Popping Back Up Into Life

| November 16, 2017 | 0 Comments | Email This Post Email This Post
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Popping Back Up Into Life

by P.J. Frick

Life after losing a spouse or any loved one is a lot like learning to walk again. Tackling life on your own at any age can be intimidating and frustrating. With a few consistent and deliberate steps, you can stay ahead of the loneliness, uncertainty and fear – and pop back up into life.

Last February 12th was my husband’s last birthday. The day before that, our beloved Great Dane, Tillman, passed away from bone cancer. One month later (after a brutal, 14-month battle with metastatic pancreatic and liver cancer), my 51-year-old husband returned to his heavenly home. As Tillman slipped away, I felt a new kind of alone – an uncertain, lost kind of alone – wash over me. I suddenly stood at a cliff – all alone with nobody around for miles. In that moment, I knew how it was going to be once David left this earth. I was facing the world with its storms and bright spots all alone, and there was nothing I could do to change what was coming. I felt lost and uncertain. Yet here I still stand – thanks to the following activities.

  • Feel what you feel – then let it go.

It is normal to experience a wide range of feelings when facing the loss of a loved one and the subsequent fallout and finding your way alone. We are only human. Allow yourself room and time to feel what you feel – when you feel it. Anger, fear, sadness, frustration – and even a little pity – are acceptable responses. Let yourself feel them. However, do not churn or dwell on them or let them consume you or define you. Feel them – then let them go.

Tip: Let yourself be human. Take a mental health day (or two). Get out of the house

each day. Take care of yourself and your health. Ask yourself, “What would I tell

someone else in my situation?” Then tell yourself that very thing. Be kind to yourself.

  • Plug back in.

I do not consider myself single. David and I did not have children. I am just under 50. As a result, I struggle with how and where to plug back into life. The hardest part for me continues to be resisting the urge to stay isolated. If it weren’t for my dogs and horses, there are many days I never would have left the house. Luckily I have been blessed with a wonderful church family and a few very close friends who accept me as I am and where I am.

Tip: Avoid the urge to isolate yourself. Find a support network. Check in with a friend every day – someone who will check in with you. Try to connect with at least one person each day. A simple text or quick phone call can help you feel connected.  

  • Share the load.

For eight months, I maintained two homes while I waited for someone to buy the house I had shared with David and our pets. It was a heartbreaking and frightening time. I felt overwhelmed with all that needed to be done and how much it cost. My church family stepped in to help me with the larger chores and minor inspection items. Friends and relatives helped me move. I was not alone.

Tip: Find someone who will help you with household chores/maintenance. Don’t try to do it all yourself. Let others help you with daily tasks and chores until you feel able to manage them.

  • Take it One Day at a Time.

Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow is not guaranteed. Today is all we have to deal with. Thinking too far down the road can be daunting, especially when you are still new to being on your own again. Planning is still wise. Just be realistic about how and when you do it. You can only plan so far ahead – and you do not have to do it all at once. Let yourself heal one day at a time.

Tip: Take your time. Tackle just one task each day until you can handle more. Keep the “firsts” in perspective. First holidays, birthdays, job searches and rejection, major life events and even successes can sting and may only serve to remind you how alone you are. Realize they are just temporary and do not necessarily have to be dark days.

  • Count Your Blessings

As a school librarian, I would start each class with “Good Things” – a time when my students and I would share one good thing that had happened since the last time we met. Thanks to my little people and all their good things and smiles, my heart grew bigger during the most difficult time of my life. Little did I know that in trying to help my little people find the silver lining and upsides in life, I found them myself – even amid David’s ordeal and suffering.

As a child, I used to counter negative thoughts with positive ones. I don’t know when or why I started doing that, but it always seemed to help pull me out the mire of negativity and stress. Changing the way I viewed a situation always helped me cope with – and overcome – it.

Tip: Every situation (even a painful one) has an upside. Find it. There always is one. Think on the good things instead of the pain. Create a “Gift List” of the positives in your life.

This life is not a straight or easy path. We all face hardships and suffering along the way. How we respond to them determines how we weather the path beyond the difficult times. We can choose to dig ourselves deeper into a quagmire and be miserable and focus on the negative and tell ourselves we “can’t help it.” Or we can react, adapt and grow from those times. We can pop back up into life. Which will you choose?

AUTHOR BIO

P.J. Frick is the author of Pizza With Jesus (No Black Olives) which chronicles her and her late husband’s faith journey in the face of many life’s traumas. She has B.A. and M.A. degrees in English as well as a M.L.S. degree in Library Science. She is working on her PhD in Literacy and Special Education. She also is an avid pet rescuer who lives with her two beloved rescue dogs in North Carolina where she was born and raised. Visit her at https://pizzawithjesus.com/.  

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