Categories
Giving Support Moving Forward

What’s really important. (hint…it’s not the election)

Jim Winner

WSN: Some Winning Thoughts by Jim Winner

Well, the months of hate-filled rhetoric, vitriolic media ads, and all that went with it came to a head yesterday. I have no idea when we will learn who won the presidential election. I, for one, am glad it is over.

I love America. I love our freedoms. I cherish the privileges and blessings that come with being an American citizen. To my international brothers and friends, we Americans are not all as crazy as you see on TV!

Over the past few months, I sat back and watched many friendships become tested and strained on social media. Political differences have created a lot of tension this season. I have been very mindful to keep my political opinions to myself. The right to vote is a wonderful privilege given to Americans. The act of voting is how we control our voice as citizens. Once we cast our ballot, we lose a lot of our control. There isn’t much we can do to prevent what our friends will think or how they will choose to cast their votes.

There’s that word again…..control. I find myself once again reminded that there’s very little in life we can control. In previous columns, I’ve talked at length about not being able to control what happens to us in life. What we can control is how we respond to the things that happen to us in life. I use the word respond because, to me, a response is an action that’s thought out and measured. A reaction, on the other hand, is often more emotional than thought through. This season is an excellent example of that. When the election is all said and done, there are going to be a lot of unhappy people, and they are going to be a lot of happy people. COVID-19 will still be here. The divisiveness in the country will still be here. The pandemic induced grief that our whole world feels will still be here.

I think this is a good time for us all to focus on what we can control. To me, right now, the number one thing we can control is our attitude. Regardless of your political beliefs and preferences, we still live in a wonderful country. If your candidate wins the election, I offer you my congratulations and promise to support him as my president. If your candidate doesn’t win the election, I hope you will likewise support him as your president.

We’ve all got a lot of healing to do in this country. By controlling how we treat others in their time of political grief, we can each do our part in restoring an America first attitude. We always talk about grief, and grief is how we process loss. It’s no different in this case. Respect those who are grieving because their candidate lost. Remember, we’re Americans first.

Wishing you all a wonderful day today. Remember to choose joy.

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Jim Winner’s thoughts appear every other Thursday. You can write to him by Private Messenger.

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

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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 Grief/Dispair

WHEN DEATH DOES US PART

David knapp

WSN: Grief Relief with David Knapp (A Guest Column)

“Till death do us part…” I repeated. Those words seemed to echo throughout the vast college chapel following my promise and then my bride’s commitment. The witnesses, family, and friends of our wedding stood by smiling. Our parents sat with proud looks on their faces. In all honestly, however, I only viewed those words as a symbol of commitment. I did not think I would experience that part of those important words, let alone do it twice.

Ruth and I had never been happier than we were that delightful day in July.

Our wedding crowned three years of getting acquainted through writing letters and occasional long-distance phone calls. Looking back, this strengthened our relationship because it forced both of us to express our hearts, feelings, and beliefs on paper without the distraction of the physical. That was great for my growth both emotionally with my wife and spiritually with the Lord.

The proof of the depth of our relationship revealed itself in the ensuing years of life. We were not only committed to each other, but we understood each other. We did, indeed, marry our best friend. To keep our relationship growth on a “roll,” we spent every one of our wedding anniversaries—alone—discussing the “state of our union.”

But the day would come when I dreaded our tradition. It occurred the summer following Ruth’s cancer diagnosis, surgeries, chemotherapy, and our loss of “normal.” Those events proved to be the biggest challenge to our relationship to date. Up to this point, our love had been a mutual give and receive. Ruth was so drained both physically and emotionally that she had nothing left to give—either to our four young children or me. Thirty-three is a young age to be facing a life-threatening disease.

Finally, for the first time, I sensed our relationship changing, and it hurt me in that realization. Ruth was no longer able to contribute to our relationship as before. And, in brutal honesty, I found myself questioning my love for her simply because things seemed to be one-sided for the first time.

Soon after, my dreaded “state of our union” meeting came. Sure enough, Ruth asked how I had been during the throes of the most challenging days that winter. I hesitantly yet openly shared with her how I had struggled and how God met me. She simply said, “I thought so. It’s okay.”

The following six years were days and weeks filled with hope and disappointment. We faced treatments and then recurrences, over and over.

