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After the pain, there is much to gain

Time after time I listen to those that struggle with things that arise in their life after the death of a loved one that often send them tumbling into a deep and dark abyss. Yes, I know that sounds overdramatic, but in reality, at least to them, that is how it feels. Something simple, like how to replace an outside lightbulb or how to run a load of laundry can be just the thing that creates chaos in the lives of those who are grieving.

I blame love and commitment for the times when these occur. Why? Because in living our lives with someone we care deeply about, we learn to carve out roles for ourselves and we do things for one another, each task done with the knowledge that by engaging in these actions, we are taking care of our loved ones, and it feels good. However, when we lose that other half of ourselves, when that person is missing and we are left behind to not only pick up the pieces but now must learn to navigate new roles and responsibilities, it can be devastating.

In the past, I have written about the importance of “cross training.” This concept seeks to help couples and families learn and understand all the roles of the household, from yard maintenance to paying the bills, to washing dishes or who to call about a water leak- it is imperative that we at least attempt to know and understand these things while we are still living. Truly, this is a gift we give to ourselves and to our loved ones because we have the blessing of knowing that we can muddle our way through the process of living, even if it is uncomfortable or it hurts having to take on these responsibilities. The alternative is heartbreaking, especially when I listen to it happening on a daily basis, when the one left behind has always been “taken care of” and doesn’t even know where to begin on the road to their recovery.

Imagine the pain that is felt when death occurs, and then imagine having to make countless amounts of phone calls or having to track down paperwork. Then, think about the weeds growing in the yard or not remembering when trash pickup is, or if clothes need to be washed on delicate or on the cold cycle. To those who are living comfortably in the arms of their loved ones, these things don’t appear to be too difficult to understand, however, after losing a spouse, it becomes very apparent and quickly just how much you may have taken for granted.

Trust me. I speak with the voice of all of those who regret not becoming more involved in all aspects of their household. They speak about how they wished they could go back and learn the online billing or even discuss what the password is and where it is located because now they are adding countless amounts of steps and stress to their lives from not knowing. Many have now taken up the mantle and are actively speaking and sharing with others about how important it is to prepare and have conversations or engage in shared daily tasks together in order to avoid unnecessary confusion and trauma upon the death of a loved one. Consider approaching your husband or wife today, if still applicable, and put these suggested actions into motion so that when it is your grief journey to travel, you will at least spare yourself some of the hardships that are certain to arise. Start now.