Categories
Grief/Dispair Holidays

Embrace or Escape the Holidays?

Fred-18

WSN: Widower to Widower by Fred Colby

One of my mantras as a widower is: “It will never be the same again!” This view is never more apparent than during the holidays. Because holiday memories are so unforgettable and because they are so important to the family as a unit, the loss of your wife just makes these days incredibly challenging to get through. COVID 19 has only compounded the problems.

Like my family, yours may have developed time-honored traditions for Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, or New Year’s Eve (ours was a New Year’s Eve Tamale Party for friends and neighbors). Often your wife may have been the driving force behind these special holidays.

For me, continuing these traditions in the same way was not only challenging to execute but also a huge trigger to intense grieving. At times I felt that I was deliberately punishing myself.

We each may have very different experiences during these special days. Much of your reaction will depend upon how important these holidays were for you and your wife. Regressions into deep grieving are perfectly normal during important holidays, whether you adhere to the old traditions or not.

As I put up the Christmas tree that first year, set out the Christmas displays, and decorated the tree with my grandchildren, I felt it necessary to let the grandkids know that Popa had not forgotten Gaga and that Christmas would go on no matter what. But there was a price to pay.

That first Christmas was as advertised, as I regressed to the worst stages of grief. It was as if I was again revisiting the first month of the healing process, including full-blown meltdowns, sobbing, crying, yelling, and the whole bit. Total funk days occurred often, and I could barely function at times.

In the middle of preparing our first Christmas family dinner together after my wife’s passing, I had to escape. I crouched in our master bedroom closet, shut the door, and sobbed. After regaining control, I returned to the family to enjoy our meal together. I felt better just knowing that I had taken the time to remember and honor my wife in a way that was therapeutic and helpful.

However, after that first year, I decorated my home less and attended the holiday celebrations at the homes of my daughters and their families. I still have good memories, but the reality is that these holidays just don’t have the same meaning for me now.

One way to make the holiday more survivable is to “reinvent” the holiday. For example, to counter the anticipated Thanksgiving dinner impact, I took everyone for an overnight stay at the Cheyenne Mountain Resort, which had a Thanksgiving buffet. It changed things up enough that the sorrow was somewhat diminished. (Granted, this is extra hard to do this year).

One thing I have learned during this process is that it is best to confront your demons, your grief, rather than try to avoid it. That does not mean wallowing in constant self-pity where you are re-experiencing the pain for the pain’s sake, but rather, allowing your grief to progress and come out as it needs to. By confronting your demons, you will help process your feelings and love for your wife. It will enable you to move on and celebrate the good moments from the past and enjoy the ones in the present.

Each Widower must find his unique way to embrace and express his grief, a practice that means something special to him and/or his family. You may discover it will build on a talent you have, such as writing, singing, music, painting, or carpentry work. I escaped to reorganizing our photo albums to try and counter the grief with the many positive memories of my wife, Theresa. Writing my book, Widower to Widower, was another effective and therapeutic outlet.

Now in my fifth year after her passing, I find the holidays less challenging. I remember her often and fondly at these times, but no more elongate sink into deep grieving. My new mantra is: Stop thinking about yesterday, focus on today, and look forward to tomorrow. I know Theresa would be there with me every step of the way with this approach. Yes, I still miss her… but I am gradually re-engaging with life, as I know she would have wanted me to.

You can do the same!

© Copyright 2020 Fred Colby

All rights reserved

_______________________________________________________________________

Fred Colby is the author of Widower to Widower, which is available on Amazon.com. You can find Fred’s column appearing here on WSN-MO every other Tuesday. Widower to Widower is available through your local bookstore, my website, and Amazon.

Categories
Grief/Dispair Manful Emotions Moving Forward

BIG BOYS DO CRY!

Fred-18

WSN: Widower to Widower by Fred Colby

Remember Frankie Valli’s hit song, “Big Girls Don’t Cry?” We can all probably sing a few verses. Well, like you, I learned the hard way that as widowers, big boys do cry! And it is a shock to our system.

