Author Topic: My (Widow) Happiness Project  (Read 906 times)

Captains wife

  • Member
  • Posts: 658
My (Widow) Happiness Project
« on: October 21, 2015, 09:11:05 AM »
Ok - I know there is a book out there with this title : )

For me personally, the first widow year was so miserable, the second year tough, the third year starting to feel slightly better and now I am on 3 years and 5 months. At first I thought re-coupling would make me happy and while its brought some comfort, it also brings turmoil. So in recent months, I have embarked on my personal project to figure out what makes me happy and try and move on with my life in a positive way. Even pre-widow, if I honestly think back, I wasn't always the happiest of people.

I have been reading books, watching videos (documentaries) on the topic and just trying to reformat my life so I am happy. Ok I will never be happy all the time, I do grieve my husband/father of our son a lot still, but I want to look back and try and be more contented with my life. This isn't for everyone but I think being happy sometimes in this world requires work and I need to figure out what I want to do with the rest of my life and how to bring myself and my son happiness.

So here is my beginning list of what I am trying to do to get my life back on track and follow my "happiness project" - feel free to add yours or your thoughts to this thread.

1) I have completely changed my diet and my exercise regime since being widowed. I have lost 5 sizes and the endorphins of working out really do help me. I have a 4 year old so I accepted the donation of an elliptical and use that at night, after he is in bed. I also try and work out at the free gym at my work, on lunch hours. I am also taking generally better care of myself (what I eat, cut back on drinking).

2) I really struggled with single parenting when I was alone and my son was a baby. I feel I am getting into the swing of it more now even if it can be overwhelming. I am finding ways to spend time with my son in a positive way - taking more outings, doing more things together, making sure we have time together when I have been working a lot etc.

3) Developing a new social life. Like a lot of people on here, I "lost" a number of friends so I have spent a lot of time trying to foster new friendships. I also don't want to become too dependent on a new guy relationship as its tough to move on in Chapter 2. I am lucky to have met some great people - through my town (sailing club), on this board, through work and my other social activities in Boston (i.e. wine tasting). I have become more pro-active about keeping in touch with people and making time and plans to see them (sometime with or without my son).

4) Charity work - don't have a lot of time to do this but since the holidays are hard, I deliver meals to the elderly on Thanksgiving. Also do some volunteer work in my town.

5) Keep up with my therapist - I have trouble sharing what is bothering me, in my head a lot of the time with people close to me so seeing a grief therapist has really helped. I can say whatever I want to her. I also have a hard time "letting go" if someone (ie new guy) hurts me or upsets me and letting it all our of my head with my therapist helps too.

6) Letting myself have "down" days  - if I am not feeling happy that day, I don't force it. I lay low but also focus on what will cheer me up that day (i.e going home to see my son, going to spa for relaxation time, having a good meal etc, going to bed early and watching crap TV, reading).

7) Refocus on work. I have had serious concentration issues since my husband died and while I like my work a lot, it isn't my dream job. But I am lucky to have such a great team and environment so I have been putting more effort into my research recently and I feel good about that, and proud of what I am doing.

8 - Giving myself the occasional break from parenting - I am fortunate to have the support of my inlaws close-by so that I can take some hours to myself on the weekend if I want it and need it. And my MIL loves spending time with my son and its mutual on his side. Sometimes I just need a short break from it all so will meet a friend, or go dancing or go to the gym or just a walk or shopping  - and that helps.

9) Making our home feel like our home - My husband and I bought our house and then he died 3 months later. Although I would like to move/downsize I also know that I now don't want to the stress/financial burden of it. I have been making some changes to the house for me and my son that makes it feel more like "our" home. But my husband is still with us, in the occasional picture in the LR and our son's room.

I am writing this post at a time when I feel pretty good so I will hopefully look back on it when I have down days and that will help. We shall also see how long I can keep this up - its not easy I know. But just wanted to share....
« Last Edit: October 21, 2015, 09:54:13 AM by Captains wife »


  • Member
  • Posts: 311
  • Widowed 9-19-09 Joined YWBB 10-2009
Re: My (Widow) Happiness Project
« Reply #1 on: October 21, 2015, 09:38:17 AM »
Awesome!  So proud of you for focusing on the positives in your life.  This takes a lot of concentration, but in the end, it's worth it, isn't it?

YOU took control to eliminate the negative feelings.  Yes, they're still there, but you don't linger on them and for that, I'm PROUD of you!

