Categories
Moving Forward

Re-routing

Terry rempel

WSN: Guest Column by Terry Rempel

My previous job was as a pedigreed seed inspection manager for a company in Winnipeg. Based in Winnipeg, I had about 35 seed inspectors under my direction from Manitoba through to northern Alberta. Part of my duties was to train the inspectors both with updated information in a classroom setting as well as observe and assist new inspectors in the field. So, a couple of times a year, I got to drive across western Canada, crisscrossing each province. I had an app on my cell phone to locate the field where I was to meet the inspector. I would load in the LLD (legal land description) of the said field on to the app and it would then load the correct coordinates (most of the time) into Google Maps. Press “Directions”, and it would then produce a map of how you should get to that field. A lovely voice would come on to help you with the directions. Ever wonder why they have a feminine voice giving those directions? Think about that. Must have been a room full of programmers thinking “Yeah, lets make it a woman’s voice giving the directions” and all the women in the room would go “Let me do it”. What woman wouldn’t want to tell millions of men where to go? It would also get many men taking wrong turns because they think they know better and they kind of weren’t paying attention to the woman’s voice anyway. This app and GPS map system brought me to many a field in nowhere Saskatchewan (it’s not the end of the world, but you can see it from there). There were a few times, though, you’d be driving along, go over a ridge and on the other side, and….no signal. The route would disappear from sight. I’d stop….look around (no clue where I was)…drive a little farther….still no signal. Turn around, go back to where there was a signal, save the map, then figure it out from there.

Last week I was in southern Ontario meeting with customers. Using GPS, I found their locations usually without a problem. The problem would come when I’d load the new address on the phone and it would say “Head North for 5 kilometers.” It had been cloudy since I got there, not even a hint as to where the sun was. Now, I’m usually pretty good with which way is north, south, etc., but, in a strange area, with no land marks that you are familiar with and no sun to give you a shadow of where north is, I was lost. (Yes, there is a compass somewhere on the dash of this car, but I didn’t think of that). So I start off going one way…..”Re-routing”. You can almost hear an irritated sigh coming from Ms. Google Maps (like I haven’t heard that in real life before). Most of the time I could make a U-turn and get going the right way, and as long as I listened to her (yes ma’am), I’d get to my destination. The real aggravation came when I was in Toronto to return the car to the airport. I got to the airport (so I knew where I was supposed to be), then I needed to fill the rental car with gas. Look for the closest gas station on Google Maps and away we go. When you hear “Re-routing” in Toronto and it’s leading you to the freeway, you know you took a wrong turn. I was getting further and further away from the airport, following these prompts, and I was getting quite ticked. Why are you taking me this far away from the airport!!! Surely there is a gas station closer! (Again you can hear the irritated sigh from Ms. Google). But I kept following her prompts and eventually ended up right back where I started. Now I’m really ticked because it’s telling me to turn right again and that’s what got me in trouble in the first place! Then, right across the street on the corner, was the gas station I missed the first time around. “Turn right….your destination is on the right (you idiot…I’m sure she meant)”.

April 5th of this year, I was re-routed. While the end destination has always been the same for both Lorna and me, the route to get there went blank. Lorna was there….at home. My route had further to go. GPS shows you the way it knows to get to your destination, but sometimes that road doesn’t exist any more, or becomes a very narrow, bumpy path. It’s been washed out, under construction, or the map needs to be updated because that road has been changed. The route Lorna and I were on together vanished in my arms that morning. I know I’m supposed to keep going….I’m just not getting the signal yet. I’m down in a valley, waiting to come through the other side so I can regain the GPS (God’s Positioning System). It’s not that the signal isn’t there, that hasn’t changed, I’m just having a hard time finding it. His system knew I’d have to go this way, even though He didn’t put the roadblocks in. It’s a slow, winding, bumpy trail for the time being….one I never wanted to go on or thought I’d be on. The bumps and rocks I’m hitting on this road will be marks on me for the rest of my journey and I know the scratches will fade in time but will never go away….and I don’t want them to. I know that when I don’t know which way to turn, just look for the Son and it will get me started in the right direction. The destination hasn’t changed…..my route has.

“Your destination is straight ahead.”

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You can write Terry via Messenger

Categories
Dating/Relationships Moving Forward

TWO BEERS AND A PUPPY

LArry Ahrens

WSN: Coffee and Conversation with Larry Ahrens

This week’s Coffee & Conversation is a little different. I cannot write about grief right now. Eight months in and lately I’ve been feeling more loss for my wife – not less. The COVID thing drags on. So, let us talk about something else. Here is something you can apply in your life right now.

