Categories
COVID-19 Grief/Dispair Loneliness Mindfulness Self-care

What I Miss Most

Terrell Whitener

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Categories
Dating/Relationships Loneliness Mindfulness Self-care

Settling into Singleness

Terrell Whitener

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Categories
Contentment Healing Mindfulness Moving Forward

Winning ( even when you don’t know it )

Jim Winner

Good morning brothers! I’ve been in Naples for three weeks. My last writing to the group was two weeks ago. The first week here was one of the hardest that I’ve experienced since Joyce died. The loneliness was brutal. I had myself convinced I should return to Indiana. I looked for new things to do and people to be with. I tried to make things happen. Then a funny thing happened…

Every night, I walk down to the beach and watch the sunset. I take my shoes off and start walking along the water’s edge. It’s a great time of reflection, meditation, and prayer. The beach was one of Joyce’s favorite places, and I really feel her presence when I’m there. On one of my most lonely nights, I found myself on the beach, leaning on a fence rail. I was watching the final rays of the sun disappear on the western sky. The weather was unusually cold and windy. The beach was empty. I looked up and saw a man walking toward me. He leaned up against the railing, and we struck up a conversation. After the usual small talk, we shared life experiences, losses we both had, lives we were trying to lead, and a word I hadn’t thought about for a while. That word is contentment.

I had myself convinced that I needed to move. I was sure I couldn’t stay in the condo we owned. I had gone so far as to contact realtors to discuss various options that would “make more sense” for me. He listened to me for a while. He suggested that I was very fortunate. My loss was huge, but my blessings are still huge. He then reminded me that along with all the bad, there was room for much good. He told me that many people would love to be able to walk five minutes and be on a beach. He reminded me that what has happened to us does not have to shape what will happen to us. He told me that the beauty of a sunset is a magnificent part of God’s creation and that our being able to witness this miracle is a true blessing. Our conversation continued for a while. It became quite apparent to me that I had managed to create a state of chaos for myself. As our conversation ended, he said words to remind me that we can, indeed, be our own worst enemies.

As we parted company, I continued walking down the beach. I realized I need to enter a season of stillness. I need to wait and be content with my current place in the world. I need to be mindful of opportunities to connect with people but not be artificially trying to manufacture those connections. In short, I need to be at rest. Stillness creates many things. To me, the most important is a sense of awareness. Awareness of the fact that we’re surviving these terrible losses. Awareness that good days are ahead. Awareness that life, in spite of what we’ve been through, is something to be cherished and lived fully every day.

I’ve been back to the beach no less than ten times since then; I haven’t seen him once. A random conversation with a stranger creating a long-term positive impact… there’s a part of me that wonders whom I was talking to!

Be well, brothers!

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Jim Winner’s Winning Thursday Thoughts will appear every other Thursday. Jim is a member of WSN-MO and a former stockbroker and business owner. He resides in Carmel, IN and Naples, FL. You can write Jim at: jbw0802@gmail.com

Categories
Grief/Dispair Healing Mental/Emotional Health Mindfulness Self-care

When Memories Are Not Enough: Finding Common Ground with Fate

Terrell Whitener

What do you do when memories are not enough? This is a question that many who have experienced the loss of someone significant in their lives have to come to grips with after a period pass. You find yourself repeating the same stories and referencing your loved to the same person or persons repeatedly. Though you do everything you can to try to refrain from doing, so it keeps happening. Though most of the time, people are polite, you can tell that this experience is not a pleasant one for them. Often many feel that you are romanticizing your relationship with the person you refer. To be completely honest, a bit of that is true. After entering this period of reflection related to the death of my spouse, I have discovered a different level of understanding and appreciation for what is occurring in my life. That is, I am working through “finding common ground with fate.”

Many times, what others may see as “romanticizing” is realizing what you truly valued in your relationship with your loved one. Of course, the person wasn’t perfect, nor was your relationship a perfect one as well. But it was meaningful and important to you. However, in coming to grips with finding this common ground, we should work toward finding the proper time and place to honor these valuable memories. Let me take a moment to suggest a few ways you can balance during these interactions with others:

1. Listen but don’t feel obligated to defend other observations if the fact that you are repeating yourself is pointed out to you.

