Categories
Grief/Dispair Loneliness Uncategorized

I Miss Us

LArry Ahrens

It’s another Wednesday night in the summer. I’m just bored. Too hot to be outside here in the desert Southwest. I’m not hungry for dinner. TV isn’t interesting, and I’m pacing the floor.
I can pretty much assume that most of you still talk to your late wife. I do every day. So tonight, I went over to her photo and took out a little of my boredom on her. Not that I’m blaming her for my doldrums. Not at all. But I just verbally expressed to her that if she were here, I wouldn’t be bored. I don’t ever remember feeling the slightest bit lost or bored when we were together.
Then I blurted out in a raised voice, “I miss us!”
At once, it occurred to me that the phrase “I miss us” probably has a lot written and expressed about it. Sure enough, a quick
Google search takes me into a whole world of “I miss us” memes, affirmations, poems, and the like.
There’s also a heartfelt song by Kenny Loggins called “I Miss Us,” and I suggest you listen to it. Just have a few Kleenex at hand. I found one graphic that reads:
Someone asked me if I missed you.
I didn’t answer.
I just closed my eyes and walked away.
And I whisper: So much.
I wish I had written that. It’s so raw, deep, and emotional in just four simple lines.
Just saying the words “I miss us” out loud has already relieved my lonely evening. It feels good to declare it and express it. It feels good to see that many words have been devoted to what I’m feeling tonight. Suddenly I don’t feel as alone, which leads me to make this point; If you’re still talking with your wife – congratulations. You’re quite normal. Dare I say you’re quite perfect in the way you express your grief for her. Poets and songwriters can undoubtedly help us find the words that show what we’re going through. But the simple words “I miss us,” said by you and me, convey just as much meaning and purpose as anything else.
I feel much better now. If you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go talk with Susan and tell her that she inspired me again – just like she always did when she was here with me


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.
To hear Kenny Loggins song, “I Miss Us,” go to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pSEuH281kZE

Categories
Finding Purpose Giving Support Grief/Dispair Loneliness

THE ALONE MOMENT

LArry Ahrens

It first hit me in the grocery store.

After Susan’s many months of illness, I was consumed with the day-to-day of the situation. Then she passed.

A few weeks after the dust settled, I’m pushing the shopping cart in the supermarket, and it finally struck me that I’m shopping for me and me alone. That’s what I’ve started calling the “alone moment” when you realize it’s just you now.

The “alone moment” can occur often, and I’ve come to expect those moments as part of the grieving process. They are constant little jabs to remind you that the life you had is over.

What we’re all left with is fighting through the “alone moments” and confronting the new life we now lead. I see in this forum that many are uncomfortable with the feeling of loneliness. Here are some things I’m doing to push back on this emotion.

Your Family and Friends Are Rooting For You

You may not realize it, but everybody that loves you is outwardly or secretly rooting for you to find happiness and fulfillment. The people that love you are watching you. Not in a judgmental way, but they are hoping to see you come through it all at some point. People who genuinely care about you also know that this will take time.

I’ve learned that you can’t underestimate this kind of love and support.

Put Something On The Calendar

My late wife was a travel agent. One of the many things she always said was, “Let’s always have a trip on our calendar.” It’s SO true! Once you’ve planned some kind of trip or scheduled an event, it lifts you. Half the fun of planning a vacation is in the planning.

Looking At All Your Options

Being alone is not the option we wanted. But it’s now the option that we have.

In Fred Colby’s book “Widower To Widower” he writes, “My belief is that, for us to move forward, we need to know that we do not have to leave anyone behind.” That’s excellent advice. I’m always going to carry my wife’s love and memory with me as I go forward doing things that I want to do.

Having said that, what I’m about to share sounds counter-intuitive. One of the things I enjoyed doing when I met Susan was aviation. I had picked up my pilot’s license a couple of years before I met her. But I gave it up for love. She was genuinely concerned about me flying and one day looked at me with those big green eyes and asked me to give it up for her.

Without going into all the details, there are several things now that I would like to do and experience. Breaking 90 on the golf course is one. You probably have deep down inside a few things you want to try.

Once you find yourself considering all of your options in this new life, then I promise you will feel less lonely and more like seeing the real you again.

__________________________________________

Look for Larry’s column every other Thursday. You can write Larry at larry@gostudio34.com.

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

Am I Cheating?

Chris Brandt

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

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

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

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

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

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

_______________________________________________

You can reach Chris at brandt5@hotmail.com

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 Grief/Dispair Guilt/Shame Healing Loneliness Moving Forward

Permission to Change

Nyle Kardatzke

My wife and I slept in a king-size bed in the final years of her life. After her death, I continued to sleep in that massive bed, but always on my side, not hers. It was a comfortable bed, but I found I was swimming all over it at night, and it was hard to make such a large bed by myself. Changing the sheets seemed to be more work than it was worth for me alone.

