Saturday was such a gorgeous day out for an outdoor jaunt through the Grounds for Sculpture in Hamilton, NJ!
Nelson and I intended to go to the Grounds for Sculpture for a long time--but the long commutes into Manhattan made down-time less about "where" we were together and more about "how" and "when" we spent time in each other's company.
So many things have changed; and I've had to learn how to live with that. I hated it at first, but realized that that's exactly what integrated grief is. Acceptance leads to integration to be able to move forward healthily.
Grief itself can last a lifetime because grief--very simply put--is reaction to loss. I had to adjust my understanding, my beliefs and interpretations to get that: every time I do something different than I would have is that way because I lost my beloved husband & best friend, physically. That's integrated grief because I can move through the moments with my reaction--not hindered or held hostage by it anymore.
I realized that with effort, grace and support over time; how to move beyond feeling like a victim after his sudden death; beyond the identifying as a survivor and into a space of growth, intention, and gratitude. It's the transition for which ADJUST was created.
In this "space" of transition into my happily EVEN after, I am different--dare I say, better. I have a deepened understanding and regularly embrace everything I can with mindful gratitude.
I am especially grateful to learn how to live in grace: being able to try things that may not go as I plan, and readily exercising flexibility, forgiveness and patience to myself and others as things change.
I've discovered firsthand that courage can be best developed and strengthened in a state of grace... (Take that mind-blowing revelation from a recovering perfectionist and former people-pleaser!)
...so, with my nervousness to meet new people "in check", I went out into the world, for a Central Jersey Widows & Widowers meetup that happened to be visiting closer by--just a 30-minute drive from PA!
I wanted to visit the grounds for a while. Nelson and I would see the oversized statues that spilled over into the Hamilton train station while we hurried passed into the parking deck to run for the train to begin our 2 hour commute.
As I left the house, I wondered how I would be received. I felt a little scattered, running late after being on the phone with a sick friend who had returned my call, and also accompanied by a local widowed friend who was not on the guest list, and realizing I had no way to immediately reach the organizer.
I sent her a message on Meetup with the details and my contact info before jumping in the car. My mind raced with disapproval, admonishment and embarrassment before I paused and reassured myself that: I am safe, I did what I could, my priority was to my safety, my friend's well-being, and I was on my way with good intentions in my heart...and everything else after that is out of my hands. Happiness and peace take practice!
After I arrived and guessed who the host was from a tiny profile pic on my phone, it took a short while for me to collect myself and get centered to engage in enjoying the time and new experience of meeting people...
...as well as doing something that Nelson and I enjoyed and appreciated together: creativity, uniqueness.
As an extrovert, socializing came more naturally to Nelson than to me: a friendly and outgoing introvert. ...which by the way, is not an oxymoron (but more on that some other time).
Thankfully, the organizer-host graciously acknowledged receiving my message, and assured us that we arrived in time and that others were still on their way.
While many of their group already seemed to know each other, they were warmly welcoming. One sweet woman even joined us for a stroll while the others ate in the cafe.
We joked, laughed, took pictures together and exchanged contact information. It was even more fun and pleasant than I imagined it would be. A couple of us exchanged texts in the days afterward, and we are even hoping to meet somewhere in PA the next time.
They were a lovely bunch! I'm glad that I took the chance to walk with courage and an open heart to make new friends.
What's this life for, if not to grow, connect and share the best of ourselves to support one another?
I'm looking forward to more opportunities to do all of that as best as I can for others in my happily EVEN after. I hope to see you along the way to yours!