The most memorable time happened again during the “state of our union” talk that next July. Following an unforgettable day on the Eastern shore of Lake Michigan, we sat talking. During a warm embrace, Ruth softly said, “I have never felt so at one with you.”

Three short months later, I watched her take her last breath. I did not know a human could hurt so much. Within days I became aware of this hole in my soul that seemed permanent.

Losing a spouse has many aspects to it that are not always understood by many. Indeed, there is the death and physical loss of that person leaving a void in your life. Theirs is also a loss of intimacy in communication. I had no one to tell even small things that Ruth would appreciate hearing. My most significant loss, however, was the loss of the relationship. It seemed that in addition to grief due to the death of a friend, I had lost the close relationship we had. Love songs were next to impossible for me to enjoy.

A year later, God brought along a godly widow lady to the school where I work, who swept me off my feet. What a beautiful lady!

The next year Judith and I found ourselves in a large church in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, with six sons on one side and two daughters and Judith’s sister on the other. Again, the room echoed our vows, “Till death do us part.”

These words had a much deeper meaning to both of us. We had both experienced this hard truth to the fullest. However, even with that, we idealistically viewed the reality of it happening again as being a lifetime away.

Now, the process of blending eight teenagers became twice the task either of us had imagined. Yes, the volume was an issue. When you bring two families together, they bring their baggage along. That meant twice as many problems. The growth and mistakes of our kids only drove us to the Lord and each other. We learned early on to talk about everything, no matter how hard the subject. We reviewed the development of each of our kids every three to

six months.

The joys and challenges we experienced in our successful blending of families from two different countries and cultures will have to be addressed later. I need to fast forward sixteen years from our wedding day.

Judith’s health began to be of concern. We spent five years chasing symptoms from doctor to doctor. We intentionally worked hard on her health, even though we did not know what we were fighting. Once again, we faced this issue together.

She had to have emergency surgery. During which the doctor called me in the waiting room. He said, “Mr. Knapp, I am sorry. I am seldom surprised but I found a very mean looking cancer tumor in Judith.” I immediately knew she was going to die. I sat down and sobbed uncontrollably for nearly an hour. My crying continued daily from that day in August ‘till Christmas day.

The next day a full-body scan exposed cancerous spots on her lungs and a large, stage-four tumor on her pancreas. With that news, Judith asked, “Does that mean I am going to die?” I teared up and nodded “yes” as I leaned over for a long sobbing embrace.

Judith and I talked about everything. This time was no different. The next four days in the hospital were full of time we spent mourning her impending death together.

Gradually we communicated with our eight children and their families that they needed to do whatever it took to come to see Mom/Grandma soon before pain medication made it hard for her to be alert. I watched, monitored, and participated in each one’s mourning. Some of our grandchildren wept in my arms.

A week before she left for heaven, Judith and I were talking quietly at her bedside when a tear trickled down the side of her face. Through her medicated fog, she whispered, “I’m sorry I have to die.” Now the tears were running down my cheeks. I assured her it was okay and that I would be fine. I gave her permission to go on without me and that I would be along soon.

Early Sunday morning late in October, Judith leaped into the arms of Jesus.

I was alone again. The loneliness was deafening.

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Dr David Knapp is a certified grief coach and founder of Grief Relief Ministries. His professional career has been with a religious non-profit organization that includes traveling abroad, conference speaker and administrator and professor at the collegiate level. He has had the unfortunate experience of losing two wives to cancer. David is the author of the book: I DIDN’T KNOW WHAT TO SAY: Being a Better Friend to Those Who Experience Loss which is available on Amazon. You can reach him through his webpage; http://www.griefreliefministries.com or the email, dkworld@yahoo.com

Categories
Faith/Religion Grief/Dispair Healing Mental/Emotional Health

Joy Comes In the Morning

WSN: Death, Disease, Divorce

By Cynthia Mascarenhas Waits

The single biggest challenge one is faced with after experiencing the death of a loved one, the crippling emotional and physical ramifications of a disease, or the devastation of divorce is the decision to “move on” or “move forward.” While many extraneous factors come into play, our inherent inability to “let go” keeps us tethered to the past rendering our efforts to “move forward” ineffectual.

