Last January I was a complete washout! I allowed a disturbing telephone conversation with a family member to push me into deep depression. Any thoughts of evaluating my past year and making resolutions were abandoned. So I’ve chosen TODAY as my New Year’s Day instead. I take stock of my life.
WHERE HAVE I BEEN? I’ve been to the bottom! Those periods of deep mourning for Joe were the absolute pits. I went through it, as I knew I had to, but thank God the worst is over. I’ve dealt with frustrations, disappointments, and loneliness. I’m learning to talk to myself with more nurturing words. Nights were the hardest, but I survived. Joe’s belongings have been shared or saved. Memorials have been established. I’ve made new friends. My affairs are more in order. Much of the guilt has been released. I am learning to take better care of myself. I have found strength to go on. I’ve come a long way.
WHERE AM I NOW? I’m not the same as I was before Joe died. I now am a person in my own right, not sharing an identity role with another. Without being selfish or totally self-centered, I place more value on myself. I am beginning to experience today as being more important than yesterday or tomorrow. My proven strength is intact; I can draw on it. I value relationships more and the quality of interaction. Therefore, I choose friends more wisely. I can touch the depth of others’ grief, but I cannot take it from them. I am more calm and centered. I can keep my memories and love for Joe while choosing a new life for myself.
WHERE DO I WANT TO GO AND HOW? I choose to continue the positives I’ve begun: good health habits, nurturing self-talk, pleasure in the moment, and quality relationships. My primary direction, however, is to add more meaning and purpose to my life. I choose to do this by returning to my field of work and selecting a specialty, continuing to write, reconnecting with my family in more mutually fulfilling ways, and deepening my religious faith and outreach.
Goals need to be stated in measurable terms. The areas described above each deserve a page where I can list specific actions to reach each goal. I also need to find ways to check my progress at specified intervals. The doing is up to me.
Marta Felber, author of Grief Expressed When a Mate Dies and Finding Your Way After Your Spouse Dies, has held many counseling and consulting positions in the U.S. and abroad, including serving for 10 years as director and head counselor at a center for expatriates in Jakarta, Indonesia.
Image: stock.xchng / gumby2