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.

__________________________________________________________

Terry Rempel can be contacted using MESSENGER.

Categories
Grief/Dispair Healing Loneliness Moving Forward

Starting Your Day

Nyle Kardatzke

WSN: Widow-Man with Dr. Nyle Kardatzke

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

______________________________________________________

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

Categories
Grief/Dispair Healing

WHY DO I FEEL SO STUPID?

LArry Ahrens

WSN: Coffee and Conversation with Larry Ahrens

This grieving process is very devious. You can feel hopeful and blessed one day. And empty and sad the next. Every man in this forum knows what I’m talking about.But nobody told me that grieving would also make you feel kind of dumb.

I didn’t see this coming. I’ve been around electronics my whole life. I got my ham radio license when I was 10 years old and I built my own ham radio set-up in my bedroom – much to the chagrin of my younger brother who shared the same room.

I’ve been operating my own audio studio for many years. I work in broadcasting. Dammit – know what I’m doing!

A few weeks ago, I upgraded my studio computer. The old one was fading fast and I needed more computer power to do my work. True to form, my procrastination in this grieving process kicked in and the new computer sat in the box for almost a week.

Finally, I decided to stop using the new computer as a doorstop, open it up and get everything installed. That meant dismantling the old studio connections and setting everything up new. That’s when it hit me. Grieving makes you procrastinate, it makes you soft, it makes you unmotivated. And it makes you stupid.

For the life of me, I couldn’t reconfigure my own studio without looking up help on YouTube. I struggled with it. I was having real difficulty figuring out what wire went where. Truly this is something I used to do with great speed and skill.

This isn’t about age or losing cognition. It really is part of grieving the loss of my wife.

She was my inspiration. She was my muse. Life with her seemed so easy and natural. It was almost as if nothing could be wrong or go wrong. When you feel that way your innate skills and expertise are at a fine-tuned edge. You can accomplish anything – or so it seems when she is present in your life.

The studio is hooked up and it works very well. But it didn’t have the same satisfaction or feeling of accomplishment as it would have if she was here. There’s a shallowness now to what used to be so meaningful.

It’s going to be OK. But for now, I’m a bit off my game because she’s gone. Hey, I like that. A “bit off my game” sounds better than stupid. So, let’s go with that.

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Larry Ahrens is a radio (KDAZ 96.9 FM) and television (KCHF-TV) personality in Albuquerque, New Mexico where his show, “Coffee and Conversation” is broadcast-ed. Larry’s articles appears every other Thursday, right here, on WSN-MO. You can send private messages to him on Facebook.

Categories
Grief/Dispair Moving Forward

The First Year

Nyle Kardatzke

WSN: Widow-Man with Dr. Nyle Kardatzke

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Categories
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.

_______________________________________________________________________

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
Family Grief/Dispair Pets

Who Rescued Whom?

Who Rescued Whom?

WSN-MO: Guest Columnist, Tom Peyton

I have been on the Widowers Journey for over four months, and although I struggle at times, I never stop moving forward. Even though the journey is challenging, I wake up each day and push forward determined to pay tribute to my wife by following the mantra of Herb Knoll: “Celebrate your wife’s life by living yours.”

Two weeks ago, I decided to begin my search online for a prospective dog to adopt. I asked my local shelter about a three-legged pet whom I thought would be a great companion. Unfortunately, he was adopted and is currently living with a beautiful family.

I started my search again and found a beautiful lab mix; part Great Dane, part St. Bernard, possibly Dalmatian-Once. Will not know for certain until I get the DNA test back.

Since he piqued my curiosity, I decided to arrange a meet and greet. Petey, as he is known, was playful, affectionate, and curious; I thought he might be my new furry companion.

We went for a long walk, and he kept looking back at me; I think he needed some reassurance we would be a good match.

I learned from his foster mom he was abandoned in Tennessee and has been in Upstate New York for about a week. She told me he is good with other dogs, likes children, and enjoys being an 80-pound lap dog. I went home to think about it, and within hours I knew he was the one. Three days later, I was picking up my new friend: Petey.

He was so excited when I met him again at the shelter. With his head bobbing and tail spinning faster than the final spin cycle on the washing machine, my new friend had chosen me. I brought my granddaughter for the trip home, and she stayed with him at the rear of my truck. He felt very much at home after sniffing and smelling every part of the truck. When he arrived at my home, my other grandchildren welcomed him with inexplicable joy. I do not know what I enjoyed more, watching him chase them through the house or watching them cuddle and caress him while showing him tons of love.

