I am a member of some Widow Groups on Facebook. It breaks my heart each day to read more and more stories of loss. Oh, how I wish I could take their pain away. When you get that low it is really hard to know what to do. Some lose their will to live and that’s when it gets scary. It hurts my heart to hear that they think if they have lost their loved one, they have lost everything. Well, what about you and your life? I think YOU matter. A lot.

So I have come up with 6 things to do when you lose your spouse. Some work for an hour, some work for a few days and what I have learned with just about everything is we have to change it up every once in a while. These are things I tried and tested when I lost my husband. Your emotions are all over the place so it’s great to have a few healthy coping choices to help you get through.

1. Turn up the music! When I didn’t want to have any more thoughts go through my head, I put earphones in and turned up the music with a good beat. Do you think music can change your mood? Try putting on symphony music, then country music, then rock and roll. It sure can make a difference in my mood. Let’s see, I’m putting on one of my favs right now– The Words I love you by Chris de Burgh.  If you can, listen to this song. It makes me happy!

2. Exercise. I have two go-to’s when I need a lift right away. Music and exercise. Now exercise is a lot like music- different kinds can put you in different moods. When my husband died I did a lot of spin. When the weather was nice I did a lot of running. I am not a runner, but it sure felt good to just run like crazy. I love kickboxing and giving some real punches back to the world. My favorite exercise though is YOGA. When I am in a quiet space I can hear my soul. Some days I would just cry in yoga and that’s ok. I was getting in touch with my emotions and letting it out so I could move quickly through the different things that were coming up. I also learned how to breathe through uncomfortable situations. In loss there are uncomfortable situations hourly. It’s funny when you are going through a tragedy how the emotions can change minute by minute. Try different exercises to fit your different moods. I got to be the strongest I have ever been physically after my husband died because I would go to the gym for about 3 hours a day. I didn’t want to be home. I would turn up the music at the gym and pump those weights or whatever I felt like that day or that second.

3. Be positive. There are a lot of things you can’t change in this world, but you can absolutely change your attitude. I am the only one who gets to decide how to look at things. Am I going to make lemonade out of my new batch of lemons?

4. Learn something new. All of a sudden I had more time on my hands than I could even think of what to do with. I like to keep busy so it doesn’t hurt so much. One thing I had been doing even before my husband died was learning something new each year. I was 40 and I realized there are still many things out there I could learn about. My life was not over. I could not read or concentrate for about 4 years, so reading or school was out of the question. But I could learn other things. I learned about lifting weights since I had never put that into my exercise program. One year I learned to swim. That was the hardest thing ever. It sounds funny, but I am a very slow swimmer. I also have super long hair and hated to get it in chlorine every day- I know, dumb excuse, but I tried. I learned how to texture walls. My dad is awesome with this, so he came over and taught me how. It was great to spend time with him and I also learned a great skill. He also taught me tricks on how to paint after the walls are textured. I love sewing so I decided to spend time teaching my kids how to do this. I learned how to bake my own bread. I learned a lot about myself in all of these things. Mostly I learned that I was the new Wonder Woman. Sounds funny, but it was true. I found out that I had a new will to live and slowly learned to like my “new normal”.

5. Be grateful. This is the biggest key to finding happiness that I have found and your mood can instantly be changed. Whenever I would be fearful, which I was used to doing, I would get really scared. I was now the man of the house with 5 little kids at home. I’m not a good man of the house or dad. But they were going to have to get used to this and so was I. After a few weeks of being a widow, I moved over to Jay’s side of the bed. I realized I am now the one in control of this whole family. I could not fear. So when I would get scared, first I would pray and then I would start thinking of the many things I was grateful for. Even if you have to start with being grateful for running water and “I live in America”, it’s an awesome start. There are always things to be grateful for. Start writing things down- even if you can think of one thing a day, start making a list and you will start to see the sunlight. Oh that’s a good one. Today I am grateful for sunlight. I slowly learned I didn’t have much fear of anything. The worst thing I had ever imagined had happened, so what did I have to fear now? I had survived being a widow so far and was growing in leaps and bounds.

6. Meditate. It was really hard to do at first because sitting in silence hurt. Doing meditation for just a few minutes a day- like 5 minutes- helped me greatly. It took some years to figure it out; that it gave me a break from thinking, not a time to think. I noticed I was able to stand back out of my emotions better and look at them from an outside perspective. I learned to respond slowly to things instead of reacting quickly. There are tons of free meditations online. I can do up to 20 minutes a day but seriously started at 3-5 and did that for years. Any amount of time to give your brain a break will help.

My children needed a mom that was strong and secure in so many ways and these are a few things I tried. I focused much of my energy on my kids and this is how I made it through those hard days. I had to get up and put a smile on my face so they could. I suggest you make a list of things you can do that make you feel good inside and out. That way, when you are down you already have some ideas that you know will work for you to let a little sunshine in your soul.

Quote of the day:

Keep your face always toward the SUNSHINE and shadows will fall behind you.

-Walt Whitman

Thanks to my daughter, Natalie, who made this cute sign for my home.