Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Tips for Getting 'On With It'

Today I did a radio interview with Dr. Jane Greer on www.healthylife.net. It was an hour (less commercials) of talking about myself and my "circumstances." I know Jane for many years and she's a real pro and easy to talk with. The hour flew by...at least, for me, it did. Although, when I hear it I may have to tie myself to a train track...

Jane introduced me by reading my writing credentials and explaining my new status as widow. She emphasized that I'm adusting remarkably to my new life. She attributed my healing to my sense of humor. I believe she's right.

A handful of months ago I was on the Judith Regan Show talking for the first time about this blog and the memoir based on it. My previous radio experience was silly and jokey as Dr. Friendship, the female friendship expert. (Rule #1: If you're your own best friend, you need to get out more.")

Today's interview was easier and harder. It was easier because I was simply talking about my life. It was harder because it once again drove home the point, made it official - my husband has died. When asked 'marital status' I circle 'widow.'

In one of her books, The After life Connection Jane writes, "You never get over it...you get on with it." Towards the end of the show Jane asked me to give her audience tips for "getting on with it." It made me pause. It caused me to view myself semi-responsible for the widow world. Oh, my...Did I sign up for that?

My babble about my life started to sound small. Here was an opportunity to spell out what has worked for me. So, what has worked for poor widow me? I blurted out what I knew to be true.

1. GIVE YOURSELF PERMISSION TO LAUGH.

I realize many widows feel squimish or guilty about laughing. I never did. This may be because I come from the comedy world and it's said that if it's your circumstance you can make fun of it. More importantly, Jimmy and I spent our lives laughing...He would be the first to see the humor within the tragedy.

When I look back on the day I changed my on-line profile I'm amazed. I wrote I would "find the funny." This was only three months after Jimmy died... I wasn't deturmined to find humor. Deturmined implies it was an effort. It wasn't.

I knew I'd be able to pull humor from my new life because my sense of humor is my core. To anyone who has lost a husband or a wife ...We may have lost our spouse, but we haven't lost ourselves. Who you are without him isn't all that clear immediately. Take this as an opportunity to find out.

2. WRITE DOWN YOUR FEELINGS OFTEN.

You don't have to put them in a blog for the public to see. You don't have to spell correctly, either. Writing unscatters feelings. When you write about your emotions you're forced to pinpoint what the MAIN emotion is. So many feelings are swimming within us especially the first year, that putting it on paper makes us choose a theme among all the sub-plots. One feeling at a time is much easier to deal with.

3. KEEP BUSY.

It's difficult to know what to keep busy with - After all, so many of our activities have been as a couple. I'm fortunate to have my writing and many woman work real day jobs that gives them a reason to get out of bed each day. I've always had my own time with friends. Ironically, As Dr. Friendship I used to say that since women live longer than men - the other widows won't let you in the card game if you haven't been playing all these years.

Staying physical has helped me - I find myself actually moving faster and I'm more annimated than ever before. It may have something to do with needing to feel alive. Moving about = fighting back.

I started taking dancing lesssons a few months ago. Don't ask. I'm ridiculously white. I'm majoring in Hustle and a little bit of Salsa. I'm awful in both. Still, I'm having fun and maybe someday I'll actually find a partner.

4. DO FUN THINGS WITH FAMILY AND FRIENDS

It's awkward. It's painful, for us and for them. They see me. They see Jimmy. Still, the relationships need to be nutured - so many widows complain their couple friends have left the building. I wonder who left first.

And, the kids are here for the long haul. Jimmy, assuming he'd be in his 80's used to joke and tell them "If I feel myself going I'll try to take your mother with me...so she won't live to be a burden to you."
They never agrued. Nice. Now, they're going to pay.