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Now Choose Life

Choose to Live Your Life in Abundance in the after--- after the spouse dies, after the marriage ends, after the kids leave. Join me on my journey of CHOOSING LIFE in my after. This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live- Deut 30:19

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December 03, 2013

How Far Do I Go Into the Abyss?

Tomorrow would have  been R's 52 birthday.  I don't even really remember feeling anything last year.  My friends and sister took me out to dinner and we talked about him, but I was still in such a state of numbness that I don't remember feeling anything.  I have read in so many blogs where women's bodies feel the anxiety of an approaching event even if they don't feel necessarily emotional about it.  I definitely feel my body going into some sort of relapse-  just utter exhaustion.  But, I also feel the emotional toll from tomorrow.  I'm not really sure why a birthday is bothering me, but it is.

I know that it is so much more than a birthday.  Our baby daughter is fighting the very tedious process of getting an apartment in Manhattan.  Talking to her and helping her deal with all of the procedures and MONEY has just done something to me.

So here is my question in all of this-- how far should a person in grief let themselves go?  I feel like I do everything within my power to stay positive.  I do a lot of positive self talk.  I do everything I can think to do to keep from going "there."  The "there" for me is a place of no return.  I'm afraid that if i truly let myself go, I might have a complete and utter breakdown.

There really seems to be conflicting advice on how to handle the emotions of grief.  Some say to give in and have a good cry, but at some point you have to pull yourself together.  If not, you go "there."  Others say to remain grateful and count your blessing.  But in doing so, am I just masking the feelings that need to be dealt with?

I would love to hear others' experiences with how far to let yourself go into the abyss!!
November 11, 2013

Godwinks

I highly recommend reading the book, When GOD Winks: How the Power of Coincidence Guides Your Life.  I friend gave it to me when I started telling my friends all the weird "coincidences" that were happening after R passed away.  I will write about them as I remember them, but I was reminded of one this morning on my way to school (Have I told you that I am a librarian at a Junior High School?)

I was listening to a cd in my car on the way to school this morning when one of my favorite songs came on.  Taylor Swift's Begin Again  has meant a lot to me over the past year.  I truly feel that it was a wink from God that I even noticed this song at all as I am not a bit Taylor Swift fan.

My daughter, who will graduate from college in December, had plans to study abroad in the summer when R died so I wanted her to keep her life as normal as possible and encouraged her to go on with her plans- which was to leave 1 month after her dad's death.  He and I had a trip planned to visit her- every detail was lined out.  I spent hours on the computer for months booking flights, finding apartments in Madrid and Paris to rent.  It was going to be a great ending to her time there.  But- my plans were only that--- My Plans.  And we all know that our plans don't really mean anything.  I didn't know what to do!  Everyone told me that we should go on with our plans.  My sister offered to go with me in R's place, but my son stepped in and said he would go.  He had refused going with us before, but he would now go in his dad's place.

I will be the first to admit that I do not have perfect children... and tensions were high at times even though we were in a beautiful place we had never been.  Madrid was fun, but Paris--- oh, Paris, well it was wonderful.  However, to a 22 year old young man who would rather be out fishing or hunting more than almost anything else in the world, Paris was lacking.  My daughter was upset with her brother for not appreciating where he was.  She told me later that it made her so mad to see him not care when she knew how much her dad had been looking forward to the trip.  Needless to say, she was not being very nice to him.

So there we sat eating lunch at a sidewalk cafe in the City of Light.  Me still so engulfed in grief and terrified of the future, I didn't know how I was going to move forward.  I was trying to enjoy the city, people watch, just take it all in---and that's when I heard them---FIGHTING.  My 20 and 22 year old children bickering at each other.  I sat there and thought to myself.  How horrible- I will never take them on a vacation ever again.  We won't ever have any normal family outings again.  And just as I'm thinking this, a beautifully dressed woman rides by on a bicycle.  I watched her fade off into the distance and started wondering who she was.  Where did she live in that great city?  Where did she work?  What was her story.  And I let myself imagine me riding down that Paris street on a bike.  And then the image became me, selling my home in the states and moving to Paris--- I really could do that.  I could move to Paris and teach English- I told myself.  I will give this some time and then if I want... that is what I will do.  I'll completely change my life.

At that moment something changed in my brain.  I was able to dream of a life for myself.  It had only been a few months since I had lost my husband, but I knew that I could not allow myself to stay in that dark place that I found myself.  I had to have a dream to hold on to.  Paris would be my dream... not really the actuality of Paris because I would probably never really do that.  But, the idea that I could begin my life again.  That at that moment, I had the ability to do whatever I wanted with the rest of my life.  It was an empowering feeling.  One that I will never forget.

