Courage, widowed style

Apr 18, 2024

I recently returned from Camp Widow in Tampa, Florida. I gave a few presentations, including to those widowed less than 12 months. As usual, I was moved by how new many people are in their widowed journey, and somehow they found the courage to travel to Florida, many by themselves, to attend a conference for widowed people.

Franklin D. Roosevelt is quoted as saying, “Courage is not the absence of fear but rather the assessment that something else is more important than fear.”

That something else is what brought over 200 people to Camp Widow. They were seeking connection with people who get it, and tools to help them navigate the dark days of loss.

Some return year after year, to get a boost, to connect with old friends, and make new ones.

There is sadness and there is joy, all of which occurs because of the courage required to attend.

It takes courage to keep stepping through a life that seems to have ended.

Courage is getting out of bed and facing yet another day without your person’s physical presence.

Courage, according to Napoleon Bonaparte, isn't having the strength to go on – it is going on when you don't have strength.

It takes courage to feel the profoundly difficult emotions that come in the aftermath of the loss of a spouse.

It takes courage to let people misunderstand you and your grief – to let them be wrong about you.

It takes courage to try, and fail, and then try again.

It takes courage to allow yourself to dream again, to consider that life can be beautiful again.

Courage is a feeling that is equal parts uncomfortable and useful. It comes with a side helping of uncertainty and fear.

What have you done since your loss that required courage? I encourage you to make a list and review it often and add to it with every act of courage, however small. I suggest this for two reasons.

First, because negativity bias, which I covered in episode 21 of my podcast, will prevent you from seeing your own courageous acts. Your brain will most likely tell you that you’re doing it “wrong,” or somehow failing at life.

It’s just not true, and a courage list will help you to see the evidence that it’s not true.

And the second reason I hope you’ll make a list of courageous acts because courage begets courage.

Eleanor Roosevelt said it this way: "You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, 'I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’”

You are indeed living through your horror, the aftermath of your catastrophic loss. The worst case scenario happened, and you keep stepping forward, doing your best, learning to navigate it all.

Courage, according to John Wayne is being scared to death, but saddling up anyway. I’m a horse person and my late husband was a John Wayne fan, so that’s probably my favorite quote about courage.

So if today your grief feels a lot like fear, saddle up anyway.

Draw deep breaths and take the immediate next step.

And know that courage is quiet.

I know you’re courageous because your person passed and you’re still here, figuring it out. Reading this blog post, gathering tools and resources to help you.

And the day will come that your next courageous act is to dream again. And then dream bigger. To imagine yourself living a full, meaningful life that’s beautiful and peaceful. And then stepping toward that life.

That’s my hope for you. And Life Reconstructed, my coaching program exclusively for widowed people, will help you get there. Click below to learn more. 

Learn more about Life Reconstructed.

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