Reinvention and Widowhood

I know you are thinking that “reinvention” sounds like work and that it will take energy you just don’t have. But the sad truth is that you have no choice, as a widow your life has already changed. The question now is whether you take control and reinvent your journey or if you just let it happen.

My first try with reinvention happened within the first year of widowhood when I decided to buy an old house and completely remodel it. I hate to admit it but I was totally out of my element, overspent and was never happy in that house – I sold it a few years later at a loss. But the odd thing about it all, is that I found that I could make decisions on my own and that where I lived did not make my grief better or worse. I learned that my grieving went with me and I could not stay busy enough to out run it.

After that my next reinvention was to write a book (another time when I was totally out of my element) but this time I found something that I was passionate about and that made all the difference to the outcome. I learned that discovering what you love is an essential part of reinvention.

Don’t let age or finances define you. Rather than trying to recapture what can never be, work at living in the moment. Living in the moment is no easy feat as it’s more normal to keep going over the past and to worry about what’s in your future. But in my opinion, living in the moment is another necessary part of reinvention. You have to be focusing on each day to be aware of the opportunities that are out there for you.

I’ve learned to be a risk-taker since Donnie’s death. When I started working with widows, I didn’t know how it would work but it’s grown into a worldwide effort to empower widows.

I’m constantly searching for ways to do better because I believe that our lives are forever being reinvented. It’s not about reaching an end goal but more about continually growing into ourselves, learning to love and enjoy who we are because we still have a lot to offer this world.

8 Responses

  1. Cindy Gatlin
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    Beautiful. Thank you!!

  2. Bonnie
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    This came on the 7 month mark. It is helping.

  3. Diane
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    Mary Francis

    After 5 1/2 yrs of losing my husband, 5 yrs of losing my mum, and retiring last Fall, I feel ready for a move. What kind of housing did you finally settle in?

    Thanks, Diane

  4. Mary Francis
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    Hi Diane – I moved three times since Donnie’s death ten years ago. I finally settled into a one bedroom condo that I just love. I like to travel a lot with my friends and I also love that the condo is maintenance free so I can lock the door and leave without worrying about something happening while I’m away.

    I have more freedom now that I don’t own a house and never want to go back to mowing the lawns and worrying about plumbing. But this life style may not suit everyone so think carefully before you make any big changes. Take care, Mary Francis

  5. Gina Schuran-Castillo
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    Dear Mary, thank you for writing this piece. It is important for me to reinvent myself after my husbands death 1.5 years ago, just having retired to Mexico.
    My brain says I will make it, but my heart says “What is “it”. I do not like to be alone after 34 years of happy marriage, but thinking of a new”older” man I shudder. And I think off my only Child, young man of 34, who is also totally alone and struggles to make ends meet in the Bay Area around SF.
    Just came back from a visit for his birthday. Here I am feeling shitty for myself, will go to Spanish class tomorrow, because I started it. And I try to find ground. I feel like floating most of the time.
    I can not afford to live again in SF, but I miss it. And I feel just without goals, dreams and ideas about myself. Reinvention, please send me an encouraging thought.

  6. Diane
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    Hi Mary,

    Since I have a huge yard and flower and veg. gardens, I am just trying to keep the weeds in control and cut the lawn. I hired a carpenter for a few jobs that are out of my element. I love my house, but it would be better for a younger person. (We were 30 yrs old when we built and moved into the house.) I am 67 and in good health, but would rather find something more suitable for the future. I would rather choose where I will want to live and not be forced to move in a hurry because of declining health.

    My sister and brother suggested that I rent in an area that I may want to live before purchasing a new home.

    Thanks for your reply.
    Diane

  7. Mary Francis
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    Hi Diane – I think that’s great advise, renting in an area before buying. I wish someone had given me that advise when I was widowed. It took a long time for me to figure out that another house wasn’t going to make me happy. I had to find my happiness within myself and not in material things. A lesson I learned the hard way, but better late then never. 🙂 Take care, Mary

  8. Mary Francis
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    Hi Gina – I wish I could pass on a “magic” thought/wish to make reinvention easier but there is no easy path through our grieving. You have the right idea by taking Spanish classes and doing something to help you live in your new area. It’s hard to be in a new area and away from home/family/friends at this point but please know that new friends are out there for you to meet and they may need you just as much as you need them.

    My two children are also in their early thirties and one thing I’ve learned is that I can not live their life for them. They have their own journey to travel, mistakes to make and victories to enjoy. This is your journey – the good, bad and ugly – we all only have one time around so make new goals and dreams and reinvent yourself. It’s your future – go for it. Mary

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