During the first few years after my husband John’s sudden death, I pushed myself to keep going. In the process, I eventually burned out and slipped deeper into grief. With the stress of a new job and trying to keep up with the daily responsibilities of home ownership, I had little energy left at the end of the day to even go for a walk.
Eating alone with “Friend’s” reruns to keep me company, I mindlessly consumed frozen dinners, microwave popcorn and low fat ice cream out of the container. Along with high fat meals at local restaurants and on business travel trips the pounds piled on quickly. Add in prescriptions of antidepressant pills that were much needed to keep my mood afloat, I hit my highest weight ever.
Exercise had always been part of my life. As a kid when I lived in Minneapolis, Minnesota, walking provided daily exercise to and from school and to the park for dance lessons. In the winter I spent hours ice-skating on the outdoor rink twirling and gliding as I listened to Ricky Nelson’s voice on my transistor radio. I took modern dance in college and after I got married in 1972, my husband and I rode ten speed bikes, canoed, hiked and even tried running (well, we ran to the local grocery store to get potato chips). I even signed up for aerobic dance classes and took up inline skating.
Getting back into a healthy life style after John died in 2000 took time, energy and some soul searching. Eventually I connected with a wonderful woman doctor at our local clinic. During my initial visit we hit it off like a team that had been on the playing field for years. She understood the toll grief could take on a body, and she really cared about me as a person. With my doctor’s help, I began a healthy eating plan that triggered my recommitment to daily exercise.
I’m not a marathon or triathlon competitor by any means, but I walk-run two to three miles daily. When I travel I keep up my exercise by walking along the beach, touring towns on foot and swimming. Even in the Minnesota winters with a pair of ice grip chains hooked to my tennis shoes I bundle up and head out into the fresh, crisp air.
If you’re struggling with the spinning circle of grief, taking time to rediscover some of your past passions, activities and interests might provide the spark you need to get started in a positive new direction.
It’s been fifteen years since my husband died. Even though my life is headed down a new path, I still think about him every day, and I carry the loving memories with me. I know John will always be a part of my life.
Read about the rocky path of loss I eventually left behind in my memoir, Twenty-Eight Snow Angels A Widow’s Story of Love, Loss and Renewal Available in paperback and ebook at http://outskirtspress.com/snowangels. My debut novel, Courageous Footsteps, a WWII novel, will be released soon.
Updated: March 17, 2015