Sunday, August 22, 2010

Defining Yourself As A Widow

One of the big steps on the grief journey is deciding whether or not you are going to let the title "widow/er" define you or not. It is understood that this "event" in your life has had a major impact and has changed the course of your life as you envisioned it. However, allowing the term widow to define yourself may mean that you are looking at this one-dimensionally.

Being a widow/er will always be a part of you, but it is not the totality of you. You are multi-faceted and widowhood is just one of those facets -- although they were all affected by the death of your spouse. It might sound like semantics, but a small shift in perception can change everything.

As the beginning of mourning (and probably for a few years afterwards), widowhood does encompass one's whole being. However, as you travel on your journey, it can become just one part of you.

I liken it to when someone asks, "What do you do?" This is my least favorite questions because (1) I am not what I "do" and (2) the person who asks is trying to categorize me so he/she can understand me better. Therefore, it is really about them and not me!

Moreover, aren't those little boxes on every form you need to fill out trying to put you in a box too? Are there only three choices -- married, single, or widowed? Those are narrow selections and don't allow for any shades of gray, for a person in a long term monogamous relationship outside the bounds of marriage is still regarded as single -- even though in his/her eyes he/she is not. The bigger point is that I rebel against being placed in any sort of box.

The term widow never defined who I was, but rather it was a part of what happened to me. It is certainly a chapter in my history, and it has shaped who I am today. In actuality, being a widow was responsible for enormous spiritual growth on my part and my deeper understanding of the cycle of life. I did not want to grow in this manner, but I am thankful I am able to use the lessons learned for the rest of my life.

So, if you have come to a point when you are ready to look for a new partner, and you are still mentally defining yourself as a widow/er, you may still be attached to and/or not readjusted the picture of your late spouse. In other words, "widow/er" is the first word that comes to mind when asked to describe yourself, and it overshadows any other aspect of your personality and life.

Please don't misunderstand -- of course you are still a widow/er, but you are also an individual who may be ready to get to know his or her "new single self". It is this single self who will be able to look and find new love, which can honor your past relationship. Until you reach this point in your evolution, a new relationship will most probably elude you -- although practicing can be fun!

My purpose, through Love After Loss: Writing The Rest of Your Story, is to help put the process in motion that can provide a shift in perception, allowing you to reignite and rediscover a passion for life and love!

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