Saturday, November 24, 2012

A Time to Mourn, a Time to Dance...Be Careful!

My first year of being a widow centered around my grief. It was all about me. Once I figured out I couldn't do it on my own, I surrendered to God to heal my broken heart. Then I mourned. It felt like knives stabbing my chest every night. I now know how a spouse can die from a broken heart. I never felt pain so deep and raw before. But every night, I poured out my grief until I was utterly exhausted and passed out.

I soon felt God's peace filling my emptiness. There was a bit of sadness when I no longer felt the deep pain since the pain made me feel closer to Nelson. But it began to subside in the second year of widowhood as I felt some moments of joy again. I began to make plans for my future after I had grieved for my dreams that were shattered.

As I picked myself up, I signed up for a dance class to add some happiness to my life. The class was a Latin dance class and I loved the music. Once I started going to classes, I also began going out to dance clubs. This felt fun and exciting. I began to realize that this was one way to also get the attention from men that I was craving.

I met a nice guy while I was out dancing one night. Our relationship consisted of phone calls and sporadic nights of dancing. It met my physical needs when we slow danced. Soon he wanted more of a commitment. I ached for the physical touch but wasn't ready for an emotional attachment. I ended our friendship before one of us got hurt. I realized dancing with men could get complicated.

I continued going out dancing at every opportunity. It felt good. Much better than mourning and grieving. Dancing was enough for now. I was able to get the attention from men, but it ended on the dance floor. The music made me feel happy. I began meeting more people and even felt like life was coming back into me.

I reflected that dancing in the nightclubs had some drawbacks. I had to be careful not to find myself in vulnerable situations. I had a way of trusting people. I wanted to believe that men were just at the clubs to dance and have fun like I was. This single life was starting to have some fun moments but at the same time I had to keep my guard up.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

A Widow's Fear of the Future

It was time to plan a future. The first year of widowhood was the hardest. The second year wasn't a piece of cake, but I felt a bit of joy at times and a little less pain. Once I accepted my loss and realized I was the head of my family now, it was time to move forward. I've written on moving forward at specific times in my grief before. Letting go of a spouse's possessions is just one example. I was beyond that. I was getting ready to move forward as a single individual ready to make future goals.

In one way it was an exciting feeling. I decided to take a 3 week course at my local college called, "Fresh Start". It was a program for single women who needed a fresh start in their lives. It provided the tools and resources to decide on a future plan and actions to take to achieve that goal. I also signed up for a dance class.

I decided a Latin dance class would be fun. The night I met Nelson, we were at a night club when I was eighteen. Being Puerto Rican, he had been a great Latin dancer. Five years later, we married. Through the years he had tried to teach me the dances, and I just figured there would be more time for dancing in the future. Didn't work out that way. So now, when I heard the Latin music, I had a desire to want to dance. I think it made me feel closer to Nelson again.

I sensed adventures on the horizon. Like a butterfly teetering on a branch before her first flight. Or right before you jump out of a plane to skydive! There seemed to be endless possibilities of direction. I sensed these college courses would change my life. I felt excited but also fearful of my future. I started to reflect on my past again.

For one and a half years, sorrow had filled my life. Sometimes I didn't want the sadness to leave. It felt like I was leaving Nelson behind. I guess I felt guilty. There was something familiar and comfortable with grief in my life. As painful as it was, it was still my comfort zone. I knew what to expect....cry...feel lonely....dread holidays and birthdays...dwell on certain memories....

So now, to embark on a new future, I had to step out of my comfort zone. This was scary and unfamiliar. I was fearful of the future with no idea of what to expect. However, I could stay in my comfort zone of sorrow, for as long as I wanted, or I could explore a new experience. To me, the second option sounded more appealing and exciting. Yes, it was scary, but just like jumping out of a plane, (Which I did for the first time last year!) the fear leaves soon after the initial jump.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Praying for Direction after Loss

It took about a year and a half of widowhood to finally accept the fact that life would go on and I had to make new goals and dreams. My previous ones vanished without warning. So here I was, widowed (in other words...single) and raising two little girls. What do I do now?

So I prayed. I figured that God knew this was going to happen. So He should have a new plan for me. But what could it be?

"God, help me hear your voice and direct me to a new constructive change in my life. I'm getting bored of the same routine."

Later  that day, I stopped by the library and ran into a recently young widowed friend. "Hi, Fran." I sat down at her table. "How are you?" She picked up a college paper next to her. "Pretty good. I just finished a class at Daytona Beach College. You might be interested." She found the page and handed it to me. "It's called Fresh Start. The class is for widows like us who need a new start in life. There's a three-week course in November."

"Is this a sign, God?" I read the course description. "It sounds perfect for me. This will help me find out what I want to do with my life."

I hugged Fran. "I think you're God's angel today. You were an answer to prayer!"

Saturday, November 3, 2012

How do we know our child's depressed in grief?

Depression in grief was sometimes hard to shake. It came in the first year of widowhood and then made another appearance in the second year. Since I wasn't normally prone to depression, it frustrated me even more that I would be in that state. Logically, I knew that I had to be proactive to pull myself out of it.

Fighting the blues meant paying less attention to my girls. I also knew I'd be no help to them if depression pulled me under. So I did whatever was in my power to fight it. I forced myself to pray, exercise, eat well, sleep enough and keep social.

I then took a trip to visit some friends. As I sat on the beach one night and gazed at the sunset, I felt God's peace. I realized I had to appreciate what I had and life wasn't all that bad. I had wonderful friends and God created such a beautiful world. My mood started to pick up and I was able to conquer my depression.

Back at home a new school year began. When report cards came out, I was shocked. "Jessica! Your grades dropped!" Jessica turned the TV on and sat down in front of it. "So." I pushed on. " need to study more." Jessica looked at me. "I don't want to." I flipped the TV off. "You have chores to do, also!"

"You can't make me do anything!" Jessica stormed out to the garage, hopped on her bike and sped down the road. I stood there, speechless. She's nine years old and running away. She hates her life. She returned 20 minutes later. After dinner, she was restricted to her room. She fell asleep early, without a fight.

Before I went to bed, I peeked in her room. She had put a picture of her daddy next to her bed. So that's what this is about! Why didn't I see it? She's still hurting and is depressed. I realized that my daughter had lived through not only the loss of her father, but also from the loss of love from her mother.

Finally out of my depression, I had to help my daughter out of hers and let her know that life wasn't that bad and I was here to love her!