Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Losing A Spouse

This month's LDS Living Magazine contained a story on advice for those who have become widowed, and for those who interact with widowed members. It's a wonderful article and well worth reading.

Losing A Spouse

It's been 11 years (it will be 11 1/2 years on Valentines Day) since Decker passed away unexpectedly, and I do have a few more words of advice, based upon my own experiences and that of those with whom I've been privileged to be a widow buddy for.

1.  Seek and receive Priesthood Blessings often.  I cannot emphasize this enough.  Every widowed person should seek to call upon the powers of Heaven for their aid.  Doing so will yield expected and even some unexpected blessings and revelation.

2.  Journal the advice given from the Priesthood Blessings, as well as experiences, promptings and revelation you receive.  My learning curve when straight up after Decker died.  I'm so thankful now to go back and read those experiences, and continue to journal as I experience more now.

3.  Go to the Temple often.  If you do not currently hold a Temple Recommend, do whatever it takes to get one, and wear it out.  The House of The Lord is the place where the veil between mortality and eternity is the thinnest.  It has been my personal experience that I can not only feel the presence of our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, but also Decker, when he's not too busy with his work.

Make sure that you arrange your schedule so that you can take as much time as you would like to in the Temple.  Don't over schedule yourself and end up with a rushed experience.

4.  Have a checkup with your doctor.  While preparing for Decker's funeral, I came down with bronchitis.  A few days after the funeral, I went to the doctor to not only find out I had the bronchitis, but my blood pressure was near stroke levels.  Grieving is very stressful, not just emotionally but also physically.  Take vitamins (particularly the B-Complex vitamins for stress) and if you cannot sleep at night consult your doctor for medications that can assist with that.

5.  Get a widow buddy.  This should be a widowed member whose spouse has been gone for at least one year.  The reason is that the first year is the hardest to get through, you need someone there who has experienced it.  The article I mentioned above talks about support groups, however sometimes those can be hard to find in different geographical areas.  It's easier to find at least one widow buddy in your stake.

Make sure you spend time with that widow buddy, phone calls and emails will not cut it.  They need to see how you are doing, as well as to be able to get you out of the house for a little while.  They can also see if there are signs of trouble and get help before things go really bad.

6.  Do not delay or skip the grieving process.  Delaying the grieving process actually makes it harder when it does hit (and yes, it will eventually catch up to you).

Also keep in mind that just because you've made it through one stage of the grieving process doesn't mean you won't repeat it.  This happened with me, and it's happened with everyone I've met who is grieving the loss of a loved one.

7.  Remember that there is hope.  You never stop missing and grieving the loss of your spouse, but it becomes less frequent over time.  I still have my "basket case" days when our wedding anniversary approaches and the anniversary of Decker's death approaches.  I know this and I can forewarn anyone I happen to be with that I will be more emotionally sensitive during those times.

Keep the door open for Jesus Christ, He can't take the pain away, but he can help you bear it as you experience one of the most challenging times of your life.

Also keep in mind that while you are experiencing transition in your life, so is your deceased spouse.

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Welcome to the Widowed Connection, where widowed members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints can read and share in this blog.