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
Mental/Emotional Health Self-care Simplify

Simplify, Simplify, Simplify!

Jim Winner

Last month, I spent 12 days with my daughter in Oregon. We rented an AirBnB. We enjoyed a lot of time in the mountains of the Willamette and Deschutes National Forests. She’s an avid hiker, and like me, loves the outdoors. The more time I spent in the woods, the more I felt myself really savoring the experience of getting in touch with nature.  We trekked to several waterfalls, some very remote lakes, and saw things that I had never seen before. As you fellow dads can imagine, it was a special and meaningful experience.

When I got back to the Indiana flat lands, I found myself in a state of restlessness. I was antsy and unsettled. I wanted to be back in those woods. I missed those mountains. There is something about the forest that brought me a sense of deep and real peace. It was joyous. It was simple. There was no cell phone service, no internet, and no Facebook. ( sorry, Herb )

As I was thinking about my time in the woods, I decided to re-read an old favorite book of mine. The book is Walden by Henry David Thoreau. It was written in 1854 and chronicled his time living in a cabin on Walden Pond in Massachusetts. It’s been a real treat, to once again, read those words about what he believed really mattered in life. Many of his thoughts are as applicable today as they were in the mid-1800s.  The highlight of the book is his call for a simple life. “Simplify, Simplify, Simplify!” is his cry throughout. My favorite quote was, “If a man does not keep up with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer.” That really struck a chord with me. As we move through our respective journeys, we all hear our own drummer. That’s what we need to listen to. We only need to keep up with him. No one else. What works for one of us probably will not work for all of us. Friends be reminded, this is your journey. It is a journey you’re taking with guidance and support, but with no navigation app or road map. Listen to your drummer. Take this journey at your own pace.

Thoreau’s call to simplify really impacted me as well. It motivated me to start on some long overdue de-cluttering projects. (the same ones I have meant to do since March) It led me to think about the things that occupy my time and take up valuable space in my mind and my life. What the message of simplification has done is encouraged me to do some shifting in where I will be focusing my energy. I am working on moving towards doing less of the things I “like” to do and concentrate on doing more of the things I “love” to do. I am cutting back on things that bring me temporary happiness and focusing on things that bring me a deeper sense of joy.

We have all learned how important it is to stay busy during the grieving process. I agree with that. I would also suggest that busyness for the sake of being busy does not do anyone any good. Maybe we need to save and intentionally schedule some time to take care of ourselves. A walk in the woods can do wonders, so can a bike ride with your kids. An evening at home with a book can be wonderfully healing. Find something that brings you a sense of joy and instills a sense of purpose and accomplishment. Keep it simple!

Perhaps, if we start saying yes to less, it will open the door of what really matters. I believe it could have significance in our lives and the lives of those around us. I am willing to try. Are you?

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Jim Winner’s thoughts can be seen here every other Thursday.  You can write him by Private Messenger

Categories
COVID-19 Giving Support Grief/Dispair Healing Self-care

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Forever

Terrell Whitener

As I sit down to share my thoughts with you, it has been 64 months since I joined the community of widowed men. During that time, I have experienced so many things. Currently, as I find myself navigating this period, I call social distancing, I find myself with a lot of time to be alone with my thoughts. For many, this can be a very troubling time. When I was initially forced to quarantine, I entered it with some trepidation. I felt that I would miss interacting with my friends and family, which I do. Oh no, not take away my baseball season! I have learned to live without it. No summer travel, oh come on now! What do you mean cruising is too dangerous even to consider? But I love my cruises. No dining out, no concerts, missed the Rolling Stones again! What is a man to do?

See, my dear brothers, I am not a man that dates. My family and a small select group of friends are my social outlets. I am blessed to have the privilege of sharing my thoughts with you all a couple of times a month, but overall, my life is quiet. During this time, I have rediscovered reading, saved a ton of money, gotten back into music, undertaken household projects, demystified Zoom, done some preliminary work on my podcast as well as signed an agreement to do a second book. Not bad for a guy with too much time on his hands, huh.

