The Widow or Widower Next Door

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Tis the Season to Travel; Be Safe Widow Sisters

 

Tis the Season to Travel; Be Safe Widow Sisters

 

Lots of family visits, lots of day trips, lots of vacations this time of year and widows and widowers are no exception. As well they shouldn’t be!  Travel can get us out of our ruts, bring us into the company of old friends and loved ones, make new happy memories.

 

 

I applaud each and every one of you who are brave enough to pick your selves up, dust yourselves off, and pack your suit case. Bon Voyage!

 

But before you go, keep some safety tips in mind….just for Wids.  You can find all kinds of travel safety advice online, and I recommend doing that…go online and search for them. A few apply to us, in particular. Here are a few to keep in mind:

 

·        * 

Don’t draw attention to yourself. Dress conservatively without much jewelry, real or costume.  If it only looks expensive, a thief make believe that it is.  Don’t make it obvious that you are alone. Sit near people, reference a traveling companion, if it seems appropriate, don’t make yourself a sitting duck.

 

·        * 

Think about staying in B&B’s.  They are a little more expensive, but the sense of safety and security have always been worth it to me. I often feel like I am staying with a family, and sometimes I am.

 

 

·        * 

If you are staying in a hotel, be sure to ask ahead for a room on the second floor or above, away from elevators, stairs and renovations. And by the way? When you check in, if the front desk attendant broadcasts your name and room number loudly, ask for another room, and ask them to be a little more discreet. Most will understand, and even if they don’t, your safety is more important than their annoyance.

 

·        * 

For many of us, travel by ourselves is new and we can feel a little unsure. Combat both being unsure and looking unsure by planning ahead well. Before you strike out, know exactly how to get where you are going. Take notes or a pocket map with you if needed, but avoid checking a map in conspicuous way in a public area. Better to ask a shopkeeper, discreetly, for directions.

 

 

·        * 

Have a good time meeting new people and enjoying conversation, just be cautious about revealing too much personal information to someone you really don’t know.

    

·        * 

If you want to use the hotel gym, do so only if there are several people there or a hotel attendant. I would avoid gyms that are empty or sparsely populated. Better to pack a stretch band and use it in your room.

 

 

·        * 

Make good use of the “do not disturb” sign. Do you really care if somebody makes your bed, or would you rather no one goes in?

 

·        * 

Consider wearing your wedding rings. Out on the town, strangers will assume your mate is with you.

 

 

Long story short, be aware of your surroundings and be careful while you are having a good time. You are your own Chief of Security, after all.

 

 

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I Loved You Once, I Love You Still...

 

Pay It Forward

Every one of us who have lost a spouse knows how gut wrenching that is. Nearly as many know all too well how the gut wrenching loss is compounded and multiplied by the loss and inattention of family members and people we called friends. The very people we had every reason to expect would be there to help prop us up, instead…let us down. They execute the move the Irish call “ghosting”, or disappearing without a word.

 

A great many of us find that our biggest source of comfort comes from other grievers, other widows and widowers. My sisters in the ‘hood were the ones who listened endlessly to me as I talked my way into healing. They were the ones who checked on me, coaxed me out of the house, and befriended me when everyone else walked out. Without them, my sisters and even some of the brothers-in-loss, I would have been lost.

 

It’s been a while now, for me, over three years now. I am not quite so needy. I also find myself in the company of a lot of widows, with the work that I do. Because of that, I run into newly minted widows who are themselves on that needy road.

 

I confess, as I have become stronger, I shrink from being drawn back into that foggy, gray and dark place of loss. I am scared of the emotions it may make me relive. It’s not something of which I am proud. I fight the urge to flee, though, because I know how much it meant to me when my sisters and brothers lingered to comfort me.  I set some boundaries, and forgive myself if I must cut the conversation off after fifteen or twenty minutes, or when I begin to feel drained. I know I must live to fight (or comfort) another day, and frequent visits or conversations are more important than only one long one.

 

 

The upshot of all this is to encourage all of you to do the same. I encourage all of you to “pay it forward” in the relay race of grief.  Be there for someone with a loss, be there when everyone else walks out, you be the one who walks in. It will make two hearts warm. It will light the darkness.

 

 

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No Way to Treat a Lady

 

Ch-Ch-Changes or Redecorating for Widows and Widowers 101

Ch-ch-changes
Pretty soon now you're gonna get a little older
Time may change me
But I can't trace time
I said that time may change me
But I can't trace time

David Bowie

 

We widowed have some unchosen and unwelcome ch-ch-changes thrust upon us. It stinks and we have to adjust to so many new ways, so many new patterns.


Yet, in the midst of this turmoil, we can chose some things. Actually, we can change many things. Today I want to talk about changing our surroundings. We can either change them completely and move somewhere else altogether, or perhaps we can stay right where we are and claim our space as now entirely our own.

