4/29/19

recognize your progress!


While you’re in the midst of grieving for your spouse/partner, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and at times defeated by the burdens of new tasks and responsibilities. Caught up in the day to day struggles of surviving your loss, it may feel discouraging to think about how much still lies ahead of you.



It’s important however, to pause and notice how far you’ve already come since the death. Try to remember how you were functioning a week, a month, or months ago.

-  Picture yourself as you were back then.

-  Consider all the little steps you’ve achieved since those earlier times.

-  What challenges have you faced and managed to deal with?

-  What strengths have you discovered within yourself that you never realized before?


Now give yourself a well-deserved pat on the back.

You might also consider recording your progress on a device or in a journal. It’s a good way to keep track of how far you’ve come.

4/25/19

when should i stop wearing my wedding ring and other timeline questions about widowhood; part 1




After your partner’s death, it’s difficult to know when the appropriate time is to let go of various symbols of your union. Often friends and family will urge you to take a step you may not feel ready to take. Despite the pressure from others, however, it’s important to listen to your own sense of what feels right for you.


* When should I stop wearing my wedding ring?

After your spouse/partner dies, you may have mixed feelings about when to remove your wedding ring.

Because there are no firm rules about if and when to take this emotionally loaded step, it’s really up to you to decide when to stop wearing your ring.

You might practice removing it for short periods and see how you feel. Or try a more gradual change by shifting the ring to another finger, different hand, or a chain you wear around your neck.

However you proceed, take the time you need to the make the decision that’s right for you.


* When should I get rid of my spouse/partner’s possessions?


How do you know when the time is right to clear out your spouse's belongings? This important decision has few clear guidelines. Well-meaning family and friends may pressure you to "get rid of" cherished possessions you don't feel ready to let go of. Or you yourself may feel anxious to "get rid of" painful reminders of your loss. But what's the rush?
We urge you not to "get rid of" anything before you first consider these tips:

1. Trust your own instincts about the right time to tackle this difficult process. Take your time and don't rush. The hasty decision you make today may become tomorrow's regret.

2. Ask a trusted family member or friend for help in packing things up and/or making arrangements.

3. Set a realistic timetable for completing this process. Make allowances for how grief is affecting you. Assume there will be times when, despite your best intentions, you won't feel up to dealing with this. (read more)

4/22/19

spiritual comfort; part 2: coming to terms with the questions


In Part 1 of Spiritual Comfort, we explored some of the questions about your faith that can arise following the death of your partner.

Our excerpt from Lost My Partner – What’ll I Do? continues.

Each faith has its own way of understanding the experience of death.

Some people turn to their religious advisor and find answers that are comforting.

Others may be given answers that fail to satisfy them when they’re feeling such terrible pain. This can feel like an even more profound loss.

Before you decide to give up on your faith:

- Give yourself time. Some have to struggle for awhile before discovering answers that feel right for them.

- Get a different perspective. Some clergy are simply more skillful at handling these issues than others. Rather than giving up on your faith, you might want to consider consulting another clerical member of your denomination. Sometimes a different perspective (and personality) can make all the difference.

Other good sources of comfort are books that deal with the “whys” of death, such as When Bad Things Happen to Good People by Harold S. Kushner (Schocken Books, Inc., 2001).

4/18/19

spiritual comfort; part 1: questions

Parts 1 and 2 of Spiritual Comfort are excerpted from our book, Lost My Partner – What’ll I Do? Revised and Expanded Edition (copyright 2008 from McCormick Press).

For some, bereavement is a time when religion provides great comfort and support.

For others, it can be a painful time in which you question your most cherished beliefs.

The impact of losing a spouse can cause some people to experience a crisis of faith. In the face of death, each of us struggles in his/her own way to find answers to profoundly difficult questions

You may question the fairness of the loss:

“We played by the rules. My partner was such a good, loving person – why did this have to happen to us?”

You may feel that death cheated you of many things: your spouse as your life partner, the dreams and plans you had for the future, the sharing of family experiences, etc.

It’s not uncommon to feel anger toward God for allowing the loss to happen.

While some people feel guilt about expressing it, others find relief by allowing themselves to vent this anger directly at God. Some may even shake their fists at the heavens, while others may turn away from their religion altogether.


In Part 2, we discuss ways to come to terms with these painful questions.

4/15/19

i'm not the typical partner: part 2

(Excerpted from Lost My Partner - What'll I Do? Revised and Expanded Edition)


In our last post, we discussed ways in which the loss of a non-traditional partner can differ from that of a traditional spouse.


Here are some suggestions for how to cope:

1)      Are any of your partner’s family more accepting of you? It can be a comfort to share your pain with those who were close to your partner. Reach out to approachable family members or friends.

2)      If you’ve been barred from attending the funeral, you might consider creating your own memorial gathering.

