Thriving after Loss: Stage 3 of Grief, Transformation
It’s been nearly eight years since I lost my husband to stage 4 Prostate Cancer. Recently, one of my mentees lost his spouse unexpectedly during childbirth. During one of our sessions, he asked me, “how do you stay motivated?”
My response, I always go back to my why. After losing TC, initially my why became my children. Left alone to parent 4 children, 3 not yet teenagers, every decision I made was centered around ensuring they would be cared for no less than when he was with us.
This meant I would need to grow myself, earn more and essentially thrive so that they could receive the best education, their needs would be met and their lives wouldn’t be worse of as a result of their father being gone.
Over time, your why may change as you navigate the widowhood and grief. Grief happens in 3 stages:
In stage one, you can find yourself painfully vulnerable and confused. Your immediate focus is on needs. Taking care of the children, checking into basic finances, determining what you can no longer afford and realizing you are not yet in the frame of mind to make irrevocable financial decisions. You simply find enough strength to breathe.
Then comes stage two, the growth stage. You recognize that you can no longer delay dealing with things like administrating the will, handling insurance claims and coverage, financial planning, deciding whether to sell your home or rewrite your mortgage. If you have young children strategizing about their college education and adequately caring for them long term becomes a priority. As you make major decisions, life begins to feel more in balance during this growth stage.
Stage three is the final stage of grief – a time of fulfillment and transformation. It can truly be a very meaningful stage of life. It’s where you begin to discover new purposes, learn to embrace and explore new interests. In this stage of the grieving process, widows and widowers begin to understand how they can use their pain for a great purpose. This may include volunteerism or creating a charity that gives to those battling the same illness or cause of the spouse’s death. For me, it has been writing, speaking and coaching others towards a life of great success and significance.
In the transformation stage of grief, you begin to plan your life through a lens of purpose and legacy building. You understand the fragility of life and develop an urgency to do and be all you were created for. This is where the magic happens. You discover yourself, who you truly are and what you are meant to do with your time here on earth. You move towards your life’s vision with vigor, zest, enthusiasm and passion. Sometimes this is misunderstood as many people expect widows and widowers to remain in stages one and two without clear direction and purpose. Don’t stay in those stages; you deserve transformation and your audience awaits your voice, talent, skills and abilities that serves a purpose much greater than self.
Grief doesn’t have to stay in stages one and two. And you shouldn’t feel guilty when you enter stage 3 and begin the journey of self-discovery and transformation. Everything we experience in this life is for a purpose. We must evaluate those experiences, learn from them and use them as fuel to drive us to our greatest selves and to give humanity all we were created for.
You are not meant to merely survive from day to day. You are created for a purpose greater than self. Go discover what that is and begin living it out every day. This is when you begin to thrive and as you thrive, you can utter the words, “this one is for you baby”. Because your spouse would want you to discover you and live a purposeful and meaningful life and you should!
About The Writer
Sheba Wilson is an International Bestselling Author of the Book, Get Up & LEAD and author of the Get Up & LEAD 90 Day Guided Journal. She has also co-authored Voices for Leadership with 39 other global thought leaders. Sheba is a Human Resources Consultant, Inspirational Speaker, Leadership Coach, Corporate Trainer and Facilitator. She believes in empowering minorities and women, preparing them for leadership and career advancement. A widow and mother of four, Sheba is passionate about the development of young people. She volunteers as a Girls’ Club Facilitator in her country, Turks & Caicos Islands, teaching teenage girls, self-awareness, self-love, acceptance and equipping them with life skills to help them today and in the future.