How Are You Doing Today?

Join me Thursday, April 29 at 5:30 EDT
for a FREE One-Hour Zoom Event about
TRUSTING THE UNKNOWN

How are you doing today? Is it an up day, or one of those downer days, where everything seems to be a chore?

I find one of the hardest parts of being widowed is finding and fueling your self-motivation.

As women, we do a great job of encouraging our partner. Remember how you were always thinking about them, finding little ways to help, and encouraging them to take better care of themselves? The encouragement and love you gave them was invaluable.

Who is encouraging you? Who reminds you to take a walk or eat a salad or pick up your medications? Sometimes we all need a little help to get through the tough stuff.

It’s hard to know where our help will come from sometimes, that’s where being with other widowed women can be a real life saver and energizer!

So join me on Thursday, April 29 at 5:30 EDT for my new Zoom Event, “Trusting the Unknown.” A $125 value, yours free for a limited time. To participate, email me

Pre-registration is required.

How You Can Manage Stress

Many of the widowed women I work with have either traumatic conditioning or full-blown PTSD. Like me, they have undergone so many stressful situations so many times that their bodies are now set on full-blown, on-going disaster mode. And, once the death occurs, this becomes their “new normal” so they are almost oblivious to it. Are you in this heightened state of ongoing stress response?

Here are a few of the warning signs that you might have traumatic conditioning or PTSD: heightened startle response to noises in your home or unexpected en- counters with people or animals; a rapid heart or respiration rate in response to new situations or normal street noises (such as sirens, motorcycles or trains), recurring dreams about the illness or death, and heightened anxiety about new situations or a break in your routine.

So, if stress and your response to it, are damaging your health, what can you do? Well, here are some ideas that are proven to work and a few that don’t help. Let’s look at the don’ts first.

Don’t drown your stress in alcohol or caffeine or blow it up in smoke from nicotine. These habits actually lead to greater cravings and a dip in energy as your liver and kidneys try to filter these toxins from your bloodstream.

Don’t ignore what you’re feeling. It’s not going to go away on its own. You need strategies, not avoidance. (The Navigating Loss program is filled with ideas you can apply. And each video ends with a healing meditation guaranteed to help you relax and let go of stress.)

Don’t hibernate. While it’s tempting to want to spend days on end under the covers, hibernation does not lead to recovery but more often leads to more depression, isolation and weight gain.

Now here are some things you CAN do to reduce your stress and, more importantly, your conditioned stress response:

Get out and take a walk. The Vitamin D you receive is an immune system protector and exercise is really good for you! Plus, walking has been proven, in numerous studies, to be as effective at combating situational depres- sion, like the kind you have when you are grieving, than anti-depressants. Plus, it lowers your blood pressure, lowers blood sugar, increases the release of toxins, and helps you lose weight. Not bad for a walk in the sun, right?

Take a bath. A gentle soak has long been known to release feel-good chemicals in your body. Enhance your expe- rience with aromatherapy by adding lavender to the water or lighting a scented candle.

Get a regular routine in place. It’s important to take the time to nurture yourself now. Make a schedule as to when you’ll exercise, when you’ll use your grief container, when you’ll meditate and set aside a time a few days a week to deal with those things we all procrastinate about: paying bills, reviewing your to-do list, and making your needed medical and dental appointments. Having a routine increases your sense of control over your life, which decreases your stress.

Use a small personal notebook to make notes about what you need or want to do so you can keep all your niggling stress boosters in one place and under control. Rate your to-do list to make sure that the important things get done while acknowledging all those little things you wish you could get done!

Express your gratitude. Keep a gratitude journal or, better yet, end each day by naming, out-loud, 3 things you are grateful for that day.

Visualize calm. See a place in your mind where you have felt safe and calm. Maybe it’s the beach or a meadow or a shady spot filled with flowers. Several times each day, close your eyes and see that place. Breathe in deeply and really see it. Research shows that your body actually produces less of the stress hormone cortisol when you engage in this type of guided imagery every day.

The Navigating Loss program will walk alongside you as you recover from your partner’s death and rebuild a new life. It includes the handbook, “Navigating Loss: A Survival Guide” and a 6-part video series.

Are You Suffering from PTSD?

One of the widows I work with, whose husband had metastatic prostate cancer, went through 4 surgeries, each with a long and painful recovery, and 12 emergency room visits. When she passed out on ER visit #10, she ended up in the bed next to him on the verge of a heart attack. Stress kills. Google it. You’ll soon find out how serious the stress you underwent can be. (Learn more from a Harvard psychiatrist in the Navigating Loss program.)

