and adjust to this detachment in unpredictable ways. The result can trigger the body’s most basic message that something is not right: pain. Studies also show that after an amputation, the brain may remap that part of the body’s sensory circuitry to another part of the body. In other words, because the amputated area is no longer able to receive sensory information, the information is referred elsewhere—from a missing hand to a still-present cheek, for example. (Mayo Clinic)

After losing my spouse, I continued to sense his presence. I expected him to walk into a room, to be sitting next to me, and sharing moments we would normally spend together. I expected him to show up when I needed help. I expected him to answer the phone when I called. I expected him to call me daily at 3 p.m. as he had done for years. I expected him to be next to me on the treadmill at the gym. For a long time, my heart hurt while my head tried to process the idea that he was gone. Eventually, my head came to terms with that fact. I stopped expecting him to be there or seeing him in familiar places. But, my heart knew something was not right; that hurt. Trying to function with a gnawing awareness of a void in my life – that was painful. 

My heart is having difficulty coming to terms with what my head already knows – he is gone forever. The phantom spouse is real; slowly, his image fades. Someday, when my heart and head reconcile with each other – that image will be gone. But, I have to learn to walk again – using everything I have to compensate for what I have lost, knowing that each step will hurt like crazy, but acknowledging the only way out is through the pain. So reach for your “crutch” – whatever it may be, and WALK AGAIN.

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Cynthia Mascarenhas was widowed on February 4, 2018, when she lost her husband of 29 years, Franz Mascarenhas, to a sudden heart attack. Following the passing of Franz, Cynthia founded Walk With A Widow, a non-profit organization whose primary focus if healing the hearts of widows by giving love and hope to widows around the world. As one would expect, much of the material crafted for widows can also be of help to widowers.

Professionally, Cynthia is a registered nurse and an independent legal nurse consultant. She is also a member of the Board of Directors of the Greater Orlando Chapter of Legal Nurse Consultants. Cynthia has served on various committees for the American Association of Legal Nurse Consultants.

Cynthia’s insightful articles will appear periodically here on WSN-MO. You can contact Cynthia at her website, www.walkwithawidow.com

Categories
Faith/Religion Trust

Trust, you must. Can you?

Cynthia

“But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.” Jeremiah 17:7-8

Undoubtedly, if you have experienced #Death #Disease #Divorce, you have lived through a season of drought, you have endured the scorching heat of inclement elements, and your leaves have wilted and withered.  The evergreen promise eludes you; trust evades your sensibilities.  Trust – the sentiment that personifies a firm belief in the integrity, ability, or character of a person.  Our experience with #Death #Disease #Divorce, however, makes us question integrity and character, and maybe even God’s ability to come to our rescue.  How, then, do we trust? Who should we trust? God? He did not prevent the challenge we face; He saw fit to stand back and let it happen; or, worse yet, He orchestrated the painful event in our life.  Can I trust Him?  Or the spouse that played a pivotal role in this painful experience in our life should we trust him or her? That would be a stretch! Trusting another person to enter the realm of intimate relationships is influenced by prior experience.

The good news is God will still operate in our lives in His imperceptible way whether we trust Him or not; choosing to trust Him does not determine His involvement in our lives; it does allow us to take a step back and watch in awe as He works in our lives.  So, the bigger challenge will be how to trust a ‘person’ not to inflict pain or cause you harm again.  Prior experience is the greatest influence of present behavior; hence, the phrases, “Been there done that” and “Once bitten, twice shy.”  How do I do this ‘trust tango’? By trusting the only One who is worthy of trust!

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. Isaiah 43:2

This is His promise to you and me! But to experience life in all its fullness, we have to be willing to “pass through the waters and walk through the fire.”

Trust in His ability to lead and guide:

Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life. Psalm 143:8

Trust Him to be your defender:

My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge. Psalm 62:7

Trust Him to be your protector:

He will not let your foot slip— he who watches over you will not slumber. Psalm 121:3

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Following the passing of her husband in 2018, Cynthia founded Walk With A Widow, a non-profit organization whose primary focus if healing the hearts of widows by giving love and hope to widows around the world. As one would expect, much of the material crafted for widows can also be of help to widowers.

A registered nurse, Cynthia recently released her new book, Widows Are Warriors.

Cynthia’s insightful articles will appear periodically here on WSN-MO. You can contact Cynthia at her website, www.walkwithawidow.com

Categories
Grief/Dispair Mental/Emotional Health Moving Forward

WSN: A Widowers Perspective

Cynthia

Romans 8:28: And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to His purpose. 