Nothing can be more disturbing for sons and daughters than to see their father cry, especially full out sobbing! Friends, family, workmates, and children can often become fearful and at a total loss of how to respond when a widower breaks down in tears.

Those of us in the business of serving those who have lost loved ones may have become too used to this expression of grief, and our responses may become too rote. We may not see how painful and disruptive to relationships this transformation might be for

both the widower and their family or friends.

Most often, these family and friends are grieving too, but they may still have trouble relating to the deep grief the widower feels. This grieving is made all the more traumatic because men are not used to expressing their sorrow, fear, and emotional responses. Now all of a sudden, it is pouring out of them unfettered.

Children are used to seeing their Dad as a strong and stable figure during past family crises’ so to now see them broken down in their grief and unable to help themselves can be very scary and disturbing.

Often this reaction, paired together with pre-existing family issues, can cause destructive changes in relationships that cannot be repaired. Such occurrences are particularly true of merged families where second marriages have brought together two sets of children, siblings, parents, and grandparents. Bonding these two groups together over the years may not have occurred so that these bonds may be easily broken.

Too often, I hear from widowers who have been abandoned by their children and relatives, especially those of merged families. These can often devolve into outright hostilities and attempts to steal what remaining resources the widower has left. Men, in particular, have a hard time with this as they may not used to turning to others to ask for help.

What can we do as widowers when faced with these challenges? Here are some suggestions:

· Be alert to recognizing when issues emerge between family members. Don’t ignore them.

· Find a comforting and safe place to express your fears and concerns (e.g., grief groups, counselor office, church support groups, or that special friend or family member who you trust completely).

· Consider inviting your family members to join you in some therapy sessions to work things out together.

· Research area resources that might help you to survive the grief and challenges ahead, such as area hospices, grief groups, grief counselors, church counseling programs, online support groups (see https://www.fredcolby.com/resourceslinks for a list of resources).

· Alert the authorities if you are being abused or taken advantage of by those around you in any way. Don’t wait until the money, furniture, car, or other items are all gone.

· Read Fred Colby’s Widower to Widower or Herb Knoll’s The Widower’s Journey. (Fred’s autographed book now discounted 20% + $1 shipping). There are helpful ideas in both that can help you through this.

You can also go to the following link to books, blogs, and resources designed to help every widower to find answers and support: https://www.fredcolby.com/

© Copyright 2020 Fred Colby

All rights reserved

———————————————————————-

Fred Colby is the author of Widower to Widower, which is available on Amazon.com. You can find Fred’s column appearing here on WSN-MO every other Tuesday. Widower to Widower is available through your local bookstore, my website, and Amazon.

Categories
Grief/Dispair Moving Forward

Are Success and Happiness Possible?

WSN: Widower to Widower by Fred Colby

Immersing yourself in grief after your wife dies is unavoidable, necessary, and healthy. This stage of your grief journey may go on for months, or even years. But if you stay buried in grief, you may need to ask, “Is this:

· conducive to your healing?

· good for your remaining relationships with children, family, friends?

· a productive way to remember and honor your wife?

· respectful of the many years you and your wife spent building a good life?”

If the tables were turned, and you died first, would you want your wife to mope around in deep grieving for years after your passing? Of course not!

Well then, how the heck do you pull out of this deep grieving? I have spoken before of “reinventing yourself” as a key part of this process. Many would like to feel a sense of success in life again.

In the past, success might have been measured by your role as a husband, father, son, business owner, worker, coach, or volunteer.

There are so many ways to achieve success… the list is endless. The trick is to find ones that work for you. As men, we desperately need this sense of success… and without our wives around to cheer us on and to validate our success, we may have to find new ways to achieve it.

