“The day I lost you, I also lost me. I’ve been trying to find myself again, but it’s hard. It’s hard because you were a huge part of my life. Not having you here is so painful, I’m just not me anymore.” ~unknown
Those who have lost a spouse, spend a significant amount of time focused on their “new normal” and how unhappy they are with the new reality. I am writing specifically about loss due to death, not loss due to divorce. While there is a new normalization in divorce, and it is a significant life changing event, there is more acceptance and choice involved in legal dissolution of a marriage than you find in the death of a spouse.
With the death of spouse, you also experience the death or expiration of daily life as you know it. You not only mourn your husband or wife, you mourn your life, and in a way, you mourn yourself. I have stated this before, the loss of a spouse changes everything from how you eat and shop, to how you sleep, to how you watch tv, basically to how you live your life. Take some time to grieve for yourself.
You have an opportunity, not one you asked for, and maybe not want you wanted, but you can, in essence, create your own environment with which to move forward. And although you may not want to, move forward you must. Things to consider:
- You do not have to stay stuck in the same life. In the early months, after my husband passed, I tried to live the same life, at the same pace, only as a single parent who was grieving. Trying to do everything we did before, as a couple, but now, by myself, and I just created a mess, and was exhausted in the process. Hold on to what you need, and then the things you really want, and let the rest go.
- Clean up the clutter. Not everyone is ready to dispose of their spouses items right away. Some may take months or years to clear out unneeded items. Others may want to free themselves of the painful memories right away. For me, it was a process of phases.
- First, and by first I mean when I got home from the hospital, I cleaned out the medicine cabinet. I felt the need to purge all the medications that reminded me of illness.
- In later months, I began to purge items of clothing that did not hold sentimental value, papers, and miscellaneous belongings. Things I could trash or donate.
- Later still, I started boxing sentimental items that my daughter might want, clothing, books, his personal treasures. This is a collective of stuff that started quite large, but as time goes on I have been able to narrow it down to truly important items (photos, letters, a few articles of clothing, books, etc). I have cleaned and organized this collection several times.
- Streamline your life and make it as simple as possible. This means closing accounts, canceling memberships and subscriptions that are no longer being used. Get rid of the extra bills, the extra paper, clean out the inbox, believe it or not, all this stuff weighs you down each day.
- Re-prioritize what is important to you. Let’s face it. Our lives get complicated. This is a great time to de-stress and re-focus. Priorities change. For me, my daughter was the most important thing in my life. I was determined to spend more time with her, and less time with work. I don’t want to say that work is not important, and it was no less important to me after my husband’s death, but I no longer could rely on my husband to cover so I could skip a gymnastics practice to draft a presentation for work. I wanted to be there for her and for every practice, recital, and school project as humanly possible. I didn’t want to miss a moment.
Not everyone is ready to take on these challenges, not everyone wants to or needs to, but I have to tell you, completing this cleanse helped me focus, helped me grow, and helped me to move forward.
“When a flower doesn’t bloom, you fix the environment in which it grows, not the flower.” ~Alexander Den Heijer