Day 49: 365 Days of Motivation for Widows

“Perhaps I am stronger than I think.”   –Thomas Merton

You bet! It is hard to imagine what you are capable of until you are faced with it. Here you are, faced with what once seemed impossible. You have the skill to get through this. What skills you lack can be learned. Books/blogs/webpages, support groups, counseling, and friends with experience all will help you navigate through the crisis. One thing is for sure, your life will be different, but it will also be worth the effort. So, buckle down and go to it. 

 

Day 47: 365 Days of Motivation for Widows

English: Mustard seeds by David Turner Februar...
Mustard seeds by David Turner February 23, 2005

I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move.
      The Bible
      Matthew 17:20 

Almost every ounce of you is screaming I can’t do this. You can do this. You can make it through this, and if you trust in your faith, you can come out the other side a whole person. Find that piece of you–the piece that thinks you just might make it through. Once you have it in your grasp, don’t let go. 

A little faith in God, and some determination from you, and that little tiny seed can grow. Even a seed knows its path. First, all seeds must take root; building a foundation to support the rest of its journey. Once the root system has developed enough, the plant starts making its way to the surface. Eventually, it will burst though the soil and face the world around it. Let God grow within you; let Him nourish your soul.

It is easy to pull away from your faith when your world is upside down and inside out. Just keep in mind, with God, all things are possible (Matthew 19:26). Take that teeny seed and nourish it through your faith. Lean into your faith instead of away from it. If you do, blessings will abound.

Day 46: 365 Days of Motivation for Widows

English: Stairway near the lighthouse. São Mar...

“Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.” –Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

This is a hard one. It feels like you might as well take a leap off the nearest ledge but, wait…

It’s natural to want to know the outcome before you let yourself go. We want guaranteed success. In this case, the outcome depends on you–you are the architect and builder.  So, tackle that first step. And, when you are ready, take the next step. It might take you a while to get started and that is okay. One day, you will turn around–a beautiful framework of faith and unyielding effort revealed.

 

Day 45: 365 Days of Motivation for Widows

Feel the fear and do it anyway.   –Susan Jeffers

This storm is worthy of fear and fear can paralyze even the best of us. Fear can build a wall, forcing us away from the places and people we love most. Afraid of what people will say behind our backs. Fear of the stares we get in public. Afraid of breaking down walking into church by ourselves or dropping our children at school. Every where you turn, this new life smacks you in the face with fear and anxiety.

I tell people all the time: this is your journey. I mean that–it is. I can tell you, though, it is so easy to let that fear hold you hostage. It will bound you to your bed and keep you from food, water, and people who love you.  By all means, take time to retreat to your bed.

Some of the most wonderful talks, cuddles, and memories lie with you in that bed. Soak it all in. When you start to feel like you can’t do it anymore–when you feel like life is swallowing you–you have to get up, no matter how terrifying.

No one expects you to jump up with smiles and energy to conquer the world. In fact, that first day, you might not take it past your shower–maybe you will reach your kitchen table. It’s a step. It will feel good. You will tire and you probably will want to crawl into bed again–that’s okay. Day after day you will get out of bed and face your fears and every day it will get easier to do.

 

Day 43: 365 Days of Motivation for Widows

The greatest battle is not physical, but psychological. The demons telling us to give up when we push ourselves to the limit can never be silenced for good. They must always be answered by the quiet, steady dignity that simply refuses to give in.
Courage. We all suffer. Keep going.     –Graeme Fife

Every day we get up and every day there are voices saying, “Go back to bed; you can’t do it anyway.” Some of them are in our own mind; others are people looking in. My hope is, you find the courage to quiet the voices.

To fight the demons, you must be conscious of your mission. Make an effort to believe you can get through the day. When it hurts and you are uncomfortable, keep going. Hold your head up, put one foot in front of the other and never give up. If you give up, you are a victim forever; if you keep going you become a survivor. If you persevere, you will not fail.

Day 44: 365 Days of Motivation for Widows

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.

Day 42: 365 Days of Motivation for Widows

“A jug fills drop by drop.”   – Buddha

This is a process. It will not happen by itself and it will not happen overnight. No one can do it for you nor against your will. Before you can redefine your life–before you can heal–you have to take the first step. The more steps you move through, the fuller your ‘jar’ becomes. Before you know it, you will be a whole person once again.

Through this process, you will make great strides. Be warned: you might take a step or two backward. Please don’t be discouraged. This is a winding, bumpy journey. Take comfort in good moments and let those moments carry you through the tough ones. If ever you start to doubt your path, take a moment and look behind you. Think about where you started and see where you are now. Your strength and growth will amaze you.

Day 39: 365 Days of Motivation for Widows

“I know for sure that what we dwell on is who we become.”― Oprah Winfrey

In life, when we want to achieve a goal, we are told to work hard because practice makes perfect. All very good advice–all true. We fail to realize, if we concentrate on the bad stuff, then that’s where we stay. In fact, we get so good we aren’t sure how to change it or if we even want to try.