I ran across this interesting book by Esquire senior editor Ross McCammon. The book is “Works Well with Others: An Outsider’s Guide to Shaking Hands, Shutting Up, Handling Jerks, and Other Crucial Skills in Business That No One Ever Teaches You.” Great title, huh?

In the book McCammon came up with a simple, easy test to help you evaluate how you feel about someone. Do I trust this person? Maybe this person is fun and interesting in some situations but not all. This test can apply in business or personal relationships. It works for both. You give them the “Two Beers and a Puppy” test.

When you encounter people McCammon recommends a simple test in which you ask yourself two questions: “Would I have two beers with this person?” and “Would I allow this person to look after my puppy over a weekend?”

“Some people are yes and yes, and those are the best people in your life,” McCammon said. “Hopefully, you were raised by people like that. Hopefully, those are your friends. And then there’s the no and no people — those are the assholes.” Yes-beer, no-puppy people “are to be cautiously trusted,” he writes in the book, while no-beer, yes-puppy people “are no fun but they make the world a better place — for puppies, especially.”

He says about the yes and yes people: “These people are wonderful people, and your life and work are better for having them in your life. Seek them out. Collaborate with them. Enjoy their company.”

I have a couple of take-away’s from this test. The answers you get from this test are guaranteed to be revealing. It might even lead you to seeing a relationship in a different way. Secondly, if someone isn’t hitting high marks, it doesn’t necessarily mean you stop investing in the relationship. Maybe an investment is exactly what the relationship needs. It is a step toward increasing the number of people in your life and work who you like and trust. That is certainly worthwhile.

Find as many “two beers and a puppy” friends as you can, and better yet, strive to be one yourself.

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

Categories
Giving Support Moving Forward

What’s really important. (hint…it’s not the election)

Jim Winner

WSN: Some Winning Thoughts by Jim Winner

Well, the months of hate-filled rhetoric, vitriolic media ads, and all that went with it came to a head yesterday. I have no idea when we will learn who won the presidential election. I, for one, am glad it is over.

I love America. I love our freedoms. I cherish the privileges and blessings that come with being an American citizen. To my international brothers and friends, we Americans are not all as crazy as you see on TV!

Over the past few months, I sat back and watched many friendships become tested and strained on social media. Political differences have created a lot of tension this season. I have been very mindful to keep my political opinions to myself. The right to vote is a wonderful privilege given to Americans. The act of voting is how we control our voice as citizens. Once we cast our ballot, we lose a lot of our control. There isn’t much we can do to prevent what our friends will think or how they will choose to cast their votes.

There’s that word again…..control. I find myself once again reminded that there’s very little in life we can control. In previous columns, I’ve talked at length about not being able to control what happens to us in life. What we can control is how we respond to the things that happen to us in life. I use the word respond because, to me, a response is an action that’s thought out and measured. A reaction, on the other hand, is often more emotional than thought through. This season is an excellent example of that. When the election is all said and done, there are going to be a lot of unhappy people, and they are going to be a lot of happy people. COVID-19 will still be here. The divisiveness in the country will still be here. The pandemic induced grief that our whole world feels will still be here.

I think this is a good time for us all to focus on what we can control. To me, right now, the number one thing we can control is our attitude. Regardless of your political beliefs and preferences, we still live in a wonderful country. If your candidate wins the election, I offer you my congratulations and promise to support him as my president. If your candidate doesn’t win the election, I hope you will likewise support him as your president.

We’ve all got a lot of healing to do in this country. By controlling how we treat others in their time of political grief, we can each do our part in restoring an America first attitude. We always talk about grief, and grief is how we process loss. It’s no different in this case. Respect those who are grieving because their candidate lost. Remember, we’re Americans first.

Wishing you all a wonderful day today. Remember to choose joy.

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Jim Winner’s thoughts appear every other Thursday. You can write to him by Private Messenger.

Categories
Grief/Dispair Manful Emotions Moving Forward

BIG BOYS DO CRY!

Fred-18

WSN: Widower to Widower by Fred Colby

Remember Frankie Valli’s hit song, “Big Girls Don’t Cry?” We can all probably sing a few verses. Well, like you, I learned the hard way that as widowers, big boys do cry! And it is a shock to our system.

Nothing can be more disturbing for sons and daughters than to see their father cry, especially full out sobbing! Friends, family, workmates, and children can often become fearful and at a total loss of how to respond when a widower breaks down in tears.