In the 2018 Harry’s Masculinity Report (a survey of 5,000 men ages 18-95 across the US) it found that the strongest predictor of men’s happiness and well-being is their job satisfaction, by a large margin. “Men at work are more likely to be men at ease with themselves. Everything else—contentment at home, in relationships and friendships—flows down from men being satisfied at work.”

Other top indicators of a positive mindset and wellness for American men are… their physical and mental health, income, age (men over age 50 were significantly happier…), and relationship status. The survey found that 91 percent of married men had normal or better levels of mental positivity. And friendship is a particularly strong predictor of well-being for men.

So what does a widower do now that they are not working, no longer have a wife, and may be having trouble maintaining their friendships? To top it off, many of us find ourselves facing various physical problems brought on the by stress of losing our wife.

The first step is to re-evaluate what you still have in your life that defines you and can help you to regain that sense of success. This can be your role as a:

· Father, grandfather, uncle, or brother

· Friend who cares for and helps others

· Volunteer at your local nonprofit, church, school, library, or other community organization

· Part or full-time employee

Each of these can provide you with a real sense of self-worth while contributing to your community. The return can be invaluable whether it be gratitude for your efforts, building of new friendships, or just feeling good about yourself.

A sense of success and happiness is possible again; but it takes hard work and persistence to realize it.

© Copyright 2020 Fred Colby All rights reserved

————————————————————————-

Fred Colby is the author of Widower to Widower, which is available on Amazon.com. You can find Fred’s column appearing here on WSN-MO every other Tuesday. Widower to Widower is available through your local bookstore, my website, and Amazon.

Categories
Dating/Relationships Family Grief/Dispair Healing Loneliness Moving Forward

God, Football, Sex & Gold-diggers

Fred-18

WSN: Widower to Widower with Fred Colby

Admit it! How often have even the most devout of us have chosen to attend a football game (or other favorite sport or activity) instead of attending church? Or instead of spending time with your family? Or instead of honoring a previous commitment to a friend?

If you are a churchgoer, you might be accused of violating the first commandment, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” The non-believers among us might question on whether they have their priorities straight? Are you choosing to place immediate personal gratification before things with more real long-term worth?

Whether we are religious or not, most of us can all agree that during our marriages, we gradually developed a set of values that are important to our sense of self and well-being. These might include such beliefs as:

• Love is better than hate

• Truth is better than lies

• Honesty is better than deceit

• Compassion is better than indifference

• Helping others is better than self-indulgence

So often, we can easily be distracted from these core beliefs, which are essential to our well-being.

When we lose our faithfulness to these beliefs and values, and when we choose to adopt contrary values, we put ourselves at risk and endanger our relationships with those we love and have learned to depend.

Sex, in particular, can entice us away from those long-held beliefs which have served as our foundation for years. In the wrong hands, it can blind us and turn us to less ethical or honorable practices.

During our most vulnerable time (first year of grieving), an experienced gold digger can easily manipulate us and even get us to do things contrary to our beliefs. If our new friend is just feeding our fantasy or appealing to our weakest inclinations, rather than encouraging, supporting, and helping build us up… this is the time to stop and think about where this is all going. Is this really what you want?

There also are many women (and men) who are just plain desperate because of finances, loneliness, or lousy living arrangements. They, too, can cling to you like a raft in rough seas and drag you down with them if you are not careful. So slow down and ask, are my priorities straight? Are her priorities straight?

When I started dating again, I sat down with my two daughters to explain why having women in my life also were important to me and to let them know that I would be careful. I was fortunate that they did not get angry or resent me for this; one suggested that her husband (a former Secret Service agent) would background check my new friends!

A good woman or new best friend will help us to continue our growth. They may even challenge us (without being overbearing) to be better! Remember when your wife did that? Maybe we resented it sometimes, but after a while, we often realized that they were just helping us to be our best selves.

