During this time of abundant sunshine and prolific garden growth, let’s explore some ideas about the miracle of life. Though it may be a distant memory now, last winter was devastating. And yet, the earth has recovered and is putting forth her fruit and flowers in abundance. As widows and widowers, we, too, have gone through a time of devastation. Are we yet capable of a recovery that will provide a life of abundance?
Author of The Girl with the Pearl Earring, Tracy Chevalier, commented on the TED show, that, “Everyone wants to hear a story that has a beginning that is normal, a middle that is everything shaken up, and an ending where you get to the new normal.” Though we may want to hear that story, we probably never wished to be the protagonist! Our marriages started out normal (though that’s a broad term!); it’s now been shaken up, and we are working toward the new normal.
We’ve all wondered about the question, “Is there life after death?” especially regarding the person who has died. I’d like to look at the question with a new perspective. Can we have life after the death of someone we love? This is trickier, because we obviously have our physical life. We can still use our senses, and move about the world as we wish. We still have emotional capacities, to feel all the reactions to our loss. We have our intellectual capacity, and it is challenged to keep up with everything that has to be done. We are able to nurture our spiritual selves, though a relationship with Deity or in our chosen way. So clearly, we have life, but what sort of life is it?
I believe that we have the capacity to live again, and to live well. The tools are all there: physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual. So what is holding us back? Each one of us probably has a different answer. Maybe we feel a duty to play a certain role, and that includes keeping everything in its place. Changing anything would feel disrespectful to the memory. What would other people think if they saw us trying a new style of clothes or laughing in public? Or maybe we stay stuck because we are safe and comfortable in our routine. Trying something new would be risky. Maybe we are afraid of being hurt again. We’ve been hurt in many ways, and the fear is based on experience. All of these answers are valid and deserving of consideration. But if we give them too much respect, and allow them to dominate our lives, then we will stay in the stage of “shaken up”, and it will be like living under the covers for the rest of our lives. That would be a shame, because we are still ALIVE, and have the potential for joy and meaning.
How do we work through these barriers, so that we can get to the “new normal”? It’s not easy, and it will be different for each of us. Steven Covey, management guru, says, “Start with the end in mind.” Start this next stage of life by visioning how you’d like to see yourself in the future. See yourself being engaged in life in some way. That will be your new normal. It will be a way that nurtures your spirit and allows for you to find the niche where your talents meet the world’s needs. Once you can “see” the future, you can develop a plan to get you there.
In this issue, we tell stories of how others are finding their new normal. Phyllis lives with an open heart, accepting the risk of pain in the confidence that love is worth it. Gillette, on the other hand, chose to stay single after the loss of his wife. Eva honors the memory of her husband with an outdoor opera festival, and Gerry finds a new way of seeing life through the lens of her camera. We can’t imagine life without humor, and Carol Scibelli makes us laugh in the closet. Amy Barry offers great insight for parents who are raising children who have lost a parent. Jane Milardo explores how to manage the memorabilia that fills our home. Patricia Chaffee introduces drumming as therapy. Rosemary Collins fires up the grill for great summer cooking. I put on my physical therapist hat to address how posture influences our relationships.
We have enjoyed putting this issue together for you, and hope that you are comforted and inspired by it.
Peace and Blessings,
Dr. Joanne Z. Moore,