Those of us in the business of serving those who have lost loved ones may have become too used to this expression of grief, and our responses may become too rote. We may not see how painful and disruptive to relationships this transformation might be for

both the widower and their family or friends.

Most often, these family and friends are grieving too, but they may still have trouble relating to the deep grief the widower feels. This grieving is made all the more traumatic because men are not used to expressing their sorrow, fear, and emotional responses. Now all of a sudden, it is pouring out of them unfettered.

Children are used to seeing their Dad as a strong and stable figure during past family crises’ so to now see them broken down in their grief and unable to help themselves can be very scary and disturbing.

Often this reaction, paired together with pre-existing family issues, can cause destructive changes in relationships that cannot be repaired. Such occurrences are particularly true of merged families where second marriages have brought together two sets of children, siblings, parents, and grandparents. Bonding these two groups together over the years may not have occurred so that these bonds may be easily broken.

Too often, I hear from widowers who have been abandoned by their children and relatives, especially those of merged families. These can often devolve into outright hostilities and attempts to steal what remaining resources the widower has left. Men, in particular, have a hard time with this as they may not used to turning to others to ask for help.

What can we do as widowers when faced with these challenges? Here are some suggestions:

· Be alert to recognizing when issues emerge between family members. Don’t ignore them.

· Find a comforting and safe place to express your fears and concerns (e.g., grief groups, counselor office, church support groups, or that special friend or family member who you trust completely).

· Consider inviting your family members to join you in some therapy sessions to work things out together.

· Research area resources that might help you to survive the grief and challenges ahead, such as area hospices, grief groups, grief counselors, church counseling programs, online support groups (see https://www.fredcolby.com/resourceslinks for a list of resources).

· Alert the authorities if you are being abused or taken advantage of by those around you in any way. Don’t wait until the money, furniture, car, or other items are all gone.

· Read Fred Colby’s Widower to Widower or Herb Knoll’s The Widower’s Journey. (Fred’s autographed book now discounted 20% + $1 shipping). There are helpful ideas in both that can help you through this.

You can also go to the following link to books, blogs, and resources designed to help every widower to find answers and support: https://www.fredcolby.com/

© Copyright 2020 Fred Colby

All rights reserved

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Fred Colby is the author of Widower to Widower, which is available on Amazon.com. You can find Fred’s column appearing here on WSN-MO every other Tuesday. Widower to Widower is available through your local bookstore, my website, and Amazon.

Categories
Faith/Religion Grief/Dispair Loneliness Moving Forward

This Life We Are Given: As Simple As ABC?

Terrell Whitener

WSN: A Few Minutes with Terell Whitener

Recently I lost a colleague due to some unfortunate circumstances. Historically in these writings, I share with you, it focuses on strategies for managing the loss of our spouses, partners, and significant others. However, recent events in my own life have made me reflect that loss continues to happen in our lives, and we must find ways of managing these events when they occur.

So, this life we are given, without our loved ones, frequently gives us a different view of death. For me, it has enhanced the importance of time in my life. I have a greater appreciation for the time, how I use time, who I spend time with, and how I prioritize the use of time. After receiving the news of my colleague’s death, I took some time to not only absorb the shock of their passing but also look at this life I have been given.

Over the years, I have developed a strategy that allows me to take a simple approach to complex matters in life. When reflecting on the losses I have experienced since my wife Robyn died, my approach to future losses boils down to the ABC’s in my life. Let me take a moment to share this approach with you.

A: Acknowledge those people and things that bring value to your life.

I have learned to express my genuine feelings for and appreciation of the relationships and things that bring happiness into my life. I say, “I love you “much more often and easily than I used to. I find it refreshing to let others know how I feel and, in a more cliché way, takes the time to smell the flowers.

This ability to express my feeling has led to a more open and expressive existence with friends and family members than previously in my life. Those who may believe that this sounds too mushy, let me offer that this makes me feel more genuine.

B: Believe in something or someone greater than yourself.

Right up front, let me assure you I am not telling you what to believe in or who to believe in at all. I only what to encourage you to take the opportunity to galvanize the benefit of the realization of what makes your life the life you are living. What motivates you? Who assists you in being the person you are? How do you use your talents and gifts are a few ways you can approach this aspect of life.

I am a man of faith, so my approach is rooted in my religious beliefs. Over the years, I have come to not only acknowledge but respect those that take a different approach to life.

C: Commit to an approach and celebrate the successes.