If you find yourself in a new and healthy relationship, you will learn that it is a two-way street, just like your marriage was. That is, you will have opportunities to help each other grow, to support each other, and to encourage each other. This kind of relationship can make your later years wonderful and enjoyable, rather than destructive and painful.

So if you find yourself drawn like a moth to the flame of new relationships, please learn to pause (I know this is not easy during the early deep grieving phase) and think about what you want in a new relationship and what feels right. You could save yourself from much more pain down the road.

© Copyright 2020 Fred Colby

All rights reserved

_________________________________________________________________________________

Fred Colby is the author of Widower to Widower, which is available on Amazon.com. You can find Fred’s column appearing here on WSN-MO every other Tuesday. Widower to Widower is available through your local bookstore, my website, and Amazon.

Categories
Dating/Relationships Family

Maid, Cook, Concubine, or Wife?

Fred-18

WSN-MO: Widower to Widower with Fred Colby

In my last blog, we spoke about how alone and desperate, we often feel after our wife has passed. And we discussed how this could lead to horrible decisions that can pretty much ruin your life going forward. So, what happens when we meet a possible “new best friend”? How do we know that our new friend is the “right one”?

In our messed-up psycho-emotional state, it is easy to make a bad decision and have our feelings dictated by wrong motives. It is easy to think that we want to marry this wonderful new woman we just met. (I know this from personal experience.)

And for some of us, the drive for intimacy can be overpowering. The euphoria of a new relationship can wipe out all reason and lead us down a path without regard for the consequences.

So what can we do to avoid these traps when we meet someone who excites us and helps us forget our pain for a while? One thing you might want to do is think a little bit about what you are looking for in a relationship. For example, are you looking for a:

1. Maid: maybe you are one of those guys who leave his clothes all over the place, who never washes the dishes, who wears the same clothes again and again without washing them, and who never mows the lawn, much less pull the weeds. If this is the case, and you were used to your wife doing most of these things, you might just be looking for a maid. I can tell you that hiring a maid to come in once a month is a lot cheaper than remarrying.

2. Cook: Or maybe you have never had to fend for yourself in terms of shopping, cooking, and baking, and you quickly tire of eating out (especially now in pandemic times) or eating frozen meals. There are plenty of widowers who cannot fry an egg, much less cook vegetables, or even a crockpot meal. When a gal comes into our lives who unselfishly prepares tasty homecooked meals for us, we might think we have discovered “the one.” While I am one of those easily impressed by a good meal, I have found that this alone may not be an indicator of how well a marriage will work out. But I must admit that in a good relationship, each of you should bring something to the table and not just money or a home!

3. Concubine: As some of you know, after we lose our wives, we can often have deep cravings for intimacy with a woman just to feel close to someone again, to feel loved again, and to quiet the weird and intensely sexual, physical symptoms we may experience. Such feelings can drive us to distraction as our moral compass struggles with the demands of our body and psycho-emotional state of mind. Way too often, while in this state, we can mistake intimacy with love, leading to poorly informed decisions of the highest magnitude, including getting married. So, if you find yourself in this position, please commit to both yourself and your new friend to slow things down and take your time before making rash decisions. Make sure that what you want is a long-term, lasting relationship built upon love and mutual respect.

4. Wife: If you feel there is more to your new relationship than is outlined above, you have come to the crux of your decision-making. And when I say wife, I also mean long-term commitments that may or may not include living together. As a widower in today’s world, there are many reasons why you may not want to take the marriage route (e.g., social security benefits, family, legal restrictions in wills/trusts). If you feel that your relationship has matured past the euphoric stage to genuine love and respect for each other, then maybe you are ready for this big step. If you have close family or friends, this step needs to be taken with careful planning so you can hopefully retain those other relationships which are so crucial to your mental health and happiness going forward.

In all cases at minimum, please consider:

• Waiting at least one year after your wife’s passing before making such an important decision (if the new relationship is real, it can withstand a few months of waiting), and

• Meet with a grief therapist to talk everything over to ensure your decisions are made based upon a solid foundation that can see you through to a successful conclusion.

