I am failing to cope after my husband's death

Dear Gaone Please keep my identity anonymous. I am a 26-year-old woman who lost her husband three months back due to COVID-19. We had been married for four years and have a two-year-old son together. My husband was my first love, the only love I have ever known and dreamt of. I felt like I came out of him the way Eve in the Bible was fashioned from Adam’s rib. He was my paradise on earth. Through him a fraction of heaven was hand delivered to me on earth. Ours was a match made in heaven, we were imperfect yet perfectly in love. I do not want to re – marry, for the love he gave me will forever speak from his grave. The past three months have been an emotional hurricane for me. It feels like my soul has been irreparably torn apart and that a part of me is missing. My centre cannot hold. I feel withered and wilted, I have lost my zest for life. My family and friends are supportive, yet the pain I feel is inconsolable. Never before, have I known emotional turmoil of this length and depth. I was on leave and at home with a few relatives the first two months after my hubby’s death. After that I resumed work. At work I would uncontrollably break down due to immense grief, my blood pressure and blood sugar level were ever on steroids. Consequently, my doctors have now recommended me bed rest for a month. Nonetheless, I am concerned as I am not recovering. I need to be strong for myself and son. I need to earn my keep more than ever since I am a young widow but my inner strength keeps failing me. Kindly advise.

Dear Anonymous

May the hand of comfort and inner strength calm you down when the rains of emotional pains hit you like a flood. My certainty is wanting as to whether we can ever recover completely from the agony of grief after losing our affinity or consanguinity. Nevertheless, we can learn how to consciously handle the emotional lows and highs of bereavement so they do not perpetually hinder us from concentrating on the life that lies ahead. You should generally allow yourself to feel the anguish of loss.

Some days may be much harder to calm the storms of inner pain, but if you keep on practising some of the coping mechanisms in the latter paragraphs you may handle the emotional distress better in due course. The said mechanisms are therefore not professed to deny the mountains and valleys of grief, they are just purported to help you navigate such valleys and mountains with grace. Despite the vehement winds of distress that have left you shattered and broken into pieces emotionally, there is a voice within your distress that is reaching out for strength. That voice is prompting you to look for help; a living proof that your DNA was fashioned for strength and victory during turbulent times.

If you can magnify that voice by determinedly taking steps that can amplify it, you will almost certainly soar through the trauma of grief with time.

Optimism and faith - Feed your faith by daily reading or listening to inspirational materials. Water your faith when you feel like and when you don’t. Be a prisoner of hope. Studies upon studies depict that people who stay optimistic, faith -filled and match their actions with their faith have a greater probability of recovering finer from grief or any emotionally tumultuous moments. When we have faith, we cultivate the belief that everything will work out for our good regardless of the pangs of adversity. The walk of faith is not always a crystal stair. Some days you may stumble and cave into your fears. The trick is to keep rising whenever you fall and maintain your faith walk. Without faith, we may develop faith in our fears. Fear exaggerates our challenges and mounts our stress further.

Faith may help us to think clearly and confront our challenges better. As you continually build your faith, it will rise in you and ultimately prevail during this wintry emotional season.

The beauty you form, from the ashes of grief will sustain you past mourning, even if you maintain your decision to not re – marry. • Breathing in exercises – On days when an emotional tornado of troubled emotions is raging on the inside of you, pause and do breathing exercises until you soul is still. The more you practice breathing exercises daily even when you feel okay or just for a few minutes, the more your chances of practicing them when you are deeply troubled and reaping worthy emotional benefits thereof. There are certain realms of peace that we can never experience firsthand until we learn to individually still our souls independent of externals i.e., relationships, money e.t.c

• Speaking to yourself – Words are life; they can mend or break us; they can hold or trip us up. More often than not stress is a result of the words we replay in our hearts and mind. When the thoughts we echo in our mind and hearts are positive, we are most likely to weather externally stressful conditions good naturedly. Create time to daily affirm yourself. You can also couple the self-affirmations with breathing exercises if you so wish. Given that you wanna be strong for yourself and son, some of these affirmations may be handy; I am strong, I release grief from my body, soul and spirit, all things are working together for my good, I am calm, I am at peace with my husband’s death and maximize the life that is before me. Painful emotions vary in intensity; mildly painful emotions may just calm down after a few minutes of breathing exercises and/or self-affirmations. On the other hand, very intense painful emotions may calm down after around thirty minutes of breathing in and out repetitions and/or self-affirmations.

• Exercise –Do physical training, even if it’s soft exercises like strolling, yoga, pilates etc. -Just a minimal amount of exercise like a 30 minutes stroll or yoga session daily can lift your spirits as exercise releases serotonin which is a feel-good hormone. Moreover, working out can help to discharge stored grief from your body.

• Journaling your feelings - Sometimes you may just be a pen and paper away from feeling peaceful whenever you feel emotionally distraught. Writing down our painful feelings is like an ocean that replenishes its water supply every time when it flows into other rivers. When you let go of troubled emotions through writing you make way for more soothing emotions. It also helps you to identify your excruciating emotions clearly which may make it easier for you to pinpoint positive self – affirmations that can calm down such emotions.

• Opening yourself up to love outside romantic love – At the core of our very being is the desire to feel loved and valued. Though you lost romantic love it may be of assistance for you to unlock your heart to other sources of love e.g., God, inner love and bliss, your son, other family members and friends e.t.c that can fill your love tank in the absence of romantic love. Sometimes we subconsciously hinder ourselves from feeling the diversely abundant love around us because we confine the totality of love to the parameters of romance or marriage only.

• Conclusively, even if you execute the herein mentioned strategies daily, it is imperative that you keep yourself busy and reclaim your life on purpose after your husband’s death. Nature abhors a vacuum. Without choosing to take steps to consciously cope with grief, managing grief may probably remain a phantom. Gaone Monau is an attorney and motivational speaker. For bookings on gender-based violence awareness seminars, corporate training on specific areas of the law; relationships, confidence building, stress management and self-discovery contact +26774542732. Her email address is [email protected] Her Facebook page is Be Motivated with Gaone.

Editor's Comment
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How can this be achieved when there already is little care about the working conditions of those within the private sector employ?For a long time, private sector employees have been neglected by their employers, not because they cannot do better to care for them, but because they take advantage of government's laxity when it comes to protecting and advocating for public sector employees, giving the cue to employers within the private sector...

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