Categories
Family Finding Purpose Giving Support Grief/Dispair

Husband – Warrior – Brother

Terrell Whitener

WSN-MO: A Few Minutes with Terrell Whitener

During a recent reflection period, my thoughts turned to just how I have ended up where I am at in life. As a very grateful and appreciative man of my station in life, these reflection times usually end up as an exercise in gratitude and not a time for regret.

Many times, these sessions end up being a catalyst for a future article, and this my brother is one such article. At the conclusion of this exercise, I came away with three defining roles that have contributed significantly to my status as a widowed man. I started as a husband, moved to a period of being a warrior, and now reside proudly as a member of this brotherhood.

Let me begin with my role as a husband. In my life, I have had the pleasure of achieving many things. I say this not to be boastful but from a place of gratitude. Professionally I have benefited from the guidance of wonderful mentors, talented staff, the providence of the right timing, and a small modicum of talent mixed in. But one of the greatest benefits that I had was the counsel and support of my wife, Robyn. I have said many times on these pages that no one ever believed in me more than Robyn did. I am sure that my seeming hire wire act of risk-taking drove her crazy at times, but she wore it well.

The warrior aspect of my life manifested itself when Robyn’s health challenges occurred. Over what was nine years of concern with the last 18 months serving as her primary caretaker, we waged what I felt was a winnable war on her health, both physically and emotionally. I was dogmatic about her care and equally dogmatic about her happiness. I felt this was the least I could do for the woman I loved. While I relish the trips we took and the comfortable life we built, I would burn it to the ground if it got in the way of taking care of my Robyn. Like most marriages, we had our moments. But I have come to realize we had a “mature marriage,” one that was not without flaw, but one that always found its way to do the right thing for each other. Sometimes you must let the person have their way even though you disagree but support them and be there for them despite the outcome. That was the bedrock that forged the strength that held us together the last 18 months of our marriage. But alas, I was not victorious in winning the war to keep Robyn alive. Despite my best intentions and my best efforts, I did not have the final say. But boy, did I try. That my brothers, I can accept.

Last but certainly not least is the brotherhood aspect of my life. I spend a lot of time sharing my experiences with creating a life after loss. Sharing that story has found a comfortable place in my life. Like many, I am often lonely. Unlike many, I have not found true love again. But I have a great and comfortable place in the brotherhood. I have biological brothers and my kindred spirit brothers that I am sharing this article with today. I am so grateful for both sets of my brothers. They give me a soft-landing place from time to time. They provide me an outlet to share my grief and loss as well as my hope for the future.

So, there you have it. Husband, Warrior, Brother. All roles in which I comfort. Like many who will honor me by reading this article, we all will find a way of defining our existence, or at least I hope so. As always, I welcome your thoughts and responses. And as always, I want to let you know that I appreciate and want nothing but peace for each of you. Until next time.

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Terrell Whitener is an author, motivational speaker, and coach. Based in St. Louis, Missouri, Terrell is the author of The First 365, Learning to Live After Loss. You can reach Terrell at his newly redesigned website thedebriefgroup365.com. There you will find all my social media contacts or through the Widow Support Network.

Categories
Faith/Religion Grief/Dispair Loneliness Moving Forward

This Life We Are Given: As Simple As ABC?

Terrell Whitener

WSN: A Few Minutes with Terell Whitener

Recently I lost a colleague due to some unfortunate circumstances. Historically in these writings, I share with you, it focuses on strategies for managing the loss of our spouses, partners, and significant others. However, recent events in my own life have made me reflect that loss continues to happen in our lives, and we must find ways of managing these events when they occur.

So, this life we are given, without our loved ones, frequently gives us a different view of death. For me, it has enhanced the importance of time in my life. I have a greater appreciation for the time, how I use time, who I spend time with, and how I prioritize the use of time. After receiving the news of my colleague’s death, I took some time to not only absorb the shock of their passing but also look at this life I have been given.