About four months after my wife died, I looked at that king-size bed one morning, and for the first time, it occurred to me that I didn’t have to keep using it. I could use one of our other beds. I winced at the thought, wondering what my wife would say if she came home and saw that I had changed things without her permission. Where would she sleep? It took me half a minute to realize she wouldn’t be coming back to catch me disturbing our bed. Emotionally I didn’t feel that I should be making a change without her permission even though mentally, I knew that it was okay. I went ahead that day with a major bed-moving operation that ultimately led me to the twin-size bed that now suits me best.

Several other times, I have wanted to make a change in the house or my schedule and have felt I had her permission to do so. Fortunately, my wife was quite practical, so it’s easy for me to picture her approving and endorsing some of the changes I have made. But there are still things I leave as they were, out of respect for space she still occupies in my mind. She liked things this way, and I can still enjoy them for that reason.

Many widow-men probably need to feel their wives’ permission to make changes, especially in the first few weeks or months. Of course, we know that it is we who must grant the permission, but we are more comfortable with those decisions when we feel our wives invisibly agreeing, may be smiling and nodding from where they are. My wife’s name was Darlene, so I sometimes ask myself, “WWDD” (what would Darlene do)? I often receive assurance about an action by asking that question, and I have been diverted from disasters in the same way.

Small household changes are one thing; new relationships, especially with women, are another. Some men never feel they have permission to see other women, to say nothing of remarrying. Others make this transition smoothly. Still, others can do so because their wife told them she wanted them to remarry. You will have to listen to your mind as well as your heart in these matters, and you may need to listen for your wife’s voice for her counsel.

______________________________________________

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

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
Children Family Grief/Dispair Holidays Loneliness

Dealing with the feelings that come up around the holidays

Christine-14

All those feelings that come up around the holidays

As the holidays approach, I start hearing from folks in my widowhood community. They talk about the variety of feelings the season is bringing up for them.

A widower, with sadness and confusion in his voice, tells me that the holidays were always “her thing”. She was the one who would:

  • Pick out the perfect Christmas tree.
  • Put out the beautiful decorations.
  • Bake the holiday cookies.
  • Wrap the gifts.
  • Take the kids caroling.

A grieving widow tells me that he was the one who would:

  • Get the decorations out of the garage and attic.
  • Lead the prayers and blessings.
  • Light the Hanukkah candles.
  • Prepare the traditional food alongside her.
  • Organize gift exchanges.

For some people, the coming season will be one of the many “firsts” in their widowhood. The pain is very fresh. For others, this is their second or third time around, and they’re wondering why they still feel so lost and numb and raw.

They say – what if the season overwhelms me with sadness? Will I even be able to function? How will that be for our kids? 

Here are some thoughts about this:

  • Your feelings are very real. You might be tempted to control/hide them. However, this can actually make the holidays harder for both you and your kids.
  • It’s important for everyone in the family (including you) to talk about how they’re feeling about the person who is gone (doing this whenever you feel it is best) and how your feelings are affected by that person not being here for the holidays. 
  • This may feel impossible. Or you may be worried that letting out just one little feeling will cause you to completely go to pieces. Very normal – pay attention to this. Talk to a trusted friend, a spiritual mentor, a therapist. Sharing your raw feelings with them first will reduce the enormous pressure inside you. It will also help the feelings be less overwhelming when you talk with your children. 
  • An important thing to remember – when you talk about your feelings with your kids, it gives your kids permission to talk about theirs. 

Widows and widowers ask me – how about the traditions we’ve always done with the kids? Should I do things as we always did them? Is it bad to not do it for the kids? Here are a few things I’ve seen:

  • Some people have a family meeting to ask the kids how they feel about things like decorations, gift giving, and food. The kid’s responses help guide the holiday process.
  • Some families find it cathartic to keep their traditions going. They talk and cry their way through all the memories that come up.
  • Other folks find that’s just too hard, and they do something completely different. (I’ll be exploring this idea in next week’s blog.)

I know firsthand how the holidays can be filled with huge feelings. The best advice I received as a new widow was to “just feel what I feel when I feel it”. 

And what I found was – just like the ocean – my feelings would wash over me. And just like a huge wave, it could feel overwhelming, sometimes like I couldn’t breathe, like I was drowning, and that it would never stop. 

And then just like the ocean, the wave would go out and I could breathe again, stop crying, and even muster a smile. 

I’m interested in hearing about your experiences as you go through the holidays this year. Send me an email.

Categories
Grief/Dispair Holidays Loneliness

Holiday Abyss

Fred-18

Everyone will start to tell you within a week of your wife’s passing that you must steel yourself against the trauma of upcoming special days and holidays. We each are likely to have very different experiences during these special days.