What could possibly be ‘good’ about experiencing any one of the 3 Ds?  One comment I heard most as a new widow was, “Something good will come out of this.”  My response to that comment would be, “If you ask me I can show you myriad ways to accomplish that same good without putting me through this wringer.” #Death #Disease #Divorce are painful, life-changing, and earth-shattering experiences.  With what sense of sanity could anyone assume something good would come out of this pain?  We surrender to hopelessness; a total inability to see anything of promise in the future.  Our life as we knew it is a thing of the past; the future will be tolerable at best.

Yet deep within each of us is a desire to not throw in the towel; a burning desire to dream again, to live again, to surmount our challenges, to take up arms against the enemy of abundant life, and to stick it to all who dare to ravage our fruitful lives and leave us feeling like a dilapidated relic of a once-upon-a-time monolith with a profound story to tell.  We desperately reach for that source of strength that we have always reached for in times of distress; our knee-jerk response to tragedy after we have spent a while indulging in self-pity.  My source of hope and promise for a future – the unchanging word of God in an ever experimentally transient world.

God ‘causes’ all things to work together: He is at the helm of the affairs of my life and He is deliberate and intentional about every ‘chance’ occurrence in my life (yes, even the painful experiences!).

For those who are ‘called’: He ‘chose’ me for this trial! Ouch! That hurts, God!  You chose me for pain because you knit me in my mother’s womb, I am fearfully made in your image.  If anyone knows me at the core, it is my maker.  Therefore, when He chooses me, He is well aware of my specific skill set that He is ‘calling’ me to implement.  Is it possible that I was made for such a time as this? My calling is birthed and rooted in a painful experience!

According to His purpose: not my plan but His perfect plan.  There is a point to all of those tears and fears, the devastation and despair, the gut-wrenching, heart-breaking, bloody-nosed battle to survive the pain of loss brought upon each of us.  He has a purpose; we can kick against the goads but ultimately, we have to acquiesce to the perfect plan and unyielding will of a perfect God who ‘purposed’ the pain in our lives.

The 3Ds will guide you down a path of defeat and destruction, unless you make a conscious decision to ‘choose’ to see yourself as ‘chosen,’ to see yourself as part of a greater purpose and plan; a plan that has been promised us in Jeremiah 29:11 – “a plan to prosper you and not to harm you, a plan to give you hope and a future.” Embrace the journey, albeit painful, and you will find yourself embracing the plan!

Joy comes in the morning!

#Death #Disease #Divorce 

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Following the passing of her husband Franz, Cynthia Mascarenhas founded Walk With A Widow, a non-profit organization whose primary focus is healing the hearts of widows by giving love and hope to widows around the world. As one would expect, much of the material crafted for widows can also be of help to widowers.                                                       

Cynthia’s insightful articles will appear periodically here on WSN-M

Categories
Faith/Religion Moving Forward

PERFECT LOVE CASTS OUT ALL FEAR!

Cynthia

In this season of uncertainty, fear lurks around every corner; it governs every decision; it steals our joy!

Ask anyone who deals with the devastation of death, disease, or divorce. Tentative living is not what we are called to do; Yet, FEAR is REAL. Where then should we turn for hope? To the one true source of perfect love.

Our faith in an immutable God was never meant to be a sprint. It was always destined to be a marathon. As a track and field athlete, I can attest to the exhilaration of the 100-meter dash. I knew I could do it!  All I needed was a strong start, a powerful burst of speed, and voila, I was at the finish line. The marathon, however, takes endurance; it takes perseverance. It takes trusting that elements out of our control would continue to run in our favor. There are no assurances along the way that your hamstring would hold up, or that your resilience would stand the test of prolonged hardship. But that is what it takes to have persevering faith. It takes trusting that no matter what the outcome, we place our total trust in a God who controls every outcome; the seen and the unseen.

This race is not about who finishes first; it is about who finishes well. We all have to finish; checking out mid-way is not an option. So choose whom you represent on this run called life – As for me and my house, we choose the Lord! He models perfect love! We rest in that Perfect Love which Casts Out All Fear!

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Following the passing of her husband in 2018, Cynthia founded Walk With A Widow, a non-profit organization whose primary focus if healing the hearts of widows by giving love and hope to widows around the world. As one would expect, much of the material crafted for widows can also be of help to widowers.