2. Make a mental note of your behavior and try not to continue repeating the same stories to the individual or individuals if possible.

3. Journal to have a place to “get it out”! Journaling can give you a place to express the depth of your loss in a meaningful, appropriate, and beneficial way.

4. Recognize that the depth of the loss differs from person to person. Try to avoid taking the stance that they lack caring or concern, but the loss does not hold the same amount of emotional space in their life.

Though not a comprehensive list by any means, consider adopting the steps that make sense for you to take in your own path to finding common ground with fate.

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Terrell L Whitener is the author of the book The First 365 “Learning to Live After Loss” Author House Publishing. Contact Terrell at twhitener@thedebriefgroup.net LinkedIn @ Terrell Whitener

Categories
Dating/Relationships Learning new skills Mental/Emotional Health Mindfulness Moving Forward Self-care

Life 2.0

Recently I viewed an interview with author and political pundit David Brooks. During this interview, he was reflecting on a shift in his thinking when it came to his priorities in life. He termed this new way of thinking as his “second mountain.”

In many ways, many of us who have lost a spouse or partner are facing our own version of the second mountain. Very few of us come out of this sophisticated experience, the same as before experiencing our loss. While I may not term my emergence as my own second mountain, I may look at it as Life 2.0. Upon reflecting upon Life 2.0, I often break down my thoughts in the simplest of terms. To share a few ideas in this article, I will approach this in two simple words, what I want in my life and what I feel I need in my life.

Recently I have started the process of determining if I would like to pursue a new relationship. In beginning to unpack my thoughts, I begin as I often do with what I don’t want. The first aspect of any new relationship I may pursue is that it will have to be different than my prior one. I will not be seeking another version of my wife, Robyn! One of the many truths that I have come to realize in the last four-plus years is that I don’t have the energy to engage in Robyn 2.0 for sure! I am very comfortable with the wonderful memories that I had over the twenty-two plus years we spent together, but to try to duplicate our relationship would be an ill-advised pursuit. Now there are qualities of character that are just a part of my belief system when it comes to relationships. However, a “do over” will not be necessary!

Like so many, I would love to have someone to experience new adventures with, travel with and just simply share my thoughts and ideas with. I would love to have a person in my life that you can share the good news at the end of the day with as well as add value to their life in return. At this stage of my life, the title is not as important as the quality of the relationship. In many ways, this could be summed up in one simple word, companionship.

Another thing that I have found more important in my life is the pursuit of knowledge. I have long enjoyed the challenge of learning new things. Right now, however, I don’t think that school is in my plans. But challenging pursuits such as developing a blog, starting a podcast, mentoring others, and assisting with the development of others are very appealing to me.

On the spiritual side, coming to grip with the blessings and challenges in my life give me great comfort. I believe these feelings were born out of the fight to help my wife get better, only to lose the battle to the all too familiar foe called death. But it was participating in the dignity of the fight that gives me a certain measure of peace. I never served in the military so I don’t know if this emulates the feelings a soldier may have after their time of service is completed or not. I have found peace to be a comforting place to reside on the other side of imperfection. Resigned to realizing that I am not without my flaws, it gives me a reason to improve my station in life.

As it relates to my needs, I have become more keenly aware of the need to take care of my health. As I get older, the desire to maintain both my physical and mental vitality has become more important than ever before. I am more keenly aware of the precious nature of time than at any time in my life. This change has led to the last two “great needs” in my life, enjoying the accomplishments of family and friends as well as being a good steward over my resources.

Recently I have found myself being more aware of the accomplishments of others close to me. I have always been very happy with the success of others. Many times, I used to take the position of “of course” they are going to be successful. Lately, however, I find myself picking up the phone and personally congratulating others, hosting celebration lunches and other small ways of acknowledging the favor of others. In days gone by, we may have termed this as taking time to smell the roses!

Finally, I try to be a good steward over my resources. In my life, resources are more than just money. Resources are how you utilize your talent, experiences, and knowledge as well. Writing the book The First 365 in many ways was being a good steward to me. This is a part of myself that I am so grateful to be exploring.