When Randy died, I focused on how bad I felt. I lived in the haze of sadness and downright anger. We all need to live in that for a while, avoiding it helps no one. There comes a time when we need to find a way  to keep living. It didn’t take long. I realized pretty quick that the hole got deeper and darker. I knew I needed to do something–it wasn’t good for me or the kids. Change is hard–it’s also doable. 

My focus wasn’t remembering my husband or honoring him, it was anger. I was angry at the person who killed Randy.  Randy’s death was a tragedy, but I wasn’t focused on missing him. I focused on that event and that person who changed my world. Being angry took my focus away from grieving. I wanted to honor Randy’s memory by being better than I had been before. I wanted my kids to come out the other side as whole people–better than that, I wanted them to learn some compassion, faith, and strength–otherwise, all of it was for nothing. In my mind, Randy deserved a whole lot more than nothing, so I had to step up.

The person who killed Randy had taken enough. I was done letting myself be consumed by him. He wasn’t keeping my head and heart anymore. I quit focusing on my anger. I quit focusing on the person who killed Randy.

My life is about living and growing. When I put the killer aside, and put my focus where it needed to be, there was no more room for the anger–my heart and head were full.

We spent time talking about Randy, we lived life the best we could, and we went to counseling. We spent time with family. We played with friends. We slowly and surely, healed as best we could. We still have our moments, because it never disappears completely. Now, we remember more good times than bad. I point out how each of them have pieces of their dad inside of them. We talk about Randy’s flaws and all of his amazing qualities. We speak of what his expectations would be for them. He is forever in our lives. That anger and the killer is rarely a thought.

Sometimes I wonder if I did things right (since there is no instruction book). I know I did things the best I could and would like to think I did a great job. I’m a realist, I know I’m not perfect, however, once in a while life throws me a reminder that I did okay. With the kids all in sports and many years in the school district, we have met more new people than we can count. Most of them do not know our history. At some point, it comes up and when it does, it leaves people shocked. Up til that point, they had no idea the kids had been through something so traumatic. Often I have heard that my kids eyes sparkle and that have a light about them.  The wear a badge of courage, not of a victim. They aren’t angry. They aren’t bitter. They are smart and passionate. That’s success in my book.

Had I given into that anger and let it consume them too, I’m not sure they could have ever climbed out of that hole. My focus was everything, for me and all of three of the kids. Make sure when you make the choice to heal that your focus isn’t still on the sickness, accident, or killer that stole your loved one. Don’t let that person/thing hold you down and suffocate who you are. Kick them out of your head and heart–it’s time for you to take over.

Day 38: 365 Days of Motivation for Widows

“To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.” ― Oscar Wilde

I see this all the time. I have felt this, more than once. I don’t think any of us want to just exist. I think we want to leave some mark on this world. A mark that makes the world a better place. Unfortunately, existing is rather comfortable and sometimes comfortable is enough.

It’s time of challenge and discord where we really learn who we are and what we are capable of. Sitting in this box–well, it’s a safety net. Oh, lives are normally nice and neat inside that box, but little of it means much. Living, really living, means lowering our walls and taking a step outside our comfort zone. Harder yet, it means believing in ourselves. 

It’s hard to believe in yourself when so many people around you seem better than you or are quick to point out flaws in your plan. Chances are, many of those people are just floating through a rather easy life–no challenges, no heartbreak, no big story to tell.

You’ve had the heartache and challenges–now, it’s time to step outside your box and live. Live to the fullest and never with regret. It’s time–it’s time to create your big story.

Day 37: 365 Days of Motivation for Widows

“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really step to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ You must do the thing you think you cannot do.’” –Eleanor Roosevelt

I have faced several events in my life where I have wondered–endlessly wondered–how I could, or if I would, survive it. No one’s life is free of trouble–we all have our share of turmoil. Some have more than their fair share and some sail through life with few derailments. 

Whatever our path is, it’s ours to travel. And, no matter how we would like to climb in a hole and hope it all goes away, life just doesn’t work that way–it doesn’t. Often I have had people ask me how I have faced Randy’s death and continued on. Often I tell them the kids were my courage–and that’s true. They were definitely the reason I knew I had to stay a whole person. The honest answer to the question is I didn’t have a choice.

The good news is, with each experience you  slowly muddle through and come out the other side, you gain life skills to carry you through the next difficult experience. It’s these events–the ones that challenge us–that change us. If we do it right, we allow it to change us for the better.

There is no better time to stand up and face fear (nearly every fear you have ever had all at once). I don’t know that we ever heal completely. I am fairly certain we will never say that we are glad it happened–no, I’m completely certain that will never happen. There is a middle between happiness and climbing in a hole to wither away. What you will be able to do, in time, is be thankful you made it through and proud of the person you have become through a situation you once thought would consume you. You will be able to enjoy life again. And, whether you believe it or not, you will find blessings along this unexpected and painful journey.

Had I not lost Randy, I never would have gone to college. I also wouldn’t have ever discovered my true passions. I will never be glad we lost him (and I still miss him), but had it not been for tragedy I might have never have discovered who I am–what I was born to do. Beyond the obvious blessings, I would say learning how much strength I really have was amazing. I know now, there is little I cannot overcome. I also know even when situations bring me to my knees, I will stand again–no question–I will stand.