In every relationship, especially in marriage (yes, even in a “perfect” marriage), we cause each other pain – sometimes intentionally and at other times inadvertently. Our past experiences appropriately influence our future behavior, statements like “I do not want to go through that again,” “I will not let anyone else treat me like that again,” or similar “guard your heart” statements govern our decisions. There is wisdom in that attitude so long as it is balanced by guarding against the “root of bitterness.” We build fortresses, safe havens, unscalable walls designed to keep us protected, but these also serve to keep us in fear and isolation; they obscure the view of all the abundance of life God has in store for us. Self-talk becomes our Jiminy Cricket, hostility and contentiousness become our armor, and sarcasm becomes our sword. Yup, we are ready to take on anybody who even remotely triggers our fears; we approach future decisions with this mind-set.

However, let us turn to something that has been validated, tried, and tested over the centuries – the Scriptures (eat your heart out Jiminy Cricket!). Quit the self-talk, which is influenced by a negative attitude (albeit for legitimate reasons). Go to the unchanging truth.

We are called to break down strongholds, tear down our fortresses, and take captive every thought. Not easy to do because it calls for you to take off the armor you are wearing, to be vulnerable, and rely on the armor of God.

2 Corinthians 10:5 – We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

It calls for obedience, which would require us to cast away all our thoughts, fears, and insecurities, and “seek” the will of our Father, learning to hear Him and obey Him. Not easy to do until we quiet the voices in our heads and the trepidation in our hearts.

1 Samuel 15:22 – …. To obey is better than sacrifice.

It calls for us to recognize what is going on – God has a plan for our lives, a plan which involves His glory is reflected in how we live. We will have to give up our ‘right to be happy’ by our definition of the term ‘happy’; it calls for a paradigm shift in our sense of self-worth. It takes knowing that you indeed are called to live in a love story (we are the object of God’s infinite and unconditional love), but there is a mighty effort to keep you from reaping the rewards of this love – a battle for your future. Know the enemy and know what weapons to wield.

2 Corinthians 10:4 – The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.

I pray you might embrace the fullness of life God has in store for you, notwithstanding the trials and tribulations you have and continue to experience. Death, disease, and divorce can steal your joy and shatter the prism through which you view life; remember you have an ally who desires that your life be a reflection of His glory; take up the armor He offers and embrace His promise.

No matter how dark the night, remember this: Joy Comes in the Morning!

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Cynthia Waits (Mascarenhas) is the Founder of Walk with a Widow, a ministry to widows worldwide; You can also find us on the web. Walk with a Widow Group is a support group on Facebook, serving almost 500 widows from over 13 countries around the world.

Cynthia and her husband David Waits, are subject matter experts for Joy Comes in the Morning #Death #Disease #Divorce, which can be found on Facebook. We hope to help you in your journey of finding Joy after a season of despair. Joy Comes in the Morning!

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
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
Giving Support Healing Moving Forward

Trust your instincts.

Jim Winner

WSN-MO: Some Winning Thoughts by Jim Winner

Good morning, brothers! You may recall my last article. It was about changing residences in Florida. It spoke of hard but necessary decisions, the need to face those decisions head-on, and make them. Since that last article, I have officially become the owner of a condo on Turtle Beach in Sarasota. I am excited at the prospect of this opportunity, but I am also mindful and aware of the changes this decision represents. I know there will be many adjustments to the newness of the area, situation, environment, etc.

I picked up the keys to the condo exactly a week ago. The first time I opened the door and walked in as an owner, I experienced a welcome sense of calm, a spirit of freshness, and a feeling of peace.

I walked out on the lanai, sat down, and looked out on the beautiful Sarasota Bay. I listened to the sounds of the water and wind. It was at that moment I knew beyond a doubt that I had made the right decision. I felt at HOME. It just felt right—every day since it feels more and more right. I am content with my decision.

As each of our collective journeys unfolds, we will ultimately face many individual decisions. Those decisions will impact people, places, and things in our lives. Most of all, those decisions will affect you. Some of the best advice I’ve seen from members of this group has been not to make any major decisions during the first year of the journey. I believe that to be wise and sage counsel. Let yourself grow slowly into this new season of life—approach significant changes in your time. As we’ve all heard time and time again, everyone has a unique timetable. When change is right, you will know. Don’t second guess your instincts. If you’re not sure, talk to someone you trust. Allow yourself to embrace and accept your new reality and new normal.

