Categories
Grief/Dispair Holidays

Holidays 2020

Nyle Kardatzke

WSN-MO: Widow-Man with Dr. Nyle Kardatzke

When I think of holidays, I think immediately of Thanksgiving and Christmas. My wife died on October 25, so those two holidays were a shock. I didn’t intend to immerse myself in open, emotional grief, but I didn’t want to pretend that nothing had changed. Those holidays were a challenge, especially that first year.

At Thanksgiving, I knew I needed to decline invitations from my wife’s family to join them. My son and his wife came to my house for a quiet lunch and afternoon. In the evening, we went to Cracker Barrel for Thanksgiving dinner. Half of the Hoosier nation was there, it seemed, but we had a traditional turkey dinner and felt that we had done justice by Thanksgiving.

Christmas marked precisely two months after my wife’s death. My adult children and four young grandchildren asked if they could all come and stay at my house. I knew I had to decorate the home to some extent rather than broadcast to these young people that I was alone, sad, and in shock. Christmas decorating was a project my wife had always led, so my mind felt like oatmeal, and my body seemed leaden.

I could hardly go through the motions of testing the lights, putting them up and getting the tree from the attic. Thankfully my son and his wife came to help, and the house quickly began to look a lot like Christmas. That year’s decorating was far below the standards my wife would have expected, but it was enough to signal to my family that life was going on and to me. The holiday I had dreaded became a step toward the future.

On the third Christmas after my wife’s death, I was with one of my daughters and her family. It was the first time my daughter had a grandparent there for Christmas, and it was my first time to be alone in the home of one of my children. I now have had ten Christmas seasons without my wife, and each has become easier, happier, and more focused on family, friends, and the future.

Holidays won’t be the same without your wife, but they won’t always be the same kind of emotional challenge you may feel at first. You may find altogether different ways to celebrate the holidays, maybe at home with some of the same decorations and foods you enjoyed with your wife, or perhaps in someone else’s home or a restaurant. Locations can change from year to year to accommodate the needs of family members.

Let Thanksgiving and Christmas take on new shapes in new ways. Find your way naturally into your new holiday traditions, and you will begin to celebrate them wholeheartedly.

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Look for Dr. Kardatzke’s insights to appear in his column named after his book, WIDOW-MAN, every other Wednesday. You can write Dr. Kardatzke at thewidowman@gmail.com

Categories
Uncategorized

Safe at Home

Nyle Kardatzke

WSN: Widow-Man with Dr. Nyle Kardatzke

“Two are better than one because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!” Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

My wife’s presence in our home gave me companionship but also safety. Now that she’s gone, I have to think more about my safety.

“Safety in numbers” is a common adage that does not apply to you as it once did. Your wife was a safety net for you. She probably warned if you drove too fast or did not notice the traffic slowing ahead of you. Around the house, she may have been concerned about dangers that you dismissed casually, like climbing ladders or fixing electrical circuits. Even if you are younger, maybe under 70, hazards that were present while your wife was there are now more serious.

You are more vulnerable to home hazards right now than ever: you are in a state of grief, you are living alone for the first time in years, and you are older than you once were.

Parents and grandparents take care to “baby-proof” their homes for infants and small kids. They look out for choking hazards, cleaning chemicals, and open electrical outlets. Older people, too, can turn ordinary things into hazards: leaving stove burners on, climbing on chairs to change light bulbs, tripping on staircases or rugs, overloading electrical circuits, losing track of medicines taken, and forgetting to lock the house.

You may need to “widow-man proof” or “elder-proof” your home. Think about medicines, sharp objects, stairs, fire, floods, windstorms, blizzards, rodents, electrical failures, and burglars. Many things can go wrong at home.

Five months before my wife died, she abruptly had a home security system installed. We knew of no active threat to our home, but she felt better with an alarm system armed at night. After she died, I found the alarm system reassuring, and I set it every night for several months. The alarm was something my wife did to take care of me after she was gone.

A widow friend fell in her unheated garage a few years ago during cold weather. She might have died of hypothermia if she had not made a practice of keeping her cell phone with her at all times, even at home. She called for help and was rescued in a matter of minutes. When I go to my basement, I always have my cell phone with me, just in case.