Over the years, with the help of my mentors, friends, and family, I have learned to be a fearless decision-maker. While this has not always resulted in success, it has afforded me a clear and convincing approach to life. Take the time to take a 360 view of your circumstances, and then take the best path to happiness and success in life.

Another habit that I am forming is to celebrate success no matter the size of the accomplishment. If it is losing 5 pounds or closing a seven-figure deal, celebrate it. I am a huge fan of momentum. In my relationships with individuals I mentor, I always emphasize creating positive momentum in their lives and careers. I believe in this practice very strongly.

So, there you have it. A very surface level synopsis of my ABC’s of life. Though this was born out of the heartache of loss, it has become the framework of peace. I am confident that whether you have formalized these thoughts in your own lives, many of you have the same approach to living and loving after a loss.

As always, brothers, I welcome your feedback. And by the way, do not forget your ABC’s.

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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 his social media contacts. You can find his article every two weeks here on WSN-MO.

Categories
Giving Support Healing Moving Forward

Trust your instincts.

Jim Winner

WSN-MO: Some Winning Thoughts by Jim Winner

Good morning, brothers! You may recall my last article. It was about changing residences in Florida. It spoke of hard but necessary decisions, the need to face those decisions head-on, and make them. Since that last article, I have officially become the owner of a condo on Turtle Beach in Sarasota. I am excited at the prospect of this opportunity, but I am also mindful and aware of the changes this decision represents. I know there will be many adjustments to the newness of the area, situation, environment, etc.

I picked up the keys to the condo exactly a week ago. The first time I opened the door and walked in as an owner, I experienced a welcome sense of calm, a spirit of freshness, and a feeling of peace.

I walked out on the lanai, sat down, and looked out on the beautiful Sarasota Bay. I listened to the sounds of the water and wind. It was at that moment I knew beyond a doubt that I had made the right decision. I felt at HOME. It just felt right—every day since it feels more and more right. I am content with my decision.

As each of our collective journeys unfolds, we will ultimately face many individual decisions. Those decisions will impact people, places, and things in our lives. Most of all, those decisions will affect you. Some of the best advice I’ve seen from members of this group has been not to make any major decisions during the first year of the journey. I believe that to be wise and sage counsel. Let yourself grow slowly into this new season of life—approach significant changes in your time. As we’ve all heard time and time again, everyone has a unique timetable. When change is right, you will know. Don’t second guess your instincts. If you’re not sure, talk to someone you trust. Allow yourself to embrace and accept your new reality and new normal.

As you start to gain confidence in your new normality, look for areas where you can make changes. Make small, subtle changes at first; try new things. Start new routines. Learn to do something you’ve always wanted to do. Invest in self-care. As you feel more comfortable with yourself and your thought processes, be mindful of things you can do to create a new path for yourself. It’s brutally hard. Life’s important decisions are hard. The easiest decision to make is no decision. More often than not, however, that decision does more harm than good.

Let me encourage those you who are facing decisions and choices to trust your instincts. No one who cares about you wants you to stop living. People who love and care for you want you to continue to live. They want you to regain the ability to live a healthy and happy life.

We have all survived one of life’s most dreaded events. There’s a lot of wisdom gained through that experience. Trust that wisdom; trust your instincts. Wishing you all a happy and healthy day.

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Jim Winner’s thoughts appear every other Thursday. You can write to him by Private Messenger.

Categories
Grief/Dispair Moving Forward

Are Success and Happiness Possible?

WSN: Widower to Widower by Fred Colby

Immersing yourself in grief after your wife dies is unavoidable, necessary, and healthy. This stage of your grief journey may go on for months, or even years. But if you stay buried in grief, you may need to ask, “Is this:

· conducive to your healing?

· good for your remaining relationships with children, family, friends?

· a productive way to remember and honor your wife?

· respectful of the many years you and your wife spent building a good life?”

If the tables were turned, and you died first, would you want your wife to mope around in deep grieving for years after your passing? Of course not!

Well then, how the heck do you pull out of this deep grieving? I have spoken before of “reinventing yourself” as a key part of this process. Many would like to feel a sense of success in life again.

In the past, success might have been measured by your role as a husband, father, son, business owner, worker, coach, or volunteer.

There are so many ways to achieve success… the list is endless. The trick is to find ones that work for you. As men, we desperately need this sense of success… and without our wives around to cheer us on and to validate our success, we may have to find new ways to achieve it.

