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COVID-19 Finding Purpose Giving Support Health Moving Forward Service

Growing through it

Jim Winner

Good morning brothers! Our nation continues working hard to get through the Coronavirus pandemic. I’m proud of all the front liners serving us all so well. If anyone reading this is a front-line worker, you have my heartfelt appreciation. I also hear people talk about how much they want their old life back. I hear people say, “things will never be the same.” I hear people say how out of control they feel. Does any of this sound familiar to anyone but me? If they’d only ask, I’d be glad to tell them they’re right. They will never get their old life back, life will never be the same, and no, they never were in control of very much. WE know that.

I think it’s very interesting the pandemic is coming right during the Easter season. Like most of you, I find myself being home a lot more. I have time to think about what’s important to me. I have time to think about how I want to be different after this all ends. By the way, it will end. I’ve seen more of my neighbors (from a safe distance) in the past two weeks than I have in the past six months! I’ve had good phone calls with friends from long ago. I’ve been much more aware of the need for community, and the importance of people in my life. I’ve been able to focus on taking care of me. I don’t want to lose any of that. It gives me hope that things won’t be the same. They may be better. We, collectively, may remember what’s important in life. I hope so.

In the Christian faith, this is Holy Week. This is the last week of Jesus’ life on earth. Tomorrow is what’s known as a good Friday. It’s the day of His crucifixion. We mourn that death. Three days later, on Easter Sunday, we celebrate His resurrection. We are reminded of our hope and promise of life eternal. I am comforted in my faith knowing that one day I will see my wife again. That’s a reason to celebrate.

This will be my first Easter without my beloved Joyce. Our house would have been decorated with all things Easter. She enjoyed family gatherings, coloring eggs with the neighbor kids, and lived her life as an Easter person, full of faith, hope, and love. I know many of you are going through your first Easter without your wives. I encourage you to have hope that you will continue to grow during the grief process. If Easter is a part of your belief, I know you will rest in the hope that you will see her smiling face again.

Wishing you all continued health and healing! ( wash your hands! )

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

Categories
Finding Purpose Grief/Dispair Moving Forward Service

Serving others can heal your broken heart.

It’s true! No matter how painful your grief may be, getting up and off the couch and into your community to serve others is guaranteed to make you feel better. Whether you volunteer for the fire department or the Red Cross, become a scout leader or work in a soup kitchen, serving others will energize your heart as it searches for joy.

About 2 1/2 years ago, while volunteering at my church during their annual fall festival when a fellow parishioner approached me and asked, “Have you ever considered joining the Knights of Columbus?” I replied no, but I would be willing to consider doing so. I ended up joining the KofC and have enjoyed working side by side with some terrific gentlemen on a wide variety of volunteer efforts, not to mention having an opportunity to serve my Lord and his church.

Recently, the members of KofC Council 12761 honored me by electing me as their Chancellor. I assumed my new duties last evening during a special ceremony held at my church.

Why do I tell you all of this? Its to point out how serving others, no matter the organization or environment in which it is orchestrated will brighten your day. It gives widowed men “purpose,” and every man needs “purpose.”

As we travel down our never-ending journey of grief, each widowed man will have moments when he can choose to accelerate his own healing. One of the ways to do so is in the service of others. After all, there is no greater reward than what one feels after they have done something for someone who can’t pay them back. Celebrate the ‘life’ the of your bride by living yours. The choice is yours.

So what are your thoughts on this topic? Let’s hear from you.