Sometimes we all have a lot of negativity and focus on the sadness.  Sometimes it's easier to do this.  You have managed to be aware of this and create a plan.  That is awesome! 

Don't give up!  As with everything we learn to do in life, it starts with the first step.  Then eventually, each step after becomes normal and a little easier. 

I wish I was closer, I'd go wine-tasting and sailing with you!
My wonderful husband Rick of 19 years, 12/11/67 - 9/20/09 Neuroendocrine cancer.
I still miss you everyday, I go forward, but my mind stands still.


  • Member
  • Posts: 771
Re: My (Widow) Happiness Project
« Reply #2 on: October 21, 2015, 09:43:10 AM »
I love this project.  I love this list.  Just making it and identifying these things is a big step toward happiness in itself I think.  Go you!!!
widowed 2011 (DH 28)


  • Guest
Re: My (Widow) Happiness Project
« Reply #3 on: October 21, 2015, 10:00:53 AM »
Fantastic!  While I have never articulated my "happiness project" in words, I definitely reached a point when I realized that it was all up to me, that finding myself again was going to be the result of my conscious effort and mine alone.  It will have been three years for me soon and the process continues...

I invested first back into my work.  It took me a long time to get where I am professionally and it seemed like the right place to begin rebuilding.  With supportive colleagues (well, most of them) and students who feed on positive energy, I was able to start building up some confidence, a routine and forcing myself to smile and get pumped up to teach helped boost my energy as well.

Then I took on commitments.  In grief, I was terrible with commitments.  I canceled all of the time.  Some friends I lost because they suck but others because they justifiably simply gave up on me.  Once I realized that I was ok with the golden few who stuck it out, I started reaching out and when i committed to something, I made sure it happened.  Sometimes I was miserable but I/we (M and I) went.  This, too, helped with my confidence that, yes, I can do this.

This year (and I clock time in academic years), so this fall, I made two commitments.  One, I would take on big, new projects again and meet the deadlines.  So I am applying for promotion and for 3 grants, one of them very big and competitive.  I'm not sure any of my applications are good but I'm going to meet those deadlines come hell or high water because last year I simply could not and then I beat myself up about it. 

My other big commitment is to be more present as a parent.  I've been present all along, of course, but I had two epiphanies recently - my daughter is not going to remember much from before this point.  She's already lost a lot in terms of her memories of her father.  And approaching a precocious, worldly 9 years old, I can see her looking more to me to model behavior for her.  I see her watching me and listening to me more curiously.  She is asking me more questions about life. She wants to hang out with me whenever possible and for us to go to things (school things, brownie things, swim team things) together and I know this isn't going to last forever but it is a gift I can give her now.  I haven't been shy about my feelings regarding parenting or my feelings about being a mom in suburbia but like I said, I can feel that way inside, but this is a gift I want to give my daughter. 

So there it is.  Someday I will take exercise back on.  I've lost more weight than I probably should have and for all of the wrong reasons but that one is going to have to wait.   

Congratulations for taking the bull by the horns, as it were.  I do think that breaking it down into manageable goals/tasks/projects is one way to mitigate the overwhelmingness of this completely life altering journey. 
« Last Edit: October 21, 2015, 10:04:20 AM by TooSoon »


  • Member
  • Posts: 1676
  • aka MissingmyTim
Re: My (Widow) Happiness Project
« Reply #4 on: October 21, 2015, 10:47:13 AM »
I love your deliberate pursuit of happiness.  I feel very strongly that I have to focus my intention on creating a life that I want to live.  I am early in my journey of taking responsibility for my own happiness and it's not always easy but I am having some success and that motivates me to keep moving. The first year and a half I don't think it was really possible for me but as the fog lifted I realized that I had to make a choice.  Stay angry for the cards I had been dealt, live in the past, miss out on being present in the lives of my children and in my own life or choose happiness.  Happiness doesn't fall in our laps we have to go out and find it.  I have moved, gone back to school, focused on my physical and spiritual health, and am working on my relationships with family, friends and boyfriend.  I'm not there yet but I am content most of the time, happy some of the time and sad occasionally.

This is definitely something that couldnt happen when I was actively grieving or when I was dealing with some really tough parenting issues so I wouldn't want anyone who isn't at this point to think that there's something wrong if they are still focused on survival. We all have our own timeline and issues that complicate our grief.

Thanks for the inspiration Captains Wife, this past week has been a little harder for me but you are reminding me that I am worth the effort. Wishing you the best.
You will forever be my always.