Planning matters

A Widow.

I don’t even like the term.

I can’t be, can I? I’m too young to be a widow.

It often doesn’t feel or seem real, but then reality jumps out and blocks my path like a brick wall. Immobilizes. Hard to move forward and no place to go backwards.

After a decade of battling Cushing’s Disease, my husband Robert of 37 years passed away in November of 2015. Following are lessons, insights, and advice learned.

Advice given to me:

  • Don’t make big decisions the first year after the death of a spouse.
  • Grief is an individual journey – not everyone processes, experiences, or goes through the same steps.
  • The five “stages of grief” are not “steps” to be completed and then move on or up to the next – they are intertwined like spaghetti or pop up unexpectedly like a jack in the box.
  • The second year may be more difficult than the first year, but time does help.
  • Be gentle with yourself, give yourself permission to feel, deal, heal, and grieve in your own way.

How are you doing?

I’ve been asked “how are you doing?” many times but haven’t found an appropriate response. There’s a combination of pain, sadness, heaviness, and yet also feelings of being supported, blessed and encouraged as I learn how to cope and function while feeling like 90% of me was snatched away. Exploring new adventures like hiking, biking, and dancing has added some joy in the midst of sorrow and adjustment. How “I’m doing” fluctuates throughout the day and sometimes from moment to moment.

Regrets?

Sure.

And yet I console and remind myself that I did what I felt was important, meaningful, or helpful at the time. I strived to maintain a balance of work, self-care, and spiritual encouragement, along with coordination of medical appointments & caregivers and posting updates on social media for family and friends.

What helped?

  • Attending GriefShare at a local church (weekly support group with professional DVD presentations and workbook). https://www.griefshare.org/
  • Reading books about grief, such as Good Grief by Granger Westberg.
    A friend sent booklets on grief about every three months, which were helpful and timely.
  • Kaiser Permanente Hospice program offered grief support and one on one counseling. Talking (and crying) helped release emotions and reveal insights.
  • Discovering that time doesn’t heal, but it helps.

What continues to help personally?

  • Keep doing what I know to do. Maintain my faith and foundation, attend church, continue the daily routines of work and home responsibilities.
  • Journal, reflect, pray, meditate, think and appreciate daily.
  • Talk with friends, reach out to others, and ask for help.
  • Exercise, eat healthy, sleep.
  • Try new hobbies and interests – figure out what “I” like to do!

And how can JBA help when there’s a death of a loved one?

Call us. Our experienced staff are here to navigate through life challenges with you. We can help with logistics of processing paperwork for beneficiary claims, determining what is needed (death certificate, account statements, list of assets, etc.), making decisions for Social Security or pension options, recommending adjustments for cash flow and budgeting needs based on your individual situation. We don’t want you to have to go through this alone.

Written By Karen Brown