New research has proven that stress causes inflammation, premature aging and even death. In 2009, the Nobel Prize in Medicine was awarded jointly to three American geneticists “for the discovery of how chromosomes are protected by telomeres and the enzyme telomerase (telo-mear-ace)”. Their research showed that stress, in particular, shortens our body’s telomeres and this in turn, leads to premature cell death. Dr. Blackburn, the lead author in the Nobel Prize winning research, also did a study that is quite particular to us, as widows who have undergone repeated stress during our partner’s illness or injury and subsequent death.

She studied the mothers of chronically ill and disabled children and found that their telomeres were significantly shorter than the control group of mothers with lower levels of stress related to the care of children. These shortened telomeres increase inflammation and cell death which leads to premature aging and disease. Stress is serious stuff so it’s wise to take your stress level seriously.

When you are exposed to stress time and again, your amazing body begins to adjust by keeping your cortisol levels high. This, in turn, burns out your pancreatic system and weakens your immune response. This is traumatic conditioning. In time, after exposure to repeated stressful situations (like the illness and death of your partner!), your mind and body can begin to live in a state of heightened anxiety. And this ongoing state of heightened anxiety needs to be diffused consciously, and the sooner the better.

If you’re finding yourself reliving events from his illness and death, or if you find that you’re jumpy and anxious, try using Herbert Benson’s 4-7-8 breath to reset your homeostasis (heart and respiration rate). Inhale for 4 counts, hold your breath for 7 counts, and exhale gently through your mouth for 8 counts. Repeat 3 times.

Don’t become the second victim of his death. Take the time to take care of yourself. You’re precious!

The Navigating Loss Program will guide you through processing your deepest layers of grief and rebuilding your life. Get the book and the 6-part video series for just $49.

How Stress Affects Your Health

If you were a caregiver for your spouse, as I was, you probably arrived at his death exhausted and with your own health in jeopardy. Many of the widows I work with have cared for their spouse for years and done things only trained nurses in a hospital did even 20 years ago.

Our modern medical system is insane. But whether you cared for your spouse or they died in an accident, every aspect of your life is turned upside down now that you’re a widow. If you’re still caring for your children, as I was, you face the added intensity of helping them get through the death and find their new normal.

A widow is stretched like a rubber band and just like a rubber band that is stretched too thin, too many times, sometimes you break. Psychologists consider widowhood the single biggest life stressor because it affects so many aspects of your life. Learn more and heal faster with the Navigating Loss Program. Only $49 for the book and video series!

Each time you experience extreme stress your body floods with adrenaline and cortisol. This is how your body protects you when you meet a tiger in the woods or need to rescue your child when they run across a street in front of a car.

When we experience stress, our heart rate, respiration and blood pressure increase. Our muscles tense. Higher levels of free fatty acids and blood sugar are released to provide immediate energy to survive the perceived emergency. These physiological changes are what we commonly call the “fight or flight response.”

Cortisol and adrenaline are super chemicals and they enable you to do what needs to be done but they are not meant to be used on a regular basis. Each time you performed a Super Woman deed for your spouse, your body paid a price.

The Mayo Clinic’s website has this to say about stress and the activation of the chemical stress re-sponse. “The long-term activation of the stress response system—and the subsequent overexposure to cortisol and other stress hormones—can disrupt almost all of your body’s processes. This puts you at increased risk of numerous health problems, including:

Anxiety
Depression
Digestive Problems
Headaches
Heart Disease
Sleep Problems
Weight Gain
Memory and Concentration Impairment

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms of prolonged stress, make an appointment with your doctor. Remember, now is the time to put your health first! You don’t want to be the second victim of your spouse’s death!

Get the help you need to recover smarter and faster with the Navigating Loss Program. Only $49 for the book and video series!

How His Illness Might Have Affected Your Health

When someone you love becomes terminally ill or injured, your womanly instinct takes over. You first sort, then later administer, their medications, make notes at the doctor’s office, provide personal care, arrange for therapy sessions, provide updates to friends and family members, and drive them to and from appointments. And this is in addition to the regular duties you may have taken on in your relationship! (Things like cleaning, doing the laundry and cooking.) A terminal illness or injury is all consuming.

You enter a war zone whether you want to be there or not. (Learn more and heal faster with the Navigating Loss Program. Only $49 for the book and video series!)