Some of the best security measures are ancient and time-honored: family, neighbors, and friends. Keep in touch with your kids, friends, and neighbors. Let them know your habits well enough to ask questions if something changes. A widowed cousin of mine fell in her kitchen and lay helpless for twenty-six hours, unable to reach her home phone or cell phone. A neighbor “happened” to come to water her plants in the yard, thinking she was out of town, and that neighbor saved her life.

Think of your “lifeline” people who may save you from misery or death by their regular communications with you. Consider a Lifeline or Life Alert button to call for help in an emergency. Think about your surroundings, and then let yourself be at peace.

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Look for Dr. Kardatzke’s insights to appear in his column named after his book, WIDOW-MAN, every other Wednesday. You can write Dr. Kardatzke at thewidowman@gmail.com

Categories
Grief/Dispair Mental/Emotional Health

Sleep

Nyle Kardatzke

WSN: Widow-Man with Dr. Nyle Kardatzke

“I have promises to keep and miles to go before I sleep.”

-Robert Frost, from “On Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening”

Sleep is a great healer, but it can be elusive in a time of grief. Some men have trouble falling asleep. Others sleep easily but wake up in the middle of the night. I have had both of these sleep problems. Another is the temptation to sleep a lot, sleeping to escape life and grief. If you have persistent problems sleeping, you may need to see your doctor for help.

My wife had difficulty sleeping in her last few years. I fell asleep almost instantly as I hit the pillow. In the morning, I would ask about her “adventures in the night” to hear about her times of sleeplessness. Now my sleep is more unpredictable like hers was. When I go to bed, I don’t know how well I will sleep. I might sleep soundly through the night, or I might wake up and need to turn on a lamp and read for an hour before sleep returns.

Your body requires a reasonable amount of sleep, given all you are going through right now. Sleep is part of the healing process. The amount you slept before your wife’s death was probably your normal amount for that time in life, but you may not return to it for a while. Be patient; don’t try to force things.

Men tend to be problem solvers and want to do something. But sometimes we have to live with a problem and let it take its course. Sleep may be one of those problems. If loss of sleep is persistent, however, your doctor can prescribe something to get you through this sleepless phase, and you will later begin to sleep more naturally.

You may find it helpful to keep a bedside diary about your sleep. Note the time you turn off your light and the time you get up for a few weeks. Keep a record of your wakeful episodes in the night. Your sleep diary may help you understand what you are experiencing at night. Your notes may help if you talk to your doctor about sleep problems.

If you are a praying man, bedtime prayers may help you and the people and situations you pray for. You can give your problems to God through prayer. Sometimes I have prayed myself to sleep, and I think God accepts that kind of prayer as well as those offered in full consciousness.

My wife has been gone for ten years. The sleep problems I had in my early grief have gone away, but now I have varying sleep success. Some fitful nights are normal for many people. Don’t panic about them. Find your way through them, and continue to seek a healthy sleep life.

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Look for Dr. Kardatzke’s insights to appear in his column named after his book, WIDOW-MAN, every other Wednesday. You can write Dr. Kardatzke at thewidowman@gmail.com

Categories
Grief/Dispair Healing Loneliness Moving Forward

Starting Your Day

Nyle Kardatzke

WSN: Widow-Man with Dr. Nyle Kardatzke

“Oh! How I hate to get up in the morning!” Irving Berlin

I’m finding now, ten years after my wife’s passing, that I’m having a more challenging time starting my day productively than in my earlier years of widowhood. It’s a lot harder than when I worked full time and got up at 5:30 most mornings for exercise, reading, and prayer. My advancing age must be part of it. The unreal conditions of the COVID-19 crisis and political tumult in 2020 may be taking away some of my reasons for starting early.

Starting the day is a challenge for many men and women after the loss of a spouse. When you awaken in the morning after a night in bed, you may feel shaken when you remember that you are alone. It may take some practice to discover the best way to get yourself out of bed, especially if your wife usually awakened before you.

Just getting up can be a problem. I sometimes pray before even getting out of bed, asking God to guide me and shape my day. That little prayer of humility and dependence on God is sometimes all I can manage. I have found that he does answer that prayer, and he makes my day more effective than it would have been. I give him thanks each morning for the previous day, the life he has given me, and the sleep I had in the night, even if it was imperfect.

If you typically eat breakfast with your wife, you may find it hard to eat breakfast alone. Since she left home early, I usually fixed yogurt and fruit for my wife to take to work with her, and I ate a fried egg on toast while leaning over the kitchen sink. In the years since she died, I usually sit down for breakfast and often eat after 9 a.m. I never eat at 6:30 and dash off to work now.

