Monday, February 17, 2020

49 Things I Learned After I Was Widowed

Today is my 49th birthday. And believe it or not, I am alright with that. Honestly. I am so alright with that. I consider myself very lucky to be 49.

So many people don’t even make it to 49, their lives tragically cut short far too soon. And so many people never truly live while they have the chance. They rush from day to day, so busy making a living they don’t even notice as life passes them by. I was one of those people until tragedy completely changed my life and me.

After my husband died, I had to rebuild my life and myself. It took a lot of grief and a lot of hard work for me to get to where I am today. I’m far from perfect, and I’ve certainly made my share of mistakes. I have more wrinkles and my hair colour is now (a well-disguised) natural grey. I’ve been skinnier in my life, but I’ve never been fitter. In fact, I am emotionally, mentally, and physically healthier than I ever was when Dan was alive. And I can honestly say, I’m the happiest I’ve been in years. Ironically, the best version of me was born from my husband’s death. It took a long time for me to reconcile that with myself.

Death truly is life’s greatest teacher. Death challenged me in every way possible. It took away everything I believed in and forced me to confront my worst fears. And yet, it also made me appreciate each and every moment. It has shown me the power of vulnerability and the importance of gratitude. And it has made me love more fiercely than I ever thought possible. Death has made me more resilient, and stronger than I ever thought I could be. And it has made me wiser.

I have learned so many valuable life lessons in the six years since Dan died. You may say they are clichés, but there’s a reason why clichés are written.

I learned the truth of these 49 life lessons the hardest way possible.

1. Life isn’t fair, but it’s still good.

2. Growing old beats the alternative – dying young.

3. You have to let go of the life you thought you’d have and make happiness in the life you do have.

4. No one else can make you happy. Only you can do that.

5. Happiness is a choice and you have to work at it every day.

6. Be kind, you don’t know what someone else is going through. But remember: going through a hard time does not give you a license to treat people poorly.

7. You can’t change the past. Learn from it, then let it go. Before it destroys your present.

8. Nobody can rescue you but you. Get up and be your own damn hero.

9. You have to keep laughing, it really is the best medicine.

10. You are more than enough. When you realize your worth, it will change everything.

11. You don’t know what you don’t know. Nobody has all the answers.

12. You can’t numb the pain, and it just makes it worse when you try. Sadly, gin is not always your friend.

13. Grief demands to be heard, so don’t even try to bury it. Until you lean into it, acknowledge it, and process it, you will never heal.

14. Your grief is your grief, only you truly know what you are feeling. And you are not obligated to share it with anyone.

15. Stop caring what other people think. Seriously. There will always be people who judge you. Their opinion doesn’t matter.

16. Don’t compare your life to others’. You have no idea what their journey is all about.

17. Not everyone will be there to support you. Let them go. They aren’t your people.

18. Sometimes people show up in your life just when you need them the most. Serendipity is a beautiful thing.

19. Everyone needs a tribe to support them, in good times and in bad.

20. It’s okay to ask for help, it doesn’t make you weak, it makes you strong.

21. Self-care is not indulgent, it’s necessary.

22. Material objects are just that – objects. What you own is not who you are.

23. Less really is more, except when it comes to coffee, of course.

24. Coffee won’t fix it. But it will help. Be kind to the baristas of the world.

25. Exercise is just as important for your emotional health as it is for your physical health.

26. Just 15 minutes of exercise will have a positive impact on your attitude. Put down your phone and go for a walk.

27. Vulnerability is a strength, not a weakness.

28. Sometimes you need to go somewhere to discover where you don’t want to be.

29. You can never truly go home because home is not the same and neither are you.

30. Sometimes you accidentally find your purpose, but your purpose is never an accident.

31. You get what you give. Be there for others when they need you.

32. Gratitude completely changes your outlook and your heart.

33. There is always something to be grateful for. Even on the worst of days. You’re still here, aren’t you?

34. Sometimes you have to say no.

35. And sometimes you have to say yes.

36. Some things and some people are totally worth the risk.

37. You’ll never know if you never ask. If you don’t ask, you don’t get.

38. It’s okay to be scared. Do it anyway. That’s courage.

39. Stop waiting for the perfect time. There is no perfect time, there is only now.

40. Regret is the price you pay for fear. Fear isn’t worth the price.

41. Grief is the price you pay for love. Love is so worth the price.

42. Shattered hearts do heal. You will love again if you are brave enough to let love find you.

43. Time spent with people you love is never wasted time.

44. You never know when it will be the last time you say I Love You, so say it to your people as often as you can.

45. Loss teaches you the true value of time. It really is much shorter than you think.

46. Eat the chocolate. Burn the candles. Wear the perfume. Life is too damn short.

47. The little things that annoy you so much often become the things you miss the most about someone when they are gone.

48. All that truly matters, in the end, is that you loved.

49. Get busy living or get busy dying. The choice is yours.

The choice has always been yours. Just like it was always mine.

Don’t make the same mistake I did. Don’t wait until something catastrophic happens to choose to live the best life you possibly can.

Live it now.



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