A Christian counselor friend says, “If you were my sister, my mother, or a dear friend and your husband had just died, here are the ten things I’d tell you to successfully navigate the waters of widowhood.”
1. Trust God. Easier said than done, I know. But just do it, one step, one breath at a time.
2. Trust yourself–for the most part. Don’t let others make decisions for you like what to do with his clothing, when to change your pillowcases, etc. You can do this. On the other hand, realize that this huge jolt in your life can put you in a spin and make some irrational actions seem perfectly logical. Now’s not the time to start an affair, make large donations or rush into plastic surgery. “Don’t make a decision in a storm that you wouldn’t make in calm weather”. ~Max Lucado
3. Breathe, cry, walk. Kind of reminds you of Eat, Pray, Love doesn’t it? But I wouldn’t advise any of those yet. They’ll happen on their own. Breathing, crying, and walking are what you simply must do.
4. Don’t worry about sleep. It’ll happen sooner or later.
5. Take care of your kids and/or grand kids. They just lost their father and/or grandfather; they don’t need to lose their mom or grandma, too.
6. Read these 3 books right away. First, read Widow’s Key by Linda Lindholm. This is a practical comprehensive step-by-step guide through all the before, during and after aspects of loss. Second, Grieving: Our Path Back to Peace by James R. White. This is a short book that describes the patterns of grief and God’s part in it, so you know you’re not going crazy. Then read Miriam Neff’s From One Widow to Another for some other tools in dealing with widowhood.
7. Find your support group/board of directors as mentioned in Miriam Neff’s book. Use these people, call on them frequently to help with your many decisions and new way of life. Don’t worry about payback, you’ll do the same for someone else someday.
8. Get counseling. Attend a GriefShare group, join a Widow’s Walk calling group, find a local grief or widows support group like Widow2Widow, or see a professional Christian counselor. Look up Christian Websites for Widows .
9. Give this chapter of life to God. This problem is really His problem anyway. Widowed author, Sandra Aldrich, decided to “tithe” her years of life like she tithed her financial giving. This gave her great freedom in the use of her time and in setting priorities.
10. Rest. It’s OK to do nothing at times. Grief is physically exhausting. Lighten up and give yourself time to recover. Schedule a check up with your doctor, allow yourself some breaks, and don’t feel guilty about laughter or feeling happy again. Don’t feel guilty about feeling sad, either. I love the example authors Ron Marasco and Brian Shuff offer. In their book, About Grief, they write, “Truth be told, as long as mom is not boarded up in her room with a bottle of Jack Daniel’s and an Uzi, the situation may not need immediate intervention.”
11. Oops, I just have to add one more. Give yourself something fun to look forward to. For example, my best friend/cousin couldn’t come to the funeral, but she scheduled herself to fly out to visit me a month after the funeral. I really looked forward to her coming! After she left, a trip to San Francisco to visit my daughter went on the calendar, plus lunches with various friends, everyday walks with my friends, long-distance phone calls, pedicures, long drives (because I love to drive) . . . all sorts of activities I enjoyed gave me things to look forward to and helped me endure those down days when the house was one person too empty.