Grief/Dispair Guilt/Shame Healing Moving Forward

Too Much Chaos


WSN-MO: Jeff Ziegler – Widowers, Wounded, Warrior, Waling and Walking

Over the last two years, I have found that on numerous occasions, I have “bitten off a lot more than I can chew.” It has been challenging to take on some things I have chosen to do—mostly to distract myself from my grief, making it even harder to swallow. No more.

Things are starting to give, and I have begun to learn the power of saying “no” to somethings (especially those that distract me from my grief and feelings). Unfortunately, I am still a novice.

It seems I have always given everything I have to others, and I have come to realize that sometimes it is just impossible to satisfy others. It is draining emotionally and spiritually. And I recently discovered that it is incredibly difficult to give more love than I have to offer—especially when I am not truly ready to give my everything.

So, I am going to ask you: What have you been doing to distract yourself from your grief?

Have you ignored it? Have you spent a lot of time watching TV, that is a favorite? Have you focused on your job so that most of your day is avoiding thinking about your late spouse or partner (another crowd favorite)? Or maybe you are actively surfing dating websites, looking to fill that late spouse or life-partner size hole in your life?

I have done all these things over the last two years, as well as spending too much time on social media (specifically that book of face platform). But I have now realized that none of the numbing, avoiding, and distracting changes the way I feel about my true self or my grief. It is because I have come to accept my grief.

I have also accepted the feelings of guilt for wanting to live a long life when my wife did not have that chance. And I know that I choose to be happy. Possibly I will be able to fully commit to being in a relationship and love someone again.

Unfortunately, I feel that jumping into a relationship—even the “thrill of the chase” that led to it—was simply a further distraction from the grief. The ladder turned into a chute, and I somehow ended up back to square one. So now, I am focusing on herding the cats (in my head and my life).

Over the last few months, I’ve worked with a bunch of men of all ages to create and launch a program designed to help widowers start to move forward in life after their partner died—especially those who are feeling stuck in life (which may be more men than you think). It was an eye-opening experience for me as much as for the other men.

I mean, let’s face it, guys, we have always been labeled “sissies” if we show emotions, right? So why on earth would we want to do that?

Well, here is a novel answer: because exploring and talking about emotions makes you feel better. Truly. I have been miserable dealing with and thinking about all these things over the last two years, and yes, distractions made me forget (at least for a moment) that my wife died. But the reality is, they have been distractions from the feelings.

Exploring the emotions, getting in touch with them, speaking about them, showing them (raw and otherwise) has been cathartic. Release of the pent-up anger, frustration, guilt, and fears has been a boon for my mental health.

Now it is your turn. What are you doing to accept your grief today?

If you are going to distract yourself, first take 5-minutes and sit with your emotions before turning on that TV. Or take 10-minutes to sit quietly and think about all the wonderful things you and your spouse or life partner used to do together. It will make you feel a bit better, no matter where you are in the grief process.

I have found that we sometimes forget to sit and think about our feelings. And that is when we fall into the trap of feeling secure that the grief will not overwhelm us, and then it does.

And that is when the chaos ensues. Now, where the hell are all those damn cats?


Jeff Ziegler can be seen every two weeks here on WSN-MO. You can write Jeff at

Dating/Relationships Forgiveness Guilt/Shame Loneliness Mental/Emotional Health Moving Forward

Am I Cheating?

Chris Brandt

There is a feeling of fall in the air. Depending on where you live, you may have noticed the nights are feeling a little cooler, and the morning air is feeling a little brisker. Where I live, I have also seen the leaves on the trees are starting to lose their spring/summer green color. One thing is for sure, the last of the “Summer” holidays is upon us. That means different things to different people.

With fall approaching I have to do something I have been dreading, I have to take my son back to his apartment so he can continue college. I am ashamed to admit that a small part of me wanted his classes to be online rather than in person. I tried convincing myself that this hope stemmed solely from a concern for his safety. The truth is, I was only kidding myself. I wanted him home with me longer. I wanted someone home when I get back from work, I wanted someone home to eat with, and I wanted someone home to have conversations.

Recently, I accepted the fact that I will soon be alone. This made me think about a co-worker that I have been talking with at work. This friend has alluded to the fact that she is open to having dinner together sometime. I did not think about that as an option at the time because I had my son at home, and we had each other for company. Besides, I wanted to spend every minute I could live with him. Now, I face eating alone, which is why those passive hints from my co-worker resurfaced. It sounds like it would work out perfectly. She is alone after a break up in her relationship, I will be alone, and it is worth considering. Or is it?

After my thoughts started to get more serious about asking my friend to dinner, I became overwhelmed with emotion. What is the passion that is pouring over me? After concentrating on this feeling, I discovered its origin. What I am feeling is guilt. What I did not understand is why I was feeling this.

You may have experienced this feeling too. In my situation, I am just at the beginning of sorting out these feelings. The reason I wanted to mention this is that if you have felt this emotion, do not feel alone. It comes with the territory. I felt as though I would be cheating if I did ask this person to dinner. It is my opinion that after years of marriage, you will feel like you are cheating on your late spouse. In reality, I know it would not be cheating. I know she would want me to have company and companionship.

When the time is right, we all have to decide between being open to finding a new friend that may lead to a relationship. What we do need to remember is that there is not a set time for this scenario. It may even be that we decide we don’t want that type of companionship, and only you know if that’s your case. However, one thing we do know is that you need to be open to this, and it isn’t cheating. The only cheating that happens by hiding from others is you cheating yourself out of a possible friendship. Be strong, my brothers.


