The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, not to worry about the future, not to anticipate the future, but to live the present moment wisely and earnestly. –Buddha
At first glance, this might seem harsh. Don’t take these words literally. Of course you should mourn your loss, and your life that vanished so quickly. What I hope you don’t do is stay in that moment forever. And, planning for your future is a good thing, but don’t stay so focused on where you are going that you forget where you are. Here, today, is where you are. You would not be here if it weren’t for your past and you will never move forward if you don’t conquer the tasks at hand.
I have seen many people who live in their pain for decades or the rest of their life. They live in loneliness, anger, and often a state of blame. That isn’t good for your body or your mind and it certainly does not lead to living a meaningful life or fulfilling dreams.
Life rarely offers do-overs. The hardest thing I have ever done was walk away from Randy and leave him in that hospital room, knowing I’d never see him, talk to him, or hold him again. I would have given nearly anything to change history. Unfortunately, it isn’t possible. The one person I wanted to share my grief with, get advice from, and cry on their shoulder was the one person I grieving. Living in that world of loneliness, pain, and guilt would have done nothing but end my spirit. One tragedy is enough. Give yourself permission to find a new way of living.
Today hurts–it hurts worse than you imagined you could hurt–and it doesn’t feel like it’s going away. Live in today. Get through today. Set goals for tomorrow. When tomorrow comes, live in it. If it hurts it is okay. If you accomplish your goals, fantastic. Start little and work your way through. No one will tell you it is an easy road. It is challenging and uncomfortable on the best days, but it is worth it–one day your life will be good again.
One thing is clear: moving forward does not mean moving away from your history. Keep loving your spouse. Remember the good and the bad times. The challenge isn’t to leave that life behind and forget about it; the challenge is to figure out how to hold that chapter of your life dear, while moving toward another meaningful chapter. For those widows with children, this is especially important (that’s another story to come). It is about redefining how that fits into your life now.
In the midst of all the pain, there is such uncertainty about the future. What comes next? Will the kids be okay? The questions and worry can drive your crazy. You have enough on your mind, don’t add speculation or anxiety to the mix. Every day, do the best you can and make the best choices you know how. That’s all any of us can really do. If the kids have a question, answer it. If it hurts, cry. If the bills are late because money isn’t coming in, handle it. If you feel stuck, get help. Don’t let it overwhelm you. Take one task and complete it, then move on to the next. Moment by moment, day by day. With each task you complete and each step you take towards healing, the better you feel.