Excerpt from Daily Cures, Wisdom for Healthy Aging by Connie Mason Michaelis
I am not an expert on this subject through personal experience, but I share the experiences of widows and widowers I’ve met. It is impossible to give meaningful advice to someone who is grieving the loss of a spouse, but the journey has been traveled by so many that it bears sharing some common experiences. Often, it just helps to know and anticipate what the pitfalls may be. The year following the death of a loved one is tumultuous. It is a year filled with firsts: first Christmas, birthday, and anniversary, spent alone. Facing these events on your own can be overwhelming. Hopefully, the first year is cushioned by caring family and friends, as well as numerous support groups. But each event requires an awkward adjustment to this new life alone. Widows and widowers have to anticipate what that new life will feel like, and in that first year, it is hard even to imagine.
Taking time to grieve is so important. As a wise woman said, “Grief does not change you; it reveals you.” It’s like the butterfly that sheds its cocoon. There is a new life to be revealed, and hurrying the process does not help and it may destroy the new possibilities. In his book, A Grief Observed, C.S. Lewis wrote, “No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear.” Time will never erase the memory, but it can reduce the lingering fears. Surviving and thriving in those first 12 months can create newfound strength. Psychiatrists suggest minimizing any significant decisions for a year is a good idea. Time will allow new perspectives on future plans. Look for people who support not only your grieving experience but also your rebuilding plans. Don’t ever feel guilty about planning a new future and a new you. There are practical issues of planning for the future in terms of the mechanics of life. There is a more significant opportunity to prepare for a future, one that is fulfilling and rewarding!
"No one told me that grief felt so much like fear." CS Lewis