Over the years, I have developed a strategy that allows me to take a simple approach to complex matters in life. When reflecting on the losses I have experienced since my wife Robyn died, my approach to future losses boils down to the ABC’s in my life. Let me take a moment to share this approach with you.

A: Acknowledge those people and things that bring value to your life.

I have learned to express my genuine feelings for and appreciation of the relationships and things that bring happiness into my life. I say, “I love you “much more often and easily than I used to. I find it refreshing to let others know how I feel and, in a more cliché way, takes the time to smell the flowers.

This ability to express my feeling has led to a more open and expressive existence with friends and family members than previously in my life. Those who may believe that this sounds too mushy, let me offer that this makes me feel more genuine.

B: Believe in something or someone greater than yourself.

Right up front, let me assure you I am not telling you what to believe in or who to believe in at all. I only what to encourage you to take the opportunity to galvanize the benefit of the realization of what makes your life the life you are living. What motivates you? Who assists you in being the person you are? How do you use your talents and gifts are a few ways you can approach this aspect of life.

I am a man of faith, so my approach is rooted in my religious beliefs. Over the years, I have come to not only acknowledge but respect those that take a different approach to life.

C: Commit to an approach and celebrate the successes.

Over the years, with the help of my mentors, friends, and family, I have learned to be a fearless decision-maker. While this has not always resulted in success, it has afforded me a clear and convincing approach to life. Take the time to take a 360 view of your circumstances, and then take the best path to happiness and success in life.

Another habit that I am forming is to celebrate success no matter the size of the accomplishment. If it is losing 5 pounds or closing a seven-figure deal, celebrate it. I am a huge fan of momentum. In my relationships with individuals I mentor, I always emphasize creating positive momentum in their lives and careers. I believe in this practice very strongly.

So, there you have it. A very surface level synopsis of my ABC’s of life. Though this was born out of the heartache of loss, it has become the framework of peace. I am confident that whether you have formalized these thoughts in your own lives, many of you have the same approach to living and loving after a loss.

As always, brothers, I welcome your feedback. And by the way, do not forget your ABC’s.

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Terrell Whitener is an author, motivational speaker, and coach. Based in St. Louis, Missouri, Terrell is the author of The First 365, Learning to Live After Loss. Terrell can be reached at his newly redesigned thedebriefgroup365.com; there, you will find all his social media contacts. You can find his article every two weeks here on WSN-MO.

Categories
Family Grief/Dispair Holidays Loneliness

Grief Loss and the Upcoming Holiday Season, Strategies for Getting Your ARMS Around It Early

Terrell Whitener

WSN-MO: A Few Minutes with Terrell Whitener

For my offering this week, I have chosen an article out of my archives to share with the brotherhood. I hope you enjoy and, most importantly, consider integrating this into your approach to the season ahead.

Before you know it, the holiday season will be upon us. For individuals that are in a season of grief, the holidays can be the most challenging time of year. It may be even more difficult for those experiencing this season for the first time without a loved one. In this article, I would like to offer a few thoughts that you may consider to navigate this most uncertain time. I refer to it as taking the ARMS approach to surviving the holidays during the season of grief.

A: Acknowledge Your Feelings. Though this may seem obvious, we must realize that grasping a solid hold of this cognitive realization is paramount to your self-care. A successful approach must respect that your personal and genuine feelings will allow for the most palatable experience through this most difficult time. It is normal to feel the need to be strong for others, and it is your right to feel the need to “hold it together” for others. But the day is 24 hours long, and there will be plenty of private time to sort through your actual state of mind.

R: Remember the Good Times. As part of the periods of reflection, always remember to add in memories of the good times. The arguments over the Christmas tree, the heavy-handed pouring of the liquor that “was just to add a little flavor” to the recipe at Thanksgiving, can go a long way at times like these.

