Every New Year, I try to sit down, evaluate progress and failure, and write a message of hope for my family, others, and myself. This year, as far as I’ve come in the five plus years since my husband’s death, I still feel I have twice as far to go. I’ve moved from barely breathing to surviving, hopefully, my next step will be to thrive again. In those early days, the fog was thick, tears flowed continuously, and my heart was hopeless. Now, my tears are triggered less often, my mind is clear again and I have a working plan toward a future I never planned. I know my heart has hope within it again because I am able, and some days even willing, to look toward the future.
In those early years, a woman in one of my support groups said something and it has resonated with me for years … “there’s nothing to look forward to.” Those six little words summed up our lives at that point. For many years, I have felt this way. That lovely woman became one of my most treasured travel companions on the widow journey. We have both struggled to come up with our “plan Bs” and then our “plan Cs.” We have tried new jobs, new homes, new support systems and somehow, we landed on our feet. Somehow the choices we have made since our spouses died have carried us through this awful journey of lost love and grief. We’re never sure if our new plans will work, but when they do, I know I discover a new piece of hope or rediscover a part of me that has been hiding in the shadows of grief.
So, as far as I’ve come, I have that much further to travel on this path. I have looked forward a little and really my planning came from the need to provide for my family financially. I have again become a chameleon changing the scenarios around me to provide the basic needs—housing, food, safe—and preserve the needs that I see as a priority to family’s life … presence in my children’s daily life.
So, for 2011, now that I have the scaffolding in place, I need to build the ongoing support and extras that make a life joyful. How can I be a more loving person again when I am so afraid of losing love again? How can I invest further in my relationships with those around me when my gut wants me to build protective walls, gates, and security for my heart instead of doors and windows that let love and joy into my life? It is not an easy task. I believe that this ability to risk and be joyful again is the key to my ongoing healing. I believe that I will be more able to handle all the stresses in my life as a sole parent when I can allow and really give myself permission to be happy again. I keep happy at arm’s length now … because once I go there, well, I don’t know what I’m afraid of for sure, maybe if I’m happy, I’ve somehow lost my husband in another way?
This New Year, I hope to let the controls go a little and perhaps steer into happiness along this journey of loss and maybe, the roads will change and lead me to a place where I can balance my grief with happiness, thriving really instead of just getting through the days.
My wish for all those reading is that your hearts will be lighter and joy and abundance will fill your life in 2011.
Happy New Year!