Getting On With Getting On

By Christy Wiseman

old couple holding hands


*I’m so sorry to hear of your lovely wife Lindy’s death. It is a sentiment I’m sending more frequently as I age. The name might be different and your condolences may have been over a spouse, significant other, child, or someone near and dear who was a special part of your life, but the grief it addresses is understood by those who have felt it.

* You have now joined a group that you would have given your life to have avoided.  

Death has a finality that in our naïveté we mortals seem to have been able to cushion ourselves from until someone we loved goes on into Eternity. 

It then becomes so real and so devastating, because the word “eternity” suddenly pierces us to the core with an understanding we never needed to fathom before.

I lost the love of my life just over four years ago and I can tell you that it is not ever something you “get over.”  You can “get thru and get on”  It’s a choice.  Make it a positive one. Your special someone was a part of you, maybe the most treasured part, and his/her physical body is gone forever. 

You two built a history that was yours alone.  It made me think of how glad I was that my husband and I had shared our feelings and our gratitude for the trips we had, the special memories we created, the challenges that in hindsight were part of who we had become together. We often said how lucky we were and in looking back, I am so grateful we expressed that.

I have lost both my husband, from a long term battle with cancer, and my son, who died suddenly last December. Sudden death is horrible too, but at least you know that it is sudden and for the person, relatively painless. Keep that in mind as really, if our time is up, that is certainly the preferred way to go (at least for the person going.)

Be gentle with yourself.  If you live alone and feel like screaming, do so.  Try a grief group, but make sure the counselor is someone who has “been there.”  Others can empathize, but they can’t understand really.  I tried two groups in the States and maybe it was just that they didn’t fit or that to the “counselor” it was a job in unchartered waters.  

The old saying, “Don’t do anything major for at least a year.” is true.  Even that is pushing it.  I tell you this from personal experience as I purchased an extensive walk in tub thinking it would enable me to stay in my home longer.  BUT  I shower - so go figure what got into me on that.  I didn’t realize that old saying was for after any major loss and we have yet to mark a year from my son’s demise.  Find a friend who will be frank with you.  You aren’t as together as you think.

One of my friends gave me a list answering “What is happiness?”  I have it on my frig as I’ve found it to be true. Just three simple things that you need to achieve as time goes on:  1. Someone or something to love. 2. Something to do which gives meaning

3. Something to look forward to. For me - 1. I have my sons and grandchildren and friends who I love. 2. I like to quilt and write occasional articles for a magazine, plus I’ve found some philanthropic causes I care about and support. 3.  I look forward to what each day brings, short term and long term. I have a gathering of “sisters” which we all have become, one of whom keeps us all connected throughout the year and another who lets us all use her very large cabin.  We are all so grateful she and her husband have done so well.

You will find or have found the joy in your friendships and/or in your family.  It will never be the same, but I am so grateful for my blessings as you will be too It is a different chapter in our lives, but it can be good.  Count your blessings, not your sorrows.

Choose to live with gratitude and you and those around you will be happier. Think about it from the other person’s view. He/she may love you very much, but how long will he/she want to be around someone who is always down.

There will be a lot of loose ends.  There are for me.  I’m remodeling my condo, and getting ready to go to Mexico.  My condo is filled with sweet memories; some which happen unexpectedly and stab my heart so I can’t even speak and some which make me smile.

I still have lots of cleaning out to do of things I don’t need. I plan to keep my Reno home because each person has to answer that question of “where do I fit now that I am one.”  You aren’t alone and you will find that place. Hang in there.  It is a new reality and one you didn’t want, but have.  There is a lot to deal with and while you’d rather not, eventually you will find the third component and have things, people and/or projects to look forward to enjoying and appreciating.

May the God of your understanding help you in this new chapter.



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