M: Make at Least One New Memory. One of the most challenging endeavors to undertake is to introduce some measure of change. Though difficult to do, I highly recommend adding one new activity or memory to this season. It could be as simple as inviting friends for dessert or drinks after the family Christmas meal. Or preparing dinner for friends who may not have a family to join them in celebrating the holidays. Though the initial thought may seem daunting, you may find that it may help you navigate this time a bit easier.

S: Save a Place for Sadness. It would be foolhardy to think that honest reflection will not include times of sadness. To those experiencing their first season after losing a loved one, becoming sad is entirely normal. Finding a place for sorrow is a responsible and honest emotion to manifest. It is an exercise that will make this time bearable.

So, there we are—strategies for Getting Your ARMS Around it Early. I wish you nothing but the best in navigating the upcoming holiday season.

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Terrell Whitener is an author, motivational speaker, and coach. Based in St. Louis, Missouri, Terrell is the author of The First 365, Learning to Live After Loss. You can reach Terrell at his newly redesigned website thedebriefgroup365.com. There you will find all my social media contacts or through the Widow Support Network.

Categories
Finding Purpose Giving Support Healing Moving Forward Uncategorized

All Dressed Up and Nobody to Love

Terrell Whitener
If you have followed my writings over the years, you may know that I am a glass half full type of person. Long ago, I learned to own what yours to earn and move forward with life. The year 2020 has been unlike any other I have experienced in my 63 years on this earth. I probably have spent more time reflecting on my life more profoundly than any previous year. There is perhaps no other aspect that I have reflected on more than taking a deep dive into the current “state of my own private union.” Let me explain that statement. As a person who works from home, still follows strict social distancing protocols, and lives alone, 2020 could have created many challenges. First, I am pleased to be employed. A little over a year, I was “unretired” by a great opportunity that came my way. Returning to the workforce gave me a nice balance of intellectual challenges and social interactions with others. Returning to work also made the time that I spent solitarily at home far less than without the opportunity of going to the office. Then came COVID. Just when I had a new rhythm to my life, I am thrust back into solitary confinement. I am very thankful that over the years, I have made my home a place that is appointed with most of the amenities I need to entertain myself. While I miss seeing family and dining at restaurants, I am not having as tough of time adjusting as many people I know are having. I have taken a deeper dive into listening to more music, turning off the TV, participating in zoom chats and meetings, and have even indulged in ordering my groceries online. But as human nature goes, I often wonder what it would be like to have someone to share this more intimate of times. I am, however, very happy to report that I have not jumped into a relationship just for the sake of being in a relationship. I am so very happy for those of you that have found love again. I will continue to live vicariously through you until my lightning bolt falls out of the sky! While standing by in wonder, I have also grown to appreciate the relationship I am forging with myself. I have engaged in a deeper level of self-care, more generous than I have provided for in years. I have contributed to a soon-to-be-released book, and I have spent more time dealing with my health. I have discovered I spend too much time on social media, but I have learned to live without attending baseball games. Any travel plans have been placed on hold, but I have resolved to check travel off my bucket list as soon as I can safely do so. I attend church services online, and I have created a very primitive home gym. I cannot help but wonder what it would have been like sharing this time with my Robyn. It would have been tough on her, as she was a very social person, and while she loved me, she did not like me underfoot excessively. It would have been a challenge, to be sure. While the title of this article is All Dressed Up and Nobody to Love, it may have started with thoughts tinged with a bit of melancholy; it has been transformed into a story of empowerment and discovery. I have realized in this process, that despite the obvious love that I have for family and friends, I have discovered a new love, myself. Meanwhile, while fate takes its time in revealing itself, I am going to continue to concentrate on growing with my new love, me! As always, I welcome your feedback. I also continue to be grateful for the opportunity to share my thoughts with you all. Until next time. __________________________________________ Terrell Whitener is an author, motivational speaker, and coach. Based in St. Louis, Missouri, Terrell is the author of The First 365, Learning to Live After Loss. Terrell can be reached at my newly redesigned thedebriefgroup365.com; there you will find all my social media contacts or through the Widow Support Network.
Categories
COVID-19 Grief/Dispair Loneliness Mindfulness Self-care

What I Miss Most

Terrell Whitener

The current Corvid 19 pandemic effected most people’s life in some way. As a widowed man and an empty nester, the current protocol that I have chosen to follow has given me a significant amount of time to reflect on my life.

