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The Gift is Life, The responsibility is Living:

(Today’s blog post title is thanks to a comment made by MartyG that I saw on WidVille one day while reading old blog posts.)

I’m acknowledging a hard time with my grief work right now. I don’t feel like I’m thriving, not even really living...just surviving. I judge my every move (or lack of movement…) right now. I know I’m my harshest critic. I am so incredibly inpatient and unforgiving of myself. I know I’m comparing Widow Shelly to Shelly Who Once Was and Shelly Who Can Be. I think it’s a natural thing to do, as I still vividly remember who I was 7 months ago, and I still have hopes and ambitions and dreams of how I “should” be living my life.

One of the women mentioned in chat last night that I need to think about how I would respond to a friend going through this same battle and how I would expect him/her to behave… and allow myself to do the same. I need to learn to be more gentle with myself. I am going to make conscious effort to do so.

I know I’m strong and resilient. I’ve conquered everything I’ve been through thus far, and I will tame this grief monster too. Through this battle, I will gain so much experience that I’m sure I’ll level up a few times. Those level-ups will come with new armor, new stats, and a new rank. 

There are so many things I can rattle off that I “hate” about where I am right now: Housework is a huge struggle. I cannot keep up on dishes or laundry. I haven’t swept, mopped, or vacuumed in weeks. Who knows the last time the bathroom had a deep clean. Polly’s cage is getting disgusting. I’m not getting the cat boxes scooped every night. Every aspect of housework is suffering. I need to relearn all my routines, as they went out with the trash. I want to pick it all up at once and have a spotless house in a day, which is illogical. I need to choose one thing and focus on it until it’s become a natural part of my day. Then I can add another.

I still hate to cook. When the girls aren’t with me, I’ve defaulted to junk or nothing at all. A pint of ice cream does not a healthy dinner make. But I’ve done it several times in the past few weeks. I’ve gone completely back to the simple unhealthy carbs. I’ve gained back every pound that I lost last year. I can’t fit in clothes that I love. I am not getting out of the house except for work, so no exercise is happening. Again, there are so many things that need changed or improved, and I feel like I should do them all at once. But again, I need to choose one thing to focus on and go from there.

I get so much comfort out of writing things out. I’ve ordered the journaling workbook that accompanies “Understanding Your Grief,” which is the book Tom and I are going through in the Grief Support Group once a month. It will be here tomorrow.

So I’ve decided to refire an old thing I used to do called 3 for 30. I pick three things to focus on for the next 30 days. FlyLady says it takes 30 days for a habit to be formed. So the idea is you pick three things to work on in depth, while also trying to keep up with everything else as much as possible (not just flat ignoring it). I’m starting my 3 for 30(ish) today and letting it run through the end of August. Since I’ll be on vacation for 10 days, that will be about 30 days in the house to work on these things.

These are the three things I’ve decided to do, which cover different areas of my life so I’m not just focusing on one area:

  1. Journal every day. Whether this is something freely drawn from my brain, like this entry, or a prompt from Understanding Your Grief or the GriefShare workbooks, or even some prompt that I find online. Some of them will become blog entries.
  2. Eat on plan all day, every day. I don’t want to consider the entire day a failure if I screw up one meal, so I have a checklist for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I know I need to incorporate snacks back in as well, but I’ll get there…
  3. Do a load of dishes daily. Either hand-wash or using the dishwasher is acceptable. But if I use the dishwasher, I have to unload it within 24 hours of starting it.

I’m taking back my life, grief monster. This is a battle in the war to tame you. I will make you my pet, my companion. Right now, you’re out of control. I know it will take a considerable amount of time before I can trust you to behave. I’m equipping myself with the tools and weapons necessary to live!

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Comment by shellybean on July 26, 2018 at 12:01pm

Thank you so much, Callie2. I live by the mantra "You've survived all the hard days so far and you will this one,too."

Comment by Callie2 on July 25, 2018 at 10:25am

Shellybean, yes, you are being too hard on yourself. Progress can be slow but you know we get there one day at a time. It’s OK to allow yourself to feel bad and grieve. I’m not saying it’s a good thing but a lot of us have survived on less than healthy diets because cooking and even eating sometimes seems like a chore. Maybe you can take a day to do some cooking, even if it’s just simple meals and freeze single servings. That minimizes cleanup for during the week and maybe helps you to eat better.