Much of your reaction will depend upon how important each of those days was for you and your wife. For example, Theresa and I had gotten to the point that our birthdays were not a big deal to us, so I did not have a significant reaction on that day. The same was true for Valentine’s Day.

However, Thanksgiving and Christmas were major markers for me and did result in regressions into deep grieving. 

Thanksgiving was tough, but I survived having my meltdown the day before instead of on the holiday. To counter the anticipated Thanksgiving impact, I took our kids and grand-kids for an overnight stay at the Cheyenne Mountain Resort, which had a Thanksgiving buffet. It changed things up enough that the impact was diminished somewhat.

Unfortunately, Christmas was as advertised, with my regressing to the worst stages of my deep grieving as if I were once again in month one of the process. This included full-blown meltdowns, sobbing, crying, yelling, and the whole bit. Total funk days occurred often, and I could barely function at times.

In the middle of preparing our first Christmas family dinner together after my wife’s passing, I had to escape. I crouched in our master bedroom closet, shut the door, and sobbed. After regaining control, I returned to the family to enjoy our meal together. I felt better just knowing that I had taken the time to remember and honor my wife in a way that was therapeutic and helpful.

As I put up the Christmas tree the first year, I set out the Christmas displays, and decorated the tree with my grandchildren; I felt it necessary to let the grandkids know that Popa had not forgotten Gaga and that Christmas would go on no matter what.

One thing I have learned during this process is that it is best to confront your demons, your grief, rather than try to avoid it. That does not mean wallowing in constant self-pity where you are re-experiencing the pain for the pain’s sake, but rather, allowing your grief to progress and come out as it needs to. This will help you process your feelings and love for your wife. Once you do so, it is much easier to move on and celebrate the good moments from the past, and enjoy the ones in the present.

Each widower must find his unique way to embrace and express his grief, a way that means something special to him and his family. This may build on a talent you have, such as writing, singing, music, painting, or even carpentry work. I escaped to reorganizing our photo albums to try and counter the grief with the many positive memories of my wife, Theresa. Writing my book, Widower to Widower, was another effective outlet.

Now in my fourth year after her passing, I find the holidays less challenging. I remember her often and fondly at these times, but no longer sink into deep grieving. My mantra remains: Stop thinking about yesterday, focus on today, and look forward to tomorrow. I know Theresa would be there with me every step of the way with this approach. Yes, I still miss her but, I am gradually re-engaging with life, as I know she would have wanted me to. 

You can do the same!

Categories
Grief/Dispair Loneliness Manful Emotions Mental/Emotional Health

Fear

Nyle Kardatzke

I was surprised to find myself fearing some things that I hadn’t feared before, or hadn’t feared as much before she died. When I knew I would be alone in the house for the first time after her death, I was afraid of what my emotional reaction might be. I asked my son and his wife to stay in a guest bedroom that night, and my fear of being alone in my house subsided. The next night was fine. Within a few days, new fears intruded: running out of money, being sick with no one to care for me, making bad decisions without the benefit of her wisdom, and the fear of breaking down crying in front of people. You may find that you have new fears or old fears that are stronger now that you are alone.

Fear can be rational or irrational. Rational fear is your mind warning you of potential hazards. It leads you to take preventive action to protect yourself and others. Irrational fear is unreasonable, out of proportion, and not based on facts. Irrational fear can disable you and slow your grief recovery. If it comes upon you, try to identify it for what it is and do what you need to that day, defying unreasonable fear.

A widow friend of mine fears air travel after her husband’s death. I know that other widows fear driving alone and to be in public places surrounded by strangers. Most men don’t experience their aloneness in these ways. There is enough of the bully in most of us to feel that we can make things turn out as we want. We may be more likely to be surly with other people if things go wrong at an airport or in traffic. We men tend to soldier on stoically, even grimly, rather than seek help or look inside ourselves. We shouldn’t be surprised. Men are, after all, different from women.

If you don’t have fears, other people do. If you have adult children, they will fear for you even if they have little reason to fear. Your friends may fear for you, especially if you expressed natural, open emotion at the time she died or at her funeral. Keep in touch with those people. Don’t ask about their fears or yours; mere contact with them will restore calm. Action on your part will also avoid solicitous inquiries that are awkward for you and your family.

Although I am not Catholic, I am impressed by Pope John Paul II’s frequent advice not to fear. “Do not fear,” he said often. The Bible is full of admonitions to deny fear of its power over us. These warnings have caused me to wonder why they are so important and so frequent. Surely we are not to be unwise about things that warrant real fear, rational fear. But we should not let ourselves be paralyzed by the unreasonable, irrational fear that will hold us back and limit the full lives we can have.

______________________________________________

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