Dear Susan: I was widowed in February after being married 35 years. My husband and I married in our 30s, so I do have some experience being single, but now I'm sort of lost. Our marriage was so close we kept our friends at the periphery, which only adds to my problems. Have you some back material I could download or purchase online? Thank you. — C.H.
Dear C.H.: Toweling myself off from an extra-long shower — where I do my best thinking — your bewilderment is front and center in my thoughts. Having been widowed — twice — I can tell you that answers to issues looming large right now will surface at the right time, and they will come from your own wisdom. (But please don't tackle any biggies just yet; you're only a year out of a long and tightly bound union, and both you — and single life — have changed mightily.) For now, keep your days calm and uncomplicated, taking one at a time, and doing your best not to overthink the situation. (Easier said than done, I recall.) Be gentle with yourself and your mood changes. Weep and moan aplenty — without guilt or shame — whenever it feels right. Trust your body's wisdom as it adjusts to this new phase.
Life has thrown you to the mat, dear woman, testing your resilience. But as you get up (and you will), wobbly and tentative at first, but a little stronger every sunrise, a little more confident of your decisions as they work out. Right now you're finding your survival instinct, and it's a healthy one. You're realizing life is to be lived! Little by little, each day stronger, you'll become more confident of capabilities rusty from years of disuse but available and ready/able to be tapped. And slowly, one day at a time, life will widen into more opportunities. Right now, though, show yourself the woman who rises to meet the challenges ahead.
Life is for the strong. But every life is unique, one of a kind, with its own tests and timetable. Right now your challenge is to find your inner strengths and put them to the best possible use. Your test is to be strong for yourself and for your dear husband. In this new phase of your life, you're going to surprise yourself with abilities long dormant. You're finding your true grit, your survival instinct, and it's proving to be durable. I urge you to be everything your husband imagined you to be. I'm sending you my book, hoping you will use it as a textbook for this new phase, and that we can talk about it in the months to come. (Use it as a guideline to measure your comeback into life.) Be kind to yourself every day. Trust your instincts; they will be your compass as you find inner strength. And remember, I am here for you.
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