There is no timeline on grief and there seems to be a lot of ups and downs and back and forth. Try to accept that and take advantage of your good days. Grief is not something we can fight or overcome, we need to feel it and to go with until it subsides. Each day, you are a day closer to healing whether it feels that way or not. And you are and it will!  It’s not really about conquering but about healing your fragile soul. Be kind to yourself! Sending you a big hug....

Comment by shellybean on July 20, 2018 at 3:13pm

Thanks for the comments, SweetMelissa2007! I really like that quote! 

Misty - I really liked that meme the minute I saw it. I like that thought... it doesn't all have to be successful, as long as I keep trying.

Comment by Rainy (Misty) on July 20, 2018 at 11:19am

Shelly I love that meme!  

Keep doing something until you find what works for you Shelly.

Comment by SweetMelissa2007 on July 20, 2018 at 6:56am

I could not fully live till I learned how & why in my heart & soul - it took years of fighting off denial/fairytales as well as absolute honesty & commitment in coming to terms w/that chapter of my life ...

I could not tame grief, I found how to work w/the process on a daily basis ...

Be vigilant & open to allowing the grief process to work for you no matter how it comes at you. Its not a fight - its a daily commitment to healing even when you feel like resisting to get chores done. The work begins every time you wake till you fall asleep again ...

Comment by SweetMelissa2007 on July 20, 2018 at 6:36am

Jagged edges from my heart & soul ripped from my body ...
Sorrow bowed my head & stooped the shoulders to stare only my larger then life feet that represented the shattering of my life from the bottom ...
Head reduced in size to 24/7 pre-occupation w/Bob, death, my future. In the years to come it stayed in the same as I worked w/grief to adjust to the changes, find peace by accepting that life would be okay again as time afforded growth to come to terms w/Bob's death ...
Limp hands from all loss of hope. Spasmodic of wringing or clenching hands & jaw as self retraint to keep from exploding & imploding ...
After 8 years, life returned to normal when combined work of the natural grief process & my commitment to finding what I needed completed its job . The memories of grief fully implanted in my brain from this life experience forged growth in many ways as well as a fruitfull bank of bank of knowledge to draw back on of how I developed my strength & coping skills to keep me moving forward to effectively deal w/issues that arise as well as the continued normalcy of a new life from journeying through loss ...

"Its no use in going back to yesterday, because I was a different person then"
- Lewis Carrol - quote from Alice in Wonderland ...

Comment by shellybean on July 19, 2018 at 1:35pm

Oh (((Diva))) I totally understand. I'm so sorry your friends and family are growing weary. I read a really good post from One Fit Widow on Facebook today:
"The next time someone tells you they are tired of our grief or hearing about your loss, remind them you're tired of your person being dead too. Listen all, nobody can understand it until they live it. Don't expect anyone to pass the final until they take the class. Just that little bit of perspective may make their ignorance more tolerable." You do you, sweetie, and don't worry about what anyone else has to say...

I have found my faith and relationship with God has gotten much stronger since Marcus's death. I know God is carrying me through this. As important as church is, I find more spiritual healing in my personal time with God. There are several good bible studies and reading plans in the YouVersion bible app, which can also be found online at bible.com if you don't want to download it to your phone or tablet. 

That thankfulness sounds like plenty of joy for today. My Marcus was killed in a work accident, so I've been thankful many times that he didn't suffer. And at only 3 months, you're barely starting, especially after a 50-year-long relationship. (((Hugs))) to you my dear.

Comment by DIVA70 on July 19, 2018 at 12:29pm

I do understand. I have absolutely no motivation. I cook breakfast but that's about it. I need to clean my house but what's the point. I lost my zest for life on April 29th , the day my soulmate left me forever. I have taken a few short trips with family and friends. I did enjoy myself but the joy was only for a moment. I have started attending church regularly again but the messages contradict how I really feel. The Bible says make a joyful noise....but how do you find joy in sorrow. So I pretend I am doing okay. I am thankful for the almost 50 years we had together(OVER 47 MARRIED). I am thankful he did not suffer a prolonged painful illness. That's about all the joy I can muster up today. Also, it hasn't been three months yet and already I sense that my closest friends and family are weary of my grief. I know they are anxious for the old me to return. Truth is the old me is gone. I will never be the person I was before the 29th. Before April 29th I was the optimist and my Tony was the pessimist in our relationship. Now, I am just another lonely, sad widow. 

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