Best wishes to all my fellow widowers as we all navigate this strange and challenging period of widower-hood.

© Copyright 2020 Fred Colby

All rights reserved

______________________________________

Fred Colby is the author of Widower to Widower, which is available on Amazon.com. You can find Fred’s column appearing here on WSN-MO every other Tuesday. Widower to Widower is available through your local bookstore, my website, and Amazon.

© Copyright 2020 Fred ColbyAll rights reserved______________________________________Fred Colby is the author of Widower to Widower, which is available on Amazon.com. You can find Fred’s column appearing here on WSN-MO every other Tuesday. Widower to Widower is available through your local bookstore, my website, and Amazon.

22

Categories
Grief/Dispair Mental/Emotional Health

Escaping Anxiety

Fred-18

When my wife passed 4 years ago, I first experienced shock and then numbness, after that anger and depression, and after that resignation and doubts about my future without her. It wasn’t until around my sixth month of grieving that I began to experience something unfamiliar to me since my 20’s and 30’s, anxiety… and I mean full-blown anxiety.

This coincided with my re-entry into life as I began to socialize again through a Meetup.com group called the Breakfast Club. I also started to date again via online dating services. My self-confidence was nearly non-existent at the beginning, so I had tremendous doubts about my ability to meet and engage with new people. Though I could put on a good front, I would go home after each meeting or date and question my every word and action. It was worse than when I was a teenager.

Soon, I met a widow whose company I really enjoyed, and who made me feel more at ease about the whole dating concept. However, I found that I would think that I had control and then would be overcome with euphoria and anxiety at alternate times (part of the hyper-emotional response). I did not have things under control. It was months before I saw how out of control I was during this period. Anxiety is a normal part of any relationship. While in a heightened hyper-emotional state, anxiety can become overwhelming and dominate your thinking day and night.

The ups and downs, the drama, and the uncertainty about what we really wanted doomed the relationship from the start. As our relationship evolved, I experienced increasing anxiety over possibly losing her, I am sure because of the recent loss of my wife. But I also had fear and anxiety about:

  • moving too fast, 
  • saying the wrong thing, 
  • how our relationship would impact my friends and family, and
  • her deciding it was too soon to be in a relationship again, 

The anxiety only got worse as I had more trouble sleeping, causing me to spiral out of control. If you can recognize this anxiety for what it is and confront it before it ruins all your relationships, you will be way ahead of the game.

I first got some help from my therapist, and then from reading Brené Brown’s book, Daring Greatly, which challenges you to engage with your emotions and doubts, to face your fears and self-doubts, and to be vulnerable. However, this vulnerability actually led to more anxiety in some ways. I was still dwelling on past mistakes or shortcomings and fearful of what might happen in the future.

This led me to a spiritual philosopher, Eckart Tollé, whose central message is to stay in the present and turn away from worrying about the past or future. Tollé often quotes Lao Tzu: “If you are depressed, you are living in the past. If you are anxious, you are living in the future. If you are at peace, you are living in the present.” 

Once I adopted some of his teachings that I thought useful and combined it with meditation, I began to calm down and learned just to enjoy the moment. You can find some of his talks on Youtube, which you may find helpful. Tollé is an intriguing character with a funny laugh and gentle way of speaking, but his messages often go to the core of feeling and thinking. (With someone like Tollé or Chopra, you don’t have to accept everything they say. Just take in what works for you and is in conformance with your own values and beliefs.)

Whether you decide to look up and adopt some of Eckart Tollé’s ideas or not, the key point is that I encourage you to look outside your normal belief systems and find ones that help you to deal with your grief and often resulting anxiety. Some may find solace in their religious beliefs, others may find help through meditation or yoga. When you go through the kind of trauma and grief that we all have had to do, sometimes the only way out is through a new path… one you have not tried before.