3)      Let those close to you know what you’re going through. Check for community support groups or online resources.

4)      Consult an attorney or contact your local bar association and the Social Security Administration about your legal rights and survivor benefits. While each state has different laws, some do make provisions for non-traditional partners. Even once divorced, if your marriage lasted 10 years or more, you may be entitled to your ex-spouse’s social security benefits. Don’t assume you have no rights – investigate!

Remember: it’s not important how others judge your relationship or your grief. What matters most is what your attachment meant to you and your partner. Recall what was special and cherish the bonds that brought you together. Respect your own needs and treat yourself kindly.

4/11/19

i'm not the typical partner: part 1



(This post is excerpted from Lost My Partner – What’ll I Do?, Revised and Expanded Edition)



Grief for the death of a long-term partner in a same-sex or opposite sex relationship is as deep and meaningful as the grief felt in the loss of a spouse. Even the death of an en-spouse can be a painful loss.

While you, the survivor, may experience the same grief reactions as traditional partners, there are different issues that affect your mourning process and may not be publicly acknowledged or supported, such as:

·    Whether your relationship was accepted or rejected by family members.

·     Access to your partner during the final illness or circumstances of the death and/or inclusion in funeral/memorial arrangements.

·    Legal and financial complications involving property ownership, child custody or survivor benefits.

·    Emotional unfinished business, especially any conflict as an aftermath of divorce or lack of access to your partner around the time of death.

·     Lack of traditional community support systems.

Any, or all of the above can prolong or complicate a normal mourning process.

In our next post, we offer some suggestions for coping.




4/8/19

staying connected with adult step-children; part 2


In our last post, we looked at some of the causes of tension between you and your adult step-children.

Here are some strategies for defusing that tension and improving communication.

1) Give everyone a psychological “time-out” from making any decisions. Postpone any discussions about who gets what for a few months and tell the family, “I’m just not ready to focus on such important questions yet.”

2) Look to other family members and friends for your emotional support. Your spouse/partner’s children may or may be there to lean on right away.

3) Don’t put your stepchildren in the middle of any unfinished business you have with your late spouse/partner or his or her ex. Vent your anger at the appropriate target, even if it means talking to a photo of your spouse/partner.

4) After a few months (trust your instincts about the timing), suggest a get-together. Assure your stepchildren that they remain important to you and you’d like to work out ways to maintain your connection.

5) Remember that when it comes it financial issues, conflicts can easily arise. Protect yourself by consulting with your own experts.

Keep in mind that if your prior relationship with a step-child was close, he or she will be anxious not to lose it. A strong foundation can help any relationship weather some temporary storms.

4/4/19

staying connected with adult step-children; part 1: understanding the issues


You’ve just lost your spouse/partner.

Now you may face more losses.

If your spouse/partner had adult children, how can you be certain those relationships won’t either slip away or be destroyed by conflict?

To better understand what is happening, keep in mind the following:

-Your step-children are grieving too. Their reactions will reflect their own relationships with their deceased parent. If there was conflict, there may be hidden guilt or remorse behind how they act.

-Your connection with your step-children depends on how you have been in their lives and what kind of relationship you shared. If there was any initial tension around the circumstances of your marriage, this can surface.

-Is your spouse’s ex alive? Your step-children may distance themselves from you. Keep in mind that what appears to be a shift in loyalties may just be a temporary reaction to the loss.

-Consider your connection prior to the death. Were you close to your step-children? What stresses did the circumstances prior to the death (prolonged illness, a sudden accident), put on the relationship?


Hopefully these questions can shed some light on what lies beneath any tensions or confusion you may have experienced with your stepchildren.

In our next post, we’ll offer some strategies for strengthening these important relationships during this difficult time.

4/1/19

widowhood way back when: widows on rooftops




An interesting architectural feature began in the days of sailing ships.

According to Wikipedia, a widow's walk (or roofwalk) is a railed rooftop platform often with a small enclosed cupola that was often found on 19th century North American houses.

A popular romantic myth holds that the platform was used to observe vessels at sea. The name comes from the wives of mariners who would watch for their spouses' return, often in vain as the ocean took the lives of the mariners, leaving the women as widows.

However, there is little or no evidence that widow's walks were intended or regularly used for this purpose.

Widow's walks are in fact a standard decorative feature of Italianate architecture, which was very popular during the height of the Age of Sail in many North American coastal communities. The widow's walk is a variation of the Italinate cupola . The Italianate cupola, also known as a "belvedere", was an important ornate finish to this style, although it was often high maintenance and prone to leaks.

Beyond their use as viewing platforms, they are frequently built around the chimney of the residence, thus creating an easy access route to the structure. This allows the residents of the home to pour sand down burning chimneys in the event of a chimney fire in the hope of preventing the house from burning down.

We wonder if those 19th century wives had deck chairs and sun block while they were up there.