Recently I gave a lot of thought to what I miss most about not having my wife with me during this most unusual time. While reflecting I was not overcome with a deep sense of sadness, but just with what I would deem as one of my “sigh” moments.

My wife Robyn was an extremely strong-willed person. It is anyone’s guess as to how compliant she would have chosen to be. But despite what could have been a challenge, I cannot help but to contemplate what we would have been getting into with all this “bonding” time on our hands. One thing I am confident of, is e would have the Amazon and other delivery personnel would have been getting a more active than usual amount of business from my wife. Robyn was a world class shopper. With even more sedentary time and the additional money saved by not being as mobile she normally would have been, she would have found even more of her famous “deals” to take advantage of. So, I miss hauling in the packages and complaining in vain.

I also miss the sound of laughter in my house. Robyn and I loved to laugh. Humor was our sixth Love Language. We would find humor in almost anything. Around her nuclear family laughter was in short supply, so I believe the constant levity of our home gave her great comfort. It also gave me great comfort and I miss it a lot.

On the business side, Robyn served as my primary sounding board. Before her retirement for health reasons, we both had jobs that demanded a lot of our time and came with tremendous responsibility. As a consult and entrepreneur, Robyn was often my primary sounding board. I felt she had a keen understanding of how the pieces came together. She seldom had much interest in the nuances of what I did overall but was very intuitive when it came to asking the right questions in gauging the proper amount of preparation and risk. I often tell people that no one believed in me more than my wife Robyn did. In this aspect of my life however I am fortunate that my son has seamlessly moved into that role in my life and is doing a great job in being my consigliore.

On a more personal level I miss Robyn’s presence in my bed at night. Not so much for the sexual side but for the comfort side of intimacy. The bedroom can be at times a vast place when you are all alone. I have not been fortunate enough to forge a relationship, that includes intimacy on that level, so I miss her a lot in that area.

At times like these the smallest things can trigger a memory. I have always disliked drinking alone, so I rarely take a drink at home. The other night however I had a taste for a glass of wine with dinner. So, I picked out a bottle and opened it up and poured a glass. While the wine was a nice compliment to dinner the experience of drinking it was lacking something. Possibly what is was lacking was the second glass which would have been Robyn.

Overall, however, my life is a great one. I have great family and a comfortable home. Full of great memories and if I get still enough, I can maybe hear laughter still hidden in the walls. It is in those moments, that life is just a bit more bearable, life is just a little more complete.

As always, I welcome your responses. If you are willing share the things you miss most.  I appreciate the opportunity to share with you all. Until next time.

Terrell Whitener is an author, motivational speaker, and coach. Based in St. Louis, Missouri, Terrell is the author of The First 365, Learning to Live After Loss.  Terrell can be reached at my newly redesigned website thedebriefgroup365.com, there you will find all my social media contacts or through the Widow Support Network.

Categories
COVID-19 Giving Support Grief/Dispair Healing Self-care

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Forever

Terrell Whitener

As I sit down to share my thoughts with you, it has been 64 months since I joined the community of widowed men. During that time, I have experienced so many things. Currently, as I find myself navigating this period, I call social distancing, I find myself with a lot of time to be alone with my thoughts. For many, this can be a very troubling time. When I was initially forced to quarantine, I entered it with some trepidation. I felt that I would miss interacting with my friends and family, which I do. Oh no, not take away my baseball season! I have learned to live without it. No summer travel, oh come on now! What do you mean cruising is too dangerous even to consider? But I love my cruises. No dining out, no concerts, missed the Rolling Stones again! What is a man to do?