A registered nurse, Cynthia recently released her new book, Widows Are Warriors. Cynthia’s insightful articles will appear periodically here on WSN-MO. You can contact Cynthia at her website, www.walkwithawidow.com

Categories
Grief/Dispair Holidays

Valentine’s Day for the broken-hearted

Cynthia

February 14th conjures up images of love and romance. Yet, some of us have only memories to hold on to. How do I celebrate this special day of love without the one I have loved? My heart, which still bursts with love, now feels heavy with pain akin to unrequited love. As much as I love my spouse, I will never hear him say those words, “I love you,” which would so melt my heart. My memories bring me comfort and pain all at once. Therefore, that is not a place I can linger.

The unfailing love of my husband was only promised to me “until death did us part”; all anticipation of eternal love can only be renewed when we meet in eternity. Hopelessness and sadness could be the hallmarks of this and every future Valentine’s Day unless I decide not to let it be so.

Amid my loneliness, I choose to celebrate love – the love I once had, the love I continue to feel in my heart, the love I feel for those I still have in this world, and the only unfailing eternal love: the love of God. There will be sadness mingled with joy. But I am thankful that I once loved and was loved in a way that some can only dream of.

Have a Happy Valentine’s Day – even if it is not all you hoped for, even if it is not perfect, because what you once had and what you continue to have are worth celebrating.

1 John 4:18

There is no fear in love!

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Cynthia Mascarenhas was widowed on February 4, 2018, when she lost her husband of 29 years, Franz Mascarenhas, to a sudden heart attack. Following the passing of Franz, Cynthia founded Walk With A Widow, a non-profit organization whose primary focus if healing the hearts of widows by giving love and hope to widows around the world. As one would expect, much of the material crafted for widows can also be of help to widowers.

Cynthia’s insightful articles will appear periodically here on WSN-MO. You can contact Cynthia at her website, www.walkwithawidow.com

Categories
Dating/Relationships Manful Emotions Moving Forward

Dating as a Widow: The Fear of Loneliness

Cynthia

(Gents: Pay close attention.  Great lessons to follow)

The fear of loneliness is what compels people to seek relationships.  A neonate cries out loud upon waking up from a nap but is comforted immediately upon seeing a smiling face loom over the crib.  A toddler wants to be tucked in bed; it is not the dark room that scares him as much as the idea of being alone in a dark room.  Children seek out friends in school and on the playground; we instinctively know something is wrong when we see a child sitting all by himself.  A teenager would rather be out with friends than sit alone at home and watch a movie.  Young adults find ways to network with other young adults outside of the workplace.  Then, you meet the love of your life and discover that nothing fulfills you as much as time spent with your love.

You get married – life happens, bills need to be paid, jobs become stressful, and children come along, bringing a huge change in the dynamics between your spouse and you.  Time spent with each other is at a premium; the number of hats you wear is wearing you down.  However, you have this awesome alliance which allows you to toss hats back and forth at each other as you juggle your way through the responsibilities of life.  Sometimes a hat gets thrown back at you, at other times a hat falls to the ground, and then there are those days when you just want to throw every hat out the window and curl up in bed with a book.  Blissful solitude!

Widowhood changes so much in our lives, yet we are still the same creature deep within, always seeking relationships.  We miss those years of not having to seek companionship because you had a ‘designated companion.’  We miss those years of just being able to say, “let’s watch a movie together”; in quiet companionship, you watched curled up in a couch together – not a word was spoken, but not a word was needed.  You could rest in the quiet comfort of knowing you were loved, and no matter what the world threw at you, someone always had your back.  It was comforting to know you could interrupt a football game, wake up your spouse in the middle of the night to tell him you were feeling sick, offer driving tips from the passenger seat, give directions to a husband who questions his GPS device, reach over and eat out of his plate, and myriad other annoying behaviors that your spouse just overlooks because he has learned to love that about you.  You feel loved.  You are in your comfort zone.  Then, you lose it all.  Loneliness becomes the hallmark feature of your existence.  Fear of rejection creeps in.

Once again you feel like that neonate wanting to see a familiar face when you wake up, a toddler who wants to be tucked in bed, a child wanting to just hang out with a friend, a teenager wanting to go with someone to the movies, a young adult seeking to network with others of the same age and interest, and a person looking for that quiet, comforting love again.  What’s different about this time around?  Fear of the unknown is juxtaposed with a fear of loneliness.  We lived in a predictable world for long enough to where the unpredictable intimidates us.  We now have experience and history behind us, which colors our view of any future relationship.  Most marriages are not idyllic.  Even good marriages have their fair share of challenges.  Many marriages can be steeped in loneliness. Some marriages are outright adversarial.  In all cases, a widow seeks a nurturing relationship; either because it is what she had before or because it is what she has always dreamed of having.  I suspect the same can be said of a widower.  Marriage has trained us to find the intricate balance between being the nurturer and the nurtured one.  Can we find that balance once again?  Can a widow find that relationship which quells her fear of the unknown and remedies her fear of loneliness?  Be very intentional in seeking another relationship, but also be cautious and wise; consider this – a relationship based on true friendship will stand the test of time and troubles.

