When I was married, it was difficult to see myself as an individual. Instead I understood myself in terms of how I related to my partner. I was Pete’s wife and much of how I interacted day-to-day revolved around that role in my marriage. Many people may see this as a negative byproduct of marriage, however, I see just the opposite.
I believe relationships are crucial elements of our lives that shape, support, encourage, and give meaning. Marriage is intended to be the unity of two people who equally support one other in a partnership. The result of this is two people who genuinely consider the needs and desires of their partner as well as their own. This is why the loss of a spouse or partner is so completely earth shattering for the person left behind. Now, they must suddenly learn to view the world, not in terms of how it relates to their partnership, but in how it relates to them as an individual.
Once my Pete was no longer present I found it difficult to define who I was apart from him and our relationship. I literally felt abandoned and alone without his companionship. I was angry that the plans for OUR future were no longer conceivable; there was no US, only ME.
I felt stagnant and without hope. I am grateful that not long after, I came to the conclusion that anger does not contribute to positive progress. If I wanted to move through grief in a healthy way, I needed to put forth some effort. I eventually realized my only choice was to accept my reality and move forward. Once I did that I literally felt a weight removed from my chest. From that moment forward I did everything I could to redefine myself as an individual and in doing so, I reignited a passion for life I thought was lost when my Pete said goodbye. The moment I noticed the passion returning, I knew my heart was healing.
Here are a few things I learned from that experience.
1. Count your blessings.
2. Invest in relationships.
3. Feel your emotions, both pain and joy are necessary for healing.
4. Remember the positive memories.
5. Learn to enjoy and appreciate alone time.
6. Make an effort to be present in the moment.
7. Take up a new hobby.
8. Set measurable goals.
9. Accept your reality.
10. Get outside.
What has helped reignite your passion for life after loss? I’d love to hear about it.