1. Ask someone to do something for you. I think people really like to help each other; often, they just don't know what the hell to do. Here are some examples:
Could you please clean my grill?
I want to go on a date. Do you know anybody?
Can I drop my kids off at your house for a couple of hours while I take care of a few things?
Hey, what are you doing tonight? Can I come over?
Would you come with me to this doctor appointment?
Will you help me figure out what's going on with my furnace?
Will you show me how to unclog my own toilet?
2. What is something you actually like doing all by yourself? Do it. Then do it again. I love sitting in a coffee shop writing in my notebook. I also like going for a solo walk around the neighborhood. Even though your spouse is gone, you can still like those things that you've always enjoyed doing alone.
3. Make a list of everything you've done since your spouse died that shows how strong you are.
4. Imagine how your situation could actually be worse than it is right now. I don't know if this kind of thinking works for everyone, but I find it helpful to know that I do not live in a mud hut in an impoverished, war torn nation.
5. Do you know anyone who really makes you laugh hard? Try to get together with that person more often.
6. Rent TV show series on DVDs. Start watching from season one until the very last season. Since my husband died, I finished the Sopranos without him (we started it together), and then I moved on to Six Feet Under, Project Runway, In Treatment, The Gilmore Girls, Mad Men, and currently watching Friday Night Lights. If you find a series you like, it's a reliable way to be happily entertained. Plus, the people in the series start to feel a little bit like friends.
7. Pamper yourself. Take a nap. Get a pedicure. Get a massage. Come home early from work. Go shopping. Take an exercise class. You're lucky you're alive so let your body know you appreciate all of its hard work in your service.
8. Have a good book on hand at all times.
9. Remind yourself of who you were before you met your husband. You were somebody once without him. You're different now. You're still changing. But you did have a life before you were married and you still have one. It's just different. It will be different again in a few months.
10. If you are having really terrible feelings of despair, write them down. Keep a journal for this. You're going to need one. Writing out your deepest, darkest feelings can help you move through them faster.
11. Reach out to people. Many, many widows feel as though they have been forgotten by friends or by couples. I think there's actually some truth to this! We do get forgotten and we don't go out with couples the way we used to. But despite this, reach out to people. Feeling victimized doesn't make you feel better anyway. Having a change this big in your life can actually lead to your making new contacts, connections and friends. Give it a try.
12. If you've lost your spouse, you've gone through one of the most stressful life events you or anyone else will ever encounter. Be proud that you've survived. You are stronger now. Be proud of yourself. Keep doing things that will make you feel proud of yourself. A life change as enormous as this one is opportunity for growth, even if you can't even imagine that yet.
- 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.