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52 years ago today...

Today would have been our 52nd anniversary, (We missed celebrating our 50th by 6 months - a milestone we  both looked forward to.) Neither of us liked having our photos taken, but this one of my husband is my hands-down favorite. The camera caught him just before he laughed. And I miss his laugh.

Losing my husband was the worst experience of my life, but with the support of friends and family and my faith in God, I've come out the other side. And I learned some things in the process and jotted them down. Periodically I pull them out as a reminder, and I'm continuing to learn as time goes by, so it's a work in progress. If you've faced a loss, perhaps it will help you to hear this from someone who's been there and survived.

May God bless and comfort you.


Here are some of the things I’ve learned through loss:

·        After the death of a loved one, emotions can be all over the place – from sorrow to rage to numbness and everywhere in between. Allow yourself to feel the feelings.

·        In the days immediately following your loss, avoid looking too far ahead. There are plenty of tasks to take care of just to get through the first few weeks. Trying to figure out the future can be overwhelming. The fact is, we can only live one day at a time.

·        “Widow brain” or “widow fog” is real. After a devastating loss, it is common to find oneself forgetting even the simplest things. Carry a small notebook and pen with you to jot things down or use an app on your phone as a memory aid until the fog clears. It gets better.

·        Create a list of things you need help with. People often want to help but don’t know what you need. When folks offer to help, you have a ready source of ideas.

·        Things may seem overwhelming. Keeping a to-do list – and crossing off tasks as they’re completed – can help you stay organized. And crossing things off the list can give you a sense of accomplishment.

·        Don’t second-guess decisions you made in the past. You can’t change them. You made the best decision you could with the information you had at the time. Recognize this and treat yourself with compassion.

·        I learned some surprising things about forgiveness. I had to forgive God for not answering my prayers the way I wanted. I had to forgive my spouse. And I had to forgive myself, which required me to look at some uncomfortable truths about myself.

·        Others may have disappointed you then… and may disappoint you now. They're facing challenges of their own. Recognize this and treat them with compassion.

·        Don’t forget to take care of yourself. Stay hydrated, try to eat healthy, get some fresh air, and keep your routine medical and dental appointments.

·        Avoid making major changes for a year after your loss if at all possible.

·        Don’t waste time regretting things that happened in the past. These are things you cannot change.

·        Don’t waste time “catastrophizing” about the future. Doing the best you can with today’s challenges is often the best way to prepare for the days to come.

·        As overwhelming as this loss feels today, in the weeks and months ahead you will learn things about yourself, the world, and those around you that you did not know before. Treasure these lessons as the fruit of your grief.

·        Consider journaling. It can help you clarify your thoughts.

·        Don’t narrow your focus solely to what you’ve lost. Remember also what you had together, and what you still have to be grateful for. Start a gratitude list; write down 3 things (big or small) that you have to be thankful for each day.

·        Often people who haven’t experienced grief are unable to understand, but find someone you can talk to honestly.

·        Friendships with others may change after you’re no longer part of a couple, and this, too, must be mourned. But don’t let this poison your ability to make friends of others. If old friendships wither away, find new ones.

·        Don’t let disappointment cause you to become bitter; let it help you to become more compassionate.

·        Many people find that participating in a grief support group or speaking to a counselor or spiritual advisor is extremely helpful.

·        Rather than blaming God for your loss, ask him to help you find something positive and meaningful to draw from it. Once you’ve found it, use it to benefit yourself and others.

·        Be patient with yourself in early grief, but if the rollercoaster persists or you get “stuck” in an emotion, consider seeking help.

·        There is no way around grief; the only way out of grief is to go through it.

·        Do things when you’re ready, and trust yourself to know when the time is right.

·        We all grieve differently. There is no perfect path to healing from loss.

·        At some point, you will smile or laugh or have an enjoyable experience. Don’t apologize for having a good moment, or even a good day. This is something to celebrate.

·        Even after you are on the road to recovery, you will most likely experience “ambushes” or “flashbacks”, when something – a song, a memory, an anniversary  – triggers a wave of emotion. Ride it out. They get less overwhelming and less frequent with time.

·        If you anticipate that a birthday, anniversary, or holiday may be challenging, make a plan. This may be a great time to get together with friends, to do something creative, to head to your “happy place”, to take a class, or to volunteer for something that has special meaning to you or your loved one.

