Going through the death of someone you love is hard, but it doesn’t have to be the end of your happiness.
You have lost someone you love. I am sure right now you are grieving and devastated. I am sure right now you don’t believe there is a light at the end of the tunnel, or that there is even a tunnel at all. I come bearing good news. I hold the lantern of hope and I am shining it on you. Do you feel the warmth?
There is hope. I can tell you that there is hope because I have lived through losing a child and a wife. You can have hope for happiness in the future. I promise. Here are four ways I found my way back to happiness when I was where you are now.
#1 — Believe that you are going to be OK.
When I talked to my Uncle Scott in California about two weeks after my wife passed away, the first thing he said to me on the phone call was, “You’re going to be OK.”
I thought to myself, “How could he possibly know I’m going to be OK?” Maybe after all I was going to fall apart or be severely depressed or not be able to pull my life back together. After speaking with him for a while, I realized as a pastor, he not only had a massive amount of experience delivering sermons, performing weddings, and ministering to his church members, but he also had a tremendous amount of experience counseling people who were going through the grief process and conducting funerals. So I believed him.
Now as you read this, I want you to believe me — you are going to be OK.I don’t know when, but I know it’s true.
#2 – Believe that you can survive and thrive.
I know that might sound arrogant. Let me explain what I mean. I survived the death of my wife, and I believe it has made me a better person and a stronger person, which has allowed me to not only survive but thrive. For example, maybe in the past I would get ready to do something and I would delay or put it off. I now have learned that life is short so I’m going to live life to the fullest and if there’s something I want to do I don’t delay or put it off. I am all about seizing the day!
#3 – Believe that you can reinvent your life.
I realized after my wife passed away that my life had changed forever. She was never coming back. That devastating permanence is probably the most disturbing aspect of someone dying.
A couple of weeks after my wife passed away I started to think about what I wanted my life to be now that I was living a life without Cindy. I had the opportunity to redraw the entire blueprint of my life. I could reinvent the work that I did, where I lived, who I socialized with, and any other aspect of my life socially, mentally, spiritually, financially, and logistically.
The first thing I did is I decided that I needed to lose weight. I thought that the intense focus and concentration of dieting and working out would help me lose weight, have more energy, and feel better about myself. So I literally reinvented myself physically. I signed up for Weight Watchers, followed the nutrition plan carefully, and worked out on a regular and consistent basis. The good news is I lost a total of 54 pounds, and 9 inches in my waist. The act of reinventing myself physically was a tremendous boost to my energy level, and I felt much better about my image as a person.
I want you to take the time to sit down and look at all of the areas of your life. Decide which of those areas you would like to change or reinvent. Redraw your life blueprint from this point forward. I also believe that the act of reinvention is an act of hope and optimism because it makes everything in life brand-new. After all you can’t have the old so bring in the new.
Think of it as taking your life and pushing the reset button. You had a life with the person that you lost (we can call that life number one) and now you have a new life without that person (we call that life two) and you get to decide what you want that life to be. Looking at it like this can be an exciting concept. Now you can march boldly forward and embrace life two. If you take this approach and attitude it can be very exciting. I think you can again live a rich, rewarding, and happy life by deciding to embrace your new life and reinvent yourself.
#4 — Be OK when there is not going to be an answer.
In the famous Beatles song, Let it be, there is a line that says “there will be an answer, let it be…” I am here to tell you there will be many times you will not have an answer. I have learned to be OK with that, because there aren’t any answers. My wife died of a brain aneurism at the young age of 50. Why? I don’t know. The coroner said it could have been a congenital defect, but the kind of aneurism she had destroys itself when it bursts. So he said he could say without a doubt that was the cause of death, but couldn’t say why she died at 50 years old and not at 70 years old or 30 years old.
Why do some people die young and others of old age? Why do good people die and bad people live? I don’t know. So I just want you to know there will be many unanswered questions and you just have to at some point be OK with thinking, “Well, maybe there is no answer. Maybe it’s part of the great mystery of life.”
To me, life is so short and precious I’m not going to waste it sitting around being miserable, mean, and sad. So I will choose for me to have a positive upbeat attitude.
About three weeks after my wife passed away I was visiting an art gallery in my area. The manager of the gallery greeted me, welcomed me to the gallery, and showed me some work that they were displaying. We got into an in-depth conversation and I told him that I was thinking about getting into collecting art. I was still wearing my wedding ring at the time and he asked me how my wife felt about the idea of collecting art. I told him that I was a widower and my wife had passed away three weeks ago. I didn’t mean to, but my comment almost knocked the poor man off of his feet. At first, he was speechless. Then he said “I just can’t believe that you’re a widower and you’ve only been a widower now for three weeks. You seem to have such a great, upbeat attitude.” I told him that it was not easy, but I decided to maintain a positive attitude as much as I could most of the time.
I don’t believe that I should waste my time on earth feeling miserable and feeling sorry for myself. I choose to move forward. I choose to be optimistic. I choose to heal, honor the past, but embrace the present. I look forward to the future. This is what I choose.
This post is republished on Medium.
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