While David Brooks referred to his pursuit as the Second Mountain, and I call it Life 2.0, what would you call this phase of your life. As always, I welcome the opportunity to hear what you have to say. Until we share again, take care.

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

Categories
Grief/Dispair Healing Mindfulness Self-care

The Pursuit of Happiness

Terrell Whitener

As widowed men, each of us has experienced a significant wound. This wound like any other will take time to heal. The time it takes for this wound to heal is unique to each one of us. Many of us will however at some point experience the healing of this wound to the point where we have both the strength and the desire to move forward with our lives. This pursuit can for some be a very complex undertaking. In our unique way, each of us will need to receive some measure of help in reaching this eventuality. In this article, I would like to share some thoughts on the pursuit of happiness after experience grief and loss.

In 2005 the movie The Pursuit of Happiness was depicted by Will Smith based on the life story of Chris Gardner. Though Mr. Gardner did not experience the death of his spouse, he did experience separation, divorce, unemployment, and homelessness. As many of us reflect on our experience, several of us endured losses in divergent areas of our lives when our spouses/partners passed away. Some experienced diminished social interactions, many realized some measure of financial loss, while for others the effects were minimal. However, in some way, most of us could use a little help in some manner. Let me expand on this point by introducing the acronym H-E-A-L.

The H will stand for heal. As mentioned earlier, the death of a spouse/partner presents us with an emotional wound. As the wound heals, we will have to give some attention to nurturing the injury. In surviving the trauma of loss, we may find the need to make ourselves more of a priority. Often we may see ourselves very much alone. However, for countless of us, we may still have familial and other responsibilities to tend to as well. Despite these additional responsibilities, we are well served to carve out some time for self-care. This self-care may include paying attention to our emotional and physical health. This leads to the next letter in our acronym E.

The E in help stands for evaluate. As we enter the genuine pursuit of happiness, we must take the time to evaluate our life. There are four thoughts in this area I would like to share with you.

1) We must evaluate the direction you wish to pursue in life. Based on your individual circumstances, you may find yourself with time to accomplish essential facets of your life. Many activities that you may have shared with your loved one has been altered in a significant manner.

2) How has your life been affected financially? While the potential impact of the financial loss is discussed often, an alarming number of individuals are not prepared when faced with this issue.

3) The change in the survivor’s priorities. In most cases, there is a shift in what is important in your life. Does work hold the same importance that it had previously? What changes should I be prepared to make in my life may be worth some consideration?

4) With the death of a loved one, many individuals find the need to evaluate relationships. Will the family dynamics change? Was our love one the catalyst in our social interactions? Can I count on previous support systems now that our loved one has passed away? This and countless other examples are all part of the evaluation process.

Learning represents the L in our acronym. If this is the first time you have experienced the loss of a spouse/partner, you will at some point need to review what you have learned through the experience. For many people, the thought of pursuing relationships of any kind can be a daunting idea. The subtle nuance of reflection, regret, and many other thoughts and feelings make the task of addressing key learning a significant undertaking. You may find it beneficial to undergo this process with a trusted friend, family member or professional in realizing the most significant benefit from this pursuit.

The final letter in the acronym is the P. The P stands for proceed. The time may come when you are ready to move forward. You have taken the steps necessary to continue with a new purpose. Part of this process will be to make sure you remain flexible and manage your options. Everything we pursue will not meet with success on the first try. Don’t give up! It takes courage to delve into new pursuits. However, in many cases, we experience some delightful surprises along the way. As your circumstances allow, find the courage to take some bold steps in your life. In doing so, you may find a new-found purpose for your life.

The pursuit of happiness can be complicated. But we often owe it to ourselves to try to glean some measure of joy in the time we have left. As heart-breaking as losing a person you love is, we must remain mindful of the fact that our loved one died, we did not. So, for those who are in the midst of discovering your pursuit of happiness, I congratulate you. For those who are contemplating it, I encourage you. For those who have found your pursuit, I salute you.

As always, I welcome your thoughts on this article and look forward to sharing my thoughts with you in the future.

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