While dealing with death, you need strategies for coping with the passing of a loved one. My coping skills were therapy sessions with my psychologist, having something to look forward to, and doing something new. All three helped me to move on with my life.
I knew, without a doubt, that I would be dealing with grief as a widow by the time I was forty. My husband's health issues turned his heart into a ticking time bomb and when that time bomb did explode, I had to adjust my life to one without Larry.
After suffering from depression for many years, I had finally realized that I needed help. I started therapy sessions with a psychologist about a month before Larry died. When that time had come, I was grateful that I already had someone I could talk with about the feelings and questions I had about his death. Larry had been driving a truck for his employer when a passerby stopped to see if he needed assistance since the truck was parked at the side of the road. Larry was alone in the truck slumped over to his right side. An ambulance was called to the scene but the EMTs could not revive him.
I had several questions about what Larry may have gone through during the last moments of his life. Did he have a heart attack or stroke? Was he in much pain and for how long? What were his last thoughts? Did he even think of me and our two daughters? Why was he alone?
For a few month after Larry died, I felt so alone...he was never coming home again. I felt guilty, too, for not being with him because I knew that I could have gotten help to him quicker. I would go to a local fast food restaurant to read for hours and have a meal so that I wouldn't have to be at home without him there. Thankfully, there was something that I was looking forward to that I knew would help ease my heartache.
Casting call was coming up pretty soon for a theater production at the local junior college. I had previously volunteered my sewing talent for costuming other shows there. I was at my personal best making and altering costumes, assisting the actors with dressing for their characters, and yes, even acting in a few small roles. It was a thrill to see the costumes that I had made up on the stage for all to see.
The first show I worked on after Larry died was The Glass Menagerie. While working on that show, I was able to concentrate on doing something that I loved instead of being in my own "coffin" of grief. I was once again among the living. After a few months of rehearsals and productions, I was ready to do something new.
For a short time, I tossed around the idea of opening a sewing and alterations shop. I discussed this idea with my psychologist and she suggested that if I felt good about it, to go ahead and follow through with it. I had set aside enough money to be able to rent a small space that had plenty of people traffic, have a cutting table and small dressing room built, and have a little bit left over for any sewing supplies I would need. I already had a sewing machine, desk, iron, and ironing board. After I got everything set up, The Sewing Basket was open for business.
I realized that opening the shop was the best medicine for me at that time. I was in contact with people every day and became plenty busy with the sewing and alterations I did for my customers. I was beginning to come around to being my "normal" self again, and not just depressed and missing someone who had been a part of my life for just over seventeen years.
Having to live without my husband after he died was a long but bearable journey. If I hadn't continued the therapy sessions, I believe that I would have become more deeply depressed than I already was. If it weren't for me using my long-established sewing talent in creative and profitable outlets, I would have allowed myself to be more isolated, too. These were important coping skills for me during my early months of coping with the passing of my loved one.Joan Borysenko