Discussing death and loss is tough; yet both are facts of life that haunt us all. When a spouse passes the pain can be more excruciating because something inside you dies too. So, the fight to survive and eventually thrive again becomes a daily battle. It’s like peeling an onion. You work through layers of stuff to return to some sense of normalcy. Eventually, the pain subsides.
This article shares several of my discoveries. I hope it sheds some light to help you deal with a dark season.
1. Do it your way.
Remember Frank Sinatra’s I Did It My Way? Well, I think the song applies because you must do what works for you. For example, when I feel crowded and pressured my stress level increases. At the outset, I knew that this situation would require me to be around lots of people who unintentionally say the wrong things and ask lots of questions, some inappropriate. So, I broke tradition. On the day of my husband’s funeral I did not ride in the funeral cars. And I arrived at the church just in time to line up at the front of the procession.
As customary, later that day people came to the house. Again, when I started feeling closed in, I vacated the scene. I changed my clothes, retreated to the backyard, and played basketball until the wee hours of the morning. Observers kept saying, “She thinks this is the NBA.” Aside from having fun, I released a lot of tension and got a good night’s sleep. The next day I felt like a million bucks.
Between the pastor, my father, and the funeral director I don’t know who said let her do this her way the most. Emotions are high, and although people care and try to help, you end up getting pulled in different directions.
For that reason, understand your stages for handling grief and know your limitations. The death of a spouse is emotionally exhausting. Moreover, when the services end and all the people go home, you must face this thing alone. Do it your way to embrace self-care.
2. Remember the good.
Like any relationship, a marriage experiences good and bad times. Nevertheless, focus on the former. They’ll make you smile and feel better. What you choose to meditate on will either lessen the pain or increase it.
3. Lean in.
Contrary to what many believe, time does not heal; God heals. When the tragedy hit, I knew who would not forsake me. I saturated myself in the Word; just going to church on Sunday wasn’t cutting it. Even in the mornings I’d listen to sermons and teaching tapes instead of music. Furthermore, pray. Make it the first thing you do, not the last.
4. Get it out.
Shout it out. Cry it out. Talk it out. Walk it out. Work it out. Choose your method but get it out. It’s better out than in. Emotions mount inside you and they build like a volcano waiting to erupt.
5. Laughter is medicine.
Laughter really is medicine, and you can never get too much of it. Laughter makes you feel better and it takes your mind off your problems. Therefore, gather all your favorite comedies. When you need a lift, pop one into the DVD.
6. Don’t get stuck.
If you keep revisiting the past, you’re destined to get stuck. Everyone knows that I like music. Yet, for a long time I stopped listening to jazz. Why? During that time, the music evoked heartbreaking trips down memory lane.
7. Watch what you say.
As I recollect, if someone asked me how I was doing the response was brief. It boiled down to two words, “still standing”. Another favorite was “I’m coming out of this”. I’d mention the heavy feeling, how it was uncomfortable, and how I would not wish it upon my enemy. However, the resounding theme was always I’m coming out of this.
What’s the point? The way you speak seems to impact how long you stay in a rut. Now at that time, I didn’t realize what I was doing. You connect the dots by looking back. Today I realize that I was speaking faith.
During one of my tantrums, I told God to take the pain because it was too much for me. Something happened, and it uncovered the most important revelation. I was casting the care or weight of my situation onto Him, and He took it! After I let go, the load kept getting lighter. Then, one day the heaviness disappeared.
8. Avoid alcohol and drugs.
Finally, avoid alcohol and drugs. Once you come down, you’re back to where you started – depressed. Moreover, you don’t to make it a habit each time you hit a rough patch. Seek professional help if you need to.