If breakfast is a problem for you now, one solution may be to find something nourishing you can eat quickly when ready to eat, such as a granola or protein bar with a coffee or orange juice. A high protein shake can reinforce your simplest breakfasts. If you are a bigger breakfast eater and can cook, it is a good idea to continue to have your oatmeal, pancakes, or bacon and eggs and start your day strong. Many men choose to eat breakfast out, even if they are not widow-men. If doing so gets you up and out of the house in a better mood, do it.

If you function well without breakfast, accept that as a gift and start without food.

Healthy morning routines are essential. Exercise in the morning can help your day go better, even if you do only a little. Walking is the ideal exercise, especially if you do nothing else.

Personal care is vital in the mornings, perhaps especially when you don’t feel like it. I shave at least every other day now in retirement, which makes me feel fit and presentable. Don’t let yourself “go to seed.” You will notice it, and so will others. The intentional practice of morning personal care routines will help you start your day well.

As part of my morning routine, I take time to pray, read a chapter in the Bible, and often write in my journal while I have my first cup of coffee. I don’t write in my journal every day, but I do it often enough to follow some of the important threads of my life: my children and grandchildren, other family members, crises in the world, and memories of my wife. It takes only a few minutes to make a journal entry, and it can be as helpful as a conversation with a friend.

Reading something substantial in the morning can strengthen you and prepare you for the day ahead. I suggest you read something of more lasting value than the morning news. Many men find solace in the Psalms or other parts of the Bible. Find something that inspires you and an amount of reading that is natural and helpful for you. Not all of what you read will seem meaningful each day; just keep reading and watching for gems that you will uncover.

You are in a new world now, and your path into each day has changed. Some mornings will be difficult. On other mornings you may feel anticipation and hope about your new life. Build on the good days and remind yourself that the down days are natural and to be expected. Then go and take on the day.

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Look for Dr. Kardatzke’s insights to appear in his column named after his book, WIDOW-MAN, every other Wednesday. You can write Dr. Kardatzke at thewidowman@gmail.com

Categories
Grief/Dispair Moving Forward

The First Year

Nyle Kardatzke

WSN: Widow-Man with Dr. Nyle Kardatzke

The first year after your wife’s death is unlike any before or after. You are in a world of unreality. Each day may seem like a new event, even though your surroundings haven’t changed. You may be in something like a state of shock, just carefully going through the necessary activities but feeling oddly outside yourself, an “out-of-body” experience. You may have to learn that she isn’t coming back repeatedly.

I’m a diary-keeper, so I can see in my first-year diary that I thought of my wife almost constantly. I made journal entries about my feelings during that first year and about the years of our courtship and marriage. I examined in detail everything I could remember about her and our life together. When she had been gone for three months, I wrote that this had been a long time, but now three years seems short. I have been a widow-man for ten years now, and I still think of my wife often. The good news is that memories of your wife may become comforting and energizing, as many of my memories have become.

My journals from that first year tell me I maintained some of my old routines, thinking subconsciously that those routines, as rituals, might bring my wife back. I knew this was impossible, but the rituals seemed to make the parting easier. The familiar routines helped define and stabilize my days. They made parts of my life seem normal.

Books on grief give much attention to the emotional impact of the first year. Each season, each birthday or anniversary, and each holiday that comes and goes in that year has special meaning. Besides the emotion of those special days, your first year is a time of learning to manage activities and relationships without the one who has died.

When I approached the end of the first year, I felt I had accomplished something important by completing that year, and yet I felt some regret in continually moving farther away from the time when she was alive. I expected an unrealistically clear turning point after that first year, but the following years had their own new experiences and new ways of learning to live without her.

In one of our last conversations, my wife advised me not to make any big decisions for a year after her death. She advised me not to get involved with another woman until she had been gone a year. I knew this advice made sense; she was thinking more clearly than I could about her death. When she died a week later, the enormity of her death hit me. I was thankful for her advice.

All of the milestones of the first year are potentially filled with emotions. The changing seasons, holidays, birthdays, and anniversaries often are challenging as they come around for the first time without your wife. Widowers warned me about them, but they were still difficult to navigate.

