You know if you have experienced an excruciating loss, you are not the same person you were. We tend to long for those things that we can no longer have and the things that may have once brought us joy, may not any longer. It can be a time of confusion and doubt about our future and who we are - and we wonder if we will ever be happy again. I would like to encourage you to take the bold step of trying to find a couple of new things to bring you some bright spots in the midst of the journey of grief.
For me, there were two very unexpected things I discovered brightened my heart after my husband died - Paris and 80's rock concerts. I can’t explain why these two things were bright spots but they were. I felt something come alive in my soul when I was in Paris. One of the reasons it was good was that it was not a place I went to with my husband. These were fresh new memories of me at a different point in my life. What was especially nice was the anticipation of the trip so I could enjoy it for months prior. I had something to look forward to.
Now, you may say, "Well that’s great for you but I can’t afford a trip to Paris and I can't get away." I am a real bargain hunter when it comes to travel so I wait for special deals and have managed to travel quite cheaply. But you don’t have to go far to have the same experience. You can find a place close by that brings you refreshment. It might be an art museum, a park or the beach. Make time to get to these places. Since I enjoy Paris so much, I have actually turned my little den into a Paris room and added a Paris motif to my bedroom because it reminds me of how I feel when I am there. What is it that you love that you could bring into your home somehow to remind you of it?
The second thing that surprisingly brought me some fun and joy is attending 80's rock concerts. I went to one with my friend and had a blast. They have been a time for me to do my 80's dancing and sing to songs that reminded me of growing up. I had no idea I would react that way. And now I try to do a couple a year and, again, the anticipation is good for me.
What things could you discover that might lighten your step, give you some joy and new life? What new routine or activity could you do? It is important to have something to look forward to. This does not eliminate the grief - but it gives moments of fresh breathes. What could soothe your soul?
Sometimes we can feel like we are betraying our loved one by making these new memories or having a good time. It couldn’t be further from the truth. I can’t think of a better gift we could give our loved ones than having some moments of pleasure or happiness.
So what could you try that is different? Check out meetup.com. Want to join a book group, a hiking group, a travel group or music group? Want to study a subject or learn a language? Want to start a vegetable garden? Want to travel? Take up ballroom dancing? Visit your children, relatives or grandchildren or your old friend from long ago? Volunteer somewhere - maybe at an animal shelter or at a hospital holding babies or reading stories. What have you never thought of doing before that you might like to try now?
It can be hard to take that step, but the rewards are worth it. We are not the same. Our lives are not the same. But they can still be good. They can be very good. And this is one of the ways to head in that direction.
There are times when I am in Paris, and I am so excited to be there. I am like a little girl. But there are also times when I miss my husband and wish he could experience Paris with me. I see all the couples holding hands and kissing. and that can sting. Experience all the feelings that come up. Feel them. They are part of who you are. It’s okay to be happy one second and sad the next. Happy will come again.
What could you do that could give you life and a skip in your step? What could cause you hope and excitement just in the anticipation?
Hang in there. You’re doing great.