Welcome to Widow(er) Wednesday #13: Practical ideas for moving forward

In Widow Wednesday #12 “Fight to be and Stay Inspired” I wrote about how creating the life we want is an ongoing process that involves intentionally engaging in situations that are new and unfamiliar.  In today’s blog I share a few practical ideas for moving forward in the form of examples from my own fail forwards and how they taught me to pivot my way to a happier life.   As always, remember these experiences can be solo endeavours or shared with those wanting to help.

Moving Bodies Move Forward

I chose to temporarily stop my hot yoga practice as my husband’s condition worsened. My brain was thrilled with idea that once again I had time to practice.  My body went along with my brain’s plan until it couldn’t. Natural consequences taught me that I need to listen to my body and not just my brain and that I definitely should not always push through.  Pushing through can create more damage to an already depleted system. Fail

I learned trading in the ego boosting temporary adrenalin high of moving non-stop in hot temperatures for restorative yoga and nature walks (at the beach, in the woods, local parks and my neighbourhood) left me feeling restored, calm and sleeping better.  My muscle definition suffered but, much to my surprise, my endurance improved. Learning: Moving bodies move forward regardless of their speed.

“Seriously?!?” asked the brain

In the early days everyone, myself included, expected that I would go back to doing analytical work. When I realized my brain was unable to hold onto new information as it had in the past, much less follow an intense conversation, it was a little frightening. Initially, I told no one.  This only added another layer of stress to an already stressful situation. Pretending all was as it once was, rather than helping me move forward, made my situation worse.[1] Fail

I was greatly relieved when I learned that grief impacts our ability to think and it takes time for our brains to recover from loss. Healing our tired brains includes feeding it digestible content that calms the central nervous system and allows us to again hope. For me this included temporarily doing a different sort of work and swapping out my news junkie habit for daily inspirational readings as well as books, podcasts and online talks that tell stories of overcoming adversity. They remind me that others dive deep to find the courage to act. Talks on the brain and how to help it heal were also helpful.[2] Others had healed and therefore, so could I. Learning: happy content creates happy thoughts that counter sadness.

You are not alone

Volunteering and being part of a larger community has long been a part of my adult life.  So when I felt the need to connect with new people I thought volunteering would be the place to start. However, when I was hurting, helping others left me further drained. Fail

I needed to realize it was okay to be the one on the receiving end and that it was my turn to be the one in need.

I’ve often written about how some people will disappear from someone’s life after loss.  We need to connect with new people when this happens. This is how we become part of a different healthier community. Interestingly, when we are vulnerable and own our stories, others share theirs.

Learning: Everyone struggles with something. Shared stories give us an understanding that loss is a part of everyone’s life story and not where our story ends. This knowledge helps moves us from a place of pain to one of perspective.

These fail forwards taught me and continue to teach me how truly kind and compassionate people can be, how strong the desire to build happier lives is and that it is more than possible. Oh, and that I want to be just as, if not more, kind and compassionate to myself and others as these people were to me. It’s a better way to live. Lesson learned.

Till next time, Stay well


Looking for previous Widow Wednesdays? Start here with Widow Wednesdays #1
Buy Heike’s book “Grief is…” here
To learn more about Heike (Author: “Grief is… thoughts on loss, struggle and new beginnings click here

[1] World news too can add another layer of overwhelm for someone already feeling a sad.

[2] My favourites include:  365 Prescriptions for the Soul  by Dr. Bernie Siegel, Broken Open  by Elizabeth Lesser, An Elephant in my Kitchen by Francoise Malby-Anthony, The Happiness Lab podcast and TED talks