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Look for Dr. Kardatzke’s insights to appear in his column named after his book, WIDOW-MAN, every other Wednesday. You can write Dr. Kardatzke at thewidowman@gmail.com

Categories
Moving Forward

Returning to Your World

Nyle Kardatzke

WSN; Widow-Man with Nyle Kardatzke, PhD.

Your wife’s death, her funeral, visitors, and necessary follow-up activities probably kept you away from many of your former, usual activities for a while. Your life had to go on, but it seemed strange, very strange, at first. You probably wondered more than once when or if your life would return to “normal.”

My son said it was eerie to return to his hospital work after his mother’s funeral. People weren’t sure how to react to him at first. Soon “business as usual” took over, and everyone was relieved. His colleagues all needed to feel “normal” again. If you are currently employed, returning to work after your wife’s death may seem strange at first. Your relationships with others may have changed in subtle ways.

When I returned to church after my wife’s memorial service, it seemed like a big hurdle to me. As retirees, the church was one of the main places my wife and I met people. Her memorial service was on a Saturday, and I didn’t go to church the next day or for a few weeks. When I did return to church, it was easier than I expected. I don’t remember where I sat or with whom, only that it was easy and comforting to be there again.

When my wife and I had free time, we were usually homebodies. Our professional lives kept us so busy we didn’t have time or inclination to socialize much with other couples. Our social life was mainly through our families, church, and work.

Some married couples are socially involved with other couples, which sometimes changes painfully when one spouse dies. I know several widows who have been hurt and angry when the married couples they had previously enjoyed socially no longer invited them for dinner or travel. Perhaps being widowed seems like a threat to the marriages of the other couples, or maybe the problem is merely having the right number of place settings at the table.

By now, you probably realize there’s no going back to your life as it was when your wife was still alive. You’re in a new life now, on a different journey. Those places that now feel awkward or difficult to visit will take on a different appearance after a time. This part of your life is like going through a passageway: you will come out on the other side.

My wife has been gone ten years, and she’s still with me emotionally and in memories of things we did together. But my life has changed and settled into a few new patterns. As you travel into your new world, you probably will find new friends and new uses for your time. It’s not the life you expected, but it can be a rich, full life. Even your status as a widow-man will open new opportunities for you. Proceed with caution but move into your new life with expectancy.

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Look for Dr. Kardatzke’s insights to appear in his column named after his book, WIDOW-MAN, every other Wednesday. You can write Dr. Kardatzke at thewidowman@gmail.com

Categories
Family Greif Moving Forward

Her Clothing, Her Things

Nyle Kardatzke

WSN: Widow-Man with Dr. Nyle Kardatzke

If you have recently lost your wife, you may be asking yourself, “What should I do with my wife’s clothing, jewelry, books, and other possessions?”

I believe our wives are now clothed in splendor as Solomon could not have imagined, but we still have their earthly clothing here, and we must deal with it sooner or later. You now have a task that nothing has prepared you to handle: what to do with your wife’s many belongings, including her clothing.

There are no rules for dealing with her clothing, books, jewelry, cosmetics, and other possessions. You must consult your feelings and your habits as you begin this work. Don’t be in a hurry. If you are a very tidy person and you need closure soon, you may decide to act faster than a man who has storage space and is comfortable with many reminders of his wife.

When my wife died, I thought it would be weird if I still had her clothes in the house a year later, as though I kept them out of some morbid fixation. I was wrong about that, and I still have some of her clothes now, nearly ten years later, but I seldom see them or think about them. I did give away many armloads of clothing in the first few months. In the frigid winter of 2011, I gave most of her coats to African refugees.

Before you discard all of your wife’s belongings, you may want to think about giving some to your children and grandchildren, or your wife’s siblings or close friends.

A friend recommended that I not donate any of my wife’s intimate apparel but discard them instead. The advice seemed wise, and I acted accordingly. I also discarded other personal things like her cosmetics.

I take digital pictures of the things I decide to give away or discard, except for intimate items. In this way, if I must, I can still see the discarded or donated objects without having them in the house. I rarely look at those photos on my computer, but they are doing no harm among my files.

Is there a procedure you want to follow for storing, donating, or discarding some of your wife’s belongings? Which things will be easiest to discard or give away? Where do you want to begin?

Know yourself. Does it help to keep some things so you can sense your wife’s presence? Or do you need a clean break? Consider storing some items away from the house if you are crowded or just need separation from her belongings.