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Cynthia Mascarenhas was widowed on February 4, 2018, when she lost her husband of 29 years, Franz Mascarenhas, to a sudden heart attack. Following the passing of Franz, Cynthia founded Walk With A Widow, a non-profit organization whose primary focus if healing the hearts of widows by giving love and hope to widows around the world. As one would expect, much of the material crafted for widows can also be of help to widowers.

Professionally, Cynthia is a registered nurse and an independent legal nurse consultant. She is also a member of the Board of Directors of the Greater Orlando Chapter of Legal Nurse Consultants. Cynthia has served on various committees for the American Association of Legal Nurse Consultants.

Cynthia’s insightful articles will appear periodically here on WSN-MO. You can contact Cynthia at her website, www.walkwithawidow.com

Categories
Forgiveness Grief/Dispair Guilt/Shame Manful Emotions Mental/Emotional Health

Forgiveness – what role does it play in my grief journey?

Cynthia

Guilt and anger are recognized characteristics of the grief journey – Guilt over what could have been done or should have been done; guilt over things left unsaid or things that were better left unsaid; guilt over those fleeting moments where a smile might form around the corners of your mouth; guilt for some unknown reason. Anger over the circumstances surrounding your loss; anger about what your spouse should have done to take better care of himself/herself; anger over what you should have done to take better care of your spouse; anger about why any of this had to happen; anger about every secondary loss you suffer that overshadows the initial loss over a period of time.

How do we get past any of these emotions? The human spirit cannot survive, let alone thrive, under the constant onslaught of these harmful and destructive emotions. Human nature requires a resolution of sorts to every conflict. Forgiveness might be the key to this resolution; forgiveness of oneself, the forgiveness of one’s spouse; forgiveness for things that were said; forgiveness for things that were left unsaid; forgiveness for hurts inflicted over the years of marriage; forgiveness for failures on both sides as you traversed life together. In marriage, we have the opportunity to confront our failings and that of our spouse. We have the opportunity to engage in discourse and dialogue, frustrate each other, encourage each other, laugh with each other, and cry with each other. Then one day, all you are left with is your thoughts. Your head and heart are bursting with unresolved conflict; monologue arguments about why you have to go through this grief; however, nobody is listening. At least, nobody you can be brutally open and honest with. A healthy dialogue with your spouse is not an option — monologues, as frustrating as they are, come with a certain advantage. You control the narrative! You can make a conscious decision to forgive or be resentful.

Forgiving oneself and forgiving one’s spouse every single time an unresolved conflict arises in your mind or heart is the only way to bring reconciliation. Over and over again, as often as doubt and self-talk begin to overpower you, you will have to make a conscious decision to confront your worst thoughts. You will have to make a resolution to forgive yourself and your spouse. Forgiveness does not mean conceding victor or denying wrongdoing, real or perceived. Forgiveness means breaking free of the hold anger, and guilt have over you. Forgiveness grants you victory over your circumstances. Forgiveness frees you to love and be loved – love the life you had (even as you grieve the loss), love the memory of the person you loved through every challenge, love the promise of a future (whether single or with another).

Proverbs 17:9 – Love prospers when a fault is forgiven, but dwelling on it separates close friends

Colossians 3:13 – Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you

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Following the passing of her husband Franz, Cynthia Mascarenhas founded Walk With A Widow, a non-profit organization whose primary focus is healing the hearts of widows by giving love and hope to widows around the world. As one would expect, much of the material crafted for widows can also be of help to widowers.

Cynthia’s insightful articles will appear periodically here on WSN-MO. You can contact Cynthia at her website, www.walkwithawidow.com

Categories
Finding Purpose Grief/Dispair Moving Forward Uncategorized

A New Year – the promise of a New You!

Cynthia

The passage of time does not always bring with it an anticipation of a “new tomorrow.” Somewhere deep within, I know, “Out with the Old and In with the New” is an adage that is only partially true. Some parts of me have left me forever only in a physical and tangible sense; I still carry them with me every day and everywhere. Time may heal wounds, but the scars left from that gaping hole in your heart, those hurt. Tears bring healing, healing stops the bleeding, but the scars remain forever.