We got home from out trip and a few months later, I heard Taylor Swift's song, Begin Again, on the radio.  Of course, my situation was completely different than the persona in the song.  But I loved these lines:

I've been spending the last eight months
Thinking all love ever does is break, burn and end
But on a Wednesday in a cafe, I watched it begin again

So that became a great song for me to listen to.  I put it on my ipod and ran to it in the early morning hours with my friends.  I was telling my daughter and sister about how it was helping me.  There were some lines I wasn't completely sure what were being sung so I got on Youtube to find the lyrics.  Her music video was there and I started watching it.  Gosh, that looks like the Seine River!!!  ---- all of the sudden it hits me,  her video was filmed in Paris!!!  What are the odds????  It makes me smile every time I think of how I felt when I realized all of this.  A huge wink from God that I was going to be OK.  A wink that reminds me every time I hear that song that what I felt in Paris that day is what is real and a possibility in my life. Thank you my wonderful Heavenly Father for caring about even the minutest details of my life.
November 08, 2013

Grief and PMS

I am going to touch on a topic that I haven't ever heard any widow write about.  I'm only 18 months into my journey so maybe it has been discussed at some point, but I've never heard anyone broach the subject in any blog I have ever read.

PMS-  It is bad enough when a gal's life is normal- throw grief into the mix and it can be quite volatile. I am about to turn the big 50 so Aunt Flo's visits have gotten worse as I approach menopause.  I use an app on my phone called period tracker because I desperately need to be reminded each month that I am not going crazy-- it is just my period about to start.  Today I filled out my "moods" on the app as I "track" my monthly cycle. It is sad and comical at the same time that I marked today--- angry, anxious, confused, depressed, fatigued, forgetful, frustrated, gloomy, impatient, insecure, irritable, jealous, lethargic, mean, moody, nervous, sad, scared, sensitive, sleepy, spacey, stressed, tired , unbalanced, weepy----  those are all feelings that attacked me on any given day over the past year and a half. Put those together with grief and it is a double whammy.

I always try to remind myself how blessed my life is- because it truly is. Even thought my husband died unexpectedly, I still feel very blessed.  I choose to look for the blessings. During the week leading up to Aunt Flo's visit and especially the few days before- all of my gratitude is thrown out the window.  I don't care about anything except my selfish desires.

I feel sorry for the others in my life.  My son lives with me.  I Do Not discuss this with him, but he has to notice a difference in me.  He told me this afternoon that he knew I was stressed over a few things I had been wanting him to take care of.  He is 24, a college graduate, and lives with me.  We live on several acres of land that has to be taken care of.  I have felt lately like he isn't keeping up with his end of our "roommate" agreement.  But, he did come home from work today and take care of things so I am feeling better.  My daughter called late this afternoon to check on me- she talked to me earlier when I was ready for a break down.  See-  those two blessings are the biggest in my life.  I was able to talk to my mother on the phone tonight.  I could go on the rest of the night telling you all my blessings.  However, I still have this underlying feeling of the blahs!!!!  I am blaming it on PMS and moving on.

So Widows... what about PMS in your life?  How do you handle it?
November 07, 2013

Things Will Never Be The Same

I am at the point in my life where as much as I always try to be in control... there are so many things that I don't have control over.  My children being all grown up is one thing that seems to have happened over night.  Where did  my babies go?  Where did the time go?  How can R not be here to see all of these wonderful things that are happening in their lives.

My daughter, my baby, will graduate from college in December.  She found out last week that she got a job in New York City.  Living in NYC is something that she has always wanted to do.  She and I took several trip to the Big Apple over the years.  We both love it there!!!

But- reality set in last week when she called to tell me that she would be moving there the end of December so that she can be ready to start her new job in January.  This past weekend was just not a good time for me.  I was in a deep funk trying to deal with the flood of emotions- good and bad that came with this news.  The one thing the kept running through my mind was "Things will never be the same."  No- they will never be the same.  We are all moving forward--- so she has to move forward in her life as well.

The worst emotion in all of this was the overwhelming sadness of my heart breaking that R is not here to see her and give her advice.  AND help make decisions with me!!!!!!  Oh I miss the discussions of how to handle things with the kids.

My son shared with me how he deals with all of this--- "Mom, it is just life."  Those words have been spoken to me by him several times over the past 18 months.  That is how he feels too-  it is just life.  But, from my perspective it is "just life" and it sometimes just plain ole sucks!!!!  Sometimes I don't like this life and how things have turned out.

Now, don't get me wrong-  I am blessed beyond measure.  In fact, I have a future blog post I am writing in my mind about all the blessing I have received since R's passing.  But as you- dear reader- know if you are a widow-  there are still times that just plain hurt and are hard to get through.

I am happy to report that I have worked myself out of my funk.  I am looking ahead and am up to my eyeballs in links to Manhattan apartments that she is sending me.  I am so excited for her.

It is just that in the back of my mind I keep hearing the refrain "things will never be the same." 
September 09, 2013

Conviction Not Condemnation

Conviction Not Condemnation

I am reading a book called What Happens When Women Say Yes to God.  I am also part of an online group with some friends from high school, and we have been briefly discussing the book and praying for each other.  Of course I haven't gotten into the study as much as I would have liked to, but it has still been good for me.  I was reading today and came across this line today that really made me think--" There is no condemnation from Jesus, only conviction."   That thought is so freeing- isn't it.  That is the true example of unequivocal unconditional love.  God does not condemn us.  He loves us unconditionally.  He only convicts us of our disobedience.