Indeed, my wife played a role in Petey, now being part of my life. A few months before she died, she made me promise to save a few animals. I told her I would start with one.

Dogs are remarkable creatures; they learn to trust again after being hurt and abandoned by someone they thought would give them a forever home. They provide unconditional love that transcends time and space. They teach us how to start over on a new path in life and how we can heal from a tragedy.

As I move forward in my journey accompanied by a new furry friend, I realize I did not rescue him; instead, he saved me. He is giving me a purpose, a meaning, and a desire to move forward each day.

I think my wife knew that when she asked me to save an animal.

Strength and support to all our brothers.

_____________________________________________

Known as Tom Peytom, (pay the property man) for over 25 years, Tom has owned and managed SG Property Management of Saratoga Inc. He and his late wife manage over 40 properties, and they service over 125 tenants throughout the Capital Region of New York State. Tom became a member of the WSN-MO on May 17th. 2020. You can write Tom c/o Facebook messenger.

Writers Wanted:

If you like to write or have something you would like to share in the written word that would help our members, take pen to paper. Keep it under 500 words and send it along with your photo (Headshot). Your words could be gracing WSN-MO for men and our public page, WSN.

Categories
Grief/Dispair Guilt/Shame Healing Moving Forward

Too Much Chaos

Jeff

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 jeff.ziegler@ymail.com

Categories
Dating/Relationships Family Grief/Dispair Healing Loneliness Moving Forward

God, Football, Sex & Gold-diggers

Fred-18

WSN: Widower to Widower with Fred Colby

Admit it! How often have even the most devout of us have chosen to attend a football game (or other favorite sport or activity) instead of attending church? Or instead of spending time with your family? Or instead of honoring a previous commitment to a friend?

If you are a churchgoer, you might be accused of violating the first commandment, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” The non-believers among us might question on whether they have their priorities straight? Are you choosing to place immediate personal gratification before things with more real long-term worth?

Whether we are religious or not, most of us can all agree that during our marriages, we gradually developed a set of values that are important to our sense of self and well-being. These might include such beliefs as:

• Love is better than hate

• Truth is better than lies

• Honesty is better than deceit

• Compassion is better than indifference

• Helping others is better than self-indulgence

So often, we can easily be distracted from these core beliefs, which are essential to our well-being.

When we lose our faithfulness to these beliefs and values, and when we choose to adopt contrary values, we put ourselves at risk and endanger our relationships with those we love and have learned to depend.

Sex, in particular, can entice us away from those long-held beliefs which have served as our foundation for years. In the wrong hands, it can blind us and turn us to less ethical or honorable practices.

During our most vulnerable time (first year of grieving), an experienced gold digger can easily manipulate us and even get us to do things contrary to our beliefs. If our new friend is just feeding our fantasy or appealing to our weakest inclinations, rather than encouraging, supporting, and helping build us up… this is the time to stop and think about where this is all going. Is this really what you want?

There also are many women (and men) who are just plain desperate because of finances, loneliness, or lousy living arrangements. They, too, can cling to you like a raft in rough seas and drag you down with them if you are not careful. So slow down and ask, are my priorities straight? Are her priorities straight?

When I started dating again, I sat down with my two daughters to explain why having women in my life also were important to me and to let them know that I would be careful. I was fortunate that they did not get angry or resent me for this; one suggested that her husband (a former Secret Service agent) would background check my new friends!

A good woman or new best friend will help us to continue our growth. They may even challenge us (without being overbearing) to be better! Remember when your wife did that? Maybe we resented it sometimes, but after a while, we often realized that they were just helping us to be our best selves.

If you find yourself in a new and healthy relationship, you will learn that it is a two-way street, just like your marriage was. That is, you will have opportunities to help each other grow, to support each other, and to encourage each other. This kind of relationship can make your later years wonderful and enjoyable, rather than destructive and painful.

So if you find yourself drawn like a moth to the flame of new relationships, please learn to pause (I know this is not easy during the early deep grieving phase) and think about what you want in a new relationship and what feels right. You could save yourself from much more pain down the road.

© 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.