A Widow’s Emotional Energy

Widows need to protect themselves from people and things that drain their emotional energy. While grieving we have precious little energy and cannot afford to lose anymore.

1. The first energy drain is other people’s expectations for you. The answer is to set yourself free by saying “That’s not what I want to do.”

2. Worry never helps and it just exhausts us. Action is the cure for worry. Do something about your worry or if there isn’t anything you can do, let it go.

3. Holding onto loss can drain you. If its fresh then grief is need – take time off work, cry, stay home, let it all come out. But then let your broken heart heal, you will know when you are ready.

4. Over commitment happens when you’re always saying “Yes” to volunteer or help others. Don’t be afraid to say “No” every once in a while. Just because your a widow doesn’t mean that you don’t have a life of your own.

It’s never selfish for a widow to protect her energy. Unlike physical energy, which naturally runs down as we get older, emotional energy can increase as we learn what works best for us.

9 Responses

  1. Sherry
    | Reply

    I don’t seem to be having a problem with saying no or saying that isn’t what I want to do, but I am feeling emotionally drained due to the fact that I still am having a very hard time accepting that he is no longer with me. The 2nd of May will be the fourth month, but I cant let my mind nor my heart believe that he isn’t coming physically back and I was in the hospital room up to his last breath. This is really draining me and I don’t know what to do.

    • Mary Francis
      | Reply

      Hi Sherry. It’s normal to be expecting him to walk in the door. There isn’t anything for you to do as it is part of your grief journey. It takes a long time for widows to accept that they are on their own. Just let yourself miss him and let your broken heart grieve. Take care of yourself. Mary Francis

  2. Mary
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    Hi Sherry. I empathize with you as you work on acceptance. I lost my husband Joe to lung cancer in March. Joe and I accepted that he had a terminal illness and we knew he had months at best. Joe wanted to die at home with hospice. It was just the 2 of us plus the hospice team coming in most days for an hour or two. It was clear he was dying and I accepted it. I watched daily and knew it was real. Acceptance of his death is not the challenge I face. My challenge is walking with the pain of his loss why I figure out who I am and how to live without him. I was so busy tending to him for months that I hadn’t considered how I would be me as a widow. I feel like I’m having a bit of an identity crisis. I think part of why I feel that way is because I am handling all our affairs, his estate, the house while I work FT. The house is old and it needs work. Finding contractors on top of it all and the enormity of prioritizing, budgeting, etc. is overwhelming. Naps help. Family can help. But it is exhausting. Scheduling fun is the only thing that helps boost my energy. Went to a Broadway musical comedy Friday with grlfriends and we laughed and had a blast. That helped me tackle Saturday chores with a grin on my face. 🙂 -Mary

  3. Sue
    | Reply

    Hi Sherry, Today is the 13th anniversary of my husbands death. I can remember the months after he died wondering if I would ever get past waiting for him to walk through the door. I would count the nights we didn’t spend together. The longest time apart in the 30 years we were together was 10 days so as the days went into the 20’s 30’s and beyond it would break my heart and I’d miss him even more. I kept telling myself I just need to get some history behind me of doing things without him. All my memories were with him. Eventually one year turned to two three and now 13. His death is something I will never get over but I have learned to live with it. You will too. Let yourself grieve. 4 mos is not that long. Take care of yourself. As the article said do whatever you need to do to take care of you. I’d say once I went thru a full year alone the following years got easier and easier. The first year is tough but it will pass quickly. I now think of all the things that are or have been in my life that he was never a part of. I can say I once again enjoy living my life….something I never thought I’d say 13 years ago. Wishing you the best on your journey. Sue

    • Sherry
      | Reply

      Sue, thank you for your response. I do feel as if I am never going to get thru this. We both knew it would come as he kept telling me that he didn’t know how much longer he had, but honestly you never want it to happen. I know he was getting tired and it was really hard for him to go on, but still wish he was here. I told him that it was ok as he was taking his last breaths. I told him I love him as I was letting him go and I was there until the end and sat with him about 30 minutes longer after. I feel as if it is getting harder and harder instead of easier, but I know that is because the first of everything is coming. Today is my birthday and in two days will be his fourth month so this week is a rough ride. Thank you again for your comment as I know it will help me along.

    • Mary
      | Reply

      Hi Sue. Your advice for Sherry is good for me too. This is a new practice I’m getting used to – living without my husband Joe. It will take time. The guarding of energy in the first year seems challenging because there are so many new responsibilities and new offers to socialize. It sometimes feels like an onslaught despite people trying to be supportive. The balance I seek is needing quiet alone time and needing the social time and help too. Tricky.

  4. Claudia
    | Reply

    It’s been three years for me. I’m still lost and feel so sad seeing couples together. My kids are teens, I work FT and caring for an older home is daunting. I’m living a life that we had started together and I’m not sure I can continue it alone. But at the same time, it’s all I have and I can’t imagine what a “new” life is supposed to look like. No clue. This wasn’t our plan and I guess I never thought I needed a plan B.

    I’m still traumatized by watching him fight cancer, the procedures, the surgeries, chemo, endless trips to the emergency room. It’s hard to watch someone you love suffer so much. My husband died in my arms. I realize this was a gift in a sad way, however, his death has left me and my children profoundly changed. I’m not sure how to come back from this, not sure I will ever fit back into the world as I knew it. I am still as unmoored as the day he died. Wish this wasn’t the case but It’s unfortunately true.

    • Mary Francis
      | Reply

      Dear Claudia. “I’m living a life that we had started together and I’m not sure I can continue it alone.” The truth is that you are trying to live a “couple” life when you are no longer a “couple”. It is time to accept that and start “plan B” – a future for you.

      “Not sure I will ever fit back into the world as I knew it” That’s the issue you can’t fit into the world as you knew it because that world is forever gone. It’s time to put your energy into your world and make it everything it can be.

      Yes, your changed, you can’t help being changed as you are no longer a wife, but a widow. You can’t fit into that world as you knew it because it no longer exists. The only thing you can do, is live a “single” life with gratitude for your children, health and all the things you still have. If the older home is “daunting” then why are you holding onto it. Your love and memories will go with you no matter where you live. Take care of yourself by looking forward to a future with your children and future grandchildren. Take care, Mary Francis

  5. Claudia
    | Reply

    No one has been that direct with me before and although it made me cry, you are right about it all.
    Thank you for saying what I need to hear.

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