Episode 36: Six lessons that took me 6 years to learn
You are listening to the Life Reconstructed podcast with me, Teresa Amaral Beshwate, grief expert, best-selling author and widow. I’m so glad you’re here because in this and every episode, I shine a light on the widowed way forward.
Hello and welcome to episode 36. In this episode, I share what I wish I knew in my first six years of being widowed. Because I traveled the slow road to healing, but you don’t have to.
There is no one “right” way to grieve. There is no one “correct” timeline. And there is no such thing as speed grieving.
But there is the road I took, which I call the slow road. If the most efficient way to grieve was like traveling a highway, I spent most of my time on offramps, cul-de-sacs and dirt roads.
I spent six years on the slow road. It was much slower than necessary, and it was filled with extra, avoidable suffering. And I don’t want that for you.
So today I want to share what I wish I knew then. What would have kept me on the highway – on the most efficient way forward. Here are six lessons that it took me six years to learn.
1. Don’t believe everything you think. I thought that if I wasn’t miserable, then I didn’t love him enough. I thought I should have been able to save him. I thought I could have been a better wife. And because I didn’t know to question those thoughts, I just assumed they were true. I lived with them playing like a record in my mind. They made me feel extra terrible, and they kept me stuck and miserable. For years.
2. Sadness is not the only way to honor them. The moment we lose our person, the grief moves in and dominates every aspect of life. So, it can seem like grief is our only connection to our person. It just isn’t true. Our joy, happiness, and successes large and small are all ways to honor them.
3. Monday morning quarterbacking has no upside. It’s easy to sit here with the benefit of hindsight, with all the information and knowing the outcome, and judge our former self. Our former self who didn’t have all of the information, who didn’t know the outcome. Who was trying her best in an incredibly difficult situation. It’s a colossal energy expenditure with no benefit. In the worst of circumstances, you did your best given what you knew.
4. Feelings are neither forever nor fatal. I was deeply afraid of falling into the depths of despair, so I tried to run from the feelings. I tried to stay busy enough to outrun it. Other people try overspending, overeating, overdrinking, excessive scrolling, to name a few. None of it works. What we resist, persists. Difficult feelings are part of the authentic human experience, especially in life after loss. The most efficient way through is to process the feelings. Listen to episode 4 for more. If I could go back in time and tell my former self just one thing, it would be this. Feelings are neither forever nor fatal. They need to be felt. And there is an efficient way to do this that is incredibly helpful.
5. Judging the journey is a spin cycle of suffering. Notice thoughts like, “I should be further along by now.” “I’m back at square one.” “I’m not doing this right.” “I shouldn’t feel this way.” “I’m feeling sorry for myself.” “I’m wallowing.” Losing your person is hard enough. And then we judge our journey, piling heaps of suffering on top of the pain. What if you’ve not done anything wrong? What if you’re right where you’re supposed to be? What if it’s this hard to lose your person? To the degree we can stop judging our journey, we can then start moving forward more efficiently.
6. The second worst case scenario is merely existing rather than living life on purpose. His heart stopped beating, but mine did not. At some point I decided that the one thing I could do for him now, is to live my life fully. Intentionally. By examining my own thinking and challenging my own beliefs, rather than operating on default.
I learned all of this thanks to coaching. And this is exactly what we do inside of Life Reconstructed, my small group coaching program exclusively for widowed people.
Give yourself the gift of starting 2024 with certainty. There is a group starting in January and I hope you’ll join us. We apply these lessons and so much more. You’ll feel better right away, you’ll have the ideal tools to help you through each day, you’ll have a grief expert and certified professional coach to guide you, and a community of like-minded peers to support you.
Time doesn’t heal. Intentionality does. You’re just one decision away.
Click the link in the show notes to join us in January, or book a free conversation while spots last.
And remember that I believe in you, and I’m here for you. Take care.
If you’ve found this podcast helpful, I invite you to join Life Reconstructed, my coaching program exclusively for widowed people. It will help you step forward toward a life you will love again. Simply go to thesuddenwidowcoach.com and click work with me.