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Since my husband died 5 years ago, I find that I don't deal with stress very well. Anyone else?

I get overwhelmed and stressed out under pressure, more than I did before the illness and death of my husband. I definitely do not "sweat the small stuff" anymore, but still, I find that I feel more vulnerable to stress. Can anyone else relate to this?

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I can relate to that and I'm sure many of us can also, in our own ways.  I don't sweat the small stuff either but I learned some of that just by getting older.  It has been over three years since Don died but I have more anxiety attacks about my own health issues now and I worry more about the family and friends I still have.  I keep thinking that I can't handle another loss of a loved one during my lifetime.  Just the thought scares me.

 

I have gained the most from being with other widowed friends who went through losing their husbands about the same time as I did.  We really understand each other and we can laugh or cry together with impunity.  They are a great comfort and we also have nice times together.

 

I sit down and make "gratitude lists" on the bad days in order to get my perspective back.  Sounds silly but it really helps me.  

 

Fuzzy I know what you mean.  I am only 3 months out but now my feeling of sadness is so overpowering. As a friend commented to me the other day I just exist I am not living.

 

Me too, just exist. No life in me left....I am like a robot. Work, watch TV, feel sad every second, go to bed....day after day after day. 

I totally understand. I was always so together and kept everything running. I have two kids (7 and 9) who were 5 and 7 when their dad passed away. At first I felt like all the stress of 2 years of caregiving had been lifted and I felt very peaceful and relieved. But then as the second year without him started, I just sort of lost it. It came out of the clear blue sky--anxiety, panic attacks, etc. I was terrified (and still am) of having something bad happen to me and leaving my children alone. But through some medical help (anti-anxiety meds and antidepressants) I have been able to get on track and feel MUCH better. That said, I now realize I have to let other people help me and not always be the one in charge. I say no now when I never would have before and I try and give myself breaks and allow myself to not have to be perfect all the time. I have started seeing someone this last few months as well and that has also really helped--having someone to talk with in the evenings and even vent to if needed. Not sure if this helps you, but please know you are not alone!!!

do you still deal with stress?  I am easily overwhelmed and am struggling with Anxiety daily.  It has been nearly 4 years.

Yes, I can totally relate!  I think I already got somewhat stressed before my husband died, but now it seems to hit me harder.  I get sick more, I don't sleep well and have minor anxiety issues, especially around something happening to my kids.  I just came off a stressful week and I woke up with a bad migraine this morning, which forced me to lay down and do nothing all day.

My counselor has also suggested making gratitude lists and also to write down what I am proud of about myself(things from that day).

I have been going to counseling since my husband died.  I am currently a mother of a 7, 11,13, and 15.  I thought my grief was coming to an comfort zone last spring.  With my oldest entering the public high school from a small private school in town this past fall, I had to figure out all the new friends, teachers, schedules, building, JV/varsity sports and more.  I had many before and after school activities to drop off and pick up from.  I was trying to balance everything including getting my youngest to bed before 8 PM.  I was overwhelmed.  After my niece got married on my wedding anniversary I lost it.  I went to the ER and was admitted into a mental health day treatment program for 6 weeks.  A family friend took in my 4 kids for 8 wks.  I stayed at a friends house.  Now after lots of intentional self care, proper sleep and focus to my days, I am doing much better. 

What I learned was . . .

Take the time you need for yourself.

Take the negative things in your life with a positive twist.  Find the good in it.

Find your mission in life.  Write goals to reach each day that feed your mission statement in these 6 areas (spiritual, social, health, vocation/educational, family - friends, and financial).  Then only plan to do one thing in each area each day.  This helps me feel a sense of accomplishment.  I am one who expects more than is realistic to be completed each day, creating a lot of negative self talk.

Be Mindful - focus on your breathing and be present in the moment.  This stops me from worrying about the future or dwelling on the past.

Journaling my thoughts so my mind is clear and can focus.

I am also starting to attend EA (Emotions Anonymous) meetings.  It uses the 12 steps of AA to help people become healthy emotionally.  Check it out at this website:  http://emotionsanonymous.org/

I hope this helps!

what else does your counselor say? I wish I could go to a good one, but I don't have money......thanks in advance. 

I can't tell you how many times I have nearly broken down over stupid little stuff like filling out tax forms or getting medical bills, stuff that wouldn't bother me before. It just seems that much harder being a widow.

Let's face it, as our children development into new stages in life our grief must change as well.  Remember, one never gets over the grief; we just grow with it.  Be open to change.  Change takes a lot of energy so give yourself a break!

I find lack of rest/sleep is my biggest culprit.  I must get fresh air and read a book for enjoyment to clear my head.  I am spiritual and love the Eucharist so I sit in an empty church which gives me time to be silent.  It is like being a teenager in love - finding timelessness.  It may appear to everyone else I am wasting time but it is in these moments I am forced to hear my inner voice.  I remain silent and hear and feel the reason for my pains and discomfort I would rather bury in the noise of modern culture and the general business of life.  This is the best self-care I can give myself - silence.  It is vital for me to face the challenges that lay ahead of me.

I heard Dr Phil give this explanation once and I think of it often, I am summarizing but basically, when you have experienced emotional trauma, it is like having a sunburn.  When someone normally touches you, it is fine but if you have a sunburn and someone touches you in exactly the same way, it is amplified and you overreact because you are raw and it disturbs the sunburn and causes pain.   I still feel like this often, like the hurt is just under the surface and the slightest thing can bring all that emotion to the surface and overwhelm me.   It is difficult because I have always been very good at managing crisis, deadlines etc and now I feel like I am not able to cope sometimes.   I just try to give myself a break and do what I can.     I too make lists and prioritize to try to manage things and lets face it sometimes you just need to have a good ay to wallow in feeling bad before you get back to business.

Well stated.  Stay realistic in the prioritizing list.  Keep it short and sweet.  This reserves time to do self care.

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