Learn to be courageous enough to try one. You may be pleasantly surprised and rewarded.

Categories
Giving Support Grief/Dispair Healing Mental/Emotional Health Moving Forward

Is Contentment Even Possible?

Fred-18

Remember that feeling of peace, that feeling of being comfortable with yourself, your circumstances, and your marriage? Maybe you were 10, 20, or even 30 years into your marriage before you reached this point. Many of us were fortunate enough to have achieved that blissful stage of existence… even if it was only for a few moments here and there.

I remember so clearly how I reached this state of contentment later in my life. It was strange, but one day I happened to look around at all that my wife and I had achieved together and told her that I was genuinely content for the first time in my life. Little did I know that a few years later, I would lose the most important part of that contentment.

After my wife’s (Theresa) passing, I felt anything but contentment. I was miserable. My body, soul, and mind were in a constant state of turmoil. I was wracked with physical pain, questioning my relationship with God, doubting myself, and experiencing delusions from lack of sleep. I was incapable of even a few moments of happiness, much less being comfortable. I was always stressed and could not relax for a moment, much less sleep.

It took many months to achieve a level where I could feel at ease and appreciate what I had with my wife. I could now enjoy the remnants of what we had built together. She was not there with me physically anymore, but she was with me always in my thoughts and very being. She had helped me to build a new better me, and that did not suddenly disappear when she died.

The children we had raised were still with me, in addition to four grandchildren. Our friends were still there the first year and often offered to help during this painful time. The life we had built was still there, and she was woven into every aspect of it.

During this journey, I had to reinvent myself (see my blog – https://www.fredcolby.com/blogs/widower-reinventing-yourself-to-live-again-1). This took time and lots of persistent effort, with a few wrong turns. As this “new me” emerged, I found that the turmoil in my life began to diminish. I made new friends, learned new skills, took risks, and tried new activities. Over time my new and more self-confident self-image began to emerge along with a gradually growing sense of well-being.

Eventually, I even found a new best friend (a widow herself) who was happy to join me on this new journey. Both of us have welcomed the other’s spouse into the relationship, and both of us are respectful of what we had during our previous marriage.

Not long after this, I realized that for the first time since Theresa’s death, I was once again feeling contentment about my past and current life. This contentment has allowed me to release the stress and doubts and fears of the previous few years, and to enjoy life again.

While I am incredibly grateful to have this new best friend in my life, I do not believe that you require a new partner to achieve contentment again. The critical elements of your sense of well-being were there before you lost your wife, and so many of those elements can still be there for you going forward.

You may have to work hard to achieve contentment once again, but it is possible, and it is well worth the effort.

© Copyright 2020 Fred Colby   All rights reserved

______________________________________________

Fred Colby is the author of Widower to Widower, which is available on Amazon.com. You can find Fred’s column appearing here on WSN-MO every other Tuesday. Widower to Widower is available through your local bookstore, my website, and Amazon.

Categories
Giving Support

I Don’t Know Everything!

Fred-18

WSN-MO: Widower to Widower with Fred Colby

And… more than likely, neither do you.

One of the biggest shocks of entering deep grieving as a widower is the realization of how ill-prepared we are to deal with it… much less survive it!

And yet, widowers will often say things like: 

  • “I don’t need any help,” or 
  • “No one can help me,” or 
  • “No book, article, or blog can tell me what I need to know to get through this.” 

Often, when one digs deeper, you find that these widowers are in just as much pain and are just as lost as the rest of us.  The only difference is that they have a harder time admitting it, and just want to be left alone. I know because I felt that way for a while too.