How then do we go on? Is it even possible to look ahead to a ‘new year’ and a ‘new you’? This year has taught me much, just as every other year does; these lessons, however, I would rather not have learned. I find myself drafted into the fastest growing community in the world – the community of widows! Time has allowed me to come to terms with my new identity – it stopped the bleeding from my heart. Time also taught me that some things will always be a part of me – pain, sadness, tears, fears, and immense grief.

I was hoping that I will wake up one morning and just feel like my ‘old’ self; instead, I have learned that I have to embrace my ‘new’ self each day. My new self is not necessarily better than the old, but she works each day at being a better and better version of the person she was yesterday. Yes, it means working hard at not letting grief get the better of me. Grief may reside in me, but the new me has to make a decision daily not to let myself reside in grief. We are unwilling partners in life – but we are not equal. Some days grief wins; on other days, the ‘new me’ wins! It is these little victories I carry with me into the new year. The defeats of the old year have served their purpose – they have showed me resilience I did not know I had, they have strengthened my resolve to fight, and they have revealed to me the power of having a dream.

2020 – a new year, a new me (albeit with much brokenness), a new dream that is ever-evolving into something bigger and better than myself. That is the ultimate lesson I have learned which I carry into the new year; I was created for a purpose bigger than myself. The ‘new’ me will embrace that purpose, the ‘new’ me will allow pain to fuel me, the ‘new’ me will count not my losses but rather my victories. The new me embraces my identity as a Warrior, fighting a battle not of my choosing, but fighting nevertheless.

Isaiah 40:31. They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength: they shall rise up on wings as eagles

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Following the passing of her husband Franz, Cynthia Mascarenhas founded Walk With A Widow, a non-profit organization whose primary focus is healing the hearts of widows by giving love and hope to widows around the world. As one would expect, much of the material crafted for widows can also be of help to widowers.

Cynthia’s insightful articles will appear periodically here on WSN. You can contact Cynthia at her website, www.walkwithawidow.com

Categories
Faith/Religion Holidays

Why Christmas means even more to me as a widow.

Cynthia

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…and the most painful, nostalgic, nightmarish time of the year now that my husband is gone.  Our hearts and home scream for the void we feel.  A voice that once boomed through our home at Christmas as we gathered around the piano is forever silent.  The man of our house who wore a Santa hat and regaled us with antics straight out of the North Pole now rests in peace.  At least, that is what celebrating Christmas feels like from our perspective.  But is that all it is?  Is there a reason to celebrate anymore?  Are we looking at things from a lop-sided and grief- eschewed perspective?

The voice that once filled our homes with laughter now sings with a chorus of angels.  The hands that played the piano to bring music into our world are raised high in praise of our God who never fails.  The head that bobbed around the house wearing a Santa hat is now bowed in adoration of an omniscient God. Yes, Christmas is worth celebrating because it is not about whom we do not have with us.  It is about whom we hope to spend Christmas with forever.  It is about who made Christmas happen – the Christ of Christmas.  It is about the hope of eternity in His presence.  It is about the promise of seeing our beloved again.  Christmas without my husband means more than it did before because while our hearts hurt and long for his presence here on earth – every time we think of him, we are reminded of who Christmas is really about.  So, as we gather around the piano and sing this year, as we raise our hands in worship of the King of Kings, and as we bow our heads in adoration, we join in with our beloved who IS in the presence of the King. I hear his voice in my head, and I see him worshiping with the saints.  I hear the sounds of trumpets, and the piano fades away. He is celebrating Christmas every day with a passion and fervor we reserve for one day.  What a glorious picture?

We wish you a Merry Christmas – we celebrate despite our pain and despite all the sadness in the world.  We celebrate because Christmas is about Christ – the Hope of the world.  The only assurance we have of eternity in the presence of God.  The only reason we look forward to seeing our beloved again.  We celebrate Christ, even more, this Christmas, and we look forward to the ultimate, glorious celebration in eternity.

Isaiah 9:6

For Unto Us, a Child is born; Unto us, a Son is given.  …. And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

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Following the passing of her husband Franz, Cynthia Mascarenhas founded Walk With A Widow, a non-profit organization whose primary focus is healing the hearts of widows by giving love and hope to widows around the world. As one would expect, much of the material crafted for widows can also be of help to widowers.

Cynthia’s insightful articles will appear periodically here on WSN-MO. You can contact Cynthia at her website, www.walkwithawidow.com