Having your spouse die is an extremely emotional experience. I didn’t realize how many things it would make me re-think! It made me question my very identity. I had a complete loss of self. I wasn’t expecting this at all. Most things that I was a part of before he passed, were different now. It sent me to a spiritual place- one where I had to start finding the authentic me.
Change. That’s a hard word and a hard thing to do, but when there is a loss- it’s not negotiable. Whether I liked it or not there were some massive changes in my life. Pretty much everything was changing and change makes you feel out of control. From morning until night so many things reminded me that I had lost Jay. The house, his car sitting in the garage, the bills with his name on it, the yard, who I talked to before going to bed, the kids, work. How was I supposed to create a life just for me? I am learning now who I am not, but have no idea who I truly am. How do I navigate this?
This was going to take some massive self care that I had never done before. What did I like to eat? What did I like to do in my spare time? Where do I go to feel safe? Am I enough? What music makes me feel different ways? I was questioning my value and worth even though I knew these 6 kids for sure needed me. I needed to find new ways to cope and find the true Marcie.
So my journey began and it was hard at first, but then got fun over the next year. Again, I found out its perspective and using tools that help me grow. I will list a few things I tried and others I wish I would have tried to get through this confusion and find the real Marcie…
- JOURNAL. Start a journal and know it’s just for you. It’s not going to be read by others so you can write all your true thoughts. Go ahead and write on it – if you find this, burn it! Haha it really is just for you and your healing journey. It was a bit hard for me to write because when I put words to the emotions, it all became very real. I really really wish I would have written more. I will tell you why you want to write- there’s two things it helped me with. 1. It got things out of my head. Once it was on paper I could move on a little to the next thing. 2. I could look back over days or weeks and see I was getting a touch better. It doesn’t feel like things are getting better but you will notice from your writing it is. In the beginning writing a couple times a day and then it goes to a few times a week then once a week and you can see just by this that you are getting better. I don’t like the words “Time will heal” but darn it- it is true that healing does get better over time. PS- Processing gets easier once you are not in such extreme fight or flight.
- SELF CARE. Start asking what would make you feel better right now? Then give yourself that. Is it a night off just to watch movies at home. Is it a hot bath? What music will put you in a healthy coping space? Is it a nice dinner with someone who will listen to you? Is it a walk? Notice what things (usually they are small!) make you feel joy and try sprinkling them into your life. I have taken a bath most nights for my entire life. I tell myself to cry- those tears will just fall right into the water and it’s ok. I tell myself as it is draining that all of the sad or hard in my life is going right down the drain with the dirty water.
- TALK. Find someone who will listen to you. I needed to tell my stories over and over and was so grateful for those friends who stayed with me and just let me talk it out. I had so many memories, thoughts and emotions that I needed to talk about and doing so helped me heal.
- MAKE CHANGES to your surroundings. I felt totally out of control when Jay died. I found that the only thing I can control is me so I started doing simple things to show myself I could make decisions and go through with them. Super simple ones like painting a wall- what color would I choose? I first had to figure out what I liked, then make my home and work feel more like the new me. I cleaned and organized a lot too. That made me feel in control that I knew where things were and I could sit in calm instead of chaos.
- CONNECTION. Find others who are in your situation so you don’t feel alone. I found a lot of widow groups on Facebook and also ones that were in my city so I could participate with those who had gone through similar situations. I found new friends and could practice being the new authentic Marcie.
- TRY NEW THINGS. This was fun and scary for me. I decided that each year I would learn a new skill and it helped me find who I really was and I also made new friends. It doesn’t have to be hard- make it fun! I tried learning how to paint walls, swimming, cooking new ways, creating websites and a bunch of other things. Write down some goals and when you are in the mood- start making a simple step toward them. So… If you write down swim, when you feel like it look up where you can go to swim, where there are lessons, cute suits to wear, etc. This isn’t only for loss- try it throughout your life- it’s what makes things exciting. Go explore things that make you feel passionate and inspired about the future.
Navigating grief is difficult. Everyone is different so please don’t feel bad if someone seems like they are way ahead of you in certain aspects. This journey is for you and only you. It’s an experience that nobody else has felt exactly like you and that’s ok. Finding your deep self is an amazing journey and you will come out a better person because you put yourself in places of growth.