In the 2018 Harry’s Masculinity Report (a survey of 5,000 men ages 18-95 across the US) it found that the strongest predictor of men’s happiness and well-being is their job satisfaction, by a large margin. “Men at work are more likely to be men at ease with themselves. Everything else—contentment at home, in relationships and friendships—flows down from men being satisfied at work.”

Other top indicators of a positive mindset and wellness for American men are… their physical and mental health, income, age (men over age 50 were significantly happier…), and relationship status. The survey found that 91 percent of married men had normal or better levels of mental positivity. And friendship is a particularly strong predictor of well-being for men.

So what does a widower do now that they are not working, no longer have a wife, and may be having trouble maintaining their friendships? To top it off, many of us find ourselves facing various physical problems brought on the by stress of losing our wife.

The first step is to re-evaluate what you still have in your life that defines you and can help you to regain that sense of success. This can be your role as a:

· Father, grandfather, uncle, or brother

· Friend who cares for and helps others

· Volunteer at your local nonprofit, church, school, library, or other community organization

· Part or full-time employee

Each of these can provide you with a real sense of self-worth while contributing to your community. The return can be invaluable whether it be gratitude for your efforts, building of new friendships, or just feeling good about yourself.

A sense of success and happiness is possible again; but it takes hard work and persistence to realize it.

© Copyright 2020 Fred Colby All rights reserved

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Fred Colby is the author of Widower to Widower, which is available on Amazon.com. You can find Fred’s column appearing here on WSN-MO every other Tuesday. Widower to Widower is available through your local bookstore, my website, and Amazon.

Categories
Grief/Dispair Moving Forward

Losing My And

Terry rempel

WSN: Guest Golumn by Terry Rempel

The other Sunday at church, a friend gave me an envelope with their Christmas picture card and synopsis of this past year for their family. She told me, tearfully, how hard it was to just write my name on the envelope, instead of Terry & Lorna, it was just Terry Rempel. Reminded me of what I thought about shortly after Lorna passed away in April. I’ve lost my “and.”

Words paint pictures; they reveal stories. You can have boring photos and boring stories, but you add certain words, and the stories get more life, more impact. “AND” is a term that makes you think there is more coming, more to this story. If the teller of a story says “AND” and empathizes it, the listener leans forward to hear what’s coming next, or, like Paul Harvey used to say, “The rest of the story.”

When we’re little kids, we were part of the “and” for our family. For me, it was Henry & Anne AND family. I was an and with Henry, Anne, and my sister Debbie. Sometimes, we are part of the comma; sometimes, we are an and. We get a bit older, and we get our own mail with our own name on it. There is no and at that time, but we are pleased to get the recognition we are growing up. The invite to a relative’s wedding is another good example. Then we get a bit older, and it moves to Terry AND escort! WOW! We are so grown up; we get to have an AND to bring along! It didn’t take too long to become Terry AND Lorna, and I loved it. There was more to my story than just me. I loved to get invitations for us! We were a couple. I was grown up. The AND was someone who loved me, wanted to be part of my life as much as I wanted to be part of hers. She was my AND, and I was her AND. We got to send out invitations to the wedding of Lorna AND Terry. There was much more to our story—even napkins with Lorna and Terry on them.

Then our story grew with the addition of “And Family.” The family grew up, moved on to have their own “AND.” They would always be a part of our AND, but they were starting their own as well. Then it was back down to Lorna AND Terry. For forty years. I lost my, AND on April 5, 2018, at 5:12 am. Many of the sympathy cards I received were addressed to Terry Rempel AND family. The AND that had been with me for forty years was now gone. That part of our story ended as far as everyone else was concerned.

It’s been eight months now, 36 weeks, that I have been missing my AND Lorna. In the mail, in conversations, in life. I look at pictures of her smiling back at me; I have many, always on my computer and cell phone. When I get those envelopes with just my name on them, it just doesn’t seem right. And I get to the place I live, walk in the door, and it’s just…..empty. I sometimes still call out, “Hi Babe,” hoping to hear her voice, but knowing it won’t come in this lifetime. I still call it “home,” but it hasn’t felt like home in a long time…..8 months to be exact. It’s a place I exist and some days barely.

My AND is gone.

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Terry Rempel can be contacted using MESSENGER.

Categories
Grief/Dispair Healing Loneliness Moving Forward

Starting Your Day

Nyle Kardatzke

WSN: Widow-Man with Dr. Nyle Kardatzke

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Categories
Grief/Dispair Moving Forward

The First Year

Nyle Kardatzke

WSN: Widow-Man with Dr. Nyle Kardatzke

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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