WSN-MO: Jeff Ziegler – Widowers, Wounded, Warrior, Waling and Walking
Over the last two years, I have found that on numerous occasions, I have “bitten off a lot more than I can chew.” It has been challenging to take on some things I have chosen to do—mostly to distract myself from my grief, making it even harder to swallow. No more.
Things are starting to give, and I have begun to learn the power of saying “no” to somethings (especially those that distract me from my grief and feelings). Unfortunately, I am still a novice.
It seems I have always given everything I have to others, and I have come to realize that sometimes it is just impossible to satisfy others. It is draining emotionally and spiritually. And I recently discovered that it is incredibly difficult to give more love than I have to offer—especially when I am not truly ready to give my everything.
So, I am going to ask you: What have you been doing to distract yourself from your grief?
Have you ignored it? Have you spent a lot of time watching TV, that is a favorite? Have you focused on your job so that most of your day is avoiding thinking about your late spouse or partner (another crowd favorite)? Or maybe you are actively surfing dating websites, looking to fill that late spouse or life-partner size hole in your life?
I have done all these things over the last two years, as well as spending too much time on social media (specifically that book of face platform). But I have now realized that none of the numbing, avoiding, and distracting changes the way I feel about my true self or my grief. It is because I have come to accept my grief.
I have also accepted the feelings of guilt for wanting to live a long life when my wife did not have that chance. And I know that I choose to be happy. Possibly I will be able to fully commit to being in a relationship and love someone again.
Unfortunately, I feel that jumping into a relationship—even the “thrill of the chase” that led to it—was simply a further distraction from the grief. The ladder turned into a chute, and I somehow ended up back to square one. So now, I am focusing on herding the cats (in my head and my life).
Over the last few months, I’ve worked with a bunch of men of all ages to create and launch a program designed to help widowers start to move forward in life after their partner died—especially those who are feeling stuck in life (which may be more men than you think). It was an eye-opening experience for me as much as for the other men.
I mean, let’s face it, guys, we have always been labeled “sissies” if we show emotions, right? So why on earth would we want to do that?
Well, here is a novel answer: because exploring and talking about emotions makes you feel better. Truly. I have been miserable dealing with and thinking about all these things over the last two years, and yes, distractions made me forget (at least for a moment) that my wife died. But the reality is, they have been distractions from the feelings.
Exploring the emotions, getting in touch with them, speaking about them, showing them (raw and otherwise) has been cathartic. Release of the pent-up anger, frustration, guilt, and fears has been a boon for my mental health.
Now it is your turn. What are you doing to accept your grief today?
If you are going to distract yourself, first take 5-minutes and sit with your emotions before turning on that TV. Or take 10-minutes to sit quietly and think about all the wonderful things you and your spouse or life partner used to do together. It will make you feel a bit better, no matter where you are in the grief process.
I have found that we sometimes forget to sit and think about our feelings. And that is when we fall into the trap of feeling secure that the grief will not overwhelm us, and then it does.
And that is when the chaos ensues. Now, where the hell are all those damn cats?
Jeff Ziegler can be seen every two weeks here on WSN-MO. You can write Jeff at firstname.lastname@example.org