You can reach Chris at

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.


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

Forgiveness Grief/Dispair Guilt/Shame Manful Emotions Mental/Emotional Health

Forgiveness – what role does it play in my grief journey?


Guilt and anger are recognized characteristics of the grief journey – Guilt over what could have been done or should have been done; guilt over things left unsaid or things that were better left unsaid; guilt over those fleeting moments where a smile might form around the corners of your mouth; guilt for some unknown reason. Anger over the circumstances surrounding your loss; anger about what your spouse should have done to take better care of himself/herself; anger over what you should have done to take better care of your spouse; anger about why any of this had to happen; anger about every secondary loss you suffer that overshadows the initial loss over a period of time.

How do we get past any of these emotions? The human spirit cannot survive, let alone thrive, under the constant onslaught of these harmful and destructive emotions. Human nature requires a resolution of sorts to every conflict. Forgiveness might be the key to this resolution; forgiveness of oneself, the forgiveness of one’s spouse; forgiveness for things that were said; forgiveness for things that were left unsaid; forgiveness for hurts inflicted over the years of marriage; forgiveness for failures on both sides as you traversed life together. In marriage, we have the opportunity to confront our failings and that of our spouse. We have the opportunity to engage in discourse and dialogue, frustrate each other, encourage each other, laugh with each other, and cry with each other. Then one day, all you are left with is your thoughts. Your head and heart are bursting with unresolved conflict; monologue arguments about why you have to go through this grief; however, nobody is listening. At least, nobody you can be brutally open and honest with. A healthy dialogue with your spouse is not an option — monologues, as frustrating as they are, come with a certain advantage. You control the narrative! You can make a conscious decision to forgive or be resentful.

Forgiving oneself and forgiving one’s spouse every single time an unresolved conflict arises in your mind or heart is the only way to bring reconciliation. Over and over again, as often as doubt and self-talk begin to overpower you, you will have to make a conscious decision to confront your worst thoughts. You will have to make a resolution to forgive yourself and your spouse. Forgiveness does not mean conceding victor or denying wrongdoing, real or perceived. Forgiveness means breaking free of the hold anger, and guilt have over you. Forgiveness grants you victory over your circumstances. Forgiveness frees you to love and be loved – love the life you had (even as you grieve the loss), love the memory of the person you loved through every challenge, love the promise of a future (whether single or with another).

Proverbs 17:9 – Love prospers when a fault is forgiven, but dwelling on it separates close friends

Colossians 3:13 – Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you


Following the passing of her husband Franz, Cynthia Mascarenhas founded Walk With A Widow, a non-profit organization whose primary focus is healing the hearts of widows by giving love and hope to widows around the world. As one would expect, much of the material crafted for widows can also be of help to widowers.

Cynthia’s insightful articles will appear periodically here on WSN-MO. You can contact Cynthia at her website,

Forgiveness Guilt/Shame Healing


Nyle Kardatzke

In the old movie, “Love Story,” the lead character says, “Being in love means never needing to say you’re sorry.” In fact, loving another person means often saying you’re sorry unless you are such a perfect person that you never blunder into a thoughtless talk or fail to show sympathy and support when you should. Forgiveness is one of the great binding forces in marriage, family life, and in love, wherever it occurs.

Forgiving and being forgiven are among the most healing things that we can do, and that can be done for us, perhaps especially in a time of pain and grief. Forgiveness brings wrongs and painful events to a conclusion. It provides a new start and a new life.

We usually think of forgiveness in relation to some specific, real harm that someone has done. The person who has done the harm may have done it deliberately in a moment of anger or jealousy, or it may be a result of mere thoughtlessness.

Forgiveness may come after an apology, and the act of forgiveness may be known to both parties.

But forgiveness may not be reciprocal between two parties; it may be a choice by the person who feels harmed, even if no reply can come from the source of the harm. Forgiveness after the death of your wife is of this kind: if there is something for which you need her forgiveness, she can’t express it, nor can you apologize to her directly and in-person for something you did or failed to do. If there are hurts that now make you angry, you can forgive her in your heart and in that way, let her rest in greater peace than before.

If you have felt anger or guilt about her death, forgiveness is the step you need to truly move on.

You may need to forgive yourself for failings of yours in your marriage that now make you feel guilty. You may need to let forgiveness dissolve anger; you may still have against your wife. Your anger may relate to the cause of your wife’s death, or you may simply be angry at your new situation or God for letting it happen.

As we have seen earlier, there is false guilt as well as real guilt. Both must be dealt with for you to continue your new life freely so that your past now can strengthen you rather than burdening and accusing you.

In the Christian world, forgiveness is essential to becoming a Christian and to practicing the Christian life. Even outside the Christian life, forgiveness is essential for mental health and emotional freedom. The need for forgiveness comes from the recognition of our failings and our basic tendency to do the wrong things. To a Christian, forgiveness begins with God’s forgiveness and then extends to seeking and giving forgiveness to others. Forgiveness is a discipline wherever it occurs, and it can take a lifetime to learn.

If you feel a need for forgiveness from your wife, it may be best to simply assume that she forgives you. If you believe she is in heaven, assume that she has taken on some traits of God, including forgiveness. In that new life of hers, she is wiser and more forgiving than she could have been on earth. Accept her in that new life, and accept her forgiveness.


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