Saturday, February 20, 2016

How I Mourn, How I Cope

Greg always marveled at what an amazing project manager I am--mainly because of how well I was able to manage the logistics of his illness, all while working a demanding job. Being an editor is basically being a project manager, so I've had a lot of practice! I've realized recently that I've been, in a way, project managing my own mourning. In case this might be helpful to some, here are some of the things that have helped me cope:

-Breathing. Deep breaths.

-Focusing on each and every moment. Instead of going through the motions, I try to focus on each motion, no matter how mundane.

-Keeping busy, especially on the weekends. Friends have been good about reaching out to plan outings, and I've basically been saying yes to everything, but I also don't hesitate to do my own reaching out. When I want/need to schedule my weekends, I do. And it's been great to reconnect with friends I haven't seen for a while.

-Keeping busy, but not TOO busy: leaving myself some time to be alone, to grieve, to cry. And know that it's okay to feel sad. I don't want to avoid my grief. Also, a friend told me her therapist said that intense emotions generally last for 90 seconds and then subside. I haven't actually tested this theory, but it's a good reminder that "This too shall pass."

-Going to a Meet-Up group for widows and widowers under 45. I didn't know what to expect, but it turned out to be really great to connect with others who are going through the same thing.

-Reading. A few friends sent me books on loss (Healing After Loss and How to Survive the Loss of a Love--thank you Caroline and Christine!) and most nights I read a little before bed. 

-Reading blogs and listening to podcasts: I've also been reading some blogs written by widows or widowers. This one in particular. I've also been listening to the "What's Your Grief" podcast, by the women who run the website. Their post about secondary loss was particularly enlightening.

-Writing and journaling. I've always kept a journal, and I've been writing in it a little more often. Blogging a little more, too!

-Exercising. I've decided to run the NYC Marathon again this year, and going for runs in the cold winter air has been wonderful. Lots of walking, too, and I'm taking a Pilates class at work.

-Cleaning and organizing, rearranging the furniture in the apartment, getting new furniture. I've kept photos and other wall-hangings the same, but have rearranged the layout of the living room and bedroom (thank you to Rose, Jason, and Kirk!), which for me helps the apartment feel different and my own, while maintaining the familiarity. I've decluttered quite a bit. I also bought this Lumio lamp I'd been coveting ever since I saw it on Shark Tank years ago. It's a book that opens up into a lamp! It makes me happy.

-Getting massages. In general, taking care of myself.

-Brunch! Dinner! Wine! (see "taking care of myself" above.)

-Focusing on work. It was hard at first, of course--working all day in an office is exhausting! I don't know how anyone does it. But, by the end of my second week, I felt like I was really back. It was familiar, and good to focus.

-Doing small rituals. Another organization I'm in the process of joining (recommended by Gwen) called The Dinner Party sent me this article, and I realized that much of what I've done fits into this. Going through Greg's belongings. Listening to the music he loved. I found a woman who makes beautiful "bereavement quilts" out of ties, and I sent her Greg's many ties to make a wall hanging. I saw this "I have done love" bracelet on Cheryl Strayed's Instagram, and ordered one for myself. I wear it every day. It's from the quote: 
When I get to the end of my life, and I ask one final "What have I done?" Let my answer be: "I have done love." -Jennifer Pastiloff

Okay, that's all I can think of for now. 

It's starting to get light a little earlier--I can feel Spring coming! If you have other advice/techniques for coping and healing that you'd like to share, please do.


Sangeeta said...

Thank you for sharing, Alvina. Your post is creative & inspiring & so touching at the same time. And the lumio lamp looks amazing! xoxo

saramoohead said...

Sending you lots of love, Alvina.

Kate @ Framed Cooks said...

Beautiful, courageous and inspirational.

Unknown said...

I know this might sound silly, but back in the day I used to watch Dr. Phil and he said something that changed my life. He said, "We never get over the things that happen to us, we only learn how to handle them every day."

I know Greg would be proud of you and how you're handling each day. Sending you lots of light and love.

Tracee Comfort said...

Prayers for you and your family. You are doing so much to help those of us striving to move diversity forward and all the while you have your own battles....goodness, you are strong....Blessings--Tracee Comfort

Libby Koponen said...

Wise words! Good advice!

Ingrid Meagher said...

Love this post. It's been almost 15 years since my mom and there have been other losses since. The mourning is always there ebbing & flowing but over time it's become like an old friend. He inspires me to be present, grateful and creative in ways I may not have been bold enough to pursue before. Excited to hang out again next weekend! xx ing

Shelli (srjohannes) said...

Just wanted you to know I'm thinking about you.

The Polished Widow said...

Hi there, I just came across your blog and firstly wanted to say sorry for the loss of your husband Greg. I'm Michela from The Polished Widow and I'm so touched that my little blog was able to give you some comfort in your earlier grieving days. I hope you're doing ok. Sending you my love xx