Here’s a little snippet of what this looked like in my life: After a few weeks in the hospital, after my husband’s first stroke, he was sent home where he received three types of therapy four days a week, and saw four physicians on a monthly basis. His stroke became my full time job before he was even out of the neuro ICU.

But the most labor intensive part was that, the stroke left him unable to swallow correctly, so everything that entered his mouth had to be either be blended to a pulp or thickened to a pulp because of his dysphasia. I tried to cheat at first because it was so labor intensive. I’m a whole foods cook and I make almost everything from scratch so at first I bought organic baby food. The look on his face when he saw those little jars on the kitchen counter made me to say, “They’re for the food bank honey.” And I swept them all up into a bag and delivered to the food bank. Next, I tried putting everything I’d made for dinner into the blender. He looked at our son’s plate and then at the blob on his and he pushed his plate away. I said, “Don’t you want to eat?” and he shook his head slowly, looked at his plate of pulverized glop and said, “Would you?”

When I told my neighbor this story she told the other neighbors and two days later, when we came home from yet another doctor’s appointment, there were 4 blenders on my front porch, each wearing a piece of masking tape with the owner’s name. That solved the blender problem for about the next two months but preparing all his food was very time-consuming. I also had to closely monitor everything that went into his mouth because the stroke had taken away his ability to understand that he couldn’t swallow correctly. It was a joyful day when he passed his swallowing test and the blenders were returned to their rightful owners.

As my husband recovered—my health fell. I gained weight, my blood-pressure shot up, I stopped exercising or seeing friends because I was afraid to leave him alone for any length of time. Our son was 15 and very active in band, scouts, science competitions, and youth group. Since my husband wasn’t allowed to drive, I was the chauf- feur, too. I was utterly overwhelmed. My life was a mess. My emotions were a wreck and my health was rapidly slipping.

If any of this sounds too familiar to you, it might be a good time to check in with how you’re taking care of yourself now that you’re alone. Are you getting enough rest? Are you preparing and eating healthy, nutritious food? Are you exercising?

I invite you to make YOU the most important thing in the world right now so that you do the things you need to do to stay healthy. Grief is hard enough without getting sick!

Learn more and heal faster with the Navigating Loss Program. Only $49 for the book and video series!

Finances for Widows

I just recorded a podcast with the team of HER TWO CENTS about finances for widows. Click here to listen!

These gals are wonderful people and they are CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNERS, not salespeople or investment brokers. AND, they only work with women! (Hence the “Her Two Cents” moniker)

If there’s one thing I know for sure, it’s that your financial life changed when he died. Maybe you were blindsided and now dealing with more limited funds than before. Maybe you received life insurance (Like that replaces them in our lives!) and are unsure as to how to best utilize the funds.

I don’t know about your life, but my husband handled our finances. I didn’t have bank passwords or investment records (He kept them on his computer and after his first stroke, he couldn’t remember his passwords – why write those down, right?) It was a mess to sort out. Did your spouse handle the money? If so, you’re now faced with building financial know-how muscle.

There’s a whole chapter of Navigating Loss devoted to this subject. I hope you’ll make the small investment in your own healing by purchasing the Navigating Loss program. You’ll get the book and the six videos for only $49.

In the meantime, give this podcast with these knowledgeable women a listen. It will be worth your while!

What are you really grieving now?

I want to be really honest with you: Your biggest grief is not actually about him, no matter how hard that was or how much he suffered. It’s not about him. You have probably already mourned what he went through and what he lost. What you’re grieving now is what YOU have lost and what YOU have gone through. You’re grieving the dreams you had for your life with him that will no longer be able to come true. And that’s hard.

So, take in a deep breath right now, hold it, and release it very slowly through your mouth. I’m going to say this again, because it’s really important: What you are grieving now is what YOU have lost and the dreams you had that can no longer come true. This is not about your husband. This is about YOU. (Pause)

Let me give you an example from my own life. My husband was healthy as a horse until the day of his first stroke. When he died, our son was 16. Our son was the apple of his Daddy’s eye. The first born son of the first born son of the first born son. And when he wasn’t there to see our son make Eagle Scout, or graduate at the top of his class, or see him get that academic ride to college it broke my heart. At all these big moments, our son only had one of his parents there to see it and it broke my heart.

Learn more and heal faster with the Navigating Loss Program. Only $49 for the book and video series!

This compounding of life losses is so deep, so all-encompassing, that we would be foolish to ignore it. Instead, it’s extremely helpful to examine the other losses we have experienced and to take a brave look at the broken dreams that his death left behind in your life.

