Grief Journey: A Husband’s Reflections After Loss
On February 28, 2017, Nick Muley’s wife, Betty, died. He felt like his entire being was empty. After 55 years of marriage, it was not surprising that the loss was profound. Betty was his companion, lover and best friend. Nick couldn’t remember a time when they were not together (except for the three years he served in the U.S. Navy). The following are Nick’s reflections after his loss and his grief journey.
My Grief Journey
I was not hopeless, but I was hapless.
I was told if you can’t feel grief, you can’t feel love. To me, both seemed a spiritual state of mind. But the grief I was feeling manifested in tears every moment I thought of going on without her. My family and my daughter especially were very supportive. They did their best to console me, but I couldn’t express myself to them. I didn’t know what to say. My mind was not letting me put two consecutive thoughts together.
A short time after my wife’s passing, my cousin asked if I were trying to get through my grief by myself. I asked, “What else is there?”
He said there were other people in the world feeling the same way I did, grieving a loved one. He told me to reach out and get into a grief support group. About a week later, I was crying and trying to calm myself, thinking how and where to find help. That day, I received a phone call from a staff member at LifePath Hospice. She wanted to know how I was dealing with the passing of my wife, Betty.
I viewed it as a message coming from an unknown source at just the right time. (My wife passed in the Melech Hospice House in Temple Terrace, and they were great caregivers.)
I told the person who called that I felt lost. She suggested I join a group that Teressa Crock, LifePath Hospice bereavement specialist, was starting in Brandon.
The support group was eight weeks total, with weekly Tuesday meetings. I joined not knowing what to expect. It turned out to be just what I needed at just the right time. Teressa was fantastic in her opening presentation and her high praise for Alan Wolfelt, PhD, and his books about the “grief journey.” I began reading his books and soon felt he was saying exactly what I was thinking.
My vision was such that, maybe in different ways, those of us in the group had the same grief of missing part of ourselves. Every Tuesday night, we became an extended family, and we journeyed this wilderness of grief together. It was at these meetings that I realized all of us were trying to accept the loss of our loved ones, and we didn’t have to journey alone.
Could someone or something be reaching out to you? LifePath Hospice is there to fulfill its calling of helping grief-stricken individuals and families. If you are in need or know someone who is, please hear the calling and accept.
Note: Grief support groups are open to the community, regardless of whether the loved one received hospice care. You can access our current calendars on our Grief Services page here.
At Chapters Health System and its affiliates—Good Shepherd Hospice, HPH Hospice and LifePath Hospice, every day is devoted to educating our patients and keeping them in the place they call home. We are dedicated to ensuring that patients, young and old alike, and their families are able to make educated decisions about important healthcare matters. For more information, please call our helpful Chapters Health team at 1.866.204.8611 or send an email to email@example.com.
Top 4 Grief Tips for Widowers
Remember the popularity of the self-help book, “Men Are from Mars and Women Are from Venus?” Dr. John Gray’s words pointed out the inherent contrasts in the two genders and how they reacted and processed feelings differently. The goal of this book was to help men and women celebrate their differences and work cooperatively together to strengthen relationships. But what happens when the death of a spouse occurs? Do men and women process grief differently? The answer is yes.
The following are some grief tips for widowers to help them through the process.
- Don’t separate yourself from people. When she loses her husband, a wife will typically surround herself with family and friends. Unfortunately with the death of your wife, you might tend to separate yourself from others. You probably believe that you need to be strong and go it alone, but you do not have to be an island unto yourself. If you are a friend of the widower, do not push the issue. Instead, let your friend come to you when he’s ready.
- Find another man who also lost his wife. It is always helpful to find another man who lost his wife. You might know someone in your community or at work who is also a widower. Reach out to this man, and see if you can schedule a time to talk. This individual probably has insights that can assist you through some of the challenges and hurdles you are facing. Or like Nick, find a support group to help guide you on your grief journey.
- Get involved in an activity. Many men like to be active and invariably can’t sit still. If this sounds like you, put that energy to use as it can assist you in your healing. Build a bookcase, plant vegetables in a garden, barbecue with family or go to a baseball game with your best friend. Any of these activities will prevent you from dwelling on your loss. Or think about volunteering. Many widowers who volunteer find fulfillment in doing so and friendship with other male widowers as well. Learn more about volunteering here.
- Accept assistance from your wife’s friends. Let’s face it: Many men miss the presence of a woman in their life. Don’t run away and decline assistance from your wife’s friends when they offer. Learn to accept their help.