But from time to time, thoughts of how wonderful it would be to be sharing this added time with Robyn creeps through my mind. It is natural to miss our loved ones and managed correctly; these thoughts can be very therapeutic. It is not the fourth quarter I planned to live, and it certainly was not the one we designed for each other. Over time, however, my feelings have transformed from feeling that I possibly got cheated, to at times feeling Robyn got cheated by dying. I do not spend a lot of time with those thoughts, but they surface occasionally. But once I get my thoughts together, I spend much of my time being guided by these overriding mental principles:

I Realize and Reflect on the wonderful life I have had. Please be clear, we all have had something exceedingly difficult happen to us in the loss of our loved one. In no way am I minimizing that reality at all. But I try to live in the vein of gratitude over perpetual grief. I understand I will never get over the loss of Robyn. As I have stated before, I do not want to. But over these last five-plus years, she had settled into the positive memories that make the void in my life bearable.

I also Remember, but try not to Ruminate. Recently I made a big decision. Over the past six months, I have started redecorated my apartment. I am finally in an emotional place to take on the project. One of the complicated parts of taking on this project is choosing what needs to be given away, donated, or thrown away. Robyn and I spent countless hours sitting in our living room, laughing, and talking, watching television, or just occasionally spending some quiet time together. I so needed her to get better so we could get on with our forever. The time had come for the couch to go. It had been her favorite seat and my seat of comfort in the early days after her death. Since the start of the plans to redecorate, I tried to make that couch work, but to no avail, it had to go, and it did, and I lived. No more rumination, it is time for action.

Finally, we need to find strength, Recharge, and Re-emerge. Now I am not advocating everyone goes out and buy a Maserati or that “tricked out truck” but make a responsible plan to move forward. For some who are in the earlier stages, I urge baby steps. For others, it is time to take the responsible plunge. A couple of months ago, I wrote about discovery. I guess this is another branch on that tree. New experiences are out there.

Yes, a funny thing happened on the way to forever, and in this, we all share the same experience, WE ALL RAN OUT OF TIME!

As always, I welcome your feedback. And as always, I wish you nothing but the best. Each one of us is on a unique path to our forever. I wish you all traveling grace along the way.

____________________________________________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 Moving Forward Self-care

Let’s keep rowing!

Jim Winner

Many times during our journey with Joyce’s cancer, I asked the question, “how did we get here.” How did our lives flip upside down so quickly?

How would our lives look after we got through her illness? Then the questions changed from “we” to “I.”  What real changes do I need to get ready for after this ends? How, then, will I live?  I imagine most of you have asked these same questions and more. After all, we’re all in the same boat.

Well, here we are again. With all the disruptions in the world, I find myself asking the same questions. How did we get here? How will my world change yet again? What will my new normal be when I’m still figuring out my old new normal?  Same questions, same answers. Once again, none of us knows how or why we got here, but here we are. Face masks, hand sanitizers, and toilet paper are treasured commodities. Oil has no value. Go figure. We’re all in the same boat now. Let’s keep rowing.

The question we need to answer is, “now that we’re here, what are we going to do about it?”  How will we change once this ends? How can we learn and be better from this experience? The losses we all continue to process and work through are very hard. Compound that with social distancing and quarantining, and it’s brutally hard. But we press on. We endure. We survive. I’ve been making a conscious effort to be intentional about refocusing my priorities and thinking about how I want to allocate my time and resources to those things I value most. This is a rare time in life. Many of us have more free time than we’ve had in years.  Let’s use that time to our advantage. Consider using this time to think about any changes you might want in how you’re going to live life going forward. Let’s remember the term self-care. We’ve been through and continue to go through life’s most challenging journey. Use some time to be good to yourself. Let’s keep rowing.

