You will probably find, during this time, that you are slowly making changes in your lifestyle to reflect your new reality. Maybe you need to move out of the home you two lived in because it has too many painful reminders or is too big, change your job because the setting, your coworkers, or the actual work itself don’t seem to fit you any more, or move to a more supportive community, perhaps closer to family or friends. Maybe you just feel the need to start fresh in some way, to give yourself some breathing room and a sense of hope, so you take dance lessons for the first time or start running. Maybe being so close to death has you thinking about the brevity of your own life, so you start thinking about what you need it to look like. At this point you may not have a lot of energy for forward movement, but you are likely planting seeds for growth that will sprout when you are healthier, and happier.
Take note of positive changes and keep a journal of your evolving thoughts and feelings. Personal transformation is at work in you, despite the deep pain and sadness you may often feel. Nurture it. When you make changes in your personal circumstances, whether they are large things like a new home, or small things like new clothes, make sure they really reflect you; and what you like and care about right now, rather than the you of your relationship. If you were married a long time this evolution may be extremely difficult and confusing. Over time our tastes and preferences mesh with our partner’s, or accommodate our partner, and it’s really hard to know what we actually like all by ourselves. Additionally, when we’ve lived with someone who had persistent mental health challenges, we often put our own wishes and needs so far on a back burner that they grow cold with disuse. As you wrestle with grief and find yourself asking questions about your life, don’t let the struggle overwhelm you. If you continue to fight for your recovery and stay honest about the process, your difficult days will be followed by good ones, worries and questions by simple pleasures.
I kept a journal during that time, and here’s an entry that reflects this kind of tentative searching:
“I awoke to pouring rain this morning. It was exciting. It felt more like winter than summer and for a moment I remembered that time continues to move forward, to grind forward, and that the fall and winter are most assuredly coming. Who will I be then? Will I have made progress? I hope so…”