real life

6 lessons in love from someone who knows everything about loss.

On May 4, 2012, my wife died suddenly from a brain aneurysm. One minute she was there and the next she was gone.

We had been married for 32 years and overnight I went from being a married man to being a 54-year old widower. I always thought of a widower as the old man in frumpy sweater wobbling along with a cane. Now I was member of club I didn’t want to belong to. That began “part two” of my life.

I have given great thought to what I have learned the last couple of years as I have gone through my grief journey. Sometimes guys don’t think as much as they just do, myself included. But this one is one I gave a lot of thought to, and I think I have it just about figured out. Here are some lessons I think are important and can help you live a better life.

life after becoming a widower

Lesson 1 – Appreciate what you have

It is a cliché but I think we take far too much for granted. I went for a walk yesterday at the park and just took in the brisk cool fall air and the impressionist colors on the trees. I just appreciated being alive and knowing that every minute was a precious drop of joy. Appreciate your health while you have it. Appreciate the world around you it can be a beautiful place. Appreciate every small thing you have.

Lesson 2- There are no rules

I was told by some people or it was implied by others that there was certain rules I had to follow as a griever. I couldn’t do this or do that. I couldn’t be happy and grieve at the same time. I couldn’t enjoy myself too soon or it wouldn’t “look right”. I had to wait a certain amount of time to start dating. Well there are no rules. You are the architect of your own life. I chose to date about five months after my wife died and after few months of dating met an amazing woman who I married. I am so happy I didn’t listen to the rule makers. That was my choice and you can make your own choices. So ignore people who try to place their rules on your life. The rule makers don’t own your life you do. Life is too short and you don’t have time for that. Just be you.

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Lesson 3- Love now

I want you to just love without hesitation or reservation. I love my wife and love being in love with her, I love my stupid cats, my Cape Cod style home and my work as a motivational speaker and book author. I love my family and my friends and just can feel their love. I love life. I give and receive love in abundance. There is always an abundance of love and plenty to go around but people want to get stingy with it. There is enough love that we could light up the world if we all were just loved. So seek find and give love. Spend as much time as possible being with and loving the people who love you. Write your wife a love note and put it under her pillow. Hug your Mom. Pat your dog. Call your grandpa. I know you don’t want to think about it but they (and you) won’t be around forever. Love them now.

life after becoming a widower

Lesson 4- Tell people the truth

If you don’t like something say so in a nice way. If you don’t want to do something just say no. If someone is wearing something nice tell them they look great. If you love someone tell them and tell them often. If someone wants you to be something you can’t be tell them you can’t and why. Lack of honesty doesn’t serve anyone, don’t mislead people and give them the wrong idea. Tell the truth and live what is true for you. If you believe in something say it and own it. Lesson #5- Decide to avoid negativity and drama. Based on my life experience I have very little time for negative people and drama. If life can be hard why do we want to make it harder? I have decided I am only going to be with positive people, read positive things and watch positive TV. Avoid negative energy sucking vampire people and choose to only be with people who are positive and nice and will treat you well.

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Lesson 5- Decide to avoid negativity and drama

Based on my life experience I have very little time for negative people and drama. If life can be hard why do we want to make it harder? I have decided I am only going to be with positive people, read positive things and watch positive TV. Avoid negative energy sucking vampire people and choose to only be with people who are positive and nice and will treat you well.

life after becoming a widower

Lesson 6- Don’t waste your potential

To me the saddest story when some dies is when they didn’t live up to their potential and didn’t use their gifts. I have known people who, because of childhood issues, or drug or alcohol, died and did not really do much with their lives. It is such a waste of humanity when that happens, and those gifts are gone and lost to the world that could have shared in them. Don’t so ungrateful that you get given a gift and squander it. Don’t die being a “she should’ve” or “he could’ve” kind of person. That would be such a shame. Maybe my wife’s legacy can be that one person reads this and decides to live a life filled with joy and love and fulfillment and appreciates every moment on earth. Maybe many people will read this and just do one little thing differently today. Maybe tonight they will tell their wife that they love her like they really mean it, with all their heart, and she will love him even more for saying it.

Shawn Doyle is a professional speaker and author. This post was originally published on The Good Men Project and was republished here with full permission.

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