They might also say, “Time alone can heal me.” Does anyone honestly believe that if we just self-isolate in our home that time will heal us all by itself? Or do we need something more, like: 

  • Human contact
  • Love and support from family, friends, co-workers, and neighbors
  • Grief therapy or counseling
  • Men’s grief group support
  • Hearing the experiences of fellow widowers who survived this experience
  • Activities, exercise, and projects to help us reengage with life
  • Opportunities to share our and our wife’s story

Time, together with some or all these things can help us heal. But if we just hunker down and wait for time to heal us, we will likely be disappointed. To grieve is a verb, not a noun. It is active, not stationary. If we don’t process (another verb) our grief, we are stagnant in our grief and may have difficulty extricating ourselves from it.

Grieving is an act of loving, remembering, and honoring the one we lost. The more we do all three of these active parts of grieving, the faster and better we are apt to heal.

That is not to say that we should all do it the same way or at the same pace. On the contrary, our unique grieving experience is what makes it so special to each of us. It is painful, at times life threatening, and often seems unending; but the fact that we do emerge from it, makes it another one of those growing opportunity and life experiences that makes us who we are going forward.

If we had long loving relationships with our special wives, we know that they would want us to grow and become even better men, rather than want us to sit at home moping about and wallowing in our grief. There is a time for that part of grieving, but it is not intended to be an ongoing permanent state of mind. If it becomes that, our ability to heal is greatly diminished.

So, do not fall into the trap of thinking you know all the answers and what is always best for you. Open your mind to other possibilities.  Accept that others may be able to help you, that you can learn from the experiences of others, and that there just may be a viable and healthy future for you.


© Copyright 2020 Fred Colby

All rights reserved

——————————————————————————

Fred Colby is the author of Widower to Widower, which is available on Amazon.com. You can find Fred’s column appearing here on WSN-MO every other Tuesday. Widower to Widower is available through your local bookstore, my website, and Amazon. Buy Widower to Widower through Amazon. (If living in Canada go to Widower to Widower – Amazon-Canada) See Testimonies and Reviews of Widower to Widower. Website: Fred Colby, Author

Categories
Moving Forward

You’re the Boss Now?

Fred-18

WSN-MO: Widower to Widower with Fred Colby

Remember when you were young, married, and full of misperceptions about your life and marriage? Previously, in our more male-dominated society, you might have believed that as the husband, you were the “boss” in the family!

Ha! Many of us eventually found what a joke that belief was! We often learned that making solo decisions without consulting the wife came at one’s own risk. Foolishly, we may even continue to make such decisions only to find out later what a big mistake it was. So, we gradually learned to work together with our wives as a team and to concede certain areas to her leadership. This could include how best to raise the kids, planning vacations, designing the back yard, household budgeting, maintaining friendships and familial relationships, taking care of holiday arrangements, preparing meals, choosing a new home, and sometimes being the primary breadwinner. For each of us, the areas of concession might differ, but in most cases yielding control in at least some of these areas was critical to making our lives and families work.

So, now fast forward to when you lost your wife. Now what? Suddenly we are the only boss over all matters, and we may be unprepared for assuming the responsibilities that she handled so well. It is overwhelming enough dealing with her death and its many personal ramifications, but now you must fill in these gaps left by her absence.

Over 50% of us may experience a severe health challenge during the first year after losing our spouse. Is this just because of the added stress due to her loss? Or is it also because we don’t have our “boss” around to nag us into going to the doctor when we first exhibit symptoms? Being responsible for our health is often one of the areas we urgently need to assume ownership.

You may also have to learn how to manage a checkbook, take care of your household, do the shopping, maintain relationships with your family and friends, learn how to cook again, take care of legal matters, and more.

Many widowers will find themselves overwhelmed by it all, and just throw in the towel, allowing dirty dishes, laundry, weeds, stale food, bills, and broken relationships to pile up to a point where it will appear impossible to clean it all up. The level of a widower’s ability to handle such tasks may lead to isolation, discouragement, lack of self-confidence, diminished quality of life, and even depression. The worse it gets, the harder it is to pull out of it.

How do you fix it? Literally by cleaning one dish at a time, pulling one weed at a time, paying one bill at a time, and repairing one broken relationship at a time. In other words, like any major challenge you have faced in your life, you have to make the decision that you will confront this problem by starting with the first step, followed by another and another. 