As you start to gain confidence in your new normality, look for areas where you can make changes. Make small, subtle changes at first; try new things. Start new routines. Learn to do something you’ve always wanted to do. Invest in self-care. As you feel more comfortable with yourself and your thought processes, be mindful of things you can do to create a new path for yourself. It’s brutally hard. Life’s important decisions are hard. The easiest decision to make is no decision. More often than not, however, that decision does more harm than good.

Let me encourage those you who are facing decisions and choices to trust your instincts. No one who cares about you wants you to stop living. People who love and care for you want you to continue to live. They want you to regain the ability to live a healthy and happy life.

We have all survived one of life’s most dreaded events. There’s a lot of wisdom gained through that experience. Trust that wisdom; trust your instincts. Wishing you all a happy and healthy day.

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Jim Winner’s thoughts appear every other Thursday. You can write to him by Private Messenger.

Categories
Dating/Relationships Family Financial/Estate Planning Grief/Dispair

Accepting Choices

Jeff

WSN: Widowers, Wounded, Warrior, Waling and Walking

by Jeff Ziegler

In the last two years, I have made some life-altering tough choices. Initially, I was going to call this post “Bad Decisions”… But “Accepting Choices” seems more appropriate.

Dating

Especially for my fellow widowers, I want to start with dating. It was one of the first things I decided to do after Suzi died. Within three months of her death, I was active on dating websites. In less than 5-months, I was “in a relationship.”

The first woman with whom I had a relationship bore the brunt of my fears, anxieties, and frustrations. She became the object of an obsessive need to “fill the Suzanne sized hole” in my life. I vehemently denied this to her, but it was true.

At that moment, I was too much for someone going through a divorce, who had three children of her own, and who needed her own time and space regularly. The pressure she must have felt from me must have been both suffocating and oppressive. To her, I say, “I’m sorry.”

The second relationship (which only recently ended) “should” have worked. It was, for all those who saw us together, supposedly a perfect union. But it was not. No, I cannot put my finger on why I felt like I could not be with her any longer. It was not cut and dry. What I did know was that something inside of me was out of alignment. It was not her that caused the relationship to end. It was me.

She’s beautiful, kind, caring, loving, understanding, and accepting. She is an amazing and resilient person. I recognized that she is all the things I could want in a new person. She is all the things most men could want in a person. But I guess it came down to the fact that she was not Suzanne. It felt like I did not deserve her love. So, like in the first relationship, I came to realize that I still had to work on myself before I could fully give myself up to anyone else. To her, I have to say, “I am sorry. Forgive me. Thank you. I love you.”

Relationships have not been the only area of my life where I made some “difficult” and (probably) not very wise choices.

“Investments”

After I received a life insurance payout, I started to explore investments. Initially, I wanted to buy a business (outright) and several rental homes to generate income, but things did not quite happen that way. With some “bad choices,” the money flowed out like water—I spent too much on lavish gifts for others. I allowed my kids to spend money freely (thinking it was okay to spoil them).

I bought an investment property and rented it out. After a few months, repairs that the previous owner probably knew about (but never disclosed) but did not make started to require attention. It became a bit of a money pit.

Just to clarify, houses are usually a sound investment. The place I bought was a 45+-year-old house with a guest house at the back of the property, separated long before I bought it. I inherited a great set of tenants in the guest house, so I was already earning income. They paid rent and utilities every month, on time, every time.

Unfortunately, the people renting the main home (the larger house) were not as reliable and could not pay their rent every month. When I realized how much it had become a money pit, I started to lose interest. After increasing frustration, I sold the property this year. After considering all that I had invested in it, I sold it at a net loss of thousands.

Yes, I successfully made other investments. Today, I own a home, and (instead of owning a business), I am 10% shareholder of a larger company based in Scotland. Truthfully, it’s kind of fun and cool business to be a part of, so I am not unhappy about that choice at all.

I have also invested in my own coaching business. Recently, I decided to work primarily with other widowers to help them start to find new meaning and purpose in their lives after losing their person.