 

I talk to a great many widows and widowers in my work. Most all of them, who chose to remain in the homes once shared with their spouse, elect to do some redecorating. As a Certified Grief coach and long ago Home Economics major who spent a lot of years working in the Interior Design field, I think redecorating is a splendidly healthy idea. It’s a very forward looking thing to do, and it acknowledges that the past isn’t coming back. Time to seize the day and look to a different future.

 

Anyone contemplating a new environment, must go at their own pace and not rush into it before being ready, but most people find themselves ready at some point.  I have a few suggestions about how to proceed.

 

 

·        * Start by gathering up bunches of home interior magazines, or look on Pinterest for decorating pins. Tear out all of the pictures or pin all of the pins that appeal to you. Every single one. Note that I said you, the you right now, not the living-with-a-spouse you.  Gather them in a folder or a Pinterest board just for those ideas. Spend several weeks on this.

 

·        * 

Next, once you’ve found every image or idea that grabs you, spread all the pages out in front of you, or study your Pinterest board. Start deleting. Ruthlessly, delete everything that you don’t like as much as you thought you did, or anything that just doesn’t seem to fit with the rest.

 

·        * 

What you have left is your style. It’s your road map. It’s a guide to reinventing your space.

 

·        * 

Keep color foremost in your mind. A color change can change a mood more than any other design element in a room.  You want happy and relaxing colors.  While I know that grey is ever so trendy right now, I can’t think of a worse choice for a recent widow. It’s tranquil, yes, but it’s also depressing.

 

·        * 

Now that we have grey out of your color palette (except for the odd accent or two), what colors should you look for? How about thinking outside of the box? How about some girly colors in small or large doses. It’s your home, do what you want. Yellow, pink, coral, lime, and turquoise come to mind. Think cheerful and happy colors. Maybe like these:

 

 

 

 

Happy color palette - gray coral navy gold orange dusty blue rose

 

·        * 

Next, think about the furniture in your home that you’d like to change. Is that beat up old recliner just bringing you down, and taking up space, unused? Change it out for something that suits you, suits the way you want to use the room. Most of the widowed I know elect to buy a new bed and linens as a priority. Get something you really love. It might make sleeping easier.

 

·        * 

Speaking of how you use a room, is it time for the man cave to become a sewing room? Think how you can better use space in a new way.

 

·       *  Budget tighter than tight? Paint doesn’t cost much, and second hand stores can yield some true bargains. As a last resort, consider covering existing sofas and chairs with stretch or canvas slipcovers.

 

When my own husband died, we had just moved into a home we built. We occupied it together, and it was planned for both of us. It was still pretty new to me.  While I didn’t need to do a complete overhaul, I did make some significant changes, and finished planned projects. The windows all got sheers over them so I had more privacy. The sofas were reupholstered. I converted Pat’s den into a guest room.

 

 

In short, I made it my own, and I’m glad I did. It helped.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Poof! You Were Gone

 

Proud to Introduce "Happily Homeless is Moonstruck" Alison Miller as My Guest Blogger. Read Her Inspiring Story

 

 

Driving headlong into the grief.  That’s what I’ve been doing since the death of my beloved husband, Chuck, 4 years ago.  There is no running from it for me, out on the road.  Reminders are everywhere, tugging at my heart and soul as I see this familiar roadside picnic table or road sign, or landmark.

I’ve full-timed, solo, now, for almost as long as Chuck and I did together.  I’ve visited family and friends around the country as I fulfill his final request of scattering his cremains at our favorite places.  

Don’t wear black, he told me.  It isn’t your color.  Wear pink.  Seriously?  Okay then. Sometimes even my hair is pink.

Look down to where your feet are, and be there.  I live this, every day. It’s what makes this living without him possible.

Do the next thing right thing.  So I get in my car, turn the ignition and drive in whatever direction I’m compelled at that moment to drive.  For the first time in my life I’m living entirely by my heart and instinct, allowing them to guide me on my way.

This is my Odyssey of Love.

Chuck named the first 4 places for me to scatter his cremains, knowing that there would be others, knowing that, in order to recognize those places, I’d have to keep my heart open and, in so doing, he knew..he hoped…I’d create a new life without him.

Chuck was a smart man who knew me well.  I don’t know that he consciously thought every detail of this mission out, but he knew me and he knew the path of grief, so he gave me a mission, knowing full well he could only get me started and the entirety of it is on me. Smart man, my husband. Smart man who knew me well.

I’ve logged 90,000 miles currently, and here’s the thing: I don’t even really like driving.  But I’ve done it and I’ve gained confidence as I tow my rig, PinkMagic, when I’d never even considered ever learning to tow anything, prior to his death. Gaining more confidence as I’ve learned to camp, which I’d not only never done but would have never considered doing. Continually meeting new people on the road, when the temptation is to isolate myself completely. Sharing my story and hearing the stories of strangers on the road, working my way through this morass of emotions.

