Over the last two years, I have found that on numerous occasions, I have “bitten off a lot more than I can chew.” It has been extremely difficult to chew on some of the things I have chosen to do—mostly to distract myself from my grief—which makes it even harder to swallow. No more.
Things are starting to give, and I have started to learn the power of saying “no” to things (especially those that are distracting me from my grief and my feelings)… Unfortunately, I’m still a novice.
It seems I’ve always given everything I have to others. And now, I have come to realize that sometimes it’s just impossible. It’s draining emotionally and spiritually. I also recently discovered that it’s especially difficult to give more love than I have to offer—especially when I was not truly ready to give my everything.
So, I’m going to ask you: What have you been doing to distract yourself from your grief?
Have you ignored it? Have you spent a lot of time watching TV (that’s a favorite)? Been diving deeper into work, so that your focus for most of the day is avoiding thinking about your late spouse/partner (another crowd favorite)? Or, maybe you’re actively surfing dating websites, looking to fill that late spouse/partner sized hole in your life?
I’ve done all these things over the last two years. I spend too much time on social media (specifically that book of face platform). But I’ve realized that none of the numbing, avoiding and distracting is changing the way I feel about my true Self or my grief. It is because I have come to accept my grief.
Hiking in Colorado, not spending time distracted (by my phone or other technology)!
Accepting the feelings of guilt for wanting to live a long life when my wife didn’t have that chance has been key. And, I know that I choose happiness. So, eventually I will be able to fully commit to being in a relationship and love someone again.
Unfortunately, I know that jumping into a new relationship—including the “thrill of the chase” that led to it—was simply another distraction from grief. Yes, I love my new person; but I wasn’t being honest with myself at the time—and that meant being dishonest with her.
When I finally realized I wasn’t ready for that commitment, the ladder suddenly turned into a chute and I somehow ended up back at square one… So, for now I am re-focusing on herding the cats (in my head and in my life); taking things a lot slower, being more conscious and deliberate about what I do.
Over the last few months, I’ve worked with a bunch of men of all ages and walks of life. Together, we created a program designed to help widowers like me move forward in life after their partner died. It’s especially helpful for those who are feeling stuck in life (which may be more men than you think).
Creating the program was an eye-opening experience for me as much as for the men I worked with. I mean, let’s face it, guys, we have always been labeled “sissies” if we show emotions, right? So why on earth would we want to do that?
Well, here’s a novel answer: because exploring and talking about emotions makes you feel better. Truly. I’ve been miserable dealing with and thinking about all these things over the last two years. Yes, distractions made me forget (at least for a moment) that my wife died; but the reality is, they have been distractions from the feelings.
Exploring the emotions, getting in touch with them, speaking about them, showing them (raw and otherwise) has been cathartic. Release of the pent-up anger, frustration, guilt and fears has been a boon for my own mental health.
Now it’s your turn… What are you doing to accept your grief today?
If you’re going to distract yourself, just take 5-minutes and sit with your emotions before turning on that TV. Or, take 10-minutes to sit quietly and think about all the wonderful things you and your person used to do… then go surf Facebook.
It will help. It will make you feel a bit better. No matter where you are in the grief process.
I have found that we sometimes forget to simply sit with our feelings. That’s when we fall into the trap of feeling secure that the grief will not overwhelm us… and then it does.
And that’s when the chaos ensues… Now, where the hell are all those damn cats?