I’ve been in sales and marketing all of my business life. I’ve always measured my success by my productivity. This has carried over into my personal life. I don’t believe this is the time for that. Like many of you, when this quarantine started, I made a list of all the things I “needed” to do. That list remains virtually untouched. After all the chaos and upheaval in the world, my list seems insignificant. Somethings that I thought were important don’t seem to matter much now.  If those closets, drawers, and boxes get cleaned out, that’s good.  If they don’t, that’s good too. That list will be there when the time is right.  Our goal right now should be to survive this time with our spiritual, mental, and physical health intact. We brothers of widowhood continue to run our race with endurance. We’re all in the same boat, let’s just keep rowing.

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.

_________________________________

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
Finding Purpose Giving Support Grief/Dispair Healing Loneliness Moving Forward Self-care

Life, Love and Moving Forward

Terrell Whitener

February 28th will mark the fourth anniversary of the passing of my wife, Robyn. In so many ways it seems like much longer than four years. I wanted to take a few moments to reflect on a few of the things that I have learned during this period. I have often referred to this time as earning my bachelor’s degree in Widowhood.

Recently I experienced what could only be described as most monumental day. It was Valentine’s Day which can be a stressful day for widowed men. My experiences ranged from a bit of melancholy, to warm thoughts, to an unexpected encounter with a new friend, to watching a movie that brought tears to my eyes and ending with great news from a family member. By the end of this day, I was utterly exhausted. But more importantly, I finally felt that I had been set free.

We often hear the expression ‘rest in peace’. It has been my experience that few things look more peaceful than the release that the finality of death brought to my loved ones when I view them after they die. The strain and struggle that I personally witnessed many of these individuals go through seem to have washed away. While this in most cases is a time of great sadness, it can at times take on a fleeting feeling of relief.

One of the feelings that I found myself experiencing on this most exhausting day was a feeling of release. I finally had the revelation that is was time to move forward with my life. I essentially found the courage necessary to let Robyn go. I realized that I was spending far too much time ruminating on the past when there was so much life left to experience. I was helped in coming to this conclusion by a phone call asking my assistance in helping another widowed person with a book project that would honor their recently deceased husband. As we talked, we found ourselves stating repeatedly “that’s it exactly” and “ you are one of the only people that I have talked to that truly understands.” It was one of the most refreshing conversations that I had experienced in quite a while. I came away from that conversation with a genuine desire to move forward and feeling a sense of value that I hadn’t felt in some time.

As the day went on, I began to think about love. With it being Valentine’s day, this was not hard to do. Gary Chapman in his renown book The 5 Love Languages, teaches us about the importance of discovering the way an individual needs to experience love. After reading this book, I found that my two love languages were quality time and words of affirmation. Upon reflecting on this fact, I realized the feeling of receiving love in this manner was among many voids my wife’s death caused me to experience. I  am missing the quality time and words of affirmation from someone that I am deeply connected to. This is the sadness that I am unable to get my arms around to this day. This is what I miss about not being in love.

Finally, I came to the realization that it is indeed time to move forward emotionally in my life. In my book The First 365, I discuss my 10 Tenants of Grief. One of the tenants, states that “moving forward is not an act of disloyalty, it is an act of love.” The time has come for me to put this tenant to use in my life. It is time for me to endeavor to feel the same peace here on earth that my wife is experiencing in the heavenly realm. Because I loved her, the time has come for me to honor her by loving myself. Then I can truly begin the process of resting in peace. The emotional bondage that I have wrapped myself in is so opposed to what she would want for me. It is time for a change in my focus, it is time for me to move forward.

I will always miss my wife. Just as I am sure, all of you who are reading this article do as well. This is a revelation 4 years in the making. For many, it will not take as long, yet for others, it will take longer if it ever comes at all. But it is my sincere wish that for whatever decision that you make concerning the future direction of your life, it will be a choice that brings you peace.

    ____________________________________________

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.

(Note: A few Moments with Terrell Whitener if published every other Tuesday.  This week’s column’s delay was due to staff travel.)

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.