Becoming a widow changes us. Quite an understatement, eh?
While most of the changes we experience are difficult ... the grief, sleeplessness, tears, financial issues, being the only parent, loneliness ... there are actually some changes that could be considered positive.
And one of those is our expanding empathy.
We know more now.
Granted, they are things we wish we didn't know ... but there's no turning back the clock.
We've seen and experienced things non-widowed people have not. And it allows us ... almost forces us ... to reach out and identify with our widowed sisters and brothers who come after us.
Now I've always been pretty empathetic - even before Vern became ill. But after he died, it seems my empathy level ratcheted up pretty high. Probably at a rather unhealthy level.
And doing all of the volunteer work that I do for Soaring Spirits ... well, let's just say I have hundreds of opportunities every single day to feel the pain of my widowed family.
And sometimes it gets the best of me.
My heart actually hurts.
Sadness envelopes me.
A heaviness overwhelms me.
I want to just climb into bed and shut the world out.
These past few days have been hard ones. Shocking and devastating news has rocked our widowed community. A young widow experienced her second loss when her fiance died. Another young widow lost her husband's brother in a violent tragedy. I went to the hospital to visit a member of my local widow group and found her in ICU and intubated. And I feel. it. all.
I guess the point of this blog post is the importance of self-care. We need to recognize when our cup is empty. When we cannot do one more thing until we do something - whatever that might be - that fills our cup.
I thought I had hit that point today after my visit to the hospital (the same hospital my Vern was in when hospice became our only option). Instead, I went to lunch with a friend. And had some laughs with my son. And had a wonderful online chat with a dear Widowed Village friend who has found some new happiness. And my cup filled. Without me curling up in a ball alone in a dark room.
Our wedding anniversary is this Sunday. It would have been #46. I will once again do random acts of kindness to honor him and our love. 46 of them. And I will do 2 more for a couple of my widow friends, to honor their loves. I think my cup is going to get much larger on Sunday.