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Starting from scratch after losing a spouse

December 4, 2017

 

Did you lose your spouse? 

 

Did you lose them to death or are they still alive but they packed up their suitcase and left your life? 

 

Then you know all about starting from scratch. 

 

The first year after my husband died I was so lost without him. I didn't know who I was without this man that had been in my life, in my heart, and in my home for the past 12 years. I didn't know what to do in the morning when I didn't hear his work boots in the hallway. I didn't know what to cook for dinner when there wasn't this hungry working man showing up to the table. I didn't know what to do on weekends. I didn't know where to stand at a party. I didn't know what to talk about when others were chatting about their spouse. I didn't know where to sleep in our bed. Should I sleep on my side? On his side? In the middle?  I didn't know what to do with myself........period. 

 

Losing a spouse leaves us lost. 

 

Losing a spouse has us completely starting over in so many ways. 

 

At first, we are a ship lost at sea. We are learning how to get through life without them. Our minds and our bodies are coping with their absence. If they died, we have to pack up their belongings and put them away. And if we got divorced, we might have to pack up our own belongings and move out of our family home. Both are hard on completely different levels. Both bring grief. Both have us starting over from scratch. 

 

I was a wife for nine years. I was completely confused after my husband died as to.....who the hell was I now? I lost that identity and that isn't easy. I was someone's everything for all those years. I was loved, protected, and cared for and now I was all on my own to do it all. I had to learn to take care of our home, our children, our finances, and my own heart....all by myself. I can't tell you how many times I stood in our garage after cleaning out the gutters, or repainting the trim on the house, or shoveling the snow and I would be arguing with my late husband out loud. I didn't care who heard me. I was mad at him that I had to shovel that damn driveway when that's his job. It took me awhile to let those feelings come and acknowledge them and then let them drift away on the wind. Once I let myself be mad as hell at him......I could then feel the overwhelming gratitude for what I did have in my life. I could hear him as I still can and he would say, "Oh, Nik. Be mad! Yell! Kick that damn snow if you have to. I understand and if you had left me I would be angry too. You're strong, Nik. It's going to be ok. Maybe not today, but someday it's going to be ok and I'm always here protecting you and guiding you from afar." 

 

Starting from scratch after the loss of a marriage puts us into survival mode. We might have to care for an entire house on our own which can be very overwhelming when we have shared those duties with someone else for so long. We might have to care for children on our own. We might have to change jobs or take on extra jobs to care for ourselves and our children. We might lose friends. We might lose ourselves for awhile. This can cause us to lose weight from the stress, gain weight from the trauma, and lock up our hearts inside of a steel cage. It takes time to get out of survival mode. I am just starting to come out of it myself and my husband has been gone for over two years. I have unlocked that steel cage on my heart. I was so afraid to let that cage go but I was more afraid of dying next week and never taking that cage off of my heart and fully living my life. All of my sessions of QNRT therapy helped me to shed the layers of pain, trauma, abandonment, unworthiness, and so much more. Layers of things I didn't even realize that I was dealing with. Emotions that were trapped in my body. I am sure some of them will always be there but I have tried my best to release as many as I can so that I can move forward. You can do this too. Unlock the cage on your heart. One step at a time. 

 

When we lose a spouse we feel like we are back to square one. We're widowed or single. We don't feel like we fit in certain crowds. Dreams we once had we are now unsure of. Plans we had made are now blown up in smoke. My late husband and I had plans to retire to the woods somewhere or maybe even to Puerto Rico. Those aren't my dreams anymore. Those dreams died with him. My dream now for when I'm older is to buy a camper and travel the country. No map. Just drive and explore and meet fantastic people and take pictures and laugh around campfires with bottles of wine and feel alive in my old flannel shirt. 

 

Have you had to start from scratch after the loss of a spouse? I'm thinking of you. It's not easy and not many people can understand unless they have experienced it. They don't understand that when you make coffee in the morning, you aren't sure how to brew enough for only one person. You aren't sure what to do on the weekends. You're sad around the holidays. And you're so damn afraid to love again. 

 

You are worthy of loving again. You are worthy of starting a new love story from scratch. You are also absolutely worthy of living your life alone and having adventures and a completely full and meaningful life without a partner. You don't have to be in a relationship to be a complete and whole person. You don't have to be in love to be living your best life. Love is just icing on the cake and it comes in so many forms. Love yourself first. Take care of yourself. Get out there and have adventures, read piles of wonderful books, laugh with friends, pack up your past and put it in the attic. You're going to be OK. Maybe not today. Maybe not next week. It might take you a couple years or more to figure out who you are now but it's going to be worth it. You're going to find yourself again and it's going to be amazing. 

 

Start from scratch. Get out there and find out who you are now. 

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