It made me think of myself as a parent.  I don't think my kids felt convicted and not condemned at times.  I fear that I had an attitude of condemnation with them too often.  And it made me think of their dad.  He was the most loving man.  He truly did love unconditionally.  I am so thankful that I was able to parent with him as long as I did.  I have now tried to find his patience in dealing with our kids.  He truly had great patience.

I still miss him.  I am doing well, but I do feel the void at times much greater than others.  I do have someone in my life that I will go ahead and introduce you to.  Dr. T.  He is a high school friend who I have known for over 30 years.  He was friends with R.  He is patient and kind like R was.  He has helped me so much over the past year.  His wife passed away about 2!/2  years before R.  We started emailing each other after R died.  It then went to infrequent phone calls and then visits.  We are going to see where our relationship goes.  He very graciously welcomes R into our relationship.

I hope to have another man in my life someday who will be a grandparent with me-  I am really looking forward to that.  I want someone to grow old with.  I think I need them to have the attitude of conviction and not condemnation.  I think I have that with Dr. T.  Just like I most assuredly had it with R.

September 04, 2013

I could have written it!

I found a blog that as I read it, I realize her words are my words.  So much of her experience of losing her husband was my experience.  It is a little scary sometimes.  Today as I was reading some of her past posts, I read one from the summer.  I read a comment written to it and realized that it was a comment that I left her---isn't that weird.  I feel such a connection with this woman whom I have never met and probably never will.  If you want to know many of my thoughts the past 17 months go to  http://ourjourneytoanewnormal.blogspot.com/  and read her words- as I said before-- her words are my words, my feelings, my emotions.  She does a much better job of expressing herself than me though!!

Speaking of blogs- I am going to be a guest blogger tomorrow for a group called Hello Grief.  The post won't be live until 9:00 am tomorrow.  I'll post the link tomorrow so you can read it. I did not do a good job.  I thought they just wanted quotes to use in their own blog.  But they ended up using several women's posts for individual blogs.  If I had known I would have written much more and "tried" to do a better job.  It is done anyway so I should just be happy that some of my thoughts are getting out there.  It is a blog on how running helped in my healing.

I am amazed at how many thoughts and emotions run through my mind in any given day.  I am so happy that that feeling of such a heavy heart left me around the end of October of 2012.  There were still days of feeling that horrible heavy heart, but it wasn't' a daily occurrence like it had been.

I'm tired tonight.  I have been getting up very early to run with friends in the morning.  I hope to start recounting memories of R, but also of that first year-  what I remember of it.
August 31, 2013



I bought plants today.  I haven't bought plants since R passed away.  He and I always worked in our yard together.  He always worked in the yard.  It was always beautiful.  It is extremely hard for me to work in the yard now.  Just buying plants today was difficult.  I missed him.  But, I am so happy that it didn't send me into a tailspin today.  I just thought of him a lot while I was picking out what I wanted.  I love coleus.  I think they are beautiful.  It makes me feel like fall is around the corner-- closer than I think.

I know that it is just going to get easier.  I pray that it gets easier.  It has gotten easier.  There have been so many times that I just wanted the pain to go away.  I guess learning to live with the pain and the void should be the goal- not getting rid of it.  I know now that I will never be rid of it.  I feel like I am learning to live with it.  It is my reality-  I have to live with it.

Last year I didn't want fall to arrive.  He passed away in April and I hadn't experienced  change of seasons yet.  I dreaded the first cold day- I mean really dreaded it.  I thought- almost obsessed- about it for weeks.  I am looking forward to fall this year.  It feels so good this evening to know that I planted most of my plants today.

I feel stronger as the weeks go by.  I am a runner- I will talk more about running and healing later.  I ran 10 miles this morning with friends.  It gives me strength too.  I am so happy to be feeling stronger.

I miss him, but I can do this. 

The beginning

Today I finally feel ready to start a blog about my experiences of losing a dearly loved husband and living through it.  It has been 16 months since my husband passed away.  The first year was an excruciating journey.  I have been fearful that the second year will be worse-as that is what I have read in many blogs.  So far I am feeling strong and hope to continue.  It is my hope to reach other widows out there and offer encouragement.  There have been many blogs this past year that have encouraged me.  This blog will be me reflecting on the first year, but also my experience of Choosing Life and moving forward as hard as that is.  So I guess I'll start with the name of the blog.  About 2 months after R passed away, I was reading an email that I received from Grief Share.  The scripture that day was from Deuteronomy 30:19  which says 
"This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live."  This verse spoke to me in a profound way-  It made reaffirmed to me that my children who were 22 and 20 when they lost their dad, would follow my lead as to how we would proceed with life.  I want them to have full happy lives.  I want to have a full and happy life.  This blog will be how I have clumsily managed to work towards choosing life.  Since I have made it out of that horrible first year, I can look back and recall some of the hard times, some of the blessings , and some of the triumphs.  I can also tell about new situations that I am finding myself in as I maneuver through this 2nd year.
Thanks for joining me!