It has taken me about this long, three and a half years, to be willing to look more closely at WHAT I LOST. After Ken died, and during his illness, I worked very hard to stay strong, and this meant and still means only tolerating the reality of my loss in small pieces. It was easier for me to tell myself and others that even though I had lost big, I was still better off than many others. Viewing myself as fortunate despite my pain kept me from falling to my knees when I had children who weren't all that much taller than my knees. Now that my kids are bigger, now that time since Ken's death has grown longer, I am more capable of acknowledging the magnitude of losing Ken.
What does your loss look like? Does that sound like an obvious question? Understanding your losses, acknowledging them, and giving yourself credit for surviving them, can help you move forward. Writing about your loss is a powerful tool for recovery akin to exercise, or meditation, or talking to a supportive friend or therapist. It is a tool you can use to improve your life. It can free you from the heaviness of pain so that after spending 10 minutes or 30 minutes or an hour a day writing about matters of deep importance to you, you can move on with your day, your goals and your plans. Making your thoughts visible, makes your own wisdom available to you. Devote 15 minutes a day to healing your loss through writing. Keep a Heartbreak Diary. Write it out. You'll feel better.
Can you "play" with the concept of loss? I think so. What does your loss look like? Describe it for one full minute, whatever comes to you, sensical or non-sensical, let's go:
My loss is a wall that cuts me off from the rest of the world.
My loss is a red light flashing on my head that screams: "Look at me, I'm a widow."
My loss makes me feel unlucky, unhappy and lonely.
My loss is a dream that more and more becomes my reality, but it takes a long time to wake up to this new life and accept it.
My loss won't break me, won't kill me, won't beat me down.
Let's "play" a little more. The flip side of loss is gain. What have you gained through your loss? Give it another minute and see what you come up with:
I've gained a sense of fearlessness because I know that loss can be managed.
I've gained a sense of resignation -- Aha! Life can be very cruel and there's nothing I can do to change that. I have to accept that.
I've gained a willingness to tackle more challenges because I have to, because it is necessary, because I want to.
I've gained a large, encompassing sense of peace.
I've gained a better perspective.
I get it now.
You are really gone.
Grasping your infinite absence:
Like trying to understand
We're part of the Milky Way
While we stare at it overhead
On the darkest of nights.
You aren't coming back to me ever
Even if I hold your memory like a baby,
Even if I never stop writing you onto these pages.
And you are never leaving me either.
I can't write you out of me
Or find you when I pin my hopes
On the wrong guy over and over, I try.
You're staying here
Where you entered,
Where you launched
The gentlest, most peaceful takeover in the history
That continues word by word.
In the darkest night I am
Always alone now.
You are everywhere and nowhere.
I am lost in your magnitude
As I have been since the day
You crossed my threshold
And the night you crossed yours,
Never and completely disappearing.
- Jill Schacter
- My wonderful husband died when I was 44 years old. Being widowed this young happens to less than 3% of married people. Writing through this loss one word at time helps me understand what I've lost and helps me continue to grow. It is how I have gradually recovered from such a severe loss. Research shows that you can benefit from taking just 15 minutes a day to write out your deepest feelings as a way of healing. On the right side of this blog, you'll see a tag for Exercises to Try. If you need some help knowing how to use writing to help heal yourself, I suggest you start there.