See, my dear brothers, I am not a man that dates. My family and a small select group of friends are my social outlets. I am blessed to have the privilege of sharing my thoughts with you all a couple of times a month, but overall, my life is quiet. During this time, I have rediscovered reading, saved a ton of money, gotten back into music, undertaken household projects, demystified Zoom, done some preliminary work on my podcast as well as signed an agreement to do a second book. Not bad for a guy with too much time on his hands, huh.

But from time to time, thoughts of how wonderful it would be to be sharing this added time with Robyn creeps through my mind. It is natural to miss our loved ones and managed correctly; these thoughts can be very therapeutic. It is not the fourth quarter I planned to live, and it certainly was not the one we designed for each other. Over time, however, my feelings have transformed from feeling that I possibly got cheated, to at times feeling Robyn got cheated by dying. I do not spend a lot of time with those thoughts, but they surface occasionally. But once I get my thoughts together, I spend much of my time being guided by these overriding mental principles:

I Realize and Reflect on the wonderful life I have had. Please be clear, we all have had something exceedingly difficult happen to us in the loss of our loved one. In no way am I minimizing that reality at all. But I try to live in the vein of gratitude over perpetual grief. I understand I will never get over the loss of Robyn. As I have stated before, I do not want to. But over these last five-plus years, she had settled into the positive memories that make the void in my life bearable.

I also Remember, but try not to Ruminate. Recently I made a big decision. Over the past six months, I have started redecorated my apartment. I am finally in an emotional place to take on the project. One of the complicated parts of taking on this project is choosing what needs to be given away, donated, or thrown away. Robyn and I spent countless hours sitting in our living room, laughing, and talking, watching television, or just occasionally spending some quiet time together. I so needed her to get better so we could get on with our forever. The time had come for the couch to go. It had been her favorite seat and my seat of comfort in the early days after her death. Since the start of the plans to redecorate, I tried to make that couch work, but to no avail, it had to go, and it did, and I lived. No more rumination, it is time for action.

Finally, we need to find strength, Recharge, and Re-emerge. Now I am not advocating everyone goes out and buy a Maserati or that “tricked out truck” but make a responsible plan to move forward. For some who are in the earlier stages, I urge baby steps. For others, it is time to take the responsible plunge. A couple of months ago, I wrote about discovery. I guess this is another branch on that tree. New experiences are out there.

Yes, a funny thing happened on the way to forever, and in this, we all share the same experience, WE ALL RAN OUT OF TIME!

As always, I welcome your feedback. And as always, I wish you nothing but the best. Each one of us is on a unique path to our forever. I wish you all traveling grace along the way.

____________________________________________Terrell Whitener is an author, motivational speaker, and coach. Based in St. Louis, Missouri, Terrell is the author of The First 365, Learning to Live After Loss. Terrell can be reached at his newly redesigned thedebriefgroup365.com, there you will find all his social media contacts. You can find his article every two weeks here on WSN-MO.

Categories
Dating/Relationships Loneliness Mindfulness Self-care

Settling into Singleness

Terrell Whitener

When not having the privilege of submitting articles to this outstanding group of men, I enjoy reading the exceptional content provided by other writers as well as reading your questions and thoughts. One of the common issues that seem to foster many conversations is dating and new relationships as a widower.

Last week I experienced my fifth anniversary as a widowed man. In these five years, I have learned so much about life and myself as well. Anniversaries and milestones often are times for deep thoughts and reflections about our station in life. Last week as I found myself in one of these thoughtful periods, I reflected on just how comfortable I have become in my singleness.

As I have stated many times, I have no desire to find another version of my late wife. One of the primary reasons for feeling that way is because my wife’s death changed me in many ways. During the last few years of her life, I served as my wife’s primary caretaker. While I am so grateful to have made her comfort the primary focus of my life, this endeavor was exhausting as well as all-consuming. One of the first realizations, after my wife died, was just how exhausted I was.

