Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Each day a new beginning in the process of becoming

"For all the sadness of closure, there is a new and joyful unfolding in the process of becoming." - Mary Casey from "Each Day a New Beginning: Meditations for Women"

The conversation over dinner last night was far ranging on topics such as retirement investing to farm projects to adjusting to living on your own. It was a dialogue as much for ourselves as for our guest, who is newly widowed after 25 years of marriage. Her husband died after only a months-long battle with cancer that in hindsight was probably affecting his health and outlook for a longer period. Two themes emerged from the conversation: women need to reassure themselves that they have what it takes to manage their investments and that life after the loss of a spouse is not so much about moving on as opening doors to a new you, a whole new life. While loss is loss and certainly a time for grieving, looking ahead can be exciting, even exhilerating. Our guest has owned her own business for 20 years, she's got a large and supportive famiy, she has her health, and most of all, she knows in her heart that she will be OK on her own. That doesn't make dealing with the items on her "must-do now" list any easier. She longs to feel rested.  Knowing that she will be OK doesn't make waking up in the middle of the night alone any less lonely. But those who've gone before can say, time will help, she just must keep putting one foot ahead of the other, creating new memories and balancing the short-term "to-do's" with a longer term stategy for where she'd like go. In the first months after a loss, there's a need to keep moving, stay busy, seek out the company of others. As time passes, those needs will become less intense. Already our friend has enjoyed an spring evening alone, sitting in front of an outdoor fire sipping a glass of merlot. It was a quiet moment to enjoy her own mind, a moment to survey the landscape and contemplate the aloneness. "Sometimes, I still feel like all this hasn't happened," she said. "It feels unreal. But now that the first wave of activity has subsided, it's interesting to see what happens next, to see who calls and what goes on the calendar." Over four hours of dinner conversation, we agreed that staying busy, moving forward felt right. But we emphasized that she would be inventing a new life not just moving on. While doors had closed, others would open. It's a joyful process of becoming.

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