EMOTIONAL & MENTAL HEALTH FOR WIDOWS
For widows, entering a new year can feel overwhelming and sad, as those around you celebrate and look forward to the possibilities of turning the page to the coming year. Someone very important will not be a part of this blank page for you, but your personal resilience can take your grief to growth, and take you from surviving to thriving.
To start off your 2023 strong, let’s continue discussing our January topic, willpower + waypower, terms that are often used to gauge an individual’s personal resilience. Willpower is the level of motivation a person has to keep going in the face of adversity. Waypower is a person’s ability to creatively identify new ways to reach a goal in the face of obstacles.
Many factors can impact willpower and waypower, but let’s touch on a few that specifically relate to widows.
Nature of the Loss. Long-term illness, sudden loss, trauma experienced, violent/crime-related loss, etc.
State of the Relationship. Were you and your partner close and connected or experiencing conflict?
Level of Support. Family and friends, financial, faith community, practical help with children, legal matters, time off from work, etc.
New or Secondary Losses. Financial, relationships, loss of parenting partner, etc.
These and countless other circumstances may impact a person’s mental, physical, financial, and spiritual energy reserves. When any of these resources are strained or depleted, willpower and waypower will suffer.
I encourage you to take some time to journal about your personal willpower and waypower in light of the circumstances of your own loss. It can be tempting to compare your own willpower or waypower to those of another widow, but comparison is not helpful nor empowering. This should be an opportunity to engage in some self-reflection and consider ways that you may be able to increase your personal willpower and waypower and grow resilience.
As you identify factors that may be limiting your willpower, you can reflect on each and decide if any of those are within your control. If so, you can begin making plans to address or change them. Begin with smaller challenges, such as increasing the amount of sleep you are getting, or improving your diet or exercise.
These smaller changes are possible for everyone, and have an immediate impact. Your physical energy level and mental/emotional wellness will immediately improve when you begin to care for your physical body and mind. Your body will have more energy to keep going, and your mind will have the rest it needs to reset and feed your creativity to find new ways to get to where you want to be.
Widowed in 2013, Cyndi Williams, LCSW is a mental health advisor and contributor for Modern Widows Club. She has more than a decade of experience supporting families navigating grief and loss. She currently works as a mental health therapist at Family Life Counseling in St. Louis, Missouri. Follow her on Facebook at @CyndiWilliamsLCSW.