When you experience both physical and emotional exhaustion, you are exhausted! The one thing that I am very sure of is that I am not the same person I used to be. My needs and desires are much different now. I am very comfortable with the fact that I have settled into singleness.

When thinking about the reasons that I have reached this point in my life, I think there are three primary reasons. These reasons are my patience, my emotional band-with, and my desire.

When thinking about my patience with relationships, I selfishly have little desire to deal with the thought dis-approving kids, family members, or friends playing a role in any relationship I may have. During my widowhood, I have discovered a newfound respect for my time. Whom I spend my time with and how I spend my time have become very important to me? The thought of spending my time trying to win over disapproving family and friends doesn’t sound like something I am remotely interested in.

The second area that I feel contributes significantly to my singleness is my emotional bandwidth. My emotional bandwidth is probably a combination of being gun shy about starting a new relationship, a bit of selfishness (enjoying my newfound freedom), and a healthy dose of healing mixed in for good measure. Even though it’s been five years for me, I still feel there is still so much out to be explored before even contemplating settling back down with one person. However, let me be transparent. I like so many rushed into a relationship with a woman that I knew soon after my wife’s death. To put it mildly, I was not ready. Fortunately, the woman and I remain on civil terms. It is my nature now to very err on the side of caution. I have learned that I can enjoy the company of the opposite sex without it being a search for marriage every time we go out. I have pleasantly discovered there are several women that feel as I do.

The third and final reason for me is that I have quelled the desire to be attached to feel complete. For those of you who have found new relationships and even marriage, I applaud you. Fulfilling this part of your life is as different for us as the pathway to healing is for us all.

So, there you have it, my thoughts on my current state, successfully single. Now watch me go to the grocery store tomorrow and fall head over heels in love! As always, I welcome your responses to my offerings. And remember, this is just one man’s opinion. Until next time.

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Terrell Whitener is an author, motivational speaker, and coach. Based in St. Louis, Missouri, Terrell is the author of “The First 365, Learning to Live After Loss.” Terrell can be reached at his newly redesigned thedebriefgroup365.com; there you will find all of his social media contacts or c/o herb@WidowersSupportNetwork.com

Categories
Finding Purpose Giving Support Grief/Dispair Healing Loneliness Moving Forward Self-care

Life, Love and Moving Forward

Terrell Whitener

February 28th will mark the fourth anniversary of the passing of my wife, Robyn. In so many ways it seems like much longer than four years. I wanted to take a few moments to reflect on a few of the things that I have learned during this period. I have often referred to this time as earning my bachelor’s degree in Widowhood.

Recently I experienced what could only be described as most monumental day. It was Valentine’s Day which can be a stressful day for widowed men. My experiences ranged from a bit of melancholy, to warm thoughts, to an unexpected encounter with a new friend, to watching a movie that brought tears to my eyes and ending with great news from a family member. By the end of this day, I was utterly exhausted. But more importantly, I finally felt that I had been set free.

We often hear the expression ‘rest in peace’. It has been my experience that few things look more peaceful than the release that the finality of death brought to my loved ones when I view them after they die. The strain and struggle that I personally witnessed many of these individuals go through seem to have washed away. While this in most cases is a time of great sadness, it can at times take on a fleeting feeling of relief.

One of the feelings that I found myself experiencing on this most exhausting day was a feeling of release. I finally had the revelation that is was time to move forward with my life. I essentially found the courage necessary to let Robyn go. I realized that I was spending far too much time ruminating on the past when there was so much life left to experience. I was helped in coming to this conclusion by a phone call asking my assistance in helping another widowed person with a book project that would honor their recently deceased husband. As we talked, we found ourselves stating repeatedly “that’s it exactly” and “ you are one of the only people that I have talked to that truly understands.” It was one of the most refreshing conversations that I had experienced in quite a while. I came away from that conversation with a genuine desire to move forward and feeling a sense of value that I hadn’t felt in some time.