Taking a look at your life in this way is a lot like cleaning out that over-stuffed closet. You can only delay it so long before one day you open the door to grab a needed item and you can’t shut it again without taking stuff out. And, it’s not much fun to do and it can take a while to sort through everything that’s in there. But once you take the time to clean out the closet, your heart feels lighter and you feel good about getting rid of that old stuff that was cluttering up your life.  Life feels a little brighter and cleaner as a result. So I invite you to clean out a closet this week. Give yourself at least a half an hour to do this activity

Make a list of five hopes, dreams, and expectations you lost when your spouse died.  Then, sit with the awareness of how much it hurts to have lost those. The loss of these dreams is what you are grieving now. Be gentle with yourself as you mourn and begin to let go of the hopes and dreams you’ve been holding onto from your marriage that no longer serve you.

When you let go of old dreams that will now never come true, you make room for new ones. New dreams are what will bring you joy as you embrace your new reality as a single woman!  

Learn more and heal faster with the Navigating Loss Program. Only $49 for the book and video series!

Free Zoom Workshop

FINDING PEACE IN PANDEMIC TIMES
EMAIL ME TO RESERVE YOUR SPACE!

Sunday, March 7, 3-4p.m. EST

It’s coming up on a year. We’ve been isolating and staying home and forgoing trips to see family and friends for a year now. No wonder we’re all so tired!

For those who are grieving, the pandemic has just added another layer of unhappy to the cake plate.

That’s why I hope you’ll join me the first Sunday in March for a workshop with your fellow widowed women. We’ll share laughter and ideas, and find release from the understanding that only your fellow widows can provide. We’ll end with one of my healing meditations so you can find peace in these pandemic times. You’ll leave you feeling understood, relaxed and refreshed.

Space is limited and pre-registration is required. Email me to reserve your place at this event. I hope to see you there!

Is Grief Holding You Back?

What would he want you to do now?

Grief, shame and guilt. When my husband died at 55, I unwittingly invited all three Cinderella sisters to my pity party. (No one really wants to bring those girls to the ball but they show up anyway, don’t they, wearing some garish get-up, too much mascara and smelling a like gin.)

It’s really helpful when you’re feeling sucked into in the whirlpools of sorrow to understand that you probably have unresolved grief from other losses. These losses are compounding the grief you feel about the loss of your husband and keep you swirling in grief.

Often when you are feeling dark and discouraged, it feels like you’ve lost everything all at once. But really, you’ve been losing things you’re whole life but you’ve probably not fully acknowledged or processed those losses because you could get away with it at the time, or they weren’t large enough to shut your life completely down OR you just didn’t want to take the time to deal with them.

Learn more and heal faster with the Navigating Loss Program. Only $49 for the book and video series!

Plus, our society is loss and death phobic. We don’t want to see sickness and death, let alone grief.

So people say stupid things like, “You’re still young, you’ll find somebody else,” or “He’s in a better place,” or “All things happen for a reason.”

And, make no mistake, there’s a lot of societal support for being a victim, too. And I have found, to my horror, that there is still sexism, even in death. Men are encouraged to quickly remarry, to replace the spouse with another spousal unit while women are encouraged to become the perpetual public mourners of their men. It’s as if our grief makes their life matter.  But as you already know, their life did matter. It mattered a lot to you. But I’m going to remind you now, that your life matters, too. Your life matters!

So what’s different about this grief? It’s too big to get away from. It’s the biggest loss anyone can ever have according to psychologists. But this big loss has reactivated your grief about all these other losses and when that happens, you get overwhelmed and feel stuck.

So if you’re feeling stuck right now, I want you to ask yourself a question:

What do you think your partner would want you to do? Would they want you to give up your life and become the 2nd victim of their death? OR would they encourage you to do what you need to do to grieve them and then rebuild your life? I bet I know what they would say, but it’s your question to answer. And this is one of the most important questions you will ever answer so think carefully!

Learn more and heal faster with the Navigating Loss Program. Only $49 for the book and video series!

Valentine’s Day Zoom Event

It’s the weekend of love. Cards, chocolate, flowers. You remember, right?

But when your spouse is gone, it’s often a lonely day, one that is filled with memories of days gone by. One that seems to make the loneliness of widowhood even more painful.

Because I well-know the pain the day can bring, I’m offering a free, heart-healing Zoom event on Valentine’s Day. We’ll meet via Zoom on Sunday, February 14, from 2-3:00 p.m. EST.

Pre-registration is required and space is limited for this free event. Email me to receive the invitation by Saturday, February 13 at 5p.m. EST.