In most cases, this often should include asking others for help! You might be surprised by how willing others are to help if allowed to do so and how good you will feel after they help you. This might include family, friends, therapists, grief groups, church friends, and neighbors.

Once you commit to accepting your new role as “the boss” in all things, you may find that your healing will progress, along with your newfound self-identity and feeling of self-worth. Eventually, this healing process will allow you to move forward and to find a new purpose in life.

© Copyright 2020 Fred Colby

All rights reserved

——————————————————————-

Fred Colby is the author of Widower to Widower, which is available on Amazon.com. You can find Fred’s column appearing here on WSN-MO every other Tuesday. Widower to Widower is available through your local bookstore, my website, and Amazon. Buy Widower to Widower through Amazon. (If living in Canada go to Widower to Widower – Amazon-Canada) See Testimonies and Reviews of Widower to Widower. Website: Fred Colby, Author

Categories
Giving Support Moving Forward Widower Awareness

Where Can I Get Help?

Fred-18

WSN-MO: Widower to Widower with Fred Colby

If you are a widower looking for help, ideas, or support, this blog is for you!

While there are very few good books out there specifically for widowers, there are several organizations around the country that can provide help or direct you to the help that you need. 

Here are a few of the key ones that I have compiled to share with my fellow widowers.

Cancer Support Community: located in many communities to help families deal with the challenges of dealing with cancer and its consequences.

GriefNet.org: an online support group that offers specific online groups for loss of spouse or partner.

GriefJourney.com: offers online grief support and resources.

Griefshare.org: offers a listing of church-based grief groups in your area.

Grief Healing: a variety of articles, discussion groups, blogs, and more to help you through the grieving process.

Grief Support Services.org: provides a wide array of online services for fees.

Hospice Foundation of America: provides information about many hospices around the country and access to online articles about end-of-life and grief.

Meetup.com: provides access to many group activities in most areas, including grief groups.

Mygriefangels.org: lists hundreds of resources, including many specific to certain types of losses (e.g., due to cancer).

Modern Loss: provides articles written by people like you and me who have gone through the grief process and have something to share.

National Widowers Association: Lists widower support groups around the country as well as various resources that are helpful such as articles and blogs.

Online Grief Support: offers online support, including online groups, information about grieving, and even After Death Experiences.

Open to Hope: offers articles and talks on grief by real people who have experienced the loss of a loved one. They have sections specific to the loss of a spouse.

Pathways: offers hospice, palliative care, and grief & loss counseling services for all ages in northern Colorado.

Soaring Spirits International: provides a variety of online resources to assist widowed people in helping each other.

The Grief Toolbox: A resource for books, articles, and resources needed to educate ourselves and our loved ones on what is happening and how to best keep going forward.

Widower to Widower: offers free blogs, resources, podcasts, and links to many other organizations.

Widowers Support Network: provides “Widowers Support Network – Members Only,” a free and private online Facebook page for widowers where hundreds of widowers from around the world provide mutual support, humor, and ideas to help fellow widowers through this experience.

If you need help during this strange and crazy time, don’t hesitate to reach out to these groups or your brothers in grieving. To go it alone is not healthy for you or others. We were not made to be isolated and alone, and that is not what our wives would want for us either. So, honor your wives by reaching out to others for help when you need it, and to help others when they need it.

© Copyright 2020 Fred Colby

All rights reserved

——————————————————————————

Fred Colby is the author of Widower to Widower, which is available on Amazon.com. You can find Fred’s column appearing here on WSN-MO every other Tuesday. Widower to Widower is available through your local bookstore, my website, and Amazon. Buy Widower to Widower through Amazon. (If living in Canada go to Widower to Widower – Amazon-Canada) See Testimonies and Reviews of Widower to Widower. Website: Fred Colby, Author