As the day went on, I began to think about love. With it being Valentine’s day, this was not hard to do. Gary Chapman in his renown book The 5 Love Languages, teaches us about the importance of discovering the way an individual needs to experience love. After reading this book, I found that my two love languages were quality time and words of affirmation. Upon reflecting on this fact, I realized the feeling of receiving love in this manner was among many voids my wife’s death caused me to experience. I  am missing the quality time and words of affirmation from someone that I am deeply connected to. This is the sadness that I am unable to get my arms around to this day. This is what I miss about not being in love.

Finally, I came to the realization that it is indeed time to move forward emotionally in my life. In my book The First 365, I discuss my 10 Tenants of Grief. One of the tenants, states that “moving forward is not an act of disloyalty, it is an act of love.” The time has come for me to put this tenant to use in my life. It is time for me to endeavor to feel the same peace here on earth that my wife is experiencing in the heavenly realm. Because I loved her, the time has come for me to honor her by loving myself. Then I can truly begin the process of resting in peace. The emotional bondage that I have wrapped myself in is so opposed to what she would want for me. It is time for a change in my focus, it is time for me to move forward.

I will always miss my wife. Just as I am sure, all of you who are reading this article do as well. This is a revelation 4 years in the making. For many, it will not take as long, yet for others, it will take longer if it ever comes at all. But it is my sincere wish that for whatever decision that you make concerning the future direction of your life, it will be a choice that brings you peace.

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Terrell Whitener is an author, motivational speaker, and coach. Based in St. Louis, Missouri, Terrell is the author of  The First 365, Learning to Live After Loss.  Terrell can be reached at twhitener@thedebriefgroup.net, LinkedIn @terrellwhitener, Instagram @ or through the Widow Support Network.

(Note: A few Moments with Terrell Whitener if published every other Tuesday.  This week’s column’s delay was due to staff travel.)

Categories
Giving Support Grief/Dispair Healing

The Other Side of Love and Respect

Terrell Whitener

In 2004 Dr. Emerson Eggerich wrote a ground-breaking book titled “Love and Respect.” In this book, Dr. Eggerich brilliantly wrote about the innate need for women to feel loved and men to desire respect. I will never forget when I initially read that book feeling like “yeah, that’s it.” I also remember feeling that Dr. Eggerich had cracked the code on why differences develop in any meaningful relationship. I remember discussing the book with my late wife and her listening to me in that way she always did. Looking back on it I now realize she was probably thinking “duh! Bout time you figured that out”! As usual, she was already at least one step ahead of me. That is the great thing about marrying up! That is the challenging thing about marrying up!

Now that my wife has passed away and I am settling into this solitary existence that so many men who have survived their spouses/partners have come to know, there is something on the other side of Love and Respect that we miss every day in our lives. This missing piece is being “understood.” You see, being understood takes time. It takes years of working through differences, some through disagreements, some with those barely speaking periods we have experienced. But overall, it is the byproduct of the realization that we were better together than apart. You see, being understood is the result of having an almost visceral need to experience all the best parts of another person. BOY, I MISS BEING UNDERSTOOD!

Being understood is that ache that you have a tough time reaching in those quiet times that you are lonely, sad, but still alive. Being understood is what you want to explain to others when they grow weary of you not being as happy as they think you should be or as enthusiastic as you once were. Being understood is the catalyst by which I write this blog post, speak to groups, and continue to attend support groups from time to time. Being understood is my hope that at least one person who takes the time to read this post come to know they are not alone for one family member starts understanding.

So, there you have it, your introduction to what exists on the other side of Love and Respect. I hope this will help someone.

