Helping Yourself Heal: An 11-part Series


I made a brief mention a few posts back about a very big step I took recently: I started counseling. There are several things that pushed me to take that step, but my therapy journey is something I have decided to keep for myself. I share a lot on this blog, but some things are better kept close.

However, I am certain that along the way there will be valuable insights I’d like to share. Regardless of where we are on our “grief journey” (does anyone else kind of dislike that term?!), we can all learn from each other and support one another through this experience. That was one of the goals of this blog, connecting and sharing…and although I may have moved forward in many ways, I do still experience grief and I am still learning which coping techniques are best fit to help me carry this load for the rest of my life.

That said, I’d like to share something with you. My sweet counselor likes to provide resources for me and has given me several sources of literature on the topic of grief. If you are a widow involved in any sort of widow ‘group’ or follow the ‘widow circles’ online, you’ve likely read many already and know that some miss the mark, some repeat themselves, and some are cliche. But some are helpful, and one of the handouts I read through recently summed things up in very real practical terms (an 11-point list, to be exact). Having already lived through a lot of it (and still striving to reconcile some of it), I’d like to recommend these steps and examine them further.


For 11 weeks, starting in January,  I will address each of the suggestions on the list, explaining why I think they are important and sharing my personal experiences with each. I hope this series will be beneficial to someone out there… I want you to know you are not alone, and there is hope. You can heal yourself. You can find happiness again. But please (and believe me here, because I have taken the long route), you have to do the work. You can’t avoid it or shove it down. Trust me, it will find it’s way back up eventually.

So, from an understanding heart to yours, let’s examine some ways to help yourself heal.

Helping Yourself Heal When Your Spouse Dies
a list adapted from Alan D. Wolfelt, Ph D.

  1. Allow yourself to mourn.
  2. Recognize your grief is unique.
  3. Talk out your thoughts and feelings.
  4. Expect to feel a multitude of emotions.
  5. Find a support system.
  6. Be tolerant of your physical and emotional limits.
  7. Take your time with your spouse’s personal belongings.
  8. Be compassionate with yourself during holidays, anniversaries, and special occasions.
  9. Treasure your memories.
  10. Embrace your spirituality.
  11. Move toward your grief and heal.

Please join me over these 11 weeks as we explore these areas of grief work and share ways to work through devastating loss. Let’s be open: share your experiences in the comments or with your loves ones, encourage other widows to tune into this series, and really look deep into your “grief journey.” Because even though we may not like that term, it is pretty accurate. It is a journey, and this trip takes work. But you don’t have to travel alone. Let’s wander together.

Big step – way to go :)

Found you through a link on AWP. I look forward to this 11 part series! Thank you for sharing what you have learned with those of us who are new to this journey.

[…] Welcome to the first installment of an 11-week-long series here on WSW called Helping Yourself Heal. In this series, we will be examining a set of practical steps that I have found to be helpful and relevant to the grief of a widow. (Read more about the origins of this list and my reasons for this series here.) […]

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