Getting On With Your Life

You know that a part of your life will never be the same. You may even feel that your identity has changed as words that you hoped never to hear enter your world. It is a jolt to hear yourself referred to as a "widow" or "widower" or "bereaved parent." Knowing that your family or close circle of friends has diminished seems to create an empty feeling inside you. But you are alive and you have a life to lead and to fulfill as best you can.

You have, in fact, already taken the first steps toward getting on with your life. When decisions had to be made in the early days or others needed support in the grief they shared with you, you somehow managed. There were days when just getting out of bed in the morning was a major accomplishment. You may by now have returned to a job, begun to do alone what you once did together, or coped with problems around your home that you never tackled before, perhaps even cooked your first meal. This re-entry into life and its daily routines can help you decide what to expect from yourself and where you might need to ask for help. When friends say "Let me know if I can help," do not be afraid to say just when and how they can. Be honest with yourself and with others; be willing to receive what others are willing to give; do not try to hide behind a false brave front.

Both on the job and also at home, you probably notice that your powers of concentration are unreliable and that your thoughts are filled by memories of your loved one. You need to know that this is normal and that you may have to adjust your activities for a while to lessen the demands made upon you. It is best to be honest with your supervisor, your co-workers and your family about expectations during this period of turmoil when neither your physical nor emotional strength is up to par. The stress you are experiencing, together with the lack of concentration, also makes you especially accident prone throughout this period of grieving; extra precautions need to be taken in all your activities. The important thing to remember is that your efforts to meet each day are a part of your determination to face life in changed circumstances and that you are groping your way toward coming to terms with them.