·        One of the best ways to brighten your day is to do something kind for others. Walk across the street and visit the lonely old lady who lives there. Compliment the harried cashier at the grocery store. Make a batch of cookies and take them to the police department. Offer to cuddle a young mother’s baby for an hour so she can take a nap or go for a walk.

·        As time goes by, you may find that some of the things you did together aren’t as much fun without your loved one. You may even find new interests, and doing so is not a betrayal of the love you shared together.

·        Grieve what you've lost, but allow yourself to move forward when the time is appropriate. We only get one life. It's ok to eventually be happy again. It's impossible to honor the life of a loved one by refusing to live. 

·        And although it may sound strange, I found that my relationship with my husband has continued to evolve in the years since his death. There were things I had to forgive him for. There were things I had to forgive me for. And with those things out of the way, I find my love for him has grown and changed.

And despite the healing that has happened, nevertheless, sometimes the tears still fall. 

Happy anniversary, my love.

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  1. Thank you so much for sharing this list. So much of it resonates with me. It was 2 years this week since I lost my youngest son.

  2. Thank you for sharing your wisdom and experiences, Sue.
    You remind us of the importance of seeking support and finding ways to cope through grief.
    Wishing you continued strength and peace on your journey of healing.

    Hugs and blessings

  3. Thank you for this post. This is very helpful for everyone who has experienced a loss.

  4. So sorry for your lost darling. Thank you for sharing.

  5. God bless you and thanks for sharing these important truths. Aloha Dear

  6. THis is a great post - I'm going to share it, if that's ok? Grief is so hard for all sorts of reasons. I wish you a happy anniversary. I hope you did something lovely for you to mark the day.

    1. You are quite welcome to share it. Hearing what other people shared help to me to start to heal.

  7. So sorry about your loss. Memories do stay with us

  8. I’s so sorry! Please accept a virtual hug.

  9. So sorry , Thanks a lot for the beautiful post.

  10. So sorry for your loss, peace and hugs! Take care, enjoy your day and the week ahead.

  11. Happy Anniversary!! Wow, as I read your list of things learned, I went through some of those when my children graduated high school and moved out. I had the empty nest really horrible. I'm good now and enjoy my alone time :)
    Your list is very good. Thank you for sharing.
    I have linked up with #20.
    I invite you and your readers to share at Gma'sPhoto link up parties.

    Take and best wishes.

  12. Many blessings to you. Thank you for sharing what you learned.
    So very sorry for the loss of your wonderful husband.

  13. It is always hard to loose a beloved person. And especially when it is your partner. My sister had this awful experience. After a very sad time she looks to the future and keeps a warm memory as do their daughters.
    Have a good time and all the best

  14. Sage advice.

    Big healing hugs. ♥

  15. Hugs and blessings!
    You are so strong and what you shared is so important for moving forward...
    I wish you peace in your soul.❤️😘

  16. That is a very good and helpful list. October will be our 53rd anniversary and I pray that I will be here to share it with my husband.
    I wish you peace.

  17. I went through all that two years ago. Life continues but it is not the same. Half of me is gone forever.

  18. Sorry for your loss, but he will always be in your heart and soul. Gramma lost her husband before their 50th too. Now, many years later he is still with her. She still has a relationship with him and talks about him a lot. Death doesn't mean the end. Great post.

  19. Such a great photo. Sending you prayers and positive thoughts.

  20. Loss is so sad and so scary. So many changes to make in our lives. Nice post.

  21. I am so sorry that your husband has passed. He l ooks like a nice man.

  22. I agree in so much points....

    This canyon is stunning indeed.

    Another round of MosaicMonday in June... and I'm looking forward to your contribution again. This week there are many pictures that tell of your surroundings, of nature, of your everyday life. Pictures that also tell a bit of history.

    Thank you for your participation.Best wishes from Heidrun

  23. Warmest thanks for this touching list! I hope I don't need it, but who knows..
    Sending you huge hugs!

  24. and send my hugs and thoughts to you today across the world. Thankyou for sharing this heartfelt personal list with us. I am sure there is something we can all learn from it. I know I have. Take care of you and enjoy life.


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