Consider your children and friends. What do they need to see in your home to assure them of your love for your wife? I have kept pictures of my wife on display throughout the house. Some were formal portraits of us with our children when they were younger; some are snapshots taped to cabinets in the kitchen or the refrigerator. I have gradually put away a few pictures of her, but many will remain in view.

Even at a distance of ten years, I still have two of my wife’s coats in a front closet, and some of her clothes are in another closet. These things of hers don’t make me sad. They are just reminders of her and the good years we had together.

From time to time, I find things that I think are especially appropriate for one of our children or grandchildren to have. I explain the significance of each object when I give it, sometimes writing about its history.

I sometimes give things related to my own life and my wife’s, since I don’t expect to be here forever.

You may want to think of things that would be especially good for you to give to your children now. Some things probably should go to your children or your wife’s family only after you die. There may be things you want to be able to see for as long as you live. But if sentimental objects prevent you from fully living your new life as a widow-man, think about putting them out of sight or discarding them. Your days now are for your new life, not for the preservation of the past.

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Look for Dr. Kardatzke’s insights to appear in his column named after his book, WIDOW-MAN, every other Wednesday. You can write Dr. Kardatzke at thewidowman@gmail.com

Categories
Giving Support Grief/Dispair

Till Death us do Part

Nyle Kardatzke

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Psalm 22:1 and Matthew 27:46

All marriages end in death or divorce. My wife and I talked about our deaths a few times, back when we were both healthy. We sometimes joked about being each other’s “first husband” or “first wife,” never imagining that there might ever be a second spouse for either of us, or that one of us might live alone for many years. We assumed we would both die in old age within a year or two of each other, as our parents had. But now it has happened, and she is gone. Her cancer reappeared, and she died at age 64.

Death always seems sudden, even if it was expected, because it’s so different from all other changes: it is so total, and it’s irreversible.

I learned that I am “widowed” when I offered to give blood in my wife’s honor soon after my wife’s funeral. When I tried to register as a blood donor, the young man asked, “Marital status?” I was confused. I looked down at my wedding ring and stammered, “My wife just died.”

“Widowed,” the young man said and checked that box on his chart. I felt a little dizzy at that moment and I thought about my new marital status for a long time. Before this, I had been either “single” or “married.” I never expected to be a widowed man.

Your wife’s funeral may have seemed like a blur at the time, and you may remember only a few details now. You had to make some decisions in a hurry when your wife died, especially if she died unexpectedly and suddenly. You may be unnerved now by some of the decisions you made then while you were in a state of shock. But be kind to yourself. Remember that you were in an unnatural condition: you had lost your “better half” or maybe your better three-fourths. “Better half” is a good expression, especially now. It says something important about marriage and about losing your wife. You really were two parts of one living thing: your marriage.

C.S. Lewis said that losing your wife isn’t like having your appendix out or being hospitalized with pneumonia: you get over those and they are forgotten. Losing your wife is like having a leg amputated: you don’t get over that. It is such a huge change that it tends to define who you are for a long time, possibly for the rest of your life.

What do you need to learn about being single again? In what ways is this different from being single when you were younger? What challenges do you see ahead? How is your world different from that of a widow woman?

When I became a widowed man, I wondered what to call myself. “Widow” is usually applied only to women, but why can’t a man be a widow? Why accept the implied accusation when you are called a “widower?” You didn’t cause your wife’s death. “Widowed” is a better term, but of course she didn’t do this to you; it wasn’t her choice. I like to call myself simply a widow or widowed, or maybe better, a “widow-man.”

More has been written about widows than about widowed men, so recovering from loss of a spouse might seem like “women’s work.” But you are now doing some of the hardest work of your life, recovering from her death. This is not for the faint-hearted.

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Look for Dr. Kardatzke’s insights to appear in his column named after his book, “WIDOW-MAN,” every other Wednesday. You can write Dr. Kardatzke at thewidowman@gmail.com

Categories
Dating/Relationships Grief/Dispair Guilt/Shame Healing Loneliness Moving Forward

Permission to Change

Nyle Kardatzke

My wife and I slept in a king-size bed in the final years of her life. After her death, I continued to sleep in that massive bed, but always on my side, not hers. It was a comfortable bed, but I found I was swimming all over it at night, and it was hard to make such a large bed by myself. Changing the sheets seemed to be more work than it was worth for me alone.