Hobson’s Choice

The things I have been doing, chasing a new partner, and investing money in something I think will bring me “happiness” and “wealth” have been “poor choices” (yes, I am judging myself). But, I know that I have created tremendous wealth for myself—yes, I created it—and it is something of a conundrum.

The story I have been telling myself is that “I would trade all the money and possessions in the world just to have Suzi back.” In some respects, the investing, the frivolous spending, the inability to commit to a new person, etc. all come from that story.

Everything I have done, the self-sabotage, the rushing into the first relationship, the ending of the second, the “good” and the “bad” investment choices, etc., has been based on this story. I keep telling myself that my identity as a person, as a man, a father, and a partner is based on my relationship with Suzanne and how I showed up in it.

I am still in the process of transformation. Over the last few weeks, since I ended the second relationship and “shed” the rental house, I have felt a weight lift off my shoulders. I am more relaxed and at ease with the decisions, I have made and have noticed something. The identity that I was clinging to has started to fall away, and a new one has begun to emerge.

In the last few weeks, I have started to create a new identity. Emerging is the coach, the helper, the man who changes the lives of other widowers. That is part of the new identity as is the solo father who maintains boundaries but still shows up for his kids (this has been a huge struggle for me, and it impacted both my previous relationships). All these choices I have made are part of my new identity. And my new identity continues to evolve—”something from nothing”—as I do… but that is also a choice I have made. And now, I choose to be a healthy, present, open, conscious, and helpful person for myself and others.

It is the choice I have been forced to make. It is the choice I have accepted.

____________________________________________

Jeff Ziegler can be seen every two weeks here on WSN-MO. You can write Jeff at jeff.ziegler@ymail.com

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

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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

Losing My And

Terry rempel

WSN: Guest Golumn by Terry Rempel

The other Sunday at church, a friend gave me an envelope with their Christmas picture card and synopsis of this past year for their family. She told me, tearfully, how hard it was to just write my name on the envelope, instead of Terry & Lorna, it was just Terry Rempel. Reminded me of what I thought about shortly after Lorna passed away in April. I’ve lost my “and.”

Words paint pictures; they reveal stories. You can have boring photos and boring stories, but you add certain words, and the stories get more life, more impact. “AND” is a term that makes you think there is more coming, more to this story. If the teller of a story says “AND” and empathizes it, the listener leans forward to hear what’s coming next, or, like Paul Harvey used to say, “The rest of the story.”

When we’re little kids, we were part of the “and” for our family. For me, it was Henry & Anne AND family. I was an and with Henry, Anne, and my sister Debbie. Sometimes, we are part of the comma; sometimes, we are an and. We get a bit older, and we get our own mail with our own name on it. There is no and at that time, but we are pleased to get the recognition we are growing up. The invite to a relative’s wedding is another good example. Then we get a bit older, and it moves to Terry AND escort! WOW! We are so grown up; we get to have an AND to bring along! It didn’t take too long to become Terry AND Lorna, and I loved it. There was more to my story than just me. I loved to get invitations for us! We were a couple. I was grown up. The AND was someone who loved me, wanted to be part of my life as much as I wanted to be part of hers. She was my AND, and I was her AND. We got to send out invitations to the wedding of Lorna AND Terry. There was much more to our story—even napkins with Lorna and Terry on them.

Then our story grew with the addition of “And Family.” The family grew up, moved on to have their own “AND.” They would always be a part of our AND, but they were starting their own as well. Then it was back down to Lorna AND Terry. For forty years. I lost my, AND on April 5, 2018, at 5:12 am. Many of the sympathy cards I received were addressed to Terry Rempel AND family. The AND that had been with me for forty years was now gone. That part of our story ended as far as everyone else was concerned.

It’s been eight months now, 36 weeks, that I have been missing my AND Lorna. In the mail, in conversations, in life. I look at pictures of her smiling back at me; I have many, always on my computer and cell phone. When I get those envelopes with just my name on them, it just doesn’t seem right. And I get to the place I live, walk in the door, and it’s just…..empty. I sometimes still call out, “Hi Babe,” hoping to hear her voice, but knowing it won’t come in this lifetime. I still call it “home,” but it hasn’t felt like home in a long time…..8 months to be exact. It’s a place I exist and some days barely.

My AND is gone.

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Terry Rempel can be contacted using MESSENGER.