Terrell Whitener is an author, motivational speaker, and coach. Based in St. Louis, Missouri, Terrell is the author of The First 365, Learning to Live After Loss. Terrell can be reached at twhitener@thedebriefgroup.net, LinkedIn @terrell-whitener or through the Widow Support Network.

Categories
Dating/Relationships Family Finding Purpose Grief/Dispair Loneliness Moving Forward Service

Living In-Between?

Many of us have a natural inclination to do the things that we feel we do well. I, in many ways, have found aspects of widowhood very much like that. Last week I experienced what would have been my 19th wedding anniversary and the celebration of 25 years together with my late wife. Periodically I experience what I call one of my “sigh” days or moments. These are times when I feel a mix of sadness and extreme loneliness.

Normally on our anniversary, we would have planned to find a nice restaurant or based on how she was feeling, fix her favorite dinner as part of our celebration. Last week as I sat down in front of my McDonald’s quarter pounder with cheese and fries, I had a moment where I didn’t know whether to commiserate on how far I have fallen or embrace how single I have become. This describes an area where I find myself struggling from time to time in my life.

In many of the writings I have shared with you, I have lamented the fact that I don’t seek to find another Robyn (my wife) but am always curious about whether I will find companionship in the future. I have the pleasure of having a couple of female friends that I talk to almost every day at some point. I don’t believe that either of these relationships will develop into marriage but enjoy the conversation and the occasional company. But as I have shared with you before, the older I get, the more convinced I am that I don’t know anything about women! I knew my wife but little about women overall. When it comes to my expectations in this area, I often find myself caught in-between. It has been four and a half years since my beloved Robyn passed away, and I am no closer to solving the puzzle of what I want in a relationship than I was then.

There are certain qualities that I look for in a woman, that I am pretty sure of. However, the thought of remaining in what sometimes is the peaceful tranquility of singleness is very appealing. I don’t know if I have the patience to deal with disapproving children, judgmental family, and friends at this stage of my life. However, I find myself lonely every day and often feel like my life has a larger stage to play on than my current circumstance.

Of course, I have been afforded incredible opportunities, such as sharing my thoughts with you, my brother, twice a month. I have participated in book signings and workshops with next year looking, even more promising in this area of my life. But I often feel that there is just more out there than to settle for living a “special event” life! I find myself not enjoying these events as much as I used to, as I know I will be returning to an empty home with only SportsCenter waiting to greet me. I am not saying this to sound melancholy or even borderline pathetic, but to let you know dear brothers that finding peace is a process. I am ready to serve others through my writing and speaking and will find peace in serving others if that is what is left for me. But see, I was a very good husband and taking care and sharing this world with my wife was important to me. We had dreams and goals. We had trips to make and a few more personal goals to meet. Laughter was the background music that always played in our home even when illness tried to rob us of our joy. Taking care of my wife, providing for her and cheering for her recovery gave me a clear purpose. A purpose is what I still am searching to find peace with to this very day.

Living in-between is a frustrating place to be. It calls for patience and discipline. It calls for faith. It calls for many times, just being quiet and listening for the small still voice telling you what to write next or what project to pursue next. See, when I think about it, it’s been a long time since it has been about me.

So I am not in treading on unfamiliar ground after all. Whew! I feel better already. Wow! I am glad you have been here on the other side of these keys. Boy! I still have so much to live for! I guess I better get back to moving, because only by moving can I graduate from living in-between.

As always, I welcome your thoughts and feedback on my work. Maybe you feel that you are living in-between. Possibly you are struggling to find your purpose or as some call it, our new normal. But as the internationally known Pastor T.D. Jakes told me during a brief conversation 4 years ago. Just “keep moving brother, just keep moving”!

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Terrell Whitener is an author, motivational speaker, and coach. Based in St. Louis, Missouri, Terrell is the author of The First 365, Learning to Live After Loss. Terrell can be reached at twhitener@thedebriefgroup.net, LinkedIn @terrell-whitener or through the Widow Support Network