About four months after my wife died, I looked at that king-size bed one morning, and for the first time, it occurred to me that I didn’t have to keep using it. I could use one of our other beds. I winced at the thought, wondering what my wife would say if she came home and saw that I had changed things without her permission. Where would she sleep? It took me half a minute to realize she wouldn’t be coming back to catch me disturbing our bed. Emotionally I didn’t feel that I should be making a change without her permission even though mentally, I knew that it was okay. I went ahead that day with a major bed-moving operation that ultimately led me to the twin-size bed that now suits me best.

Several other times, I have wanted to make a change in the house or my schedule and have felt I had her permission to do so. Fortunately, my wife was quite practical, so it’s easy for me to picture her approving and endorsing some of the changes I have made. But there are still things I leave as they were, out of respect for space she still occupies in my mind. She liked things this way, and I can still enjoy them for that reason.

Many widow-men probably need to feel their wives’ permission to make changes, especially in the first few weeks or months. Of course, we know that it is we who must grant the permission, but we are more comfortable with those decisions when we feel our wives invisibly agreeing, may be smiling and nodding from where they are. My wife’s name was Darlene, so I sometimes ask myself, “WWDD” (what would Darlene do)? I often receive assurance about an action by asking that question, and I have been diverted from disasters in the same way.

Small household changes are one thing; new relationships, especially with women, are another. Some men never feel they have permission to see other women, to say nothing of remarrying. Others make this transition smoothly. Still, others can do so because their wife told them she wanted them to remarry. You will have to listen to your mind as well as your heart in these matters, and you may need to listen for your wife’s voice for her counsel.

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Look for Dr. Kardatzke’s insights to appear in his column named after his book, “WIDOW-MAN,” every other Wednesday. You can write Dr. Kardatzke at thewidowman@gmail.com

Categories
Grief/Dispair Memory

Memory and Memories

Nyle Kardatzke

Our memories, in many ways, are a storehouse of who we are. Remembering past events tells you something about who you are. We widow-men face practical issues of memory: our ability to remember names, appointments, and where we have left things. There are also memories that we want to keep: mental pictures of scenes we shared with our wives when they were here. Memory and memories make up much of who we are.

Forgetfulness comes with the confusion we widow-men feel. It’s hard to remember what we said to each person recently, and we might forget appointments. We may forget where we put something in the living room or kitchen. I often spend time looking for things that I have lost due to forgetfulness.

In the first few months of my widowhood, I sometimes wondered if I was becoming senile. Was it the onset of Alzheimer’s, I wondered? But then I realized I was experiencing shock due to my wife’s death, not dementia or Alzheimer’s.

If you are an “older man,” maybe over sixty, memory losses may worry you a lot. When you forget something, remember that your mind is working hard behind the scenes, and it may neglect to remind you to do even some basic things. Remembering to do simple tasks may require conscious thought for a while.

When your wife died, you did lose part of your memory: the role that she always took care of. She reminded you of names, meetings, birthdays, and how to tuck in your shirt. You lost a large part of your sentimental memory bank as well. I often wish I could share a memory with my wife; she is the only other person who might remember and care about specific events.

You can enjoy some of those sentimental memories just by thinking about them, and you can store them to remember again by writing them down. Thoughts and memories, even valuable ones, are transient and disappear quickly if not written down.

I take lots of notes and make lists to make up for losing my wife’s reminders. These lists help keep me on track as I go through the day, and they remind me of what I have accomplished when I feel I have done nothing. Because I like lists, sometimes I even add something to a list after I have done it, just for the satisfaction of crossing it off the list. You have some new tasks now, without your wife. Written lists may make up for some of that loss.

I not only forget some essential things, but I also tend to avoid some of them. I tend to avoid financial matters, home maintenance, lawn upkeep, and car repairs. I sometimes avoid or delay unpleasant meetings or phone calls. Some things may seem more emotional now without her. Avoidance can be as risky as forgetting.

We won’t always remember everything we want to remember. We may not remember to write down all the things we should. But most of our forgetting is forgivable. Be honest with yourself about the systems that can assist your memory. Your mind is working hard in your new life. Give it all the help you can.

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Look for Dr. Kardatzke’s insights to appear in his column named after his book, “WIDOW-MAN,” every other Wednesday. You can write Dr. Kardatzke at thewidowman@gmail.com