Basic Survival: When a loved one dies, a widow may not be aware of her own needs. She has been so focused on taking care of another, especially if the loved one was ill, that it may take some time to realize that she is still alive. Once this sets in, careful attention is paid by others or oneself to ensure that these basic needs are met, i.e food, shelter, keeping body well, enough sleep, etc. Yes, “life” goes on…..
Safety: A person takes for granted her safety needs while her spouse or loved one is alive, knowing that she can call upon them to help her feel secure and safe, even when not physically present. She knows that she has someone to come home to. She feels protected. Once, that spouse leaves or dies, she has to rethink her resources for safety. Never again will she look at her house and surroundings in the same way. She has to be more vigilant as she enters her residence or arrange to have backup friends, neighbors, pets, family on speed dial or quickly available to help her when her safety is compromised.
Psychological-Love & Belonging: Connecting with other people is vital. Established friendships need to be nurtured and new friendships established. If there are few resources available from family or acquaintances, this is where support groups are helpful. A widow has a lot to deal with psychologically. To get a handle on it, having a friend or family member she can share with, and support her emotionally is so important to moving through the phases of grief. I am trying to send thank you cards to all who took the time to send me a card, do something special for me, or gave me a gift. This is my affirmation that I am loved and cared for. It’s a small task of acknowledgment to send a thank you, but so important to moving through my grief and connecting with people.
Self-Actualization: Building confidence & Self-esteem—Now the hard work of widowhood begins. On the task list: making calls to family, friends, employers and businesses, making claims for life insurance and benefits, planning a budget, getting bills paid, making decisions about living arrangements, taking trips and celebrating holidays/special days without your loved one. As some of these get taken care of, one may also explore doing different and new things that was not done with the spouse. These are all things that build that confidence and work through the grief. I deliberately did not say “ease” the grief. Everyone has a different intensity of the grief they experience and one person’s grief does not fit all. However, building one’s confidence and self-esteem will make life much more worth the living.
Some people are saying that I am doing extremely well with my widowhood. I feel blessed that I have had the very best of resources to support me, a loving family, committed friends, a sense of security and a confidence in my abilities. I know, however, that there will be times of insecurity and emotional instability but, I am blessed with a God, who loves me and will take care of me. My faith in Him is very strong and unwavering.
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