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"For such is the power of writing that psychiatrists commend it; counselors
recommend it to their clients to improve relationships; executives employ it
to mind their business. It makes living easier; it also helps us understand
and accept death." - Ritu
Thoughts and Advice of a New Widow:
One Year Into the Journey (Part II)
[Back to Part I]
Writing as Therapy
I'm writing these words with widows in mind, but the following content (and
especially the sidebar material) will apply
to anyone who has suffered the loss of a loved one and now has a lot of
emotion about this bottled-up inside. It's not always easy to voice your
deepest feelings to another person, but you don't have to be a writer to
put them on paper or open your word processor and let the words pour out on the screen.
In checking some of the advice being given to widows on the Web, I've found that many
writers urge widows to move on quickly and forget the past. I agree that,
after the loss of a spouse—or any other significant person in your
life—itís essential to move on and make plans for the future simply
because your whole life has now changed. But forget the past? Not me! If
you've already lived most of your life as I have, and it has been a happy
life, then it can only give you pleasure to remember all those happy days
as you get on with life.
I've always related strongly to Herb Caenís remark, "I tend to
live in the past because most of my life is there." To me, happy
memories are as comforting as a warm blanket on a winterís night, and I
wouldnít trade a single happy memory of all the loved ones Iíve lost
through the years for all the money in the world. As I move forward in
life, I know these very memories will continue to sustain and comfort me.
I think the secret here is to find a healthy balance between our past and
our future so that we donít have to give up one in order to have the
One way to do this is to keep a journal. Iíve always encouraged
business owners to keep a journal of their daily business activities,
ideas, plans, and accomplishments because rereading it from time to time
is not only personally satisfying, but revealing. Often in rereading my
journal notes from years past, I see things that werenít obvious to me
at the time I originally wrote them.
Because Iím a writer by trade, it was only natural that I would want
to share my husbandís life and accomplishments on my Web site, and go on
to write this series of articles. But Iíve also been writing letters to
Harry since last March, and it has been very therapeutic for me to dump
all my secret thoughts and feelings in my "Dear Harry" file and
tell him things I never could have said to him in person. This writing has not
only helped me to better understand some of the difficult times we had in our years
together, but also why both Harry and I did, or didnít do, certain
things along the way.
Most people go through life trying to understand themselves as well as
the people they love, and I think many feel that, at the end of any
relationship, there is a need to somehow "balance the books"
before closure can be made. By journaling or writing letters to someone
youíve loved and lost, you can speak with abandon and dump all those
feelings and emotions you donít want others to know about. In the
process youíre also apt to discover, as I have, not only closure, but a
new path and a new plan for the rest of your life.
"Studies have also shown that when people write about emotionally difficult
events for just 20 minutes a day for three or four days, the
function of their immune system improves."
I will keep writing to Harry for awhile because I still feel his presence in my
life, and itís a very comforting feeling. I see him everywhere, in
everything he owned or touched in the house, but I also keep remembering
the poem one of Harryís friends sent me, a poem someone had sent him
when his wife died. Basically it said, ĎMiss me . . . but let me go.í
This is very hard to do, but Iím trying very hard to do it because I
know itís the healthy thing to do. But "letting go" of Harry
doesnít mean I have to forget him or ever stop loving him. Itís just a
different kind of relationship now.
Shortly before yearís end, while watching a couple of movies I had
taped, two bits of dialogue hit me right in the heart. Iím sure they will speak to your heart, too.
"When you lose someone you love,
it doesnít mean theyíre not with you anymore.
You just have to find them in a different way.
Their spirit will always be with you in your heart."
and . . .
"Hurting goes away; LOVE, never.
Loving is the greatest gift the Lord gave us."
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Copyright © 2005-2014 by Barbara Brabec