What this feels like to me is that I’m wandering aimlessly; no direction, no true purpose other than fulfilling my husband's wishes.  It’s overpoweringly lonely, grief is everywhere and I’m way outside my comfort zone and it’s difficult for me to see the big picture.  Impossible, really, to believe that there even is a big picture. But there is one and this is it:  I’ve soloed on the road for 4 years, learned to tow a trailer, hitch and unhitch with confidence, back up, set up and break down camp. I’ve persevered with determination and grace and I’ve learned to give space to that determination right alongside the sharp edges of grief that shred my insides.  I’ve learned to let it all just fucking be right where it is instead of running from it or ignoring it or trying to make it something else so that it won’t be what it is. And I’ve done it all in a pink car with huge letters on both sides that say “Nothin’ but love”, towing a pink trailer, with “FWG” on the front of it, which means fucking warrior goddess because that is what I must be to get through this.  I must be determined and honest with my emotions and give in and give space and allow the ebb and flow and show up even though tears cloud my eyes and my body feels heavy and I just want to curl into a ball on the floor and sometimes I must even allow myself to curl into a ball on the floor so that I can get up again.

Where is this taking me?

All I believe in, trust in, any longer, is the power of the love that Chuck left behind for me and that love is my super power and it propels me, always, into whatever the next part of my life must be. Some of this I can comprehend.  The rest…not so much.  Family and friends and the unexpected encounters with those I meet on the road remind me that, in spite of how aimless it feels, there is purpose in my wandering.

 

I’m on an Odyssey from Love into Love, surrounded by Love~

 

 

 

 

Alilson Miller blogs about her travels, both spiritual and physical at http://www.happilyhomelessismoonstruck.com/.  You can also keepup with her (well almost) at https://www.facebook.com/HappilyHomeless2/?fref=ts

 

 

 

Walk the Widowed Path with Me

 

So What's a Widow's Blog? And What the Heck Does A Blogger Do?

 

So what’s a widow’s blog and what do bloggers do?

 

I get the question often, from friends, family and followers. Blogging isn’t as new as you may think; it’s been around since the late 1990’s and like most things internet, has been picking up speed ever since. Blog stands for “website log”, like a journal. The word can also be used as a verb, as in, "I’m blogging today".

Blog defined by Wikipedia means “a regularly updated website or web page, typically run by one person or a small group that is written in an informal, conversational style. As a verb, to add new material to or regularly update a blog.”

 

Blogs can exist on a website, in an online news source, or even on Facebook or Pinterest.

I like to think of it as much like a newspaper column. Columnists regularly wrote articles for a newspaper, picking different topics to talk about in different columns. Just as newspaper columnists tend to have a special area of interest or expertise. It’s no different with bloggers. It’s even true for the subsets of “widow bloggers”.

 

And just like columnists, we are paid for our time and efforts via ads in our “paper” or blog.  For many of us, for me, it’s a full time job of many hours work.

 

One Fit Widow, ( http://www.onefitwidow.com/blog/ ) by Michelle Steinke-Baumgard focuses on physical fitness and training as a way to cope with grief and struggle.  Carolyn Moor, of Modern Widows Clubs ( http://modernwidowsclub.blogspot.com/ ), casts her attentions to her social clubs around the country for widows. Lynda Cheldelin Fell ( http://www.lyndafell.com/ ) , a lovely lady I’m proud to call friend, publisher and collaborator, concentrates on the many grief books she has recently brought to market.

 

 

I like to be kind of the voice of “the angry widow”, addressing the many ancillary hurts, indignities and injustices that befall recent (and not so recent) widows. We all discover, upon our loss that the loss is just the beginning of our problems. So many unexpected difficulties land on each of us that we never saw coming.  Am I angry all the time? Heck NO!  Who could live like that? Not me!

 

 

I do get angry, though, when I hear some of the stories from widows about the ridiculous bureaucracy problems, the cruelness of family members and the social shunning so many of us encounter. I certainly did.  I’m sure that all of us thought we would get some special consideration and tenderness in our time of grief. Sadly, that’s often not what happens. Sadly, most often, the offenders are offending because they know no better. Let’s say….they are pretty clueless. My recent books, with Lynda Cheldelin Fell, (Grief Diaries: Loss of a Spouse and Grief Diaries: How to Help the Newly Bereaved, available on this website in the store (www.widsnextdoor.com) address in detail the missteps that well-meaning sympathizers make.

 

 

By talking about them, shedding light on them, I hope to educate, enlighten, and change our culture for the better, when it comes to how we treat our widows and widowers. It is Biblical, after all, that we be treated well. By talking about them, I hope to bring grief out of the closet. Grief is more taboo than sex….and isn’t that just ridiculous?

 

 

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