Widows cope and adapt as they grieve. Learning these two actions makes our grief easier to manage. Coping is the ability to change our environment. An example is joining new social groups and making new friends. Adapting is changing ourselves to fit into our new environment as a widow. If you isolate yourself, your natural rhythms go off track. You may have problems with concentration, attention span, restlessness and your sleep-wakefulness cycle may get messed up.
Widows need to adjust to the changes even though we are overwhelmed by our loss. We have lost our spouse and thus our body loses its rhythm. We long to be touched, to smell them and to do the things we used to do with them.
Feelings of isolation and lack of meaning gives rise to a sense of hopelessness and despair. This hopelessness, caused by our not being able to cope and adapt renders widows more vulnerable to illness. Sadly, emotional vulnerability can become our physical vulnerability.
We can use the skills of coping and adapting to bring about the positive changes needed as we learn to live as a widow. We can cope and adapt by broadening our social networks, new friends and hobbies to build up our independence. With our growth of independence comes a greater sense of well-being and safety.
Adapting happens as we look inside of ourselves to work on the qualities we need to handle our stress and grief. I believe that it’s important to feel our grief and sense of loss fully, accept it and move forward so our grief doesn’t turn into depression.
Mentally healthy widows accept their grief and understand that changes need to be made. Widows may feel hopeless for a time, but they will heal their broken hearts.
Widows are in a state of ever-changing and ever-adapting as they heal and move forward. It can be as simple as new furniture and paint to update one of the rooms in your home. It’s not so much what you do, as that you do something. Are you ready to change or adapt? Maybe you are comfortable as you are or you feel disloyal/disrespectful if you make a change such as giving away his favourite chair.
Motivation can come from subtle changes, because in order for you to move forward changes within your comfort zone need to happen. I know that a lot of things in life can’t be explained. We just have to learn to live with our past, cope and adapt to move forward and honour our memories.
Mary Francis, The Sisterhood of Widows
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