Did you ever go for a walk with a destination in mind that you were determined to reach? You wanted to get there, you had to get there, but you were slowed down because of a pebble in your shoe? You didn't want to stop to remove the pebble because you were afraid it would slow you down too much to stop? And if you just grin and bear it, you'll get to your destination, right?
Greif healing can be like that. When a spouse dies, our entire world is changed in ways we never would have imagined. Everything is different now. We are sad, angry, bewildered, overwhelmed and so much more. In this article, we're going to tackle getting rid of some of the obstacles to our healing. We have enough to do to grieve the loss of someone we dearly love. There's no need to agonize over peripheral aggravators, peripheral "pebbles" that can be removed. What do I mean by that?
As our whole existence changes, there are things about that change that will always annoy us, remind us of our loss and serve to make us angry all over again. While we can't do anything about the absence of our mate, there are changes we can make, of a very practical nature, that can remove those reminders. Here are some examples:
- If your husband was tall, and there are things on high shelves that are hard for you to reach, doesn't it make sense to rearrange the shelves? If you don't, each time you struggle to reach something up high, it will just remind you that he's no longer here and it will make you frustrated and angry. So much better to remove that struggle.
- Maybe you have always liked to entertain, and you did that with your mate. You'll quickly discover that, with half the workforce, it can be too much work to do by yourself. At the same time, why should you have to give up having guests over for dinner, if you really like doing that? Solution? Use caterers and carry out! It's almost impossible to greet guests and keep the food cooking, so sub-contract the food prep. I've found that caterers cost pretty close to what I was spending when I did all the cooking myself, and nearly all caterers are happy to prepare your recipes. They like the change. Carry out pizza, fried chicken, cold cut trays and so on are another easy option. Entertaining, by the way, is a strong signal to your friends that you want to resume a social life.
- Car repairs and maintenance are a common challenge for widows who were used to their husbands handling that. Solution? Ask around to find a reliable and honest car repair or service shop. When you find them, treat them like gold and they will take good care of you. Take them brownies, cookies and lavish them with praise. They'll treat you well in return.
- My own husband was a CPA and tax specialist. The truth is that while he was still here, I paid all the household bills because he thought I did a more thorough job of it. Now that he's gone, I have a deep-seated resentment that I'm stuck with doing them, and I'm apoplectic at the very thought of doing my taxes. He should be doing those! Solution? I finally got around to setting up the bills on auto-pay and I pay an accountant extra to sort all that stuff out. It costs more, but it's worth it and spares me a total meltdown.
- Never liked to cook, so your mate took care of most of it? If going into the kitchen just irritates you, find ways around it, or minimize it. Frozen meals from the grocery or someplace like Clean Eatz or Schwans Delivery I wrote a post on alternatives at Eating While Widowed where even more ideas can be found.
- Not having a second set of hands around can be frustrating when it's time to move furniture or heavy things. Teflon sliders can fill the gap here. I have them under all my heavy and some not-so-heavy pieces and I just leave them there.
By now, you get where I'm going with this. While there's not a lot we can do about some triggers, Valentine's Day, anniversaries, Christmas and so on, but there are some things we can eliminate entirely. I'm all for that! Why suffer over things that don't really matter, just because "we've always done it that way"? Doesn't it make more sense to arrange the things in your life that you can to reduce your' aggravation? Sometimes we refer to things that "give us grief", meaning irritators. And they DO give us grief!
Those things will be different for everybody. Things that bother you won't be the same things that bother your friend. What I hope you will do is to take a hard look around your world and pay attention to what upsets you and reminds you of your loss...and then see if you can't find a solution. Find as many pebbles in your shoe and take the